Latest Blog Posts

<p>Stephen Lang and Jason O'Mara of &quot;Terra Nova&quot;</p>
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Stephen Lang and Jason O'Mara of "Terra Nova"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Terra Nova' - 'Bylaw'

An episode with all of the old flaws, but a few new wrinkles that offer hope

Let’s state this up front: telling a long-form narrative is incredibly, incredibly hard. When it’s done well, it represents a monumental achievement. So saying “Terra Nova” is pretty terrible at it isn’t quite the slam it might seem. It just means the show is just as bad as the majority of other television shows currently on right now. By now, it’s abundantly clear that the show barely thought past the pilot in terms of creating a far-reaching story that would sustain a single season, never mind a multitude of them. But that need not be a deal breaker for the show, so long as it recognizes its own limitations. But as long as it fails to do so, this will be an expensive misfire for FOX.

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<p>Sean Durkin and actress Elizabeth Olsen at the London premiere of &quot;Martha Marcy May Marlene.&quot;</p>

Sean Durkin and actress Elizabeth Olsen at the London premiere of "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Interview: Sean Durkin on confronting his fears in 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

Debut writer-director reveals the thinking behind his alternative horror movie

Sean Durkin is okay with the fact that his quiet, delicate, elegantly assembled debut feature freaks the living shit out of any number of viewers who encounter it. That’s the way the mild-mannered, genially bearded young writer-director wants it.

“I’ve read some critics describe it as a horror film, and I’m happy with that,” he says of “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” the cool, slippery psychological drama that won him a Best Director award at Sundance in January, and has been preying on the minds of US arthouse cinemagoers for the past week. “I love horror films, but I hate when they get bloody. I love the build-up, I love the fear. I got really addicted to fear when I was a child. The way I approach filmmaking, it’s a way to confront my fears. To create them is to confront them.”

“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” a time-shifting study of the attempted self-rehabilitation of Martha (first-time actress Elizabeth Olsen), a pretty, suggestible young woman recently escaped from a dangerous Catskills cult, certainly revels in build-up, teasingly withholding key details of the character’s circumstances across its broken-mirror narrative – leaving some unaddressed altogether. If the filmmaker is working through personal anxieties in this story, it’s certainly not evident in the crisp control with which he braids this material.

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<p>Katie Holmes and Josh Radnor in &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Katie Holmes and Josh Radnor in "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

'How I Met Your Mother' - 'The Slutty Pumpkin Returns': Oh, Canada

Katie Holmes underwhelms in the title role, but the subplots make up for her

A review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I'm as serious as a poutine shortage...

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<p>Miranda Lambert, &quot;Four the Record&quot;</p>

Miranda Lambert, "Four the Record"

Album Review: Miranda Lambert sets it straight on 'Four the Record'

Has marriage to Blake Shelton softened the country superstar?

Miranda Lambert has gone from “Nashville Star” contestant — and not even a winner at that — to country queen in the span of six short years. 

With “Four the Record,” her fourth album— get it? — she shows why. The reigning CMA female vocalist has always adored her country sisters who came before — Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris — but she draws just as much inspiration and grit from Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. This Texan loves her red meat, her guns, her liquor, her country, and her man, when he treats her right.

Jennings once joked that he “couldn’t go pop with a mouthful of firecrackers,” and the same holds true of Lambert. Her success has only made her stronger in her country convictions. Though there are touches of blues and rock on the Nov. 1 release,  country blazes through every song here, which are drenched in mandolins, fiddles, pedal steel and a well-placed mournful organ every now and then.

Smartly, Lambert doesn’t try to replicate her modern classic, the tearjerker “The House That Built Me,” from 2009’s “Revolution.” If nothing on “Four” reaches the heights of “House,” the project scores as a  consistently more even affair than her past three sets, full of  heartache, betrayal, and, above all, attitude.  Vocally, the 27-year old Lambert’s twang can sound boastful, regretful and torn all in the same song.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Blondin Miguel in Finnish Oscar submission &quot;Le Havre.&quot;</p>

Blondin Miguel in Finnish Oscar submission "Le Havre."

Credit: Janus Films

Handicapping the foreign-language Oscar race

We introduce the category's first Contenders page of the season

Amid Kris' regular weekly predictions update, you might notice something new amid the Contenders pages: our first ranking for the season of the Best Foreign Language Film submissions. Needless to say, in a category this eternally uncertain, it's a rough list, to say the least: drawn from a vague voodoo combination of gut feeling about the films I've seen, hearsay about the films I haven't, and doubtless foolhardy underestimation of the films I currently know nothing about.

The rankings will no doubt shift as I see more of the submissions, but this one category where precursor awards are really of very little help: there's no way of logically deducing what will show up on the nine-title shortlist  that precedes the nominations in January. The fun, for me, lies in predicting two opposing concerns: which seemingly obvious favorites the voters will snub (as happens to certain high-profile entries on an annual basis), and which left-field surprises the branch's more discerning executive committee might shoehorn onto the list. What's this year's "Of Gods and Men," and what's this year's "Dogtooth?"

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<p>Michelle Williams in a special shoot for &quot;My Week with Marilyn.&quot;</p>

Michelle Williams in a special shoot for "My Week with Marilyn."

Credit: The Weinstein Company/Brigitte Lacomb

'My Week with Marilyn' gets some old school print love in Newsweek

There's no better way to let octogenarians know about a movie

The common refrain for the past five years or so in the content business is "Print is dead."  And while that's pretty much true across the board (or will be once digital tablets become commonplace amongst the masses), our print brothers can still impact the opening of a movie.

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<p>A scene from&nbsp;Steven&nbsp;Spielberg's &quot;The Adventures of Tintin:&nbsp;The Secret of the Unicorn&quot;</p>

A scene from Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Spielberg's 'Tintin' to close out AFI Fest

Festival pulls off a real coup landing the North American premiere of the film

According to The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog, Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" will close out this year's AFI Fest on November 10. The announcement is a real coup for the 25th edition of the festival, which already has Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" set to open the event this Thursday night, November 3.

"Tintin" premiered in the UK last week, where it scored big at the box office but wasn't met with thunderous critical approval. Our own Guy Lodge was a big fan of the film, however, noting that "the film’s smashing key set pieces...fully justify this technological leap of faith [of performance-capture], while also successfully adapting the distinctive flat-color textures of Hergé’s trademark ligne claire drawing style."

Other key galas planned for AFI Fest include "Carnage," "My Week with Marilyn," "The Artist" (naturally) and "Shame." As previously announced, Pedro Almodóvar will serve as Guest Artistic Director of the festival, offering up his own sidebar program of curated classics.

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<p>&nbsp;Anson Mount of &quot;Hell on Wheels&quot;</p>
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 Anson Mount of "Hell on Wheels"

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 101

Dan and Alan review 'Hell on Wheels,' the new season of 'Bones' and more


Happy Halloween, Boys & Ghouls. Time for Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 101.
I'm not sure how this podcast became as long as it did, but we certainly had plenty to talk about, with "Hell on Wheels," the return of "Bones" and PBS' "Page Eight." We also did another installment of Dan's Reality Roundup and a few random segments, including a ratings update.
New week isn't gonna be nearly as full, so send e-mails.
This week's breakdown:
"Bones" -- 1:55 - 8:25
"Page Eight" -- 8:30 - 17:00
FX getting into Charlie Sheen -- 17:10 - 27:00
"Hell on Wheels" -- 27:05 - 41:40
Recent Ratings Overview -- 41:45 - 53:45
Dan's Reality Roundup -- 53:45 - 01:14:30 
Listener Mail: Women watch football too -- 01:14:35 - 01:19:45

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And here's the podcast...
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<p>A classic image from F.W. Murnau's &quot;Nosferatu:&nbsp;A&nbsp;Symphony of Horror&quot;</p>

A classic image from F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror"

Credit: Film Arts Guild

Santa Barbara plays host to 'Nosferatu'

F.W. Murnau's silent classic screens with live organ accompaniment

Last night the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, along with Southern California Edison and the Santa Barbara Theater Organ Society, presented its third-annual pre-Halloween program dedicated to the screening of a silent classic with live music accompaniment. The night's offering: F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror."

The program launched in 2009 with "The Phantom of the Opera" and continued last year with "The Black Pirate." And judging by the big turnout at the Arlington Theatre yesterday, it's as popular as ever. The film was preceded by the somewhat Halloween-themed Laurel and Hardy short, "Habeas Corpus."

There was a bit of a last-minute scare, though, as the scheduled organist was stranded back east due to the severe weather that popped up over the weekend. A savior swooped in at the last second as Santa Barbara festival director Roger Durling and company got in touch with a Burbank-based organist who, after playing his third-straight mass that morning, was happy to change it up with a silent horror film and a slapstick short.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 101: 'Hell on Wheels,' 'Bones,' Charlie Sheen and more
Credit: AMC

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 101: 'Hell on Wheels,' 'Bones,' Charlie Sheen and more

Time for another Dan's Reality Round-Up, a review of PBS' 'Page Eight,' plus ratings talk


Happy Monday, and time for a busy, Dan-centric installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, in which we review "Hell on Wheels," the new season of "Bones," bust out another installment of Dan's Reality Round-Up, talk off the cuff about the Charlie Sheen/FX deal, and lots more.

The line-up: 

"Bones" -- 1:55 - 8:25
"Page Eight" -- 8:30 - 17:00
FX getting into the Charlie Sheen business -- 17:10 - 27:00
"Hell on Wheels" -- 27:05 - 41:40
Recent Ratings Overview -- 41:45 - 53:45
Dan's Reality Roundup -- 53:45 - 01:14:30 
Listener Mail: Women watch football too -- 01:14:35 - 01:19:45
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at and/or if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>Charlize Theron in a scene from &quot;Young&nbsp;Adult&quot;</p>

Charlize Theron in a scene from "Young Adult"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Off the Carpet: Building the perfect strategy

As always, studios navigate the tricky waters of expectation this season

It's been quiet. You might say too quiet.

Mid-to-late-October, those thin moments just after the New York Film Festival concludes and a number of the fall festival staples segue to the London Film Festival, it's always a bit of a lull. Call it the calm before the storm if you want, but I don't even really see much of a storm on the horizon. Just some heat lightning, maybe.

The season will show further signs of life this week as both Jason Reitman's "Young Adult" and Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" finally screen for LA-based press. The former has been playing for as long as possible on the outside, building steam and word-of-mouth initially in Minnesota (where the film is set -- first "reviewed" by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a blog entry of less than 200 words accompanied by a whopping four comments) and then adjacent to the Austin Film Festival as one of a few "pop-up" screenings held around the country.

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Credit: Mary Rozzi

Interview: Feist talks new album, metal meeting 'Metals' with Mastodon

As tour kicks off, Leslie Feist pages the Flaming Lips

When it came to writing her latest album “Metals” last winter, Leslie Feist took inspiration from Jonathan Franzen, when he was writing his 2010 novel “Freedom.” The writer whittled down his work space to a minimum, to objects of bare necessity, with only a desk, laptop working solely as a word processor and a “beige, buzzing overhead light. 

“I wanted to do the same thing, so all I had was my laptop, with no internet, a floor tom and one old guitar, an amp and one new guitar. I made like a little altar, with things that were dear to me like a few postcards and couple of books. It was basically modernity-forbidden zone,” Feist told me in our recent interview. She banged out ideas for “Metals” from a “shed” in the backyard of her Toronto home. When it came time to record, she and her backing players set up shop in Big Sur, out of a converted barn where “it took 20 minutes just to get drive down the driveway, to get to the highway.” There was almost no cell reception, and getting online was a hassle.
“You felt so cutoff. It was a bubble and really potent, if not a little irritating. It’d be like, ‘Oh the internet’s down again, I guess we’ll just make a record.”
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