Latest Blog Posts

<p>Dave Grohl</p>

Dave Grohl

Credit: AP Photo

Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl joins the Ratt Pack

Grohl teams with Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini for new track

There’s no telling whom Dave Grohl will team up with next. The Foo Fighters leader is now headed into the studio with Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini.

Ratt lead singer Pearcy tweeted today: “Warren and I are doing a song for a project with @foofightersDave. We’ll let him tell you about when he’s ready kidz. Not for a RATT record.” Don't bother looking for an update from Grohl's Twitter page: the last tweet is from 2009.

The Foos are still mining tracks from their excellent Grammy-nominated 2011 album “Wasting Light,” which made my list of top 10 albums of 2011.  Pearcy’s latest solo album, “Sucker Punch,” will come out later this year. Ratt’s last album, “Infestation,” was released in 2010, but Pearcy also tweeted today that he is set to demo songs for a new Ratt record next week

 

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<p>Bjork</p>

Bjork

Bjork bringing 'Biophelia' brainchild to Big Apple

Songwriter's cross-platform concept album gets 10 dates of a New York premiere

For the first time since launching her album concept, Bjork is bringing her "Biophelia" concert presentation to the United States.

The Icelandic singer-songwriter will be performing "Biophelia" to its "original specifications" for six nights at the New York Hall of Science, then for four nights at New York's Beacon Theater. The Hall of Science allows for the vision of "audio-visual shows in an intimate setting with no audience member more than a few yards from the stage," though all 10 concerts will be performed in the round, in conjunction with The Creator's Project.

As previously reported, the ten songs on "Biophelia" featured 10 corresponding apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, thus the A/V components that will be used during the shows. Too, the live performances boast the bonkers musical instrumentation that helped in making "Biophelia," including "four 10-foot pendulum-harps" and "a MIDI-controlled pipe organ celeste re-fitted with bronze gamelan bars." Personally, I'm just happy to see Bjork with free space to roam.

What I'm also eager to see is its execution. The fact that you had to "experience" the album with an electronic device that I simply don't own is prohibitive, though many of the video elements were posted online after release. The cost of a ticket to a Bjork show may cost just as much as an iPad, true, but this at least amps more on that original idea, so that all may partake.

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<p>Sandra Bullock is slowly becoming &quot;Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's&quot;&nbsp;best shot at landing an Oscar nomination.</p>

Sandra Bullock is slowly becoming "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's" best shot at landing an Oscar nomination.

Credit: Warner Bros.

2012 WGA Awards nominations: 'War Horse' and 'Extremely Loud' take an Oscar hit

When you're eligible in this ineligible mix you need the nod

As In Contention's Kris Tapley so eloquently warned us last month, there were many fine screenplays this year that wouldn't be eligible for the 2012 WGA Awards.  Guild awards are a wonderful honor from your peers, but they're also a union honor and if you don't play by the rules you can't get rewarded.  So it goes.

Therefore, it's not too surprising to find a number of unexpected nominees among the field announced by the WGA today.  What's more perplexing is some of the notable omissions ("The Ides of March," "War Horse"), inclusions ("Dragon Tattoo") and one outright rejection by the industry's writers ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close").   While guild awards typically signal how their respective Academy branches should vote in regards to nominees and winners, that's not going to be the case this year with so many ineligible contenders.  With that in mind, let's review the adapted and original fields.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

10 things we learned from Kanye West's latest Twitter rant

What the heck is 'DONDA?' What about 'The Jetsons?' Will he and Spike Jonze start a school?

The all-caps may be gone, but Kanye West's propensity to over-share has been revealed again in the hip-hop star's latest Twitter rant.

The first missives from the younger half of Watch the Throne were launched into orbit yesterday afternoon, with the intended result to "clarify a few things." Further into the evening, he sent his thoughts through a stream of consciousness by starting with Leonardo di Vinci quote, and ending with words from George Bernard Shaw. Clarity became somewhat opaque during the voyage. Or, as he wrote: "This is just a train of thought .. but figure it's better to read than trained thoughts." Perhaps West is still working out the kinks of a few of his own philosophical quoatations.

Below is the best interpretation of the top 10 "things" that West informed his friends and fans on Twitter:

1.  He is starting a new venture called DONDA, named after his late mother. "DONDA is a design company which will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there dreams and ideas... DONDA will be comprised of over 22 divisions with a goal to make products and experiences that people want and can afford..."

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<p>Josh Lawson, Kristen Bell, Don Cheadle,&nbsp;Dawn Olivieri and Ben Schwartz in Showtime's &quot;House of Lies.&quot;</p>

Josh Lawson, Kristen Bell, Don Cheadle, Dawn Olivieri and Ben Schwartz in Showtime's "House of Lies."

Credit: Showtime

Review: Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell are hustling in Showtime's 'House of Lies'

Comedy about management consultants has strong leads but needs to work on its perspective
A few years back, Matthew Carnahan created a series that couldn't have seemed more timely. In FX's "Dirt," Courteney Cox played the editor of a celebrity tabloid, and the show came on just as gossip was beginning to drive most entertainment news (and news, period, in some cases). But "Dirt" never seemed to know what kind of show it wanted to be when it grew up, and Cox's character wavered between villainous and virtuous.
 
"House of Lies," Carnahan's new Showtime dramedy (it premieres Sunday night at 10), also feels incredibly timely. In this age of Occupy Wall Street, it's a show ostensibly lampooning the 1%, as we follow a team of management consultants who travel around the country trying to fix - or, at least, hustle fees out of - one large, inhumane corporation after another.
 
And while it's more entertaining than "Dirt" - thanks primarily to the chemistry of a cast headed by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell - it suffers from the same wobbly sense of tone and direction. It's in the right place and the right time, but it's not necessarily the right show.
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<p>Tate Taylor&nbsp;(center)&nbsp;directs Emma Stone (left) and Viola Davis (right) on the set of &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Tate Taylor (center) directs Emma Stone (left) and Viola Davis (right) on the set of "The Help."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Predicting the 2011 DGA nominees

All eyes are on Monday's announcement

On Monday, the most important precursor announcement of them all drops: the Directors Guild of America offers up its list of nominees for excellence in directing.

Except it isn't really about "excellence in directing" for this crowd. It really never has been. It's a chance for the organization to speak up on its picks for the "Best Picture" of the year.

There have been happy aberrations along the way, like Cameron Crowe getting recognized for "Almost Famous" or Christopher Nolan getting a surprising tip of the hat for "Memento." But while the group has dipped into "lone director" territory before (Mike Figgis, Ridley Scott), largely this has been about picking the five top films of the year, which often go on to be the eventual Best Picture nominees with the Academy. So the question is, why has the DGA's announcement so often been a reliable indicator of where the Academy will go with Best Picture?

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Taking questions for 1/6 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

Alright, you know the drill. Toss out your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few on the first podcast of the new year tomorrow. As always, try to keep it fresh and stay away from stuff mulled over to death.

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<p>Demi&aacute;n Bichir in &quot;A&nbsp;Better Life&quot;</p>

Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Santa Barbara fest taps Bichir, Mara, McCarthy, Oswalt, Serkis and Woodley for Virtuosos Award

Presentation to take place on February 3

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has announced, along with its film schedule, the recipients of this year's Virtuosos Award. And they cast the widest net yet, honoring Demián Bichir ("A Better Life"), Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids"), Patton Oswalt ("Young Adult"), Andy Serkis ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "The Adventures of Tintin") and Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants").

The Virtuosos Award is meant to recognize a select group of actors who have distinguished themselves through their work in a given year. In the press release, festival director Roger Durling praises the honorees for their "indelible performances."

You can't really argue with the list. Though I feel like Serkis stands out a bit and probably could have used some kind of singular achievement notice. Then again, rounding him up with a number of other actors is probably just how he'd like it to be. Performance capture is just a way of recording performance and it all still boils down to the elements of acting for him.

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<p>&quot;Midnight in Paris&quot;&nbsp;won the group's Best Comedy award.</p>

"Midnight in Paris" won the group's Best Comedy award.

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Internet Film Critics award 'Tree of Life,' 'Midnight in Paris,' 'Attack the Block,' 'Drive'

George Clooney and Rooney Mara win top acting honors

The Internet Film Critics Society has jumped into the fray with a list of winners this year. It's a nifty list because rather than just a "Best Picture" field, things are divided into a couple genres (drama, comedy, action, horror/sci-fi). Though I don't qualify "Drive" as "action." Check out the full list below.

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<p>It's things like this which make me happy to hear that Joost and Schulman will return for the fourth 'Paranormal Activity'</p>

It's things like this which make me happy to hear that Joost and Schulman will return for the fourth 'Paranormal Activity'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Schulman and Joost return to direct 'Parnormal Activity 4' for this Halloween

Paramount's got this one humming along at this point

This makes sense.

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman adapted to the particular demands of making a "Paranormal Activity" movie with real aplomb this year, working quickly on a demanding schedule and turning in a film that absolutely extended the life of what is becoming one of Paramount's favorite franchises, teeny tiny cheap little movies that earn giant bags of cash for the studio each year.

So why wouldn't Paramount want to bring them back for another one?  After all, they've demonstrated that they understand the rhythms of the series, and that they have a head for the increasingly-complicated mythology that is evolving from film to film.  I talked to them this year about their work on the film, and they described the process to me as something that was difficult but also really exciting and fun, and it resulted in a movie that I think works very well.

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<p>Josh Lucas as Mitch McDeere in the new &quot;The Firm.&quot;</p>

Josh Lucas as Mitch McDeere in the new "The Firm."

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC puts Josh Lucas in 'The Firm'

Belated sequel to Cruise/Grisham legal thriller falls flat

Watching the two-hour pilot episode of NBC's "The Firm" (Sunday at 9 p.m.), my mind was filled with many questions, such as:

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<p>Charlize Theron in &quot;Young Adult,&quot;&nbsp;one of the WGA&nbsp;nominees for Best Original&nbsp;Screenplay</p>

Charlize Theron in "Young Adult," one of the WGA nominees for Best Original Screenplay

Credit: Paramount Pictures

WGA nominees include 'Bridesmaids,' '50/50,' 'Dragon Tattoo' and 'Young Adult'

'War Horse' gets snubbed again

Well, yesterday's WGA predictions weren't far off at all. Sub in "Young Adult" for "Contagion" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for "The Ides of March" and there you have it.

We've been very clear that ineligibilities were always going to limit the scope of these nominations. So don't expect this to be the Oscar line-up. The Academy could spring for a foreign entry, like "A Separation," or an animated one, like "Rango." Neither was eligible here. Meanwhile, others that weren't eligible here but that could get a decent amount of votes from the Academy's writers branch include "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "Drive," "Margin Call" and "Beginners."

And, just like "The King's Speech" last year, expect "The Artist" (which wasn't eligible here) to slide right on in to the Best Original Screenplay field. It's not hurt at all by missing here. "War Horse," on the other hand (which I expected to miss with WGA on nothing more than a hunch) could be in an iffy spot. Check out the full list of narrative and documentary nominees below.

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