Latest Blog Posts

<p>Jesse (Aaron Paul)&nbsp;was displeased on tonight's &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Jesse (Aaron Paul) was displeased on tonight's "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' - 'Bug': Eye of the tiger?

The tension mounts in another incredible episode

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I enter it in the Quicken...

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<p>Gerard Butler is fighting the urge to bellow 'THIS... IS...&nbsp;AFRICA!' with every fiber of his being.</p>

Gerard Butler is fighting the urge to bellow 'THIS... IS... AFRICA!' with every fiber of his being.

Credit: Relativity Media

Review: Gerard Butler headlines the strange and overly sincere 'Machine Gun Preacher'

Based on a true story film means well, but that's just not enough

What a weird movie.

Have you ever seen or heard of the movie "The Cross and the Switchblade" with Pat Boone starring in it?  Total Godsploitation.  It's about a hip young priest reaching out to some inner-city gang hoods and winning them over with some tough-talking Bible study and a few well-applied fists.  It's based on a true story by a guy named David Wilkerson, and I couldn't help but think of that film when I was watching Marc Forster's new film "Machine Gun Preacher."  Like that one, this is based on a true story, and like that one, it seems to want to be an exciting, violent movie that is ultimately about faith.  That's just such a weird hybrid of goals that I have trouble getting a handle on tone, a problem that Forster seems to share.

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<p>Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I&nbsp;in Roland Emmerich's &quot;Anonymous.&quot;</p>

Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I in Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Roland Emmerich's 'Anonymous' is just plain silly

Vanessa Redgrave's performance survives the soap opera

Film festivals are always filled with "passion projects."  Films that directors, producers or screenwriters have spent years or even decades trying to get made.  This year's festival season has more then recent memory including Glenn Close scripted "Albert Nobbs" and David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" which playwright Christopher Hampton has been trying to get made for over 15 years.  A more peculiar entry to that club debuted this afternoon at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival in the Roland Emmerich revisionist thriller "Anonymous."

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<p>Anna Kendrick tries to help Joseph Gordon-Levitt deal with the idea of dying young in '50/50'</p>

Anna Kendrick tries to help Joseph Gordon-Levitt deal with the idea of dying young in '50/50'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in affecting, understated '50/50'

True-life story makes for a simple, affecting film

Jonathan Levine's been working in a minor key so far as a filmmaker. 

His first film is the still unreleased "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane," a determined twist on slasher formula and iconography, and he followed that up with the coming-of-age story "The Wackness," and in both cases, I've got a solid case of like.  I think he's interesting, and it feels to me like he's warming up.  That's not an insult, either.  I think Rian Johnson is still warming up.  I like "Brick," and I really like "The Brothers Bloom," but those aren't the movies he'll be known for.  Those are still ahead.  He's a guy who is going to keep getting better.  You can see it in the way he grows from first to second film, and in the ambition of what he's doing.  Levine is that kind of filmmaker.  I look at his movies, and I can see that he's smart, that he thinks about what he's shooting, that there's a real heart in there.  Those movies are genuinely told, sincerely meant, and even if I don't love them, I like what they represent, a filmmaker who's working towards something.

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<p>Paul Simon</p>
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Paul Simon

Credit: AP

Watch: Paul Simon performs 'The Sound of Silence' at 9/11 Memorial Service

James Taylor and Yo Yo Ma also take part

Paul Simon played a mournful, somber version of “The Sound of Silence” at the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony at Ground Zero on Sunday. He was originally scheduled to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” but apparently switched.

The performance footage is interspersed with families of those felled in the Twin Tower attacks. As Pop Dust reminded us, Simon played "The Boxer" on the first "Saturday Night Live" that aired after the tragedy on Sept. 29, 2001.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Walton Goggins from &quot;Justified.&quot;</p>

Walton Goggins from "Justified."

Credit: FX

Emmys '11 Predictions: Comedy & Drama Supporting Actor

Four 'Modern Family' men and an impressive drama field

The 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards are on September 18th, and it's time once again for Fienberg and I to discuss whom we think should and will win(*) some of the major categories. We're continuing to double up categories in order to finish in time, this time with the two Outstanding Supporting Actor categories, for both comedy and drama.

(*) As always, we remind you we do not have impressive track records at prognostication. Place your wagers (or, preferably not) accordingly.

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<p>This pretty much sums up Andrea Arnold's entire approach to adapting Bronte's classic novel 'Wuthering Heights'</p>

This pretty much sums up Andrea Arnold's entire approach to adapting Bronte's classic novel 'Wuthering Heights'

Credit: Film 4/HanWay Films

Review: Andrea Arnold's 'Wuthering Heights' is beautiful, but disappointing

Dramatically inert, it's more of a photo exhibit than a film

Andrea Arnold has only made a few films so far, but both "Red Road" and "Fish Tank" demonstrate a clear sense of voice and style.  She's got a great visual sense, and she is very good at creating a sense of dramatic tension, drawn out in some cases to the point where it's almost unbearable.  I would have happily gone to see anything she brought to the festival this year, but the notion of her tackling a piece of material like "Wuthering Heights" was particularly appealing.  It seemed like a strong dramatic place for her to start, and I had no doubt she would find a way to make it her own.

Having now seen the film, I'm not surprised that the Venice Film Festival gave a special award to the cinematography by Robbie Ryan, who also shot her two previous films.  His work here is spectacular, and there is a tactile quality to the film that goes beyond anything 3D could offer.  The problem is that aside from the cinematography and that sensual quality it lends to the film, there's nothing else about "Wuthering Heights" that I can recommend.  You might as well re-title the picture "Andrea Arnold's Photography Exhibit On Themes From 'Wuthering Heights'," because this is a still life.  It's a non-motion picture.  It is dramatically inert, and almost baffling in the way it misses the mark.

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<p>Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor in &quot;Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.&quot;</p>

Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."

Review: 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' unsuccessfully tries to duplicate Working Title formula

When an over the top Kristin Scott Thomas steals the show you've got problems

TORONTO - A romantic comedy or dramedy featuring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt is never going to be a box office slam dunk.  Yes, the two Brits are incredibly talented actors, but they haven't had much success as cinematic leads. However, when you are adapting a best selling novel you often hope the notoriety of your source material can help overcome your lack of celebrity starpower.  Unfortunately, that may not be the case for Lasse Halstrom's "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" which debuted at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival on Saturday night.

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<p>Karen Gillan as Amy Pond in &quot;Doctor Who.&quot;</p>

Karen Gillan as Amy Pond in "Doctor Who."

Credit: BBC

'Doctor Who' - 'The Girl Who Waited': Let the right one in

A temporal mix-up forces Rory to choose between two different versions of Amy

A review of tonight's "Doctor Who" coming up just as soon as I jettison the karaoke bar...

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<p>Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen play dress-up in the oddly unsatisfying 'A Dangerous Method'</p>

Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen play dress-up in the oddly unsatisfying 'A Dangerous Method'

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: David Cronenberg's oddly restrained 'A Dangerous Method' never quite connects

For a film about the men who defined kink, the film lacks heat

David Cronenberg is one of my favorite directors of all time.  His body of work, and I use that word knowing full well it has a double meaning when you're referring to Cronenberg, is one of the most demanding and rigorously intellectual of anyone in any genre.  He has long been fascinated by the relationship we have with the bodies we occupy, and he successfully made the jump from overt horror to adult-minded drama, something not every filmmaker is able to accomplish.

Yes, Wes Craven, we all still remember "Music Of The Heart."

When Cronenberg signed on for "A Dangerous Method," it sounded like a perfect match between filmmaker and material.  After all, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were two of the men who helped define the vocabulary we still use to discuss sexual psychology, and Cronenerg is, after all, the guy who made "Crash."  Not the silly "racism is bad" one, but the "hey, I could always use that hole" version.  This is a man who knows kink.  This is a man who has pushed boundaries so hard they've crumbled.  Who else would think to put a VHS-eating vagina in James Woods's chest?  I walked into "A Dangerous Method" wide open and ready for anything.

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<p>Oh, sure, he's just relaxing here, but give this man a hammer, and suddenly 'Drive' becomes flat-out terrifying</p>

Oh, sure, he's just relaxing here, but give this man a hammer, and suddenly 'Drive' becomes flat-out terrifying

Credit: Film District

Review: Ryan Gosling cranks up the cool in Refn's remarkable thriller 'Drive'

Plus Albert Brooks is scary... who knew?

Nicolas Winding Refn seems like an unlikely artist to be the guy who is making a career for himself as the pre-eminent bard of movie machismo, but that appears to be the case. 

His "Pusher" trilogy is a marvel of soap opera plotting and bad guy behavior, and he made Kim Bodina feel like the world's greatest unknown movie star, a Danish Tony Soprano.  His film "Bleeder" is about the rejection of comfort and love, with violence shown to be this seductive, necessary piece of some people's chemical make-up.  His big breakthrough moment seemed to be "Bronson," which I reviewed in the very early days of this site, and that movie is all about transforming yourself into a giant battle-hardened beast and then punching your way through life.  "Drive" is, aesthetically speaking, an early Michael Mann movie.  It's a small doomed little character piece, with Ryan Gosling giving a great movie star performance, self-aware and stylized to an extreme. 

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<p>Sofia Vergara was a highlight of &quot;Modern Family&quot;&nbsp;this season.</p>

Sofia Vergara was a highlight of "Modern Family" this season.

Credit: ABC

Emmys '11 Predictions: Comedy & Drama Supporting Actress

Two Emmy favorites on the comedy side, and a character actress with the role of a lifetime

The 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards are on September 18th, and it's time once again for Fienberg and I to discuss whom we think should and will win(*) some of the major categories. We're continuing to double up categories in order to finish in time, this time with the two Outstanding Supporting Actress categories, for both comedy and drama.

(*) As always, we remind you we do not have impressive track records at prognostication. Place your wagers (or, preferably not) accordingly.

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