Latest Blog Posts

<p>Charlize Theron in &quot;Young Adult&quot;</p>

Charlize Theron in "Young Adult"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Charlize Theron is delusional in the first trailer for Jason Reitman's 'Young Adult'

The 'Juno' director re-teams with writer Diablo Cody on the film

Jason Reitman is back in the season this year with "Young Adult" after an impressive run with "Up in the Air" two years ago. I've been hearing for some time that the Diablo Cody-penned film is a bit of a departure for him, but the trailer, which recently dropped via Apple, is obviously playing up things like the "Juno" connection and comedic elements. Charlize Theron, from what I hear, is sure to be in the running for Best Actress, and Patton Oswalt is said to give a rather surprising performance that could pop up in the supporting actor conversation. "Heard," "is said to," let's just see the film already. Check out the trailer after the jump.

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<p>Adele</p>

Adele

Credit: AP Photo

Adele, B.o.B. and Rihanna all score Billboard Hot 100 victories

Which two artists each have two songs in the Top 10?

Well hello, B.O.B. Welcome back. We haven’t heard much from the rapper this year as he’s been preparing his second album, but now he roars back with title track, “Strange Clouds” featuring Lil Wayne. The tune floats onto the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 7.

He’s not the only one celebrating this week: Adele sees her tune, “Someone Like You” bounce back to No 1, swapping places with Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” featuring Christina Aguilera, which drops to No. 2.

Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” stays at No. 3. Gym Class Heroes’ “Stereo Hearts” featuring Adam Levine inches 5-4. The Maroon 5 frontman isn’t the only artist with two tracks in the top 10: LMFAO ties up No. 5 and No. 6 with “Party Rock Anthem,” followed by “Sexy And I Know It," according to Billboard

David Guetta scores his 3rd top 10, as “Without You” featuring Usher moves 11-8. Rihanna celebrates her 20th Hot 100 top 10 as “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris finds its way to No. 9, leaping seven places.  Cobra Starship’s “You Make Me Feel”  featuring Sabi squeezes out one more week in the top 10, as the tune falls 9-10.


 

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<p>One of many arresting shots in Terrence Malick's &quot;The Tree of Life&quot;</p>

One of many arresting shots in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Tech Support: 'Tree of Life,' 'The Artist' lead a field of 'pretty' pictures in Best Cinematography

Other films at the fore include 'War Horse' and 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Cinematography is at the heart of the art of filmmaking. The camera's ab to capture real time situations distinguishes a cinematic effort from photography, literature, radio or stage. When done poorly, a film’s quality will inevitably suffer for all the attributes of the acting, writing and directing. When done well or brilliantly, a film’s quality is elevated immeasurably.

The Oscar in this category tends to award “pretty” films with luscious landscapes and other opportunities to highlight the photography. War films are also always a favorite. That said, in recent years, there has been somewhat of an expansion to more novel types of cinematography, perhaps the sort that complements visual effects to truly “wow” the audience. The category does tend to award Best Picture nominees disproportionately, at both the nomination and win stage.

I should note that while cinematographers frequently end up with their second, third or fourth nomination in any given year, there are always a couple of newcomers. Moreover, Robert Richardson and Roger Deakins are the only two active cinematographers who have more than five nominations (to my knowledge, anyway). So there is a tendency to spread the wealth in this group.

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<p>Jacques Audiard's &quot;A&nbsp;Prophet&quot;&nbsp;managed the London critics award for Best Film over Best Picture winner &quot;The Hurt Locker&quot;&nbsp;in 2009.</p>

Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" managed the London critics award for Best Film over Best Picture winner "The Hurt Locker" in 2009.

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

London Film Critics' Circle aims to stand out

Top UK critics' awards make changes to their calendar and categories

I've always followed the London Critics' Circle Awards with interest, and will be doing so even more than usual this year... not least because, as a new Circle member, I'll be voting in them for the first time.

Essentially the UK answer to the most prestigious US critics' awards, they're executed on a larger scale, with nominees in both general and British-only categories, and a full-scale awards-night bash. They can be relied upon to mix the expected favorites with a few cheeky wild cards: David Fincher and Apichatpong Weerasethakul rubbed shoulders in last's year's Best Director category, for example, while "A Prophet" beat "The Hurt Locker" to their top prize two years ago.

Though always interesting to monitor, their influence on the overall awards-season picture has hitherto been curbed by geographical distance as well as a late calendar date -- in February, where they tend to occur only days apart from the BAFTAs. (Earlier this year, for example, an upset Best Actress victory for Annette Bening got Oscar-watchers briefly excited about a potential tilt in the British vote, but it was too late to have much impact.)

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<p>Harvey&nbsp;Weinstein at the Cannes Film&nbsp;Festival in May</p>

Harvey Weinstein at the Cannes Film Festival in May

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Harvey Weinstein stumps for 'Ides of March'

The Oscar whisperer takes a moment to praise the competition

For some reason a number of people are feeling iffy on the Oscar chances of George Clooney's "The Ides of March." The air of doubt started with a wave of reserved reactions at the Venice Film Festival, which was simply not the right venue to premiere the film. Thing picked up slightly at Toronto, but not much. And still, the kind of snotty critical reaction in some quarters is enough for many to pull their punches on the film's date with the Kodak.

Well, I say, "Nonsense." Ever since I saw the movie a few weeks ago I've been fairly certain it will be a big player with the Academy. I'd take it to the bank, even. It's a tight piece of work, easily digestible, featuring a stellar ensemble and coming from Hollywood's golden boy. AMPAS will eat it up. A SAG ensemble nomination is likely on the way. PGA, DGA, it all fits. But hey, you want to doubt it, don't let me stop you. And don't let Harvey Weinstein stop you, either.

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<p>(from left)&nbsp;Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs and John&nbsp;Lasseter</p>

(from left) Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs and John Lasseter

Credit: Disney Pixar/Facebook

Celebs, filmmakers, moguls and pioneers remember Steve Jobs and his legacy

They take to the web to spread their thoughts

It's amazing but understandable the impact Steve Jobs's passing has had across the web. Twitter was alight all night last night with remembrances and memes and just a general sense of somber reflection and appreciation. At one point all of the trending topics pertained to Jobs in some way.

Interesting to me, especially after digging in a bit yesterday on the impact Jobs has had on the film industry, is the outpouring of love and consideration from celebrities and filmmakers. I thought it would be worth it to collect a few, starting right at the top with Pixar honchos John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, who conveyed, via Facebook:

"Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply 'make it great.' He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people. He will forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA. Our hearts go out to his wife Laurene and their children during this incredibly difficult time."

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<p>Stan gets misdiagnosed in a new &quot;South Park.&quot;</p>

Stan gets misdiagnosed in a new "South Park."

Credit: Comedy Central

Morning Round-Up: Thoughts on 'South Park,' 'Suburgatory,' 'Up All Night' and more

Alan also discusses the latest episodes of 'Modern Family' and 'Hart of Dixie'

Back in the early days of the old blog, I tended to do a lot of round-up posts where I offered quick thoughts on a bunch of shows at once. I phased that out after a while, as it became clear that readers didn't like them as much as the longer individual review posts, with the round-ups always getting a much lower comment total. But in an effort to cover as much of the new season as I can while still maintaining my sanity and a workable schedule, I'm going to try them out again from time to time, to hit up a bunch of shows that I've seen but don't have much to say about. These may be more trouble than they're worth, but I'm going to give it a shot.

For this one, we're going to try to hit, in order, "South Park," "Suburgatory," "Up All Night," "Modern Family" and "Hart of Dixie," all coming up just as soon as I have some Jameson's...

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<p>Clint Eastwood must be feeling lucky as he's taking on another acting role after &quot;retiring&quot; from being in front of the camera three years ago.</p>

Clint Eastwood must be feeling lucky as he's taking on another acting role after "retiring" from being in front of the camera three years ago.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Clint back in the saddle

Also: Diablo Cody taps Octavia Spencer and Nikki Finke rolls out a dubious awards season program

One of the stories in today's round-up is yesterday's news that Clint Eastwood is coming out of "retirement" as an actor to star in another film, "Trouble with the Curve." You may recall that the actor-turned-director said around the release of "Gran Torino" in 2008 that that film would bring his last performance. The hoopla around the announcement had many thinking he might finally win an acting Oscar, but, well, he wasn't even nominated. So maybe this is another stab.

In any case, it got me thinking about my favorite Eastwood performances over the years. Sure, he generally puts the same spin on every portrayal, but I've always been partial to his work in "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot," "Unforgiven" and "The Bridges of Madison County." You can't deny the iconic Man with No Name. He's wonderful in "Escape from Alcatraz" and, of course, "Dirty Harry," and even though I'm not a fan of "Million Dollar Baby," I've always thought he did excellent (Oscar-nominated) work there, too. Anyway, let's see what's going on in the Oscarweb today...

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<p>&nbsp;Jean Dujardin in &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

 Jean Dujardin in "The Artist."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

The Long Shot: But is it 'The Artist?'

French crowd-pleaser could be the story of this year's award season

Last week, a good friend and a great critic, the Daily Telegraph’s Tim Robey, wrote a lovely valentine to “The Artist,” detailing at length the ample charms of the French silent-cinema homage, before musing hopefully on its awards-season future. It’s a piece quite unabashed in its gushing from a writer who has never been the easiest sell on presumed Oscar fodder (if anything, he dislikes “The King’s Speech” even more than I do), and indicative of how hard those won over by the film really do fall. I could make this an easy column to write by quoting multiple chunks of the piece, but you’d be better off reading it here

I open with Tim’s piece not because the internet is short of glowing reviews of Michel Hazanavicius’s Cannes hit, but because he makes the best possible case (if not a prediction) for the film’s potential Oscar glory: chiefly, that the very unlikelihood of the film winning big is precisely what’s working in its favor.

Channelling the peerless Oscar analyst Mark Harris, he reminds us of the “who’da thunk it” theory that drove such against-the-odds victories as Sandra Bullock’s critically jeered Best Actress win (or, even, to insert my own example, the improbable Cinderella ascent of “Slumdog Millionaire”), whereby crowdpleasing achievements never expressly designed for the Academy become juggernauts precisely because they’re such counter-intuitive choices.

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<p>Arthur Claus and thousands of elves celebrates Santa's return after a seemingly successful Christmas Night job in &quot;Arthur Christmas&quot;</p>

Arthur Claus and thousands of elves celebrates Santa's return after a seemingly successful Christmas Night job in "Arthur Christmas"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Will 'Arthur Christmas' deliver a stocking full of gold to Oscar?

Director Sarah Smith talks about the new Aardman and Sony Pictures Animation player

LONDON - For first time feature director Sarah Smith a five year journey into animation is finally about to peak on the big screen.  Smith is the director and co-screenwriter, along with Peter Baynham ("Borat," "I'm Alan Partridge"), of "Arthur Christmas," the first collaboration of legendary animation studio Aardam and Sony Pictures Animation.  It's early Monday morning and Smith has less than two weeks to finish the picture.  

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"America's Next Top Model"

 "America's Next Top Model"

Credit: CW

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' - 'Anthony Zuiker'

One model gets eliminated and another ends up in the hospital

So, we start out the show with a whole lot of nothing. The girls get care packages from home, yay! But Camille doesn't. She gets a box of bills. And you know why she gets a box of bills? Because she's OLDER than everyone else. She has RESPONSIBILITIES. Given that Camille reminds us no less than three times that she's older than the rest of the contestants on the show, I'm starting to think she may also have early onset Alzheimer's disease because she just can't let this go. Someone, get the girl a walker and a box of denture cleaner, fast!

Camille may be old, but at least she isn't on death's door. That seems to be the case with Kayla, who starts throwing up and hyperventilating for no apparent reason. An ambulance is called and the models proceed to mourn as if Kayla is a close personal friend and not someone they secretly hope is going home and staying home. The models all act tremendously relieved when Kayla returns from the hospital at 2:12 a.m., even though I'm sure at least one of them thought about packing her bags for her. In any case, Kayla isn't going to die, as she just had a cardiac arrhythmia. She reveals it could be stress related, so everyone keep an eye out for other all-stars sneaking up behind her and screaming "SPIDER!" or "BOO!"

Time for the first challenge! Jay Manuel tells the girls they will be auditioning for "CSI" and show creator Anthon Zuiker, who pops up. Literally. He was pretending to be a corpse and abruptly tosses off the white sheet to a cacophony of screams. Did someone keep an eye on Kayla? 

The all-stars have to memorize a scene in thirty minutes, and it's a scene full of words like gas chromatography mass spectrometer, hydrocodone and methamphetamine. Well, they should know that last one. Camille shakes like a leaf.  Angelea is sure she can nail it and she does, if nailing it means pronouncing the names without showing up. Bre also manages to get through the list. But Lisa, the self-proclaimed actress in the bunch, falls apart. But she has an excuse. Actually, a lot of excuses. She wasn't allowed to look at the script for an hour and a half, she was the last one to go, she was tired, blah blah blah. That and two bucks will get you a cup of bad coffee, Lisa.

The two finalists are Bre and Angelea, and the winner is Bre. Angelea is pissed because, after all, she nailed it! Angelea, please take your 716 back to the 716. It's not attractive, even if Jay tells you it is. 

Next, an Express photo shoot at a mansion in Beverly Hills. The models will be expected to play one of four characters: the girlfriend, the flirt, the cool chick or the socialite. And to spice things up, they get to interact with three hot male models: Josh, David and Sean. Not an exciting challenge, but I think Kayla's probably had all the excitement she can stand for the week.

Even though the challenge seems pretty straight-forward, a number of the models really struggle with it. Bianca wants to push the limit of flirt, but she's too pose-y and awkward. When Jay points this out, Bianca gives him attitude, pointing out she's the "real" model in the competition. What? Bianca, this is a good way to get sent home to be a "real" model somewhere else. Camille knows she needs to bring it because she's OLDER -- so she doesn't.  Lisa decides that the best way to show off Express clothing is to have weird, spastic jumping fits for the camera. Lisa says she isn't drinking on this season, which is admirable, but she might benefit from some Ritalin.  

Judging from what we see at the photo shoot, Camille is really in trouble (but not because she's OLDER -- she took terrible pictures) and Bianca's attitude could catch up to her. I wasn't a big fan of Shannon's shots, either. 

Soon it's time for judging. Crazy Tyra introduces the panel: Nigel Barket, Andre Leon Talley and Anthony Zuicker. I'm so glad Anthony Zuicker stuck around... because he will be able to tell us which model looks dead and which doesn't? I have no idea. But really, he picked Bre, he has his actress, he should just go home. 

Laura shows up in a ghastly Wanda Sue special, but her picture is adorable, and the judges agree. Anthony thinks Kayla's shot is stunning. Nigel thinks Dominque sells just the right amount of sexy and she creates an attractive S shape with her body. Bre's shot is not a hit, as it does look a little JC Penney. Alexandria's photo looks mannequin-like and matronly. Nigel thinks Allison's photo is relaxed, which is surprising given how awkward she is in real life. Camille, unfortunately, looks frozen. She tries to blame it on tripping. Oh, Camille, don't make excuses. The judges all give her a disdainful look and, thank God, she shuts up.

Andre thinks Lisa's photo is unhappy despite the smiling. I'm not sure where he gets unhappy, but it's not a great shot. Nigel thinks Lisa makes a lot of excuses. The male models were tired and hungry! She couldn't interact with tired, hungry hot guys! Tyra tells her it was up to her to get the male models to stop being cranky. Bianca's photo is so-so. Andre thinks Angelea looks like a Russian wife, and this is apparently a compliment. I think. Tyra says she looks like new money and she thinks it's fabulous. I think this is code for rich and trashy, but okay, the judges seem happy with it, though I doubt Express will be. Shannon's photo is a hit, surprisingly, because I think it's pretty awful. 

The juges send the models away to mull things over alone. Laura's photo is, of course, a hit. Allison is deemed an innocent doll who needs more control. Nigel loves Kayla's picture, but Anthony thinks she doesn't command his attention. Shut up, Anthony. Andre loves Dominique's shot. Nigel thinks Alexandria's photo skew 40-plus, which is sadly true. It's like a horrible St. John catalog shot. Nigel thinks Camille's photo is personality free. Andre is annoyed by Lisa's excuses, but Nigel points out that, hello, her clothes look awful in the shot and it's a shot for a clothing ad. Ouch. Bianca is boring but Andre likes her picture and Tyra thinks it's amateur. Ooh, dissent in the ranks! Nigel thinks Angelea is selling it. Tyra thinks she has great confidence. Shannon's horrible shot gets mixed reviews -- Nigel doesn't love it, Tyra wishes she'd pushed a little more and Andre likes it. Nigel doesn't like Bre's smile. Anthony wants a full face, not a half face. Although on his show, he probably prefers a half face, because that means the rest of the face has been blown off. Why are we listening to him? 

Tyra calls Angelea first, as she's the most fantastic trashy Russian wife out there! The runner-up is Dominique, who turned in the better picture if you ask me. Then we have Allison, Laura, Kayla, Shannon, Bre, Bianca, Alexandria. Tyra tells her Alexandria she's more talented than her shot implies, and Alexandria sighs with relief. Lisa and Oldie McOlderson Camille are in the bottom. 

Tyra informs us that Lisa and Camille have nothing in common -- except excuses. Lisa stays, Camille goes. I have to say, this was pretty obvious from the beginning. Camille psyched herself out with her "I'm OLDER" mantra, and the unfortunate result is you can see her fretting about whether or not she has a blossoming wrinkle in every shot. Honestly, if she hadn't said she was 33 over and over again, I wouldn't have guessed it. 

Camille is disappointed, but she ha to reinvent herself. She actually seems a little relieved to be getting the boot, and she gives herself a pat on the back for having done as well as she did. Maybe someone will give her an ad campaign for wrinkle cream or those peach-colored Depends they keep plugging. There's a market for older, Camille, never fear!

Do you think Camille deserved to go? Did you think Angelea's photo was the strongest? And what did you think of the promo for next week with the Kardashian sisters and LaToya Jackson?

 

It's down to ten and the Kardashian sisters and LaToya Jackson. 

 

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<p>Sure, little Kristi looks like a cute kid, but you haven't met her friend Toby yet from 'Paranormal Activity 3'</p>

Sure, little Kristi looks like a cute kid, but you haven't met her friend Toby yet from 'Paranormal Activity 3'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Listen: The directors of 'Paranormal Activity 3' join the podcast from Austin

Plus 'Human Centipede 2,' Fantastic Fest wrap-up, and more calls from you

September was a blur.

By the end, I felt like I had stayed on a Tilt-A-Whirl too long and my equilibrium was shot, but I loved it all.  Toronto was great, and I published two big podcasts about Toronto just before I left town to head to Austin.  Now, I'm finally on the other side of the wonderful Fantastic Fest, and I've come back with one less interview than I expected.

I'll explain in the actual podcast, but the short version is my computer just plain didn't record something.  And as a result, it doesn't exist.  And so in this week's podcast, I discuss the interview that didn't record with Scott and try to relate some of the highlights as best I can.  It's a disappointment for me, but hopefully I convey some of the flavor of what it's like to chat with make-up legend Rick Baker for a half-hour.

We cover a fair amount of ground this week.  I've got FEARnet's lead critic Scott Weinberg on to discuss "The Human Centipede 2," I sit down with the directors and star of "Paranormal Activity 3," and we go through many of the highlights of Fantastic Fest this year.

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