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<p>Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson in &quot;Rampart.&quot;</p>

Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson in "Rampart."

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

Woody Harrelson's tough luck with Oscar will continue with 'Rampart'

Was this the wrong strategy for Oren Moverman's drama?

Sometimes lady luck is clearly on your side and sometimes it really isn't.  In terms of Oscar, Woody Harrelson has consistently struck out with the mercurial lady twice already and this year it appears he won't even make it to the party.  Harrelson gives another impressive and strong performance as Dave Brown, an LAPD cop who can't break his corrupt habits in Owen Moverman's "Rampart."  Harrelson's performance has drawn raves since the film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in September (this pundit screened it at the AFI Fest on Saturday night). After Toronto, Millennium Entertainment came on board to give the film a pre-release Oscar qualifying run in December and a platform release in 2012. In hindsight, the Toronto and fall release strategy may not have been the best strategy for "Ramparts" producers.

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<p>Anson Mount and Common in &quot;Hell on Wheels.&quot;</p>

Anson Mount and Common in "Hell on Wheels."

Credit: AMC

'Hell on Wheels' - 'Pilot': An elephant never forgets

What did everybody think of AMC's new Western?

I posted my review of "Hell on Wheelsearlier in the week. Now it's your turn. Did you enjoy this show's take on the familiar Western genre? Did you buy Anson Mount as a grizzled gunslinger? Common as a tough ex-slave? Colm Meaney as a charismatic businessman who gives monologues to thin air? If you were a "Deadwood" fan, was it hard to avoid the similarities? Most importantly, will you keep watching?

As I said at the end of my review, I didn't especially like the show, but it's acceptable enough in a genre I enjoy that I imagine I'll at least be sticking with it through the end of the season. And as a result, I may wind up doing regular posts - about as long as this one, if not shorter - to see if other people want to keep talking about it. We'll play it by ear, and if the interest just isn't there, I'll either stop or start bundling it up into one of the semi-regular round-up features.

Have at it.

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<p>Sgt. Brody (Damian Lewis)&nbsp;on &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Sgt. Brody (Damian Lewis) on "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

'Homeland' - 'The Good Soldier': Hello, Larry

Carrie tries to use a polygraph expert to trap Brody

A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I'm a victim of your fabulousness...

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<p>Andy and Tommy of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
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Andy and Tommy of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Move Goat'

A Speed Bump, a Double U-Turn and a race for first
The producers of "The Amazing Race" definitely can't sue Zac & Laurence for being stupid, but they can certainly resent the Father/Son Adventurers for possibly screwing up the intended structure of the show's latest leg. 
Oh well. It wasn't a big deal. I don't think that Laurence & Zac's dumbness had any impact at all on the results of the leg, but they definitely contributed to an anti-climactic conclusion to what was otherwise a decent episode of television.
Click through for the breakdown...
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<p>Eddie Murphy and Brett Ratner hope to spice the Oscarcast up this year, now with a troupe of fresh writers.</p>

Eddie Murphy and Brett Ratner hope to spice the Oscarcast up this year, now with a troupe of fresh writers.

Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Newly tapped Oscarcast writers place an emphasis on funny

Credits include 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Saturday Night Live'

Over at the Los Angeles Times/Envelope 24 Frames blog, Nicole Sperling has a juicy exclusive regarding this year's Oscar telecast. It seems Brett Ratner and Don Mischer, producers of this year's show, have hired a unique crop of comedy writers to work alongside Eddie Murphy and shake things up a bit.

Scribes tapped include: Alec Berg and David Mandel, two of the writers on Larry David's successful HBO comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm"; Jeff Nathanson, who frequently works with Ratner ("Tower Heist" and the "Rush Hour" films); Ted Griffin, who was part of the team of writers on Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's" franchise; and Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield, who worked with Murphy on the "Nutty Professor" series and "Saturday Night Live."

Jon Macks, who wrote on the last 14 Oscarcasts and has extensive experience with variety show writing, from the Emmys to the Country Music Awards to "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," will also be on board.

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<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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