Latest Blog Posts

<p>Patton&nbsp;Oswalt in &quot;Young Adult&quot;</p>

Patton Oswalt in "Young Adult"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Oswalt stealin' spotlights

Also: How the NYFCC vote broke down and calling Spielberg on hypocrisy

Remember when I noted Patton Oswalt's bringing down the house at the Los Angeles pop-up screening of Jason Reitman's "Young Adult" at the New Beverly? "If he really puts in the work, he can easily find himself in that mix," I wrote at the time. This is a guy built for the circuit, because he's sharp, witty, outspoken but never puts his foot in his mouth and is just too lovable to be held accountable even if he did let a gaffe slip. That gregarious train kept rolling at the Gotham Awards this weekend, where Oswalt was, by all accounts, the star of the show. It helps, of course, that his performance in the film is entirely worthy and a real surprise, even for those of us who knew he had it in him. [Carpetbagger]

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<p>Max (Max Burkholder)&nbsp;wanders the streets of Oakland in &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Max (Max Burkholder) wanders the streets of Oakland in "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

'Parenthood' - 'Missing': The Max on the bus goes round and round

Kristina goes back to work, Max goes missing, and Crosby likes Dr. Joe

A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I like a jean jacket on a baby...

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<p>Winston (Lamorne Morris)&nbsp;and Jess (Zooey Deschanel)&nbsp;work with some high school kids on &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel) work with some high school kids on "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' - 'Bells': The thrill of the fight

The guys step to the forefront in one of the strongest episodes so far

A review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I have a $40,000 bar mitzvah...

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<p>Melissa McCarthy in the now infamous Hidden Valley Ranch sketch from her hosting gig on &quot;Saturday Night Live.&quot;</p>

Melissa McCarthy in the now infamous Hidden Valley Ranch sketch from her hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live."

Credit: NBC

'Bridesmaids' Paul Feig reflects on Melissa McCarthy 'destroying it' on 'SNL'

An in the audience reaction from the comedy veteran

Paul Feig is a big fan of Melissa McCarthy and not just because she helped turn his comedy "Bridesmaids" into a global blockbuster.  No, the "Freaks and Geeks" creator recognizes something in McCarthy he's seen before.  The joy of when untapped talent is unleashed.  Such as Steve Carell.

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<p>Bill &amp; Cathi of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Bill & Cathi of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Bill & Cathi talk 'The Amazing Race'

From near-elimination to 5th place, the 'older' Racers share secrets
While Bill and Cathi Alden were the last team to reach Phil Keoghan in September's season premiere of "The Amazing Race," it looked like they were going to be the latest in a long line of "older" teams to make early exits from the CBS favorite.
 
Instead, the 60-something married grandparents were spared by the first Non-Elimination Leg of the "Amazing Race" season and rather than falling to the back of the pack again, Bill & Cathi went off on a run of solid legs that took them all the way to the Top 5.
 
Yes, Bill & Cathi were eliminated on Sunday's (Nov. 27) episode, but not before winning a slew of admirers, including Keoghan, their fellow Racers and one Belgian weightlifting judge, who was especially impressed with Bill's wiry physique. 
 
Whether climbing rock walls, churning butter or carrying beds on their backs, Bill & Cathi never seemed like anything less than the equals of their younger rivals.
 
Bill & Cathi discuss their "Amazing Race" experience after the break...
 
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<p>We know Felicity.&nbsp; We're sad about &quot;Like Crazy&quot;&nbsp;getting shafted at the Spirits too.</p>

We know Felicity.  We're sad about "Like Crazy" getting shafted at the Spirits too.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

2012 Spirit Awards nominees Winners and Losers

What happened to 'Like Crazy' and George Clooney?

The one thing you have to realize about the Independent Spirit Awards is that as much as the event exists to reward films that won't get the recognition they deserve from the Oscars, SAG Awards or Golden Globe Awards, they also usually result in some head scratching choices.  It's hard to argue with many of this year's nominees, but some of the overlooked had even their competitors questioning the organization's selection process.  The selections are actually chosen by committees broken up by American, International, Documentary and other specific categories.  Unlike the SAG or Oscars, this is a very small group making arbitrary decisions about the nominees.  For example, the American Narrative nominating committee only had 17 people selecting the nods (a much larger membership group gets to vote on the actual winners).

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<p>Jean Dujardin and B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo in &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Analysis: 'The Artist' dances away with New York Film Critics' Circle awards

'Moneyball' and Meryl Streep get big boosts

Proving being first has its disadvantages, the New York Film Critic's Circle met Monday morning to decide on their year end awards.  Unfortunately, because of the organization's need to beat everyone else to the party (don't get me started), they were unable to screen Stephen Daldry's highly anticipated "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" for consideration.  So, should there be an asterisk next to this year's selections?  Possibly, but judging by the love for best picture winner "The Artist," probably not.

After all the buzz for "War Horse" and "The Descendants'" superb reviews and box office over the Thanksgiving frame, Oscar player "The Artist" needed a nice boost to keep in step on the publicity front and boy did they get it.  Winning the NYFCC award for best feature film and best director for Michel Hazanavicius along with the film's surprising five Independent Spirit Awards, including best feature film, mean The Weinstein Company has a lot to brag about.  Well, at least until Thursday when the National Board of Review reveals their top picture which many assume will be "The Artist" anyway.  It has certainly left other studios reassessing their campaigns for the weeks ahead.

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Is it time to retire reality TV about the flashy super rich?

The Kardashians and the 'Real Housewives' live large - but why are we watching?

 It was while watching an episode of one of my favorite guilty pleasures, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," that it really hit me. For the most part, I'd gotten used to watching these rich, self-indulgent women spend thousands of dollars on useless frippery. It was just a window into how the other half (or really, the other one percent) lives. But this time, watching Lisa Vanderpump and her daughter Pandora coo over $100 wedding invitations set my teeth on edge. They would be spending $15,000 on invitations, invitations destined to be momentarily admired, envied, and pitched into trash cans (recycling bins if we're lucky). 

 
Last year, 15.1 percent of Americans lived in poverty. And what's considered poverty? For a family of four it's $22,162 -- just over $7,000 more than what the Vanderpumps blew on invites. 
 
I'm not saying that the extremely wealthy don't deserve to burn through their money any way they see fit, or that they don't give large quantities to charity. What I'm suggesting is that, given what's going on in the world, maybe I'm a little sick of watching the actual burning.
 
Really, observing these pampered stars shop for diamond necklaces or swan about designer boutiques, scooping up armfuls of pricey dresses like bored teenagers at H&M used to be, well, fun. It was fantasy, a chance to say, "If I won the lottery I'd never buy those shoes," or sniff, "Money doesn't buy taste" or admit, "Man, I wish I had that car/purse/luxury item." 
 
But as the spending prospects for most people have become less about saving pennies for a designer bag and more about cobbling together just enough scratch to cover rent but maybe (though not necessarily) food, the aspirational fantasy aspect of this kind of reality TV evaporates like cheap (or maybe very expensive) perfume. What used to be fun now seems like rubbing salt in a wound. I recently read an article which joked that we shouldn't be dragging the one percent to the guillotines, but the fact that anyone's even thinking about the French Revolution (Marie Antoinette's supposedly misinterpreted crack about eating cake has crossed my mind more than once) is telling. 
 
For once, what we're seeing on reality TV actually might reflect a real world trend. The disconnect between most people (the 99 percent) and the super rich (the remaining percent) seems to have grown. While luxury goods took a hit during the recession as wealthy shoppers felt less confidence in the economy and -- yes -- a pang of guilt about indulging themselves, these days conspicuous consumption is back in vogue. Sales for Prada went up 75 percent in the third quarter (twenty-four percent of that in North America). Neiman Marcus is up 88 percent. Tiffany's is up, as is Coach. Life is good -- for some.
 
At the other end of the spectrum, however, we have unemployment sitting at 9 percent, another wave of foreclosures ahead and the Occupy movement, which has given the frustration of the American public, if not a voice, at least a presence. As shaggy and discombobulated as many of these ad hoc organizations seem to be (it seems that every time I read an article about Occupy Wall Street or Occupy L.A. or Occupy Anywhere, at least one person quoted is a chronically homeless free spirit who makes money by braiding hair and goes by the name of Waffles), they have put the plight of the shrinking American middle class front and center. 
 
Which makes watching, say, Kim on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" host a baby shower for herself that's more over the top than most debutante balls a little more gag inducing than it used to be. Okay, it would have always been gag inducing, but now you can add "an affront to all viewers on a budget" to the list of transgressions against good taste. Yes, it's probably necessary for us to see shots of the cake, the chandeliers and the table settings so that the sponsors who threw that stuff in for free get a marketing bang for their buck, but if no one watching can afford this stuff, what's the point? Would it be so terrible to let this aspect of these shows -- the profligate spending - become background noise instead of lovingly filmed with actual retail pricing highlighted on the screen? 
 
During the Great Depression, people gravitated toward the escapism of Busby Berkeley musicals about the frothy, silly adventures of the very rich and beautiful. Maybe "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is serving the same purpose today, I don't know. Considering the show debuted to record ratings (3.2 million), the grumbling Internet backlash against the family doesn't seem to be making much of a dent. But lately I've been thinking I'd rather watch fictional rich people's stories about silly misunderstandings and long lost love than, well, real rich people's stories about shopping and spending (or even fake rich people's stories about shopping and spending, given how many of the real housewives have declared bankruptcy). I'll still tune in for the drama and the catfights, the bad marriages and the middle-aged regrets, but I'd happily skip those chyrons showing me exactly how much a dress or in-home tanning machine would set me back (I won't be buying, thank you very much). At least Busby Berkeley musicals had great dance numbers. 
 
 
 
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<p>Lenny the Pimp (Sonny Barger)&nbsp;meets with Jax (Charlie Hunnam)&nbsp;on &quot;Sons of Anarchy.&quot;&nbsp;</p>
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Lenny the Pimp (Sonny Barger) meets with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) on "Sons of Anarchy." 


Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' - 'To Be, Act 1': Tell me you love me

Jax, Tara and Gemma all scramble in the first half of the season finale

A quick review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I get you a bigger bowl...

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<p>Jane Lynch and Dot-Marie Jones of &quot;Glee&quot;</p>
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Jane Lynch and Dot-Marie Jones of "Glee"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'I Kissed a Girl'

The only thing consistent about this season is its inconsistencies
It’s semi-useless to lob criticism at “Glee.” In many ways, it’s not like yelling at a dog that has relieved itself on your couch. Sure, you can rant and rave, but does that animal understand anything you’re saying? It hears noises, and vaguely interprets sentiment, but it’s not like anything will fundamentally change thereafter. “I Kissed a Girl” is a dog of an episode, another in a season rapidly spiraling out of control. Everything that held such promise in the second episode of the season, “I Am Unicorn,” has now played out, and “Glee” itself feels played out.
 
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<p>Seth&nbsp;Rogen&nbsp;(left)&nbsp;and James Franco at a screening of &quot;Pineapple Express&quot;&nbsp;in 2008</p>

Seth Rogen (left) and James Franco at a screening of "Pineapple Express" in 2008

Credit: AP Photo/Stuart Ramson

Seth Rogen weighs in on James Franco’s Oscar hosting stint

He asks: Is throwing Jr. in granddad’s suit the best way to run the Oscarcast?

Seth Rogen is not interested in hosting the Oscars. Unless and until they “hire some better writers” that is.

The actor made the lighthearted remark during a recent interview with Short List. He’d been asked about his interest in hosting the Oscarcast given his relationship with last year’s co-host James Franco. He made a laughing, affable reply that actually raised some salient (particularly in the face of this year’s shake-ups) points.

“I think when you agree to do something like that, you put a certain amount of faith in the institution, hoping that they’ll take care of you, and I feel like they didn’t [take care of him]...Why hire James Franco and then give him Billy Crystal’s monologue? It was like, ‘Oh, we’ll hire these young hosts and then we’ll just do the same shit we do every fucking year.’ Which to me was really odd. I think they just approached it wrong. They didn’t think it through, and they were way underprepared. I think they hung him out to dry.”

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<p>There will be blood... and bone-breaking... and detached limbs... when 'The Raid' hits theaters next year</p>

There will be blood... and bone-breaking... and detached limbs... when 'The Raid' hits theaters next year

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics plans to play rough with 'The Raid'

Could this be the next 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'?

It's hard to believe that "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was eleven years ago.

If you don't remember what it was like when that film was coming out, let me take you back.  Sony Pictures Classics took Ang Lee's Chinese language masterpiece that was my favorite film of the last decade and turned it into a genuine box-office phenomenon.  A movie with subtitles.  That's supposed to be impossible.  Anyone will tell you that audiences simply don't want to read a movie, and any movie with subtitles is doomed to a certain size audience and no more than that.  But Tom Bernard and Michael Barker bet on "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and more than that, they strategized.  They made a big play with that film, and it paid off and paid off and paid off for them.  It's still one of the biggest foreign-language releases of all time.

Barker and Bernard have been around since the dawn of man, of course, and they've been adventurous distributors longer than I've been a film fan.  I've met both of them many times over the years, and they're exactly what I would have hoped, smart and still engaged and always looking.  They really do love that moment where they get to present something exciting to the general public.

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