Happy Thanksgiving, to all my American readers! (And happy Thursday morning to everyone else.) In what's become something of an annual blog tradition for me, I'm going to embed two of the all-time classic sitcom episodes about Thanksgiving: "Turkeys Away," from "WKRP in Cincinnati" and "Thanksgiving Orphans" from "Cheers." If you have some time to kill before football, turkey, or whatever your family's Thanksgiving plans entail, enjoy some retro laughter, particularly in the climax of each episode.
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It's back to Texas for, yes, a chili pepper-focused challenge followed by an actual chili cook off. I know, everything is meant to fit a theme, but I'm hoping we move away from "things people might want to eat on a ranch" pretty quickly.
Before we get started, Lindsay and Sarah tell everyone that they don't feel they turned on Keith. Oh, okay. That throwing him under the bus motion? That was just a vigorous upper body exercise. Nyesha thinks she's seen everyone's true colors and feels the competition has turned cutthroat. I think Nyesha's dead on.
One more wide release solicitation for opinions before getting to the limited films tomorrow. Really packed holiday weekend at the theaters, and much as I love elements of "Hugo" and Michelle Williams's performance in "My Week with Marilyn," if you're asking for a recommendation from the stuff that went wide this week, I'd say spring for "The Muppets." It's not some perfectly crafted work of art, but it was the best time I've had in a theater, perhaps all season. Too bad the Oscars missed the boat. But in any case, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the film when/if you see it, so chalk up your take in the comments section below.
At this point, I'm amazed by Michelle Williams so regularly that I'm used to it.
After all, she's been crushing it in film after film. "Blue Valentine." "Wendy and Lucy." "Meek's Cutoff." "Take This Waltz." She has slowly but surely asserted herself as one of the most impressive young actors working, able to tap into a wellspring of pain that makes her work almost impossible to take at times while being hard to turn off. I love it when an actor starts to really play these raw nerve types of roles, and if it is her real-life personal pain that drives her, then I am truly sorry on her behalf, but I am thankful we at least have the work to enjoy.
Playing Marilyn Monroe seems like the sort of thing that is almost too big a challenge, and one of the reasons I've never been a huge fan of biopics in general. I think they often try to distill an entire life into two hours and often fail miserably at the task. Human lives are complicated, and any person over the course of a life lived richly will probably be several different distinct people over the course of many decades. We change. We evolve. We are rarely just one thing, but biopics are by their very nature reductive, designed to sum someone up with a few signature moments or ideas. I hope I'm not defined that easily, and I don't believe most people are.
Bar an offhand tweet-review that I’d now downgrade about two notches, I’ve been quiet on Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” since seeing it at the London Film Festival last month, and remained so when it hit US screens last week to an inevitable shower of critical applause – with many returning the film to its pre-Toronto position as the film to beat for the Oscar.
I’m not sure why I’ve felt so disinclined to write about it, besides the fact that—contrary to what many may believe about film critics—it’s not a lot of fun to pick away at films beloved by the majority. At first I thought “The Descendants,” a glibly engineered dramedy of Grief and Reconciliation and other capital-letter emotional states, simply wasn’t interesting enough to discuss at any great length, its virtues and offenses both too minor to get worked up about: competent films this bland and condescending get a free pass all the time from critics and audiences, so why single this one out for censure just because it has a bit of Oscar buzz?
I got to see tonight's "Suburgatory" in advance, which means you get a review of that tonight, while I'll likely skip over "Modern Family," "Happy Endings," et al and try to enjoy a Thanksgiving weekend away from the computer. (The Sunday cable drama posts are already written and ready to go.) A review of "Suburgatory" coming up just as soon as I think all Belgians are sex offenders...
Everybody loves Amy Adams.
That's a universal truth, right? She's one of those performers I can't imagine disliking. Even if you don't love the movies she makes, I can't fathom how anyone would have a problem with her. There's a reason her performance in "Junebug" got her that Oscar nomination, and it was more a case of "Oh my gosh, who is this person?" than the film itself. She just popped off the screen in that film, and I felt the same was true of her work in Steven Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can."
On the day we did this interview, I had both of my sons with me, and it was a big day of meeting people for them. They got to meet Spider-Man's girlfriend, they met Walter, and Toshi interviewed Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. But maybe the biggest event for them, based on how much they talked about it afterwards, was meeting The Princess from "The Princess Movie."
At least, that's the title it's known by in our house. Both of the boys are big fans of "Enchanted," and they knew Adams as Giselle from that film before they knew her as anything else. And while they also love her in "A Night At The Museum 2," even in that film, they just refer to her as "The Princess."
I always love it when Variety gets a bunch of actors to wax on about their colleagues' work this time of year. There are a bunch of these: Diane Keaton on Sarah Paulson in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," Robert Duvall on Christoph Waltz in "Carnage," etc.
I was mostly stoked, though, to see that my two favorite performers of the year were featured in one of these capsule assessments, as "Take Shelter" star Michael Shannon was given space to praise Woody Harrelson, whose performance in "Rampart" is easily one of the year's best.
I actually sat down with Harrelson for about an hour earlier today on the set of his new film, Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths." He ran through a few takes of a scene with Christopher Walken (which he said blew his mind) and then we headed over his trailer for the sit-down.
It's not just Elimination Wednesday on "The X Factor."
It's DOUBLE Elimination Wednesday.
Time to let the craziness ensue after the break...
"The Artist" is, as you may have heard by now, a black-and-white movie that is, for the most part, silent. It is set during the era when the silent films were replaced by talking pictures. It is a crowd-pleaser, and since its premiere at Cannes this summer, it's been getting warm and enthusiastic reviews.
I was onboard since before the film started screening based purely on the creative team involved. Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin collaborated on both "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest Of Spies" and "OSS 117 - Lost In Rio," which are these lovely silly French riffs on spy movies from the '60s, with Dujardin looking like someone put Bond-era Connery and Patrick Warburton in the Brundlechamber. Those films both delight me, start to finish, and the idea of those two guys paying tribute to silent cinema sounded like pure win as far as I was concerned.
Now, a day later, I'm trying to figure out why I don't love the movie the way so many others seem to. People are ecstatic over it, swoony in love with it, and I thought it was, at best, a nice diversion, a sweet but overly simple piece that won't have nearly the rematch value for me as their earlier films together. I think Dujardin is very charming in it, I think Berenice Bejo is a pleasure to watch in the film, and I like the work Hazanavicius does as a director. It's very skilled in a lot of ways. But the storyline here is threadbare, a few sketched ideas instead of a finished work, and I can't help but feel that they never really figured out why to make this movie aside from the obvious exercise in homage.
Actually, this is funny.
Odd Future has its own live-action, "Jackass"-style show coming to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, but the hip-hop troupe's Tyler, The Creator is jumping the gun a little bit and appeared on "Regular Show" in animated form.
Tyler appears as a bully Blitz Comet along side the rest of his crew CrewCrew, with Alpha Dog (Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino) and Demolition (MC Lyte [YAY!]). CrewCrew engages in a rap battle with a Shakespearean spitter named Pops, to a delightful end.
Tyler doubles as another rapper in the ep, Big Trouble. Tyler's known for his admirably smart but confrontational (and sometimes misogynistic, offensive, among other adjectives, yes) style. It's kind of fun to see him get a beat down, in a way. Have some fun with that big head of his.
"Loiter Squad" comes to the network next year.
There was a time when I believed I would never meet a bigger Muppet fan than Jason Segel.
Then I met James Bobin.
I really liked his work on "Flight Of The Conchords," and I was just excited to have him working in features in general. I didn't realize how big an influence the Muppets were on him until talking to Jason Segel about it on the set of "Five Year Engagement" this summer. He told me that meeting Bobin was sort of like looking in a mirror that turned you British, and that he felt like "The Muppets" was in the perfect hands.
Having seen the finished film, I concur. Bobin was programmed to make this film from a very early age, and all you have to do is look at the way he stages his version of the iconic opening sequence to the original "Muppet Show" to see how OCD can, indeed, prepare you for a life in the arts. It is perfect, down to the smallest detail. That seems to be something that can elude filmmakers, no matter how much they try to reproduce things. Look at the "Halloween" series, for example, where they never seem to be able to get the Michael Myers mask to look the same way twice. Bobin does such a good job making his film fit into a visual world that has already been established that he makes it look easy, and people may not realize just how deft his sleight of hand really is.