A review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I blame disgruntled Armenian mechanics...
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Sound the alarms! I'm not sure which of the seven signs of the apocalypse this is, but it certainly must be one of them; in the season finale of "The Rachel Zoe Project," Zoe actually bursts into tears -- and not because the latest Chanel collection was totally maj. No, she weeps because she loves her little family of worker bees so darn much. And her kid. Possibly her husband, but we'll get to that in a moment. All we really needed to finish off this sugary sweet episode was the residents of Whoville joining hands and singing around a Christmas tree. But unlike a tale from Dr. Seuss, this was both heartwarming and a little weird. If Rachel Zoe can be melted into a big puddle of goo by post-partum hormones, is no heartless fashionista safe?
Of course, our dogged little stylist/designer isn't wearing mom jeans and scheduling play dates just yet. Zoe and her husband happily float in a bubble of domestic bliss at the beginning of the episode, and there's no doubting that the woman who spent previous episodes acting about as enthusiastic about giving birth as she would be about having a tumor removed has been transformed. She loves her little boy, although I'm not sure she fully understands that the quiet, sleepy little newborn she has is not going to stay quiet or sleepy for long. "I think I have it all figured out," she announces to the camera. "I'm just going to take Skyler with me everywhere." Knowing that Zoe has a very, very deadpan sense of humor, she could be joking. Somehow, I doubt it. I can only imagine this first blush of baby love fading the minute her precious little bundle has a poopy diaper blow-out that spatters baby feces all over a vintage Halston, but we'll just have to wait.
Still, you have to admire her sudden devotion to motherhood. She takes her baby to the first photo shoot for her collection, which is ultimately run by her second-in-command, Mandana. While Zoe weighs in with comments here and there, her mind is clearly on her baby boo's latest burp. So it's probably a good thing when Mandana sees an opportunity to bring the recently fired Jeremiah back into the fold to design a Rachel Zoe store-in-store experience for Bloomingdales. With Zoe operating at half speed, this team needs all the help it can get.
Of course, you can take the girl out of the office but you can't completely take the office out of the girl. When it's time to tell little Skyler a bedtime story, Zoe trills about a little prince who "loves to wear beautiful clothes all the time. He loves Ralph Lauren, he loves Missoni, he loves Stella McCartney..." You get the idea. Later, she gushes that her new little guy is "like my live doll" and clearly relishes the opportunity to dress him in head to toe labels until he's old enough to stand up to her. Rodger clearly hopes this is sooner rather than later, and I can't blame him. I'm with Rodger -- his wife seems determined to dress up the kid like a tiny, very wealthy transsexual. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
But this episode isn't so much about Zoe's transformation, which would probably become gag-induxing in larger doses. It's mostly about how Jeremiah doggedly keeps working for Zoe despite having been canned, whether they need a nursery (last episode) or that store-in-store at Bloomie's. You have to admire his willingness to tuck his tail between his legs, put on a happy face, and do whatever needs to be done, even if that includes figuring out where to put the diaper wipe warmer. When Rodger finally accepts that Jeremiah might actually be useful after Bloomingdale's signs on for eight store-in-stores when Zoe was hoping for two, it's a testament to hard work paying off, and how often does that happen on reality TV?
Speaking of Rodger, his part on the finale seems to have been downgraded from "voice of reason" (his role for most of the season) to "petulant man child." He poutily demands that Zoe make him a sandwich, complaining that she no longer cares what he eats. When she amazingly concedes instead of throwing a toaster at him, he then complains when she yelps at having burned herself. Apparently he thinks buying an enormous diamond for his wife as her reward for carting a baby around for nine months, then pushing it through a smallish opening, gives him carte blanche to be a whiner. For the record, it really doesn't -- especially if he bought that diamond using her money in the first place. Plus, I find it hard to believe that anyone in this family needs to cook an anything, by the way. Don't they have minions for that?
But all's well that ends well, and this season ends very well as Zoe gushes that the past year has been the best of her life, though the kid is just part of it. She also dressed her biggest Oscars ever! Yes, Rachel Zoe is still Rachel Zoe. As she coos over her baby, whispering, "He's so maj," I have to wonder if this big, goopy lovefest will continue next season -- or if Skyler will fade into the background like Rachel's kid on "Friends."
Normally for performance episodes of "American Idol," I don't use the live-blog format and the recaps don't go up until after the telecast, but Tuesday (October 25) night's episode of "The X Factor" is attempting to do something that "American Idol" has never tried: We're going to get a whopping 17 performances and the judges are going to send five contestants home and it's all going to be stretched out over a soul-crushing 150+ minutes.
So I'm gonna live-blog, because just in case this mammoth episode kills me, I want the investigators to know exactly how far I made it before passing out.
Let the insanity begin...
Watching "Martha Marcy May Marlene" at Cannes back in May, I was stopped dead by a musical number for John Hawkes midway through the film: the eerie, melancholy acoustic track "Marcy's Song," in which his cult-leader character and Elizabeth Olsen's fresh-faced inductee appear to forge a wary spiritual connection. It's a song that, lovely in any context, distils the film's mood so effectively that I remember thinking, "If this is an original track, the Best Original Song race is over."
Of course, if I were more au fait with the American folk scene, I'd have known that the song was in fact originally written and performed by the late Jackson C. Frank; as the film's director, Sean Durkin, explained to me in an interview last week, he stumbled upon the song while searching for suitable tracks featuring the titular names. Good spot: original or otherwise, it makes for one of the year's most arresting musical moments, all the more effective for the fact that Oscar-nominated actor (and sometime musician) Hawkes performed it himself.
Anyway, Fox Searchlight has released a new video of this beautiful version. I recommend checking it out after the jump.
Geez, Monica, you had to go there.
It seems that the veteran R&B singer went all the way with her "just you wait until I leave you" theme in "Until It's Gone," the Diane Martel-helmed music video to her latest song from forthcoming "New Life." It's as though she hooked up with the same melodrama machine that pumped out Lil Wayne's soap-operatic "How to Love," complete with cheating men and hospital scenes of mourning.
There's at least this grand PSA: don't forget to buckle your seatbelt.
I'll admit: I'm sick to death of Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" featuring Christina Aguilera. This No. 1 was completely unavoidable all summer, and I don't like a shirtless Adam Levine smirking at me. I heard a two-year-old on the subway singing it the other day and I felt a faint urge to kidnap the little guy.
But Little Big Town is making me circle back, or at least has me putting their version on repeat. As part of the Nashville-based country band's "Scattered, Smothered and Covered" series, the group collaborated with their road band for a banjo-happy version. It's... adorable. And it's recorded backstage at a concert in Iowa.
The SSC series is a very smart move on the part of Little Big Town. By covering acts like Adele and the Jackson 5, they're grabbing the attention of folks who might not be aware of the quartet to begin with.
Look for more SSC on the Little Big Town YouTube channel.
LBT last released "The Reason Why" last year.
A few weeks back it was announced that "The Skin I Live In" director Pedro Almodóvar had been tapped by AFI Fest to serve as Guest Artistic Director. It's been an eclectic couple of years for the position, as David Lynch served in the position's inaugural year.
The festival just sent out a release announcing Almodóvar's selected classic horror films and thrillers to be screened in a sidebar program. They include Jean-Pierre Melville's "Le Cercle Rouge," Georges Franju's "Eyes without a Face," Edmund Goulding's "Nightmare Alley" and Robert Siodmak's "The Killers."
The quartet joins Almodovar's own "Law of Desire," which was previously announced as a Gala screening and "An Evening with Pedro Almodovar" set for November 7.
Last year at the U.S. edition of All Tomorrow's Parties, Hope Sandoval sent me straight off to Dreamland, in many good ways. The light-dappled eddies of her butter-smooth voice shot me straight back to 1994, to Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," just a couple years before the Cowboy Junkies charmed the world with the same sound on their cover of the Velvets' "Sweet Jane." It was a cool period where ladies sounded like women, somewhat of a predecessor to artists like Neko Case, Beach House and Liz Phair, at least to these ears.
Mazzy Star -- the winning combination of Sandoval and David Roback -- hasn't released a new album since 1996. They split that year and then around the turn of the century, they went on a brief reunion tour, during which they played unreleased and new songs. Since then, both have sworn that they'd eventually put something out, including that time in 2009 Sandoval swore a new album was coming, even if the release date was a little bit hazy.
The U2 covers keep marching in, "Baby." Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, the Fray, Snow Patrol, Depeche Mode and more have now revealed their takes on songs from U2's "Achtung Baby," compiled into Q Magazine's covers tribute "AHK-toong BAY-bi."
Trent Reznor and his midnight merry men get a little squirrely with the end of "Zoo Station" as Brandon Flowers' dramatic voice flares all over the Killers' cover of "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)." Depeche Mode's "So Cruel" is predictably dark.
"AHK-toong BAY-bi" came out today, packaged with Q Magazine latest. The publication also honored U2 for some damn thing last night at its annual awards show.
"Achtung Baby" gets its own schmancy reissue on Oct. 31. I've already fawned.
Last week, we posted U2 covers from Jack White, Damien Rice and Garbage; below, ah hell, I've just posted as much of the covers set as I can. What's your favorite?
We're a little under a week away from Halloween, an occasion for which it's practically de rigueur for movie blogs like ours to assemble lists of the greatest horror films of all time. Except we've already done that, and there seems little point in going there again -- though I do encourage you to check out our Top 20 if you're shopping around for some classic scares.
Casting around for alternate Halloween-themed ideas for this week's list, then, it occurred to me that several of the films that scared me most rigid as a child -- surely the demographic for whom Pumpkin-and-Candy Day remains most relevant -- are ones that wouldn't crack most conventional horror-film lists, or in some cases, conventional definitions of what a horror film even is. Others that do, meanwhile, do so without many of the grim tools many classic horror films use to reach their audience, opting instead for less explicit routes of skin-crawling.
In a move I would dub a no-brainer even if the show didn't involve zombies, AMC has renewed "The Walking Dead" for a third season.