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<p>'A Dangerous Method'</p>

'A Dangerous Method'

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Critics' Response: Viggo Mortensen shines as Freud in 'A Dangerous Method'

Mixed reviews praise the film's acting while noting its chilly tone

David Cronenberg's historical drama "A Dangerous Method" premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Friday and, so far, the reviews have been largely mixed, praising the film's smarts and stars while noting its chilled tone and dry nature.

"Method" stars Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud who, along with close friend and professional rival Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) develops the new found art of psychoanalysis while the two find themselves torn apart by a sexually troubled patient/student who comes between them (Keira Knightley).

Justin Chang of Variety calls the film "elegant" and "coolly restrained," while lamenting the "absence of gut-level impact" and noting that the slow-moving, talky approach may deaden some commercial attention.  He singles out Mortensen's performance as Freud, noting that the actor steals the film, while stating, "rather less assured, and initially the film's most problematic element, is Knightley, whose brave but unskilled depiction of hysteria at times leaves itself open to easy laughs."

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy calls the film "Precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined." He admits that Knightley's performance starts over-the-top, but is brought back down to a more suitable level. "Along with Knightley's excellent work as a character with a very long emotional arc indeed, Fassbender brilliantly conveys Jung's intelligence, urge to propriety and irresistible hunger for shedding light on the mysteries of the human interior," writes McCarthy. "A drier, more contained figure, Freud is brought wonderfully to life by Mortensen in a bit of unexpected casting that proves entirely successful."

David Gritten of the Daily Telegraph agrees: "It's Knightley that one remembers, for a full-on portrayal that is gutsy and potentially divisive in equal parts."

Meanwhile, The Guardian provides an early voice of dissent. While acknowledging the intelligence of the script and the solid performances, reviewer Xan Brooks contends that "'A Dangerous Method' feels heavy and lugubrious. It is a tale that comes marinated in port and choked on pipe-smoke. You long for it to hop down from the couch, throw open the windows and run about in the garden."

Noted critic Emmanuel Levy comments on the film's Oscar chances. "Knowing the Academy voters’ conservative tastes, " he says "I don’t think “Dangerous Method” is Oscar-caliber as a picture, but its three main actors should receive nominations for their work: Fassbender and Keira Knightly in the lead categories and Viggo Mortensen in the supporting one."

Mortensen previously collaborated with Cronenberg on "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises."

"A Dangerous Method" opens in the U.S. November 23.

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<p>&quot;New Girl&quot;&nbsp;star Zooey Deschanel.</p>

"New Girl" star Zooey Deschanel.

Credit: FOX

Interview: 'New Girl' star Zooey Deschanel

Is it good or bad when people see so much of her in her roles?

(Reminder: I'm on vacation this week, but transcribed a few press tour interviews to keep the blog from going totally dark while I'm gone. I'll be back after Labor Day.)

"I kind of happen to like press conferences," Zooey Deschanel told me mid-way through an interview at FOX's press tour party.

Of course she would say that, not 12 hours after she had been the centerpiece of a press conference that was less a Q&A than an unapologetic lovefest.

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<p>'It could be worse... we could be in 'Apollo 18''</p>

'It could be worse... we could be in 'Apollo 18''

Credit: Relativity Media

Review: 'Shark Night 3D' is bloody good fun with a bite

Plus how wrong can you go with Katharine McPhee in 3D in a bikini?

When I left the house this evening to take in a midnight screening of "Shark Night 3D," I did so after pressing publish on my "Apollo 18" review, and I was worried that I was walking into the same experience all over again since Relativity decided not to screen the film for critics at all.

Silly me.

Why was I worried?  After all, David Ellis is a reliably enjoyable maker of self-aware trash, and the film is called "Shark Night 3D."  That's one of those things that seems pretty hard to screw up.  Then again, Ellis is the guy who fumbled the should-have-been-hilarious-fun "Snakes On A Plane," so there's always the chance something like this won't work.  Thankfully, this is "Final Destination 2" David Ellis this time out, and the result is nothing I would call brilliant, but it is indeed heaps of intentional fun.

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<p>John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz at a photocall for &quot;Carnage&quot;&nbsp;at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday.</p>

John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz at a photocall for "Carnage" at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday.

Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Polanski's 'Carnage' survives as critics turn on Madonna's 'W.E'

Is Madonna's directorial work being given a fair shot?

While filmmakers, movie fans and a small contingent of press made their way to Telluride, CO for the annual Telluride Film Festival today, the world's critics got their first taste at two of this season's highly anticipated titles in Venice.  One film in particular will have a hard time recovering from the response.

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<p>'My agent is a dead man when I get back to Earth!'</p>

'My agent is a dead man when I get back to Earth!'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: 'Apollo 18' is an affront to reason and taste, a complete failure

If that wasn't clear enough, we've got another 1000 words to convince you

It's too late for me, but if you're considering a weekend viewing of "Apollo 18," might I suggest you head out to a theater showing "The Caller" instead?

I am flustered by how awful "Apollo 18" is.  And I am going to have a hard time fully describing it's ineptitude if I can't indulge a little bit in spoilers.  Since the film really only has one card to play, the mere mention of what that card is effectively gives away everything you'll see, but that's not the fault of the critic.  It's a built-in issue with a meager idea that absolutely can't support a full-length horror film, as well as a creative team that seems to have no idea what tension means.  "Apollo 18" is that special kind of awful where it's not fun because it's too boring, it's not scary because it's too stupid, and it's not funny because it's too sincere.  This is not so bad it's great.  It's so bad it's just bad, and I pity anyone who gets rooked into a viewing this weekend.

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<p>Adam of 'Big Brother'</p>
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Adam of 'Big Brother'

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother' Thursday - Another Newbie Evicted

Will Shelly or Adam pay the price for Porsche's Pandora's Box gaffe?

After "Big Brother" went into a rut for July and much of August, things have certainly been shaken up over the past week, with last Thursday's double-eviction marathon leading to a seemingly huge momentum swing for the Newbies only to see the pendulum sway back again after Porsche's strategically faulty Pandora's Box decision, the resurrection of the Duo Twist and Rachel's clutch Power of Veto win. As this week's eviction episode begins, the Newbies are suddenly facing the choice between losing Adam or Shelly, based presumably on whether they prefer lumpy jellyfish or over-tanned flip-floppers. 

Let's see how the vote goes down...

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<p>Jessica Chastain can't stop smiling, and you wouldn't either if you were having the year she is</p>

Jessica Chastain can't stop smiling, and you wouldn't either if you were having the year she is

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Jessica Chastain discusses 'The Debt' and Helen Mirren

We sit down with one of the year's freshest presences

I know this will make the second time I've been reduced to "Twilight" terminology in the last couple of weeks, but I can't help myself after conducting this interview and seeing her work in "The Help" and "The Debt"… I am resolutely now a member of Team Chastain.

And why not?  Yes, she's a pretty strawberry blonde, and yes, she's crazy talented, but what did it for me was seeing her range demonstrated so clearly in such a short period of time.  That and sitting down to chat with her to how she's feeling these days and realizing she's preposterously well-adjusted and cool.

After all, for her, this is not an immediate thing.  She's been working on all the films we're just now seeing for a while now, and she knows how diverse those experiences have been, but for many of us, she's having that moment that happens occasionally where someone simply happens overnight, where we turn around and see them in a half-dozen films suddenly.  In this case, Chastain was discovered by Al Pacino for a stage production of "Salome," and his word-of-mouth praise for her work got her hired by Terrence Malick, John Madden, Ralph Fiennes, and more.

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<p>&quot;Louie&quot;&nbsp;introduces his niece to New York.</p>

"Louie" introduces his niece to New York.

Credit: FX

'Louie' - 'Niece': The guardian

Another relative comes to visit Louie

I'm on vacation this week, but I did get to see tonight's "Louie" right before I clocked out for the week, and since the series is having a very special season, I wanted to offer a place for everybody to discuss the latest episode while I'm gone.

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Snooki of "Jersey Shore"

 Snooki of "Jersey Shore"

Credit: MTV

Reality TV Roundup: Snooki reads, Chaz Bono's dancing uproar and Steven Seagal needs a smack

A look at what's happening in reality TV

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends!

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<p>&nbsp;Gabriela, of Rodrigo y Gabriela</p>

 Gabriela, of Rodrigo y Gabriela

Credit: AP Photo

Exclusive: Rodrigo y Gabriela record new album in Cuba

Guitar masters link with legendary producer Peter Asher

Rodrigo y Gabriela, best known for their lightning fast acoustic guitar playing, are working on a new album in Cuba.

The Dublin-based, Mexico-born duo recently returned from 10 days in Cuba, where they recorded with producer Peter Asher, who first worked with them on the music for “Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides.”

“We became friends and they asked me if I would help them with this record," Asher says. "The idea is to redo some of their existing hits, favorite songs, but instead of just being the two of them, which is amazing, obviously, we wanted to give something different so we went off to Cuba.”

In Havana, the pair re-recorded many of their well-known songs incorporating Cuban rhythm sections and horns. Among the guest players are some members of seminal Cuban rock band Los Van Van.

The pair is finishing the album in Los Angeles. Asher says it will be out next year.  Rodrigo y Gabriela’s most recent set, “Live in France,” came out July 19. Its last studio album, "11:11,"  included production by John Leckie, best known for his work with Radiohead and Muse. Leckie also produced the group's second studio album, which was self-titled.

Asher recently finished producing "Listen To Me: Buddy Holly," a tribute album, out Sept. 6, to Buddy Holly featuring Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, The Fray,  Zooey Deschanel, Cobra Starship, Train's Pat Monahan, and others singing tunes written by Holly. It follows another Holly tribute album, "Rave On," which came out earlier this year. Holly would have turned 75 on Sept. 7.

 

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<p>Ladies, this one's for you</p>

Ladies, this one's for you

Credit: Indomina Pictures

Review: 'True Blood' star Ryan Kwanten goes superhero in 'Griff The Invisible'

This low-key romantic charmer from Australia opens this weekend

When I was watching the first few episodes of "True Blood," one of the thoughts I kept having when Ryan Kwanten showed up onscreen was, "Seriously… screw this guy."  And not in the sure-to-get-ratings-for-HBO way, either.  More in the how-much-work-do-you-think-went-into-his-abs sort of way.

Over the course of the wildly uneven and occasionally ridiculous series, though, Kwanten has demonstrated a strange, boyish vulnerability that makes me like him more, and the more of his work I see, the more I'm convinced this guy's an actor worth watching.  It would be easy to use a show like "True Blood" to immediately make the jump to big-budget Hollywood movies, but Kwanten hasn't done that yet unless you count his voice-only appearance in "Legend Of The Guardians."  Instead, he's got an interesting list of small indie films to his credit, and it seems like many of them are Australian films.  The neo-Western "Red Hill" that was released last year was a solid little film, and a nice showcase for a very different side of Kwanten, and now the same can be said for Leon Ford's "Griff The Invisible," an interesting take on the real-world superhero genre that has emerged over the last few years.

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<p>John Madden, director of the new film 'The Debt,' sat down to discuss the movie at a recent press day</p>

John Madden, director of the new film 'The Debt,' sat down to discuss the movie at a recent press day

Credit: HitFix

Watch: John Madden discusses shooting action for new thriller 'The Debt'

The director of 'Shakespeare In Love' shakes it up with his tough new film

I can't believe I made it through five whole minutes with John Madden without asking him a single football question.

Madden's biggest hit and highest pop-culture profile came in 1998 with "Shakespeare In Love," and it seems like some film nerds have never forgiven him for beating Spielberg's big movie that year.  I think the hard part about having a hit like that is the way it sets up expectation that you'll match that success every time out, and Madden isn't a guy whose career suggests that he'll be in the Oscar hunt every time out.  He had something like fifteen years of film and television work under his belt before he made "Shakespeare,'" and for the most part, he's always been drawn to small-scale intimate material.  He's got a sense of dramatic restraint that comes through clearly in films like "Golden Gate," "Mrs. Brown," and even his TV work like "Theseus & The Minotaur," one of the episodes of Jim Henson's groundbreaking "The Storyteller."

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