Although part of me expects the results of tonight's show will be pretty predictable, I am wondering if Nancy Grace will survive into the semifinals simply because of the rumor that people were going to vote for her simply because Len was so harsh in his comments. I'm not sure that's a great reason to keep someone on the show, but really, this season the results have been so haphazard, I'm not sure it's not just as acceptable as any other reason.
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Since I first read Jonathan Franzen's National Book Award-winning novel nearly a full decade ago, "The Corrections" has been simultaneously my most anticipated and most dreaded of all mooted Hollywood prestige pics -- a project that has wavered from inevitability to promise to mirage in the years since the film rights were first snapped up.
Anticipated, because I love the novel as much as legions of other people: its ubiquity has done little to dim the brilliance of its densely knotted construction, jagged comedy and profound capacity for pain and empathy in its deconstruction of what makes and breaks the modern American family. Dreaded, because -- well, everything I just said. It's such a vast, heaving, emotion-sodden work that the odds would be against even the most judicious film treatment matching its breadth and tonal range; a less judicious one, meanwhile, could veer into unholy realms of soggy highbrow soap-opera.
Watching “Glee” on a weekly basis is like playing a high-stakes poker game in a Vegas casino. The show is the house, and the house almost always wins. “Winning” in this case means that the show takes not only your chips, but also your heart and soul as well. But every once in a while, the player beats the house, and their efforts are rewarded. After one of the worst episodes in the show’s history, “Glee” bounced back something fierce with “The First Time,” an episode that should have gone completely off the rails but managed to stay on the tracks and build confidence throughout the hour.
Look: it wasn’t perfect. No episode of “Glee” ever was nor ever will be. You could pick nits in nearly every scene. But the episodes of the show make you stop looking at the flaws and appreciate the emotional responses it can elicit when everything aligns correctly. No more ginger supremacists, leprechauns, or student/teacher trysts. (Unless you count that awful number inside Dalton Academy which, like the second season of “Friday Night Lights,” we’ll all agree never happened.) Instead, we got two things that generally make for a stellar episode of “Glee”: thematic resonance between various storylines, and musical performances that actually comment upon those resonances. This sounds like an easy thing to do. The sum total of “Glee” to date suggests the opposite. So let’s celebrate when it gets things right.
I'm happy to have dedicated the least possible amount of column inches to this Brett Ratner situation. But the actual news of the thing is today's announcement that he is, indeed, after many called for his head in the wake of his using a gay slur at a Q&A last week, out as producer of this year's Oscar telecast. (Kudos to The Hollywood Reporter's "The Race" blog for landing the initial scoop.)
It was the only play. I know it was a tough decision for all involved (not that it should have been, but relationships are tough to just gloss over). But it was the right one. It was a PR nightmare, a picket line on Hollywood Boulevard waiting to happen. It's just not what you want overshadowing what is meant to be a celebration of the year's finest filmmaking.
Alas, this will be Ratner's legacy. This will be what he's remembered for. The easy joke is, "Well, it wasn't going to be his films." Whatever. He's a working filmmaker who gets the job done and keeps the suits happy. And some of his films are entertaining. I'll never begrudge him that. And I was actually getting a little bit excited for the prospects of his Oscar stint, especially with the announcement of a fresh crop of comedy writers for the show.
Quick, how many title sequence designers can you name? I'm willing to bet most of you got no further than Saul Bass, which says more about him than it does about us -- the man responsible for some of the most ubiquitously reprinted poster and credit designs in film history may never have made a feature, but he's acquired the kind of hushed, revered status most cinephiles reserve for auteurs. (He did, however, direct several shorts, nabbing an Oscar for one of them.)
Even those of you who don't know his name know his work: the credit sequences of "Vertigo," "Psycho," "West Side Story" and several 1990s Martin Scorsese pictures; multiple iconic posters, ranging from "The Man With the Golden Arm" to "The Shining"; away from the movies, the corporate logos of AT&T and Kleenex. I have little choice but to think of Bass at least once a day: a poster storyboard of his opening titles for "Anatomy of a Murder" adorns my living room wall. As the son of a graphic designer, I was raised to be hyper-aware (not to mention hyper-critical) of movie credits: Bass, I was taught, was the gold standard. 16 years after his last film job (the title sequence of "Casino," released one year before his death), he remains so.
This hasn't been a good week for Brett Ratner. His first film in four years, "Tower Heist," was both a critical and commercial disappointment after debut on Friday. Ratner complicated matters by responding to a question during a "Tower Heist" Q&A over the weekend by using the phrase "rehearsals are for fags." That set off a firestorm of criticism on Monday which has now lead to Ratner withdrawing from co-producing the 84th Academy Awards.
Where does Taking Back Sunday's founder and guitarist Eddie Reyes go when he wants to disappear? I mean, where do you go? Don't act like you haven't had this dream.
Check out Reyes giving out his best interpretive dance to "You Got Me" to a opulent theater with nobody in the seats.
This is also what happens when your band is short on ideas for your next music video.
A supposed demo of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Love” showed up on the internet today. But the question remains whether it is a true version of the song or some red herring.
Madonna’s long-time rep is playing a little coy. When we asked her to comment or confirm this was indeed Madonna and the first single from her 2012 album, she answered “It sounds great. Can’t wait to hear the real version.” While that may sound like a denial, it may be or it may not be. It could simply be her way of letting us know that there’s even a better, final version coming down the pike. Madonna's appearing at an event in New York on Nov. 12, and Billboard reports that she may be at a New York fashion show tonight as well, so the time is perfect to spring this track on us.
[More after the jump...]
I think it's safe to say that Clint Eastwood has secured his legacy as a filmmaker.
Even if he'd quit directing after he totally crushed it with "Unforgiven," he would have made the case for himself as a world-class director. But at this point, the only filmmaker who works faster or more frequently appears to be Woody Allen, and like Allen, he works often enough that for every great movie he makes, at least two or three of his movies are nearly impossible to sit through. I'm amazed at how bulletproof he is these days, critically speaking, but I think the real respect you can pay an artist is to react honestly to their work and not just give them a pass based on who they are.
I can't in good conscience recommend that you see "J. Edgar," which of course isn't going to stop anyone from actually seeing it. After all, it is Eastwood directing with a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Milk," and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, and a typically dense Eastwood cast. Sounds great, right?
Katy Perry’s march toward her record-setting sixth No. 1 single from “Teenage Dream” continues this week with the release of the music video for “The One That Got Away.”
Perry will debut the clip on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Friday, Nov. 11. The video, which stars Diego Luna, will then immediately go up on Vevo. That same day, a seven-minute, extended version of the video will play during advance screenings of Michelle Williams’ new movie, “My Week with Marilyn.”
The singer has a lot riding on the song, which is No. 34 this week on the Billboard Hot 100. If the ballad can reach the Billboard Hot 100 summit, she will become the first artist in the 53-year history of the chart to land six songs from a single album there. Right now, she is tied with Michael Jackson at five.
[More after the jump...]
As someone who tracks the awards season for at least part of a living, it goes without saying that I've said some geeky things in my time. And few have been geekier than my involuntary exclamation, while discussing the Oscar prospects for "The Artist" with a colleague last week, along the lines of: "I just hope to God it gets a Best Costume Design nomination!" My colleague looked understandably flummoxed: even allowing for my keener-than-average interest in the technical categories, it seems a peculiarly specific wish. The 1920s threads in "The Artist" are top-notch, of course, as is every craft aspect of the handsome monochrome period piece. Why this category?
The answer lies not in the clothes as much as the man behind them. Costume designer Mark Bridges is one of the very best in his field, a singular artist whose imagination is equally fired by contemporary and period settings, whose visual wit and personality shine through even in projects that aren't obvious sartorial showcases. Over two decades in Hollywood, his designs have graced everything from austere Paul Thomas Anderson dramas to fluffy teen comedies to a Cirque du Soleil special, and he has precisely zero Oscar nominations to show for it.
Two years ago, History managed to find the sweet spot between its unofficial identity as The World War II Channel and the increasing popularity of exotic hi-def programming with "WWII in HD," a five-night miniseries featuring digitally-restored color footage from World War II. That was a success, so tonight through Thursday at 9, we get the sequel: "Vietnam in HD," six hours over three nights with a similar collection of eye-popping restored footage.