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<p>Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen's &quot;Shame,&quot; one of the already-seen highlights of the BFI London Film Festival.</p>

Carey Mulligan in Steve McQueen's "Shame," one of the already-seen highlights of the BFI London Film Festival.

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Previewing the best of the London fest

Festival kicks off tomorrow with Fernando Meirelles's '360'

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my final date in the 2012 festival calendar -- and for a change, I don't have to spend the night before hunting for my passport. As both my hometown festival and the first one to grant me press accreditation, the BFI London Film Festival is obviously close to my heart. For several years before I gained the absurd privilege of access to Cannes, Venice and Berlin, the LFF was where, for two happy weeks, I'd annually gorge on the arthouse fare I'd frustratedly only read about for months.

Combining thorough cherry-picking of previous festival hits with less exposed pockets of world and British cinema into a broad programme of over 300 shorts and features, with a handful of world premieres and archive gems to make up the balance, it's as comprehensively curated a public-oriented festival as exists on the circuit -- even critics who have already seen many of the programme highlights at other festivals have ample room to make fresh discoveries.

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<p>Taylor Swift arrives at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Honors show in Nashville</p>

Taylor Swift arrives at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Honors show in Nashville

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Taylor Swift named Billboard's Woman of the Year

She follows last year's honoree, Fergie

Billboard has named Taylor Swift its Woman of the Year. The 21-year old becomes the youngest recipient of the award, which will be presented at Billboard 2011 Women in Music event Dec. 2 in New York.

The award, which has honored Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Fergie, and Reba McEntire in the past, salutes a female artist who has experienced not only a stellar sales year but has continued to have creative breakthroughs.

Swift has spent much of 2011 on the road, supporting her third album, “Speak Now.” That set debuted on top of the Billboard 200 with sales of more than 1 million copies in its opening frame. Her last album, “Fearless,” captured album of the year at the 2010 Grammys. She is nominated for six Country Music Assn. Awards, including entertainer of the year. The CMAs will be held in November.

Swift’s “Speak Now” tour lasts until Nov. 22. Also upcoming for Swift are DVD releases of her “Fearless” and “Speak Now” tours.

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<p>Tim Allen in &quot;Last Man Standing.&quot;</p>

Tim Allen in "Last Man Standing."

Credit: ABC

'Last Man Standing': Unfrozen caveman sporting goods exec

What did everybody think of Tim Allen's new ABC sitcom?

Okay, I posted my review of "Last Man Standing" this morning. Now it's your turn. I'm guessing not very many of you tuned in to watch Tim Allen ask about what the hell happened to men, but for those who did, what did you think? Are you going to watch more than these first two episodes? (For that matter, did anyone make it through both?)

Have at it.

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<p>A&nbsp;sample of Douglas Trumbull's work in Terrence Malick's &quot;The Tree of Life&quot;</p>

A sample of Douglas Trumbull's work in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Douglas Trumbull feted by Visual Effects Society

The maestro's work has dazzled from '2001: A Space Odyssey' to 'The Tree of Life'

The work of Douglas Trumbull on the legacy of visual effects in film is unmistakable, going all the way back to his work on "2001: A Space Odyssey." He had a hand in such groundbreaking films as "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Blade Runner" and also bridged the gap, becoming a director in his own right with films like "Silent Running" and "Brainstorm."

This year Trumbull's work is on full display in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," which features a 20-odd minute analog effects sequence depicting the beginnings of the universe. He could well be recognized by his peers in the visual effects branch of the Academy for his work, and a tip of the hat by the Visual Effects Society is a good start.

The organization has tapped Trumbull as the recipient of this year's Georges Méliès Award, which honors individuals who have "pioneered a significant and lasting contribution to the art and/or science of the visual effects industry by way of artistry, innovation and groundbreaking work," according to the press release.

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<p>The cast of ABC's &quot;Last Man Standing&quot;</p>
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The cast of ABC's "Last Man Standing"

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'

ABC decides to target men with a dreadful new Tim Allen sitcom

ABC, a network with no actual interest in male viewers, is launching what might generously be called "The Lamentation of the 21st Century Male, A Symphony in Three Quickly Cancelled Movements."

The first movement, premiering on Tuesday (October 11) night is the Tim Allen sitcom "Last Man Standing." It isn't funny. The second movement, premiering next week, is the ensemble "Man Up," which is less unfunny than "Last Man Standing," but still not likely to win any passionate fans. The symphony, which deserves to remain unfinished, may or may not wrap up with the cross-dressing disaster "Work It," which could stay permanently on the shelf without disappointing or surprising a single TV critic.
It's a fundamentally weird thematic block. 
Outside of Saturday football and the legitimate crossover appeal of something like "Modern Family," men aren't even afterthoughts at ABC. They're total non-factors. If the Contemporary American Male is feeling alienated and disenfranchised, it has nothing to do with the alleged "mancession," an economic blip that has been statistically irrelevant for over a year. It has to do with networks like ABC. 
If there's any network on TV that I wouldn't trust to develop a comedy about the plight of the American Male, it would be The CW, but ABC would be a close second. 
[Note: The Modern American Male hasn't actually been emasculated or disenfranchised. Trends are fun to jump upon and embellish, but perish the thought anybody should take any of the silliness spewed in "Last Man Standing," "Man Up" and "Work It" seriously.]
So a network that doesn't know (or care) what men like or want to watch on TV is attempting to make a TV show (or three) about how men feel neutered by contemporary American society? 
And it's somehow surprising that all three upcoming ABC "Manliness Comedies" don't have a clue what they want to be or who they want to be for?
"Last Man Standing" is either a show aimed squarely at men who would never watch a show like "Last Man Standing," or else it's a show aimed at people who like to laugh contemptuously at the kind of man featured in "Last Man Standing." That is to say that "Last Man Standing" actually hasn't the faintest idea whether or not it's making an earnest statement about the state of modern masculinity or if it's mocking people who might make such statements earnestly. As a result, I don't know if the joke is on society or on the main character, but the joke is probably on the audience looking for any sort of targeted mirth at all.
More on "Last Man Standing"...
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<p>Steve Jobs reportedly wanted Aaron Sorkin to write a script for Pixar.</p>

Steve Jobs reportedly wanted Aaron Sorkin to write a script for Pixar.

Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Aaron Sorkin remembers Steve Jobs... and the Pixar movie that never was

Oscar-winning screenwriter on his distant kinship with Apple CEO

If I haven't said anything here (or anywhere else, for that matter) about the passing of Steve Jobs, it's because it seems redundant to add thoughts when others are doing so with much more personal specificity -- about the only thing to be gained from this sad loss has been the outpouring of personal testaments to his culture-changing work, both from those who knew him and those who didn't.

Or those who fall somewhere in between, as in this oddly touching tribute in Newsweek from star screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, a longtime Mac evangelist who cultivated a semi-friendship with Jobs purely by phone -- initiated by the Apple CEO himself. It's not difficult to see how these two quick-witted, hardworking peddlers of American ideals might have found common ground; neither is it surprising to hear that Jobs was a fan of Sorkin's snappy, contemporary writing.

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<p>&nbsp;Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan both won Sundance awards for their performances in Paddy Considine's &quot;Tyrannosaur.&quot;</p>

 Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan both won Sundance awards for their performances in Paddy Considine's "Tyrannosaur."

Credit: Strand Releasing

Review: Colman stuns as 'Tyrannosaur' wrecks

Paddy Considine makes an unflinching directorial debut

It's been a little over a year since Peter Mullan, that marvelously granitic Scottish actor and filmmaker, hit the festival circuit with "Neds," a vivid, punishing and sadly underseen semi-memoir of working-class adolescence arrested, in which he plays a version of his own brutal, alcoholic father.

It's a film containing what for most artists would count as several years' worth of channelled psychic pain, so it's rather distressing to contemplate the brevity of the breather Mullan must have taken between that project and his role in "Tyrannosaur," a moving, comfort-free study of personal abuse in its manifold forms.

Certain actors' faces are designed for suffering; Mullan's, it seems, more so than most. It's scarcely surprising that it'd be selected to front the feature directing debut of an actor whose hangdog mug has weathered its own share of troubles on camera: Paddy Considine, a frayed English everyman whose unassuming screen persona has nonetheless done little to prepare us for the crimson assault course of physical and verbal violence in "Tyrannosaur."

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<p>Martina McBride</p>

Martina McBride

Credit: AP Photo

Interview: Martina McBride talks Pat Monahan, George Strait and her kids

Her beautiful new album 'Eleven,' out today, is full of firsts for the country superstar

Martina McBride has been music for 20 years, but “Eleven,” out today, marks a whole new start for the Grammy-nominated singer.

“Eleven,” her 11th studio album, is her first for a new label, her first under her new management team, and more significantly, the first album where she has co-written the bulk of the songs, and recorded outside of Nashville.

“I just tried to make my environment such that I didn’t have any other responsibilities for the time I was tracking,” she says. “Just to make the music the focus. It was a luxury I’d never experienced before, not even before I had kids.”

[More after the jump...]

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Credit: AP Photo

Want to hang with Phish on New Year's Eve? Here's how

Band returns to Madison Square Garden for four-show residency

It’s becoming a regular gig for Phish: the jam band will return to New York’s Madison Square Garden for four shows around New Year’s Eve.

Already have plans for Dec. 31, the band will be at the legendary venue Dec. 28-31. Prior to this stint, Phish has played 19 shows at MSG, including last year’s New Year’s Eve.

Fans can request tickets through Oct. 24 on Phish’s website. Ticket prices will include a free MP3 of the evening’s show from the soundboard.


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Look: Rihanna reveals sultry new album covers for 'Talk That Talk'

Look: Rihanna reveals sultry new album covers for 'Talk That Talk'

Which one do you like better?

Rihanna has released the two covers for “Talk That Talk,” her sixth album out on Nov. 21.

The first photo, for the standard edition, features Ri Ri, looking downward, licking her upper lip with her ring-clad hand on top of her head and the album title tattooed on her arm.  We’re not sure what she’s up to, but we’re sure it’s no good.  Fans unlocked the album cover through the contest she’s having on her Facebook page.


The second cover, for the deluxe edition, surfaced on Idolator, and is much hotter — literally. It features a sultry Rihanna in a black and white photo, her mouth open and smoke coming out.


“Talk That Talk” is already off to a great start:  first single “We Found Love”  finds its ways into the record books as Rihanna lands her 20th Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in faster time than any other solo artist. It took Ri Ri only six years and four months to accomplish the staggering feat, besting Madonna’s six years and nine months time frame.

Which image do you like better? 

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The Black Keys
The Black Keys

The Black Keys set release date for new album, 'El Camino'

Watch the Funny or Die video announcing the set — sort of

On Dec. 6, the Black Keys will release “El Camino,” the follow up to the Grammy-winning “Brothers.” While the official word came today from the label, the much more amusing, yet obtuse, announcement came through this Bob Odenkirk viral video.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Warren Beatty stars in Robert Altman's &quot;McCabe &amp;&nbsp;Mrs. Miller&quot;</p>

Warren Beatty stars in Robert Altman's "McCabe & Mrs. Miller"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 westerns of all time

With 'Blackthorn' in theaters, an excuse to assess the genre

The release of Mateo Gil's "Blackthorn" last week gave me reason enough to write up a piece I've been meaning to get around to for a while now, and one a number of readers have asked about for a good long while: my list of the best westerns ever made.

Once upon a time I was considering cranking out a list of 50, right around the release of last year's "True Grit," but that quickly became a fool's errand and I abandoned it. If you want something that dense (and a list quite singular and worth debating, I must say), I'd suggest you dig into Time Out London's massive collective published on the occasion of Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff" hitting theaters earlier this year.

As I set out to chart the list, I knew a couple of things. I knew what would have a firm grip on the top spot. I knew a few contenders that were likely to situate themselves throughout, but I wasn't all that sure how my perspective on this or that entry would have changed over the years. So I sat down and re-watched a great many.

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