Latest Blog Posts

<p>Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) has a family reunion on &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) has a family reunion on "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Peg of Old': She is the one who knocks

Van Alden has baby mama drama, while Margaret has a family dinner

A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I send you a book with a horse in it...

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<p>Daryl (Norman Reedus)&nbsp;goes hunting on &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

Daryl (Norman Reedus) goes hunting on "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

'The Walking Dead' - 'Cherokee Rose': Throw the zombie down the well

The action slows down for a more character-driven episode

A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as I bet on the snowball...

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<p>It all comes down to this.</p>

It all comes down to this.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Film Nerd 2.0: The hero's journey ends with 'Return Of The Jedi' on Blu-ray

Ewoks, explosions, the Emperor, and many many shared tears close out the series

There was no event that took place during my vacation that equaled the impact of the screening I held for my sons Toshi and Allen of the final film in the "Star Wars" series, "Return of the Jedi."

And really, how could there be?

When we started this, I admit that I wasn't really thinking about it as a pivotal moment in their filmgoing lives.  I had no idea what sort of impact the films would have on them, even though I knew what kind of impact the films had on me.  One of the things I've tried to do as I've been sharing movies with my boys is be careful not to try to force them into liking the things I like.  I've been very careful about the way the iconography of "Star Wars" was introduced into their lives, never placing it on a pedestal above everything else.  There are certain little things around the house that have been there as long as they've been alive.  A Yoda figure in one room.  A Battle Droid on another shelf.  An old toy lightsaber in their toy box.  Toshi started asking me about seeing the "Star Wars" films about a year ago, and when the Blu-ray box set showed up, I finally decided to give it a try.  Part of me thought I was doing it too soon, but I couldn't deny the interest was there, and that's been the big guiding light so far with this series.  I make things available on an age-appropriate basis, and then they tell me what interests them.

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<p>Common of &quot;Hell on Wheels&quot;</p>
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Common of "Hell on Wheels"

Credit: AMC

TV Review: AMC's 'Hell on Wheels'

New Western is the least successful of AMC's new drama originals
Look, nobody's going to question that Emily Thorne has cause to seek vengeance on ABC's "Revenge." Her father was pretty royally screwed over by what seems to have been a cabal of 40 or 50 members of the Hamptons' elite.
What I do question, however, is Emily's urgency. Yeah, for a week or two she was doing a pretty good job of giving her enemies indigestion, spoiling their marriages or bankrupting their hedge funds. But the for the past few weeks, Emily has barely been revenging at all. I can't blame her for deciding that prancing around the beach in a bikini, going to upper crust galas and getting mixed up in a love triangle are a good deal more fun than  revenging. 
This goes and proves my long-held theory that the best revenge is carried out in unpleasant places where distractions are minimal. Drop Emily Thorne in the Hamptons and it's gonna take her months to complete all of her required revenging. Drop her in Mississippi and she'd have slaughtered the entire conspiracy from A-to-Z before noon and then just moved on with her life as a sexy young billionaire. 
Perhaps that's why I'm feeling comfortable with Cullen Bohannon's ability to carry out his revenge with relative expediency.
Played by Anson Mount, Cullen is the hero of AMC's new drama "Hell on Wheels," a Wikipedia-infused "'Revenge' on Rails" masquerading as a history lesson on the construction of the Union Pacific. Cullen isn't belabored by blue collar crushes or finding the perfect bandage skirt to match his skin tone. He isn't wasting time decorating his green screen adjacent home or monitoring his stock portfolio. Heck, all indications are that Cullen isn't even getting distracted by necessities like bathing. In the traveling cesspool of sin and commerce known as Hell on Wheels, Cullen's monomaniacal. 
But clarity of purpose doesn't necessarily make for a great show and "Hell on Wheels" makes the mistake of premiering with a truly weak pilot episode at exactly the time some critics and many viewers are eager to take AMC to task for perceived hubris and artistic abandonment. Although there are signs of improvement in subsequent episodes, that pilot is going to be really difficult for even patient audiences to sit through. And even from there, I can't exactly tell you that "Hell on Wheels" gets good, just that it gets better.
More after the break...
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<p>Gina Carano in a scene from &quot;Haywire&quot;</p>

Gina Carano in a scene from "Haywire"

Credit: Relativity Media

Steven Soderbergh's 'Haywire' drops at AFI Fest as a secret screening

See it tonight!

I had heard murmurs about this year's secret screening at AFI Fesst being Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire," starring Gina Carano. The bummer is I have to moderate a Q&A this evening, so I'll be missing it.

But hey, if you're in Los Angeles, you can see the film if you want! Via the press release, "Admission to 'Haywire' is available to AFI Fest 2011 pass holders and free tickets for the screening can be obtained at the AT&T Box Office located in suite 219 at the Hollywood and Highland Center between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. today. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Rush Line will begin forming at 8:30 p.m."

Soderbergh's "Contagion" is already in the marketplace (and has had a pretty solid box office run). Warner Bros. has been sniffing around a few awards prospects for that film, particularly Best Original Screenplay for writer Scott Z. Burns. I think Stephen Mirrione's film editing and the original score from Cliff Martinez deserve some consideration.

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<p>&quot;Hell on Wheels&quot;</p>
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"Hell on Wheels"

Credit: AMC

HitFix Interview: 'Hell on Wheels' creators Joe and Tony Gayton discuss their AMC Western

'Deadwood' comparisons, history-bending, Native Americans and more...
"Hell on Wheels" creators Joe and Tony Gayton are tired of having to compare their new AMC Western to HBO's late, lamented "Deadwood," or at least tired of having to differentiate it. 
It's an association that I'll confess that Sepinwall and I made in our podcast last week and an association that's popped up in more than a few reviews I've read. 
In a wide-ranging interview, the Gaytons address the "Deadwood" issue, but they also go into depth on how they view their post-Civil War drama, touching on how the new series deals with historical accuracy, treatment of Native American characters and why they chose to tell the tale of the Union Pacific rather than the Central Pacific. It's more an interview about what "Hell on Wheels" is than what it isn't.
Premiering on Sunday (November 6) night, "Hell on Wheels" features Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon a Confederate veteran who finds himself working on the Union Pacific while looking to avenge his wife. In that quest, he meets original characters like the recently emancipated Elam (Common) and real figures like Thomas "Doc" Durant (Colm Meaney).
This interview contains some minor spoilers, but it may also answer some of the questions you're asking yourself after watching the "Hell on Wheels" pilot.
So either check out the full transcript now, or feel free to drop back in on Sunday night...
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<p>&nbsp;Chris Martin of Coldplay</p>
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 Chris Martin of Coldplay

Credit: Paul White/AP

Music Power Rankings: Why Coldplay edges out Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Alicia Keys

Kina Grannis makes the list for the first time

1) Coldplay: The British band warms up the charts with the third highest opening sales tally of 2011 as “Mylo Xyloto” sells 441,000. I still don’t know what a Mylo or a Xyloto is, although I suspect it’s Coldplay-eze for “Eat it, haters.”

2) Live Nation: It’s amazing what happens when you practice a little customer service. The mega-concert promoter is showing a $16.5 million profit for the first three quarters of 2011, compared with a $104 million loss in 2012. Part of the strategy to put more butts in the seats? Lower ticket prices and trim service fees.

3) Rihanna: She scores her 11th No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “We Found Love, soaring past Janet Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Wrap your head around this: 10 more No. 1s (which she could conceivably accomplish with her next two albums) and she will overtake the Beatles for the all-time leader. I love Rihanna, but that’s just not right.

4) Lady Gaga: Momma Monster gets the Thanksgiving music slot that Beyonce has gotten in the past. “A Very GaGa Thanksgiving,” which will be served complete with an interview conducted by Katie Couric, will air at 9:30 p.m. Thanksgiving night. We all need a little ham with our turkey.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Charlie Day and Maroon 5</p>
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Charlie Day and Maroon 5

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Charlie Day and Maroon 5

A middle-of-the-road return for the show, which kept host Charlie Day boxed in all night
“Saturday Night Live” is back, after a much-needed two-week hiatus. On tap tonight: Charlie Day, best known for his work on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, and Maroon 5, best known for having its lead singer be one of the judges on “The Voice.” I kid! Day also has plenty of recent cinematic experience with one Jason Sudeikis, so look for a lot of pairings between them. Then again, there was very little interaction between Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig a few weeks back, so anything is possible. What’s a definite: if “SNL” attempts a dumbed-down “Sunny” sketch, I might hurl my laptop at the screen. Hopefully there’s something in my HitFix contract that states they will reimburse me if that happens.
Onto the recap!
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"Dancing with the Stars"

Justin Bieber and Boyz II Men perform on "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Reality TV Roundup: A 'Survivor' turns, Justin Bieber sings and 'The X Factor' lip-synchs

It's another week of ups and downs in the wild world of reality TV

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch "The X Factor," "Survivor," "Dancing with the Stars," "Top Chef," "Project Accessory" or "America's Next Top Model," the latest elimination for each show is revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 

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<p>Kristen Stewart discusses &quot;The Twilight Saga:&nbsp;Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;Snow White and the Huntsman&quot;</p>

Kristen Stewart discusses "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" and "Snow White and the Huntsman"

'Breaking Dawn's' Kristen Stewart on a year of giving birth and scuffling with dwarfs

Plus: A sneak peek of her British accent in 'Snow White and the Huntsman'

The first thing I noticed upon my interview with Kristen Stewart for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" wasn't how stunning she looks with longer, dark hair, but the bandage/apparatus on her right hand.  Having likely answered the same "what happened" inquiry all day long, Stewart kindly answered,  "I hurt it a few weeks ago. I was scuffling with some dwarfs and I pulled a ligament in this thumb. I have bad luck with thumbs. I broke this thumb in 'Breaking Dawn' actually."

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Ben Kingsley (left) and Asa Butterfield in Martin Scorsese's love letter to cinema, "Hugo."
Ben Kingsley (left) and Asa Butterfield in Martin Scorsese's love letter to cinema, "Hugo."
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Scorsese's 'Hugo' is a flawed but passionate ode to romance and the cinema

The legendary director's love for the form splashes on every frame

Paramount finally brought Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" before a lot of press (and a lot of guild members) in Los Angeles this afternoon. This after the film showed "unfinished" as a secret screening at the New York Film Festival last month.

Well, this print was "unfinished," too, actually. One effects shot was still left to be rendered, and closing credits were not yet complete, but by and large, it was finished. And though it's a flawed piece of work (stemming from a sluggish screenplay and a largely underwhelming lead performance from Asa Butterfield), I found it to be fiercely romantic and inspiringly passionate. I'll sign off on that most days of the week.

It's also immaculately crafted, from Dante Ferretti's jaw-dropping production design (hello, Oscar) to Robert Richardson's dazzling fluid master shots and foray into 3D to Sandy Powell's precise-as-always costume design to the complex visual effects work on the piece. The film creates a world and transports you there effortlessly.

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<p>&quot;Batman:&nbsp;Arkham City&quot;&nbsp;owns my soul.</p>

"Batman: Arkham City" owns my soul.

Credit: Rocksteady Studios

Cinejabber: Arkham on the brain

Open thread. The floor is yours.

Welcome to Cinejabber, your weekend space to talk about whatever, whenever.

Me? I've been playing "Batman: Arkham City." As in, playing it too much. I have R. Kelly's "Batman & Robin" track "Gotham City" stuck in my head with "Gotham" replaced by "Arkham." It's that bad. But when you're obsessed with the Bat, I guess it's to be expected.

It's a dense game. Perhaps too dense. But it's a blast and has even sparked an interesting conversation about sexism (I don't see it, personally, though I'll admit it leans on a few cliches a bit too much). "Uncharted 3" is sitting on the table, waiting for its turn, and "Assassin's Creed: Revelations" is dropping in under two weeks. Hopefully I'll see my fiancee some over the next few months. #dork

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