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<p>Keira Knightley in David Cronenberg's &quot;A&nbsp;Dangerous Method.&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

Credit: Sony Classics

Telluride: Who got an Oscar bounce and who didn't?

George Clooney and 'The Artist' are up

TELLURIDE - There is a big reason stars like George Clooney, Glenn Close and Tilda Swinton trekked to Colorado over Labor Day weekend.  Sure, their films are being screened (or premiered) at a world renowned film festival.  Sure, Clooney and Swinton received lifetime tributes and a fancy silver medallion for their respective bodies of work.  What it's really about, however, is creating substantial buzz among Academy members and industry influencers.  This sort of word-of-mouth fuels industry guild interest, the media and therefore box office prospects (which is what the season is really all about in this era).  Remember those big Academy players "The King's Speech," "Black Swan" and "127 Hours" last year?  Their campaigns basically began at Telluride a year ago.  So, with that in mind, let's run down the expected players who screened at the festival and the resulting buzz was after a long weekend of movie going.

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' returns post-suicide

The episode hits some dark notes, and not just the ones we expect

I can't say I'm looking forward to the second season premiere of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." It is, of course, the first episode of the show since the suicide of "Housewives" husband Russell Armstrong, and the idea that the show is kicking off with a post-death powwow sets my teeth on edge. Bravo certainly didn't have a lot of choices in how to deal with Armstrong's death, but I have a sinking feeling that plunking the housewives into a room together to share their feelings about the death of a man none of them seemed to like very much is going to set a dismal tone that simply can't mesh with a show that is, for the most part, a breezy, guilty pleasure. 

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<p>Gary Oldman in 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'</p>

Gary Oldman in 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'

Credit: Focus Features

Critics' Response: 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' starring Gary Oldman a riveting and intelligent espionage thriller

Reviews out of Venice indicate a highly successful adaptation of the John le Carre novel

Premiering at the 68th Annual Venice International Film Festival today, director Tomas Alfredson's new political thriller "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" has received enthusiastic early notices from critics, with reviews heaping particular praise on both Gary Oldman's understated lead performance and assured direction by Alfredson.

The film is an adaptation of the 1974 John le Carre novel about secret agent George Smiley (Oldman), who comes out of semi-retirement to uncover the identity of a Soviet mole working within "The Circus", the highest level of Britain's Mi6 intelligence agency. Other cast members include Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and John Hurt. It is the English-language debut of Swedish director Alfredson, who made a big splash Stateside in 2008 with "Let the Right One In".

In a 4/5-star review, the Guardian's Xan Brooks calls "Tinker, Tailor" the "film to beat" at this year's festival, singling out Oldman's "deliciously delicate, shaded performance". His only criticism concerns the relative transparency of the plot's central mystery, stating: "If there is any flaw to the film, it's that the whistle is blown too soon and that some eagle-eyed George Smiley types are liable to identity the bad apple before Smiley does himself."

Over at Variety, Leslie Felpering praises Alfredson's "flair for suspense" and predicts healthy box-office for the film, indicating the period piece could resonate with contemporary audiences given the current political climate: "In the wake of corruption scandals that include the world banking crisis, this version of 'Tinker, Tailor' catches the newest wave of disillusionment and anxiety. It may be a period piece...but it feels painfully apt now to revisit the early-to-mid-1970s, when things were just about to fall apart."

The Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Young, on the other hand, thinks the film actually "risks feeling out of date" with its Cold War backdrop, but nevertheless praises the look of the film and Alfredson's unique directing style: "It is one of the few films so visually absorbing, felicitous shot after shot, that its emotional coldness is noticed only at the end, when all the plot twists are unraveled in a solid piece of thinking-man’s entertainment for upmarket thriller audiences."

David Gritten of the Telegraph awarded the film a perfect 5/5 stars, giving it good odds of being a major contender come awards season: "It’s possible another film may soon emerge to spearhead Britain’s assault on the coming awards season. But after the world premiere here at the Venice Film Festival of 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy', it would be a huge surprise."

Perhaps the least enthusiastic of all early reviewers is Thompson on Hollywood's Matt Mueller, who still liked the film overall but echoed Brooks in believing the "whodunit" element will be too easily solved by astute viewers: "Fans of the genre will finger the culprit early and without that added layer of suspicion, the big reveal is left feeling perfunctory, almost blasé. Minus that last cathartic gasp, 'Tinker Tailor Solder Spy' settles for being a very good as opposed to a superb spy thriller."

Based on these early reviews, I'd say it sounds like Oldman has a good chance of scoring an Oscar nod next year...

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is set to premiere in U.S. theaters on December 9th courtesy of Focus Features.

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<p>The cast of ABC's &quot;Work It&quot;</p>
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The cast of ABC's "Work It"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Work It'

If we all cross our fingers, maybe this cross-dressing comedy will never air

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]

Show: "Work It" (ABC)
The Pitch: "Apparently ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee loves drag comedies and has absolutely NO standards when it comes to what makes him laugh. Let's test the limits of that theory."
Quick Response: Last and certainly least, it's time to end this lengthy Take Me To The Pilots journey with "Work It," which isn't necessarily the worst ordered pilot I've seen in my years on this job, but it's pretty darned close. It's arguably worse than "Outsources" or "Feces My Dad Says." It's as bad or worse than "Brothers." It's worse than "Emily's Reasons Why Not" and far worse than "The Ortegas" and "Thick and Thin," three shows that were weak enough that a combined ONE episode aired for all three. There's an ugly broadness to this drag comedy that suggests it might have seemed cutting edge in 1976, but that decades of human consciousness and sitcom evolution passed it by, probably decades ago. "Work It" stumbles an unpleasant line between misogyny and gynophobia and I think it settles more on the latter, evincing a paranoid distaste for women in general and strong women in particular that permeates the dialogue and all of the portrayals. [The exception that veers into pure hatred for women would be John Caparulo's Brian, possibly the least likable character in television history, no exaggeration, who gets to utter likes like "When the women take over, they'll make pride illegal. That and eating on the toilet" to the squealing approval of the "audience."] Stars Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco commit with almost no evident winking that the premise they're adhering to -- a car salesman and a mechanic are out of work because of the "mancession" so they cross-dress to get work as pharma girls -- is idiotic and unfunny. [I'm not even going to get into how implausibly ridiculous Koldyke and Nolasco look as women, because presumably it's intentional. Unfortunately, their ability to get away with the charade only adds to the show's "Women are dumb poo-poo heads" ethos, which probably isn't intentional.] I guess that's admirable? In some way? It's admirable enough that I felt bad for Koldyke. And worse for Rebecca Mader, who hopefully will escape from her supporting role here. But anyway, it's not enough that "Work It" is an '80s sitcom. TV Land has made a cottage industry out of dated '80s sitcoms in semi-modern contexts. But it's a BAD '80s sitcom. Amidst dialogue about the ace bandage used to conceal his man business, Nolasco's character actually justifies his participation in this farce by observing "I'm Puerto Rican. I'd be great at selling drugs." And witty bon mots like that -- and similarly toned jokes about emasculation, prostate exam rape and how much women enjoy dieting -- proliferate. And it's a CHEAP '80s sitcom. The generic office and bar sets are bad, but there's a night club sequence at the end that takes the Weak-Ass Art Direction cake (should such a cake exist). Anyway, "Work It" is excruciatingly bad, but what's worse is what ABC and specifically Paul Lee are saying through the show, saying both *to* critics -- "We didn’t think this room would like it, and there’s some pleasure in that," Lee told us at press tour last month -- and *about* supposedly "average" TV viewers. There's room on TV for good farce and for smartly delivered blue collar, politically incorrect comedy, but pity ABC if anybody there believes that's what this is.
Desire To Watch Again: Wanna know how you know these entries aren't reviews? I've gone EASY on "Work It." I'd love to watch one or two more episodes so that I can really tear into it for my review. Of course, I have some doubts that we're ever going to actually see "Work It" on TV. That would be a fine alternative. Because here's the thing: I assume that every spring there are a dozen pilots produced that are as bad as "Work It," pilots that seemed like good ideas at one point or another (to somebody), but just didn't come together. It's exactly what the pilot process is there for. I don't think the people involved with "Work It" had a malicious plan to make an embarrassing sitcom. I just think that for a variety of reasons, what they tried failed. But normally, those pilots just don't get picked up and nobody ever has to acknowledge that they existed. I no longer have that luxury, but audiences still could.

Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Bent'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Scandal'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Smash'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Good Christian Belles'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'How To Be A Gentleman'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Prime Suspect'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Man Up!'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Free Agents'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Suburgatory'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Ringer'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Terra Nova'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Whitney'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Pan Am'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Alcatraz'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Person of Interest'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's ' 'The River'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Two Broke Girls'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

 

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<p>Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff in &quot;Sons of Anarchy.&quot;</p>

Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff in "Sons of Anarchy."

Credit: FX

Review: FX's 'Sons of Anarchy' on familiar ground for season 4

But is the back-to-basics approach too formulaic?

(Note: This column contains mild spoilers for the fourth season of "Sons of Anarchy," which premieres tomorrow night at 10 on FX. If you want to know nothing, don't read any further.)

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<p>Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen's &quot;Shame.&quot;</p>

Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen's "Shame."

Review: Steve McQueen's 'Shame' is simply a spectacular work of art

Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are superb

TELLURIDE - A remarkable snapshot of the perils of sexual compulsion in the modern world, Steve McQueen's new drama "Shame" is simply a spectacular work of art.  The film debuted almost simultaneously at the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals Sunday.

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<p>Team Vampire on 'True Blood'</p>
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Team Vampire on 'True Blood'

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'True Blood' - 'Soul of Fire'

Things come to a head between Marnie/Antonia and the Vampire Hit Squad
When we last left Team Vampire, they were walking four abreast in slick black outfits loaded up with war gear, which usually means that Alan Ball is planning a very expensive explosion on the backlot. Now, as the new episode begins, Bill helpfully offers some exposition: Just in case you all forgot, we’re here to kill the witch inside the emporium. 
 
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<p>Walt (Bryan Cranston)&nbsp;goes in for a check-up on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Walt (Bryan Cranston) goes in for a check-up on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' - 'Hermanos': The secret origin of the Chicken Man

A Gus spotlight episode also suggests he has things in common with Walt

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I add a plus-douchebag to a minus-douchebag...

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<p>Leon (J.B. Smoove)&nbsp;has a very good day on &quot;Curb Your Enthusiasm.&quot;</p>

Leon (J.B. Smoove) has a very good day on "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Credit: HBO

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' - 'Mister Softee': Bill Buckner to the rescue?

Larry befriends the '86 World Series goat in an instant classic episode

A review of tonight's fantastic "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming up just as soon as Koufax gives me some kishka...

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"Big Brother"

 "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

Recap: Pandora's box strikes again with a celebrity twist on 'Big Brother'

Rachel is crushed while Adam's dream comes true

Before we dive back into the gooey donut competition, let's just take a moment. Can you believe Adam has stayed in the house for this long? Me, neither. Part of me is impressed by his ability to skate through without winning anything and part of me finds it depressing thinking he could win the whole thing just by being a likable oaf with a "90210" obsession.  But hey, Adam's doing pretty well in this HOH competition, so maybe he'll break his losing streak.

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<p>'What do you mean my movie is overhyped?&nbsp; I will bootstomp your head open like a ripe melon if you say that again.&nbsp; Now excuse me... I'm sensitive.'</p>

'What do you mean my movie is overhyped?  I will bootstomp your head open like a ripe melon if you say that again.  Now excuse me... I'm sensitive.'

Credit: Film District

The Motion/Captured Podcast: Movie God, a new game, and a fear of overhype

Is it possible to give a movie too much love?

I am filled with shame.

It turned into a big crazy week, and I ended up with this edited podcast sitting here on my desktop waiting to be posted, and I just plain never got around to it.

Now, hopefully, you'll still enjoy the contents this week since it's not tied to a particular release date.  We discuss this week's new releases a little bit, but since I was still embargoed on "Apollo 18," you won't really hear me work up a full head of steam about how much I hated it.  Lucky you.

Instead, we spend a good chunk of time talking about the dreaded demon of "overhype," and the way it can kill a good film by the the time an audience actually gets to lay eyes on it.  It's on my mind right now as we gear up for the release of "Drive," a very good film that my critical brethren are in danger of destroying for the general public because they're pumping it up as the single greatest thing to ever happen in a movie theater.  Which it's not.  And I worry about this when I'm crazy about a new movie like "Attack The Block," and always working to strike a balance so I don't make you hate something by the time I'm done talking about it.

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<p>A few days before arriving in Telluride, George Clooney pokes fun at himself on the red carpet at the 2011 Venice Film Festival where his new drama &quot;The Ides of March&quot;&nbsp;debuted.</p>

A few days before arriving in Telluride, George Clooney pokes fun at himself on the red carpet at the 2011 Venice Film Festival where his new drama "The Ides of March" debuted.

Credit: AP Photo

Telluride: Five minutes with festival star George Clooney

Fighting the altitude, balancing jobs and what he wants to catch

TELLURIDE - One of the Telluride Film Festival's most appealing traits is the general lack of pretentiousness among the stars, directors and attendees. Whether you are regular such as Laura Linney (couldn't make it this year), Alejandro Inarritu, Alexander Payne or Werner Herzog, there is little drama about waiting in line with all the other attendees to see a film, chatting with anyone about their opinions or walking the streets by themselves from screening to screening.  Sure, this can randomly occur at Sundance, but Telluride puts almost everyone on equal and accessible footing (gasp, celebrities are real people too!).  There are however, a few notable exceptions.  Enter George Clooney.

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