Latest Blog Posts

"Fear Factor"

 "Fear Factor"

Credit: NBC

Do we really need more 'Fear Factor'?

The reality classic returns tonight, but will audiences respond?

In the world of television, everything old really is new again (and again and again). Five years after "Fear Factor" and its gross-out stunts fell off prime-time's radar, the show is back and, NBC promises, bigger and badder (and, we can assume, grosser) than ever. Even original host Joe Rogan returns, albeit with a little less hair. The question is whether audiences will have the same appetite for bug eating, endurance tests and innards-swallowing they've had in the past. I mean, audiences other than 10-year-old boys, of course. 

Read Full Post
<p>Ernest Hemingway sits at his typewriter in Cuba.</p>

Ernest Hemingway sits at his typewriter in Cuba.

Credit: AP Photo

Corey Stoll on Ernest Hemingway's complicity in his own myth

The 'Midnight in Paris' star reads from the author's letters at Boston's JFK Library

BOSTON - The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum sits fairly isolated on Boston Harbor. On a cold and clear December day, I.M. Pei’s architecture looks undeniably beautiful, in many ways showing the best of what can be accomplished in America. But the view of the harbor is undeniably stark, leaving one to wonder: What if the man to which it was dedicated had lived longer?

It seems only appropriate that this shrine to the most notable member of the famed yet tragic “essential American family” is also home to the largest collection of letters from the famed yet tragic “essential American author.” Once upon a time, Ernest Hemingway’s widow struck up a friendship with the 35th president and his wife when she needed permission to go to Cuba to retrieve her husband’s belongings. One thing led to another and today, there is more original archived material from and about Hemingway at the JFK Library than anywhere in the world.

In addition to his novels and short stories, Hemingway was also a prolific letter writer (around 2,500 of his letters are at the JFK Library alone). And Hemingway scholar Sandra Spanier has recently edited the first book in a 16-volume collection of them.

Read Full Post
<p>This is a candid photo taken during the recording of the soundtrack for 'The Muppets,' and was not staged in any way. &nbsp;Seriously.</p>

This is a candid photo taken during the recording of the soundtrack for 'The Muppets,' and was not staged in any way.  Seriously.

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Listen: Bret McKenzie discusses songwriting for 'The Muppets'

Plus Scott loves Jonah Hill and we play some more Movie God

Wow.  I really screwed this up.

Until someone asked me about it on Twitter last night, I was under the impression that I had published both the pre-Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving podcasts, and I even distinctly remember putting together the article for the first one.  But when I went back to look, I realized that I seem to be going soft in my old age.

It's a shame, too, so I'm going to publish not one… not two… but three podcasts in the next 9 hours.  It's going to veritably rain podcasts down on you people.  And all three of them are overloaded with goodness, so hopefully that will make up for my apparent brain damage.

This first podcast features an interview with Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie, and it's a real treat to talk to him about his work on "The Muppets."  He's at an interesting point in his career right now, and they don't really make a ton of movie musicals.  Still, I'd say he more than proved he's up for the task, and I hope more filmmakers reach out to him and build some projects around the work he does.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Drive&quot;&nbsp;had a strong showing, popping up twice in the &quot;Best Scene&quot;&nbsp;category.</p>

"Drive" had a strong showing, popping up twice in the "Best Scene" category.

Credit: FilmDistrict

'The Artist' and 'Drive' lead with St. Louis critics

They also really dug 'Hanna'

Strap in. It's gonna be a bumpy ride. More critics kudos! (Hey, look on the bright side. At this rate it'll be over sooner rather than later.)

But the St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association's list of nominees brings up an interesting question: Should critics groups really be bothering with self-satisfying nominations announcements? I'm one to talk, of course, since I do something similar every year, but that's always covered within three days, whereas some of these guys (the D.C. crowd excepted) will stretch things out between nods and awards to simply get another burst of PR later.

It would be one thing if this allowed for a nice sampling of unique mentions, but that's rarely the case. With this group we get a Best Picture nod for "My Week with Marilyn," some Best Director love for David Fincher, notices for Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan in "Hanna," a tip of the hat to Alan Rickman, etc. So it's okay, I guess. But I don't know. Just give us your winners and be done with it.

Anyway, check out the full list of nominees below.

Read Full Post
<p>Radiohead's &quot;The Daily Mail&quot; b/w &quot;Staircase&quot;</p>

Radiohead's "The Daily Mail" b/w "Staircase"

Radiohead officially releasing 'Daily Mail' and 'Staircase' tracks

'From the Basement' DVD/Blu-Ray release imminent; more tour dates TBA

Despite not having been on "The King of Limbs" album, Radiohead's "The Daily Mail" and "Staircase" have made the rounds enough this year to be considered part of that album.

Never the less, the British band has decided to finally, formally release those two songs, recorded during TKoL sessions, as MP3s and WAVs starting on Dec. 19. The two must be purchased together, and are available now for pre-order through the band's website.

Dec. 19 is also the date which fans can purchase Nigel Godrich's "The King of Limbs - From the Basement" DVD of the group performing TKoL in full, plus the two tracks above and the song "Supercollider." (The latter was released as a 12" single b/w "The Butcher" earlier this year.) Any order also includes a free download of the intimate concert performance.

These arrive in time for the holidays, but also ahead of Radiohead's North American tour. Check out all announced dates here; a press releases promises "more live dates to be announced soon."

Radiohead didn't tour or play many shows at all this summer and fall (with a few stops in New York), and spent some of it milking expanding on TKoL with their remix releases. That's a whole lot of merch at the table this spring.

Read Full Post
<p>Andre Braugher and Treat Williams in a scene from last week's &quot;Law &amp;&nbsp;Order:&nbsp;Special Victims Unit.&quot;</p>

Andre Braugher and Treat Williams in a scene from last week's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

Credit: NBC

One too many hits: checking in on 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'

How are people feeling about the revamped cop drama?

I'll admit up-front that "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has always been my least favorite major entry in the franchise. No knock on Chris Meloni, Mariska Hargitay and company, but the subject matter was always a turn-off for me, and that was even before the show went through that period of casting beloved TV stars to play sick rapists for maximum shock value.

Read Full Post
<p>Robyn on &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot;</p>

Robyn on "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Watch: Robyn hits 'Saturday Night Live' for the first time

Katy Perry introduces the dancing Swede, who performs 'Call Your Girlfriend' and 'Dancing'

Robyn opened for Katy Perry during the pop star's California Dreams tour, so it seemed only natural the two paired up again for "Saturday Night Live."

Robyn, my girl-crush, was the musical guest on "SNL" this past weekend, with Perry hosting. And while I actually love both of those women's voices (Perry's is its own little study in "vocal fry"), the Swede brought a bag of her moves.

At times, she was out-of-breath for "Dancing on My Own," but she brought the same campy, desperate energy in her face and on the chorus. "Call Your Girlfriend" was much steadier, and she whirled through the same dance interlude from the music video, including that stellar stumble move.

Just thought you'd like this. She and Perry need a fashion face-off. That is all.

Read a full recap of Saturday's show.

Read Full Post
<p>Jean Dujardin (left)&nbsp;and Indiana film critics Best Director winner Michel&nbsp;Hazanavicius on the set of &quot;The Artist&quot;</p>

Jean Dujardin (left) and Indiana film critics Best Director winner Michel Hazanavicius on the set of "The Artist"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Indiana critics like 'The Artist,' Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Olsen

Viola Davis cited in supporting, 'Into the Abyss' gets some recognition

After yesterday's all-day critics awards onslaught, you might be wondering, "What's left?" Plenty, I can tell you. Everyone seems to have gotten together and formed a critics group these days, and this morning, the onslaught continues with the Indiana Film Journalists Association.

The group picked "The Artist" for Best Picture and Best Director, but were more interesting in their acting selections. Paul Giamatti took Best Actor for "Win Win" while Elizabeth Olsen won Best Actress for "Martha Marcy May Marlene." And though "The Descendants" was clearly the second-favorite of the lot, it was Ralph Fiennes in "Coriolanus" coming in at runner-up for Best Actor, which is interesting.

Other things of note: Viola Davis was spotlighted int he supporting category, not lead, and Werner Herzog's "Into the Abyss" finally gets a shout-out, coming in as a runner-up to "Project Nim" in the documentary category.

Check out the full list of winners below.

Read Full Post
<p>Brad Pitt in &quot;Moneyball,&quot;&nbsp;one of the year's best films that fell outside the top 10</p>

Brad Pitt in "Moneyball," one of the year's best films that fell outside the top 10

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Bottled up: the best films of 2011

And then there were 10

If you listened to Friday's Oscar Talk podcast, then you already know both my feelings on the 2011 film year and the 10 films I thought represented the best that it had to offer. But to elaborate a bit...

It's been an interesting year. I've tried to make sense of things via the weekly Off the Carpet columns, which aim to contextualize the year as it pushes forward. But with each passing week, it became clear to me that I didn't particularly love what 2011 had to offer. Don't misunderstand. The films that landed at the top for me are personal treasures. Nevertheless, it's a distillation of a year in film that I broadly liked, but didn't particularly love in any deep way. It reminds me of my reaction to 2005, but I'm more positive on this lot.

Whittling the list down was strangely difficult as a result. You'd think that the cream would really be evident when there's so little of it to rise, but the truth is, that kind of thing makes you start to really consider those on the outside of the list more than you normally would. At least I found this to be the case.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;The&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Knight Rises&quot; is obviously tops on a list of anticipations for next year, but what else?</p>

"The Dark Knight Rises" is obviously tops on a list of anticipations for next year, but what else?

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Looking to 2012

Also: Trent Reznor and Karen O on Zeppelin and how Christan Bale got 'Flowers'

Darren Franich looks ahead to next year as the year of the dude movie. And this got me thinking. Usually by now I've thought at least SOMEWHAT about what's coming up next year. But other than the barrage of "The Dark Knight Rises" stuff (including a recent peek at the opening footage of the film), I'm not really aware of all that much. I certainly couldn't do a "top 10 films I'm looking forward to in 2012" post now if I wanted to, and usually I have something like that ready to go around the first of the year. Weird. So what's coming around the bend that you're anticipating? Maybe you can help steer me onto the right track. [Entertainment Weekly]

Read Full Post
<p>A scene from HBO's horse racing drama &quot;Luck.&quot;</p>

A scene from HBO's horse racing drama "Luck."

Credit: HBO

And they're off! Early thoughts on HBO's 'Luck'

David Milch, Michael Mann, Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte team up for an impressive pilot

Though HBO aired the pilot of "Luck" last night, the David Milch/Michael Mann horse racing drama won't have its proper premiere until January 29, and the channel has treated last night's airing as a sneak preview to start preliminary conversation, and little more. Copies weren't set out to critics, though we're apparently going to get all 9 first season episodes later this month, and there aren't even publicity stills available yet. (The picture accompanying this review was taken off of HBO.com itself.)

Because I'll be getting more episodes soon, because the real premiere is so far away, and because a Milch show tends to take a few episodes to fully establish itself, I'd like to wait until late January to offer a proper review, but I have a few preliminary impressions of the pilot, coming up just as soon as I know what Jim Beam is for...

Read Full Post
<p>'Look, I'll be frank with you. I could use a big fat blockbuster right now because I feel like the brand is slipping away from me, so just look into this light, forget you hated the second film, and meet me in a theater on May 25'</p>

'Look, I'll be frank with you. I could use a big fat blockbuster right now because I feel like the brand is slipping away from me, so just look into this light, forget you hated the second film, and meet me in a theater on May 25'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Watch: Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return for first peek at 'Men In Black 3' trailer

Can Sony recapture the chemistry, and does the public still care?

Okay… I'll admit it.  This entire trailer is worth it for the punchline.

Before we discuss the first theatrical trailer for "Men In Black 3," let me ask you a completely snark-free question.  How many of you are actually excited for a third film in the "Men In Black" franchise?

See, I think this is an example of a genuine franchise, a premise so flexible that you can drop different actors and actresses in as time wears in and salaries rise.  I don't necessarily think that "Men In Black" has to star Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.  Then again, I'm not really even sure how people feel about the first one and the second one, a full decade after the second film and a mind-boggling fifteen years after the first one.  Was it really 1997?  The same summer as "The Fifth Element"?  Because that seems like forever and a half ago, and I can't imagine the cast of "The Fifth Element" continuing that now.

Wait… Milla as Leeloo Dallas Moooteepass again and 2012-era Bruce Willis in another giant-budget Luc Besson SF film?  I take it back.  I can TOOOOOTALLY imagine that now, and in fact, I'm irate we're not getting it.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME