Latest Blog Posts

<p>Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a scene from &quot;Hysteria.&quot;</p>

Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a scene from "Hysteria."

Watch: Hugh Dancy learns to pleasure women in the trailer for 'Hysteria'

Plus: New previews of 'Union Square' and 'Think of Me'

The Toronto International Film Festival is known as part of the early September kick-off of awards season, but it also serves as one of the busiest and more commercial acquisition markets in the world.  Some of the noteworthy pictures to be picked up out of Toronto over the past few years include Oscar winners "Crash" and "The Hurt Locker," "Insidious," "Everything Must Go," "Submarine," "Thank You For Smoking" and ( ).  While there are numerous awards season titles screening at the festival next month, TIFF also has some major premieres that could soon find their way to your local multiplex.  One romantic comedy that seems like true commercial fodder is "Hysteria."

Starring Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal (throwing out a Victorian Brit accent), Jonathan Pryce and don't look now Rupert Everett, the indie appears to be a cheeky look at the origins of the modern, um, electric "stimulator" for women.  The festival posted a production created trailer for the film and while the cut of the preview has pacing issues the film looks like it could easily be sold as a commercial art house hit (or as the Brits would say, "It's cheeky!").  Take a sneak peek yourself

A more serious and moody drama recently added to the Festival's line up is "Think of Me."  Written and directed by Bryan Wizemann, the picture stars Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under") as a single mother struggling to get by in Las Vegas.  Facing pressure to give up her child, Ambrose's character must decide how far she'll go to survive and keep her tough life intact.  The film immediately conjures up allegories to 2006's "Sherrybaby," but Wizemann appears to be using the Vegas backdrop to make this seemingly familiar tale stand on its own.  "Think of Me" may be more appropriate for Sundance, but it's non-commercial feel will be welcome north of the border.  

"Union Square," on the other hand, looks like a potential Sundance pitch that didn't make the cut.  Featuring Tammy Blanchard and Mira Sorvino as estranged sisters (one's class, the other is crass), the drama was written and directed by Nancy Savoca who is best known for 1991's acclaimed indie "Dogfight" with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor.  We're not so convinced Savoca has returned to those heights with "Union Square," but we're hoping to be proved wrong.  Check out the trailer below and judge for yourself.


Look for continuing coverage of the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals on Awards Campaign over the next month. 

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news, follow Gregory Ellwood @HitFixGregory.


Read Full Post
Taylor Armstrong of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 Taylor Armstrong of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Should the 2nd season of 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' be cut post-suicide?

It won't be an easy decision for Bravo

The bad news just keeps coming for "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." On Monday, Taylor Armstrong's estranged husband Russell was found dead in a friend's apartment, an apparent suicide. Now comes word that Bravo, in light of the tragedy, may not only stop filming of season 2 (which debuts Sept. 5) but cancel the season altogether.

Read Full Post
<p>Nick Lowe</p>

Nick Lowe

Credit: Dan Burn

Nick Lowe muses on Elvis Costello, Barry Manilow, Johnny Cash, groupies

Hitfix spends an evening with the British gentleman at the Grammy Museum

If British singer/songwriter Nick Lowe hadn’t made it as a musician, he could have had a great career as a raconteur. His gift for telling a witty story was on grand display Tuesday night, Aug. 16, as the 200-seat Grammy Museum in Los Angeles hosted “An Evening With Nick Lowe.” 

I interviewed Lowe in New York when I was at Billboard for his 1995 album, “The Impossible Bird.” I remember it well and it remains one of my favorite times with an artist. It was a cold January evening, the night of the Super Bowl. We were the only two people who seemingly didn’t care about the game. He was staying at the now gone Mayflower Hotel on the edge of Central Park. We sat in the hotel bar, the Conservatory, for hours, while the game played on a TV screen behind us, neither one of us paying any attention.

He regaled me with stories, the vast majority of which never made my article simply because there were so many witty and charming tales to choose from. There was something endearingly humble about Lowe. I asked him how many people he thought bought the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” because Curtis Stigers’ cover of Lowe’s “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understanding’ was on it. Without missing a beat, he told me “I’m 110% sure that none did. I’ve had a lot of people come up at shows with my records to sign from all over the world...and not one person has shoved a copy of ‘The Bodyguard’ under my nose and asked me to sign it.”
Last night, Lowe, one of modern music’s finest purveyors of power pop, discussed his early days with British pub-rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz, producing the likes of Elvis Costello, being Johnny Cash’s son-in-law, and his new album, “The Old Magic,” out Sept. 13 on Yep Roc. It follows his critically acclaimed 2007 set, “At My Age.”

He performed two songs from the forthcoming set — the wry “A Sensitive Man,” and the achingly sad “I Read A Lot,” as well as a crowd-pleasing rendition of his biggest—and only— U.S. Top 40 hit, “Cruel To Be Kind.”

Below are highlights from the evening. 

On his surprising earliest influence: Tennessee Ernie Ford. “In that era, everyone had six records. My Mom had Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, ‘South Pacific.’” Plus, two Tennessee Ernie Ford albums. “One of them was ‘This Lusty Land’...He sounded like he was from another planet.”

On songwriting: After joining Brinsley Schwarz at a time “when anyone who could string together a few chords could get a deal.” Though it was still an era where acts often relied on outside songwriters,  Lowe says, “I figured out if you want to have any longtime career you have to write your own songs.” He learned to write by copying his favorite songwriter. Then he'd copy his second favorite songwriter. “You drop in a little of the first one,” he says. Then you copy your third favorite songwriter and drop in elements of the first and the second, and before you know it, you’ve created your own “stew.”  “I remember the day I had my first original [song idea]. I was astonished. It’s a song I still do to this day: ‘What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understanding’.” He paused and then clarified, “A little bit was pinched from ‘Jesus Was a Crossmaker’ by Judee Sill.”

On producing Elvis Costello:  “Elvis brought a tape into Stiff [Records, where Lowe was staff producer] I wasn’t that attracted at the start. I thought there were too many words, too many chords,” Lowe recalled. “When I started producing him, I was El Jefe: ‘This has got to go! You can make three songs out of this one!’ That didn’t last very long. It was terrific.” When asked what he brought to Costello as his producer, Lowe said, “I really can’t remember doing anything. He had a fabulous group, The Attractions. They were volatile. I spent a lot of time trying to mend fences. That’s what I enjoyed.” He added that when producing became “a science, I went off it. I’m not a knob twiddler.”

On his “brief career as a pop star”:
“Cruel To Be Kind” hit No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in the U.K. in 1979, where Lowe also had a No. 7 record in “I Love The Sound Of Broken Glass,”  and for a period of three to four years, Lowe enjoyed the spoils of fame, including “gorgeous Italian birds who wanted to go out with me simply because I was on the telly.” But by the time his 15 minutes of fame wound down, he was ready. “I was very ill. I was pretty much an alcoholic and all the other clap-trap.”

On his father-in-law Johnny Cash: Lowe was married to Cash’s step-daughter, Carlene Carter, for 11 years. “Johnny Cash said, ‘Nick, all you gotta do is be yourself.’ I was like, ‘Who the hell wants to see that?’ But it’s true...He was a lovely bloke. He was kind of uncool, which made me love him even more...he was kind. I thought he was the most charismatic man in world until I met Solomon Burke.”

On Rockpile’s underwhelming ambition: Despite the critical acclaim heaped upon Rockpile, the rockabilly/power pop band he formed with Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams in the late ‘70s, Lowe says the band never took itself too seriously or had great desire to be stars. “We were our own worst enemies. We couldn’t hack it. We liked being the opening act. As [the headliners] were taking the stage, we’d be off to the Arapahoe Inn by the airport with third division groupies.”

On showing a little respect, please:Elton John, Cher, Barry Manilow: you have to take your hat off to these people. It’s extremely hard to keep a career going [that long]  and to stay healthy. Most people have two hits and it’s back to the biscuit factory."


Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Louie&quot;&nbsp;(Louis C.K.)&nbsp;struggles with his fantasies in a scene from last week.</p>

"Louie" (Louis C.K.) struggles with his fantasies in a scene from last week.

Credit: FX

Review: 'Louie' gets seriously brilliant as season 2 nears a finish

Louis C.K.'s show now more drama than comedy, but incredible either way

When FX sent out the first four episodes of "Louie" season two for review, I couldn't help noticing that three of the four were fairly dark and/or serious, and that the one overtly comic episode also featured a storyline about Louie despairing over the meaning of life after watching a bum get decapitated by a garbage truck. At the time, I wondered whether creator/star/writer/director/editor/etc. Louis C.K. - whose comic sensibilities have never been all that sunny to begin with - had decided to deliberately take the series in a more sober direction, or if this is just the way the distribution had worked out. It was possible, I thought, that the next batch might have been much sillier, along the lines of Louie's trip to Alabama or bad marijuana experience from season one.

Instead, the episodes since then have involved, among other topics:

Read Full Post
<p>BBC&nbsp;America's &quot;The Hour&quot;&nbsp;looks back at British TV&nbsp;news in the mid-'50s.</p>

BBC America's "The Hour" looks back at British TV news in the mid-'50s.

Credit: BBC

Interview: 'The Hour' creator Abi Morgan

On 'Mad Men' comparisons, the end of empire, women in British '50s TV news, and more

Yesterday, I offered up my review of BBC America's "The Hour," a new six-part drama series about the launch of a new BBC investigative news show in 1956, and how the staff - specifically tough producer Bel Rowely (Romola Garai), her brilliant but impetuous sidekick Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) and dashing anchorman Hector Madden (Dominic West) - get caught up in the Suez Canal crisis, a series of espionage murders and various romantic entanglements. As I said in the review, it's "Broadcast News" meets "Mad Men" meets Ian Fleming, and I rather liked it (albeit with some reservations about the spy material).

While I was at press tour, I got a chance to interview the series' creator, Abi Morgan, about her inspiration, her research into the period, the inevitable "Mad Men" comparisons, and more. We don't really get into any spoilers (especially since I'd only seen three of the six episodes at the time), but I imagine the interview may be more edifying to people who've already seen the episodes that have aired in the U.K.

(And that, in turn, allows me to remind you that the spoiler policy on this blog means plot discussion of anything that has yet to air in the U.S. is off-limits. Got it?)

My conversation with Morgan after the jump, and I'll have a post up tonight for people's reaction to the first episode (which airs from 10-11:15)...

Read Full Post
<p>Jason Momoa isn't screwing around.&nbsp; Either see 'Conan The Barbarian' or he is going to plunder you.&nbsp; Reeeeeeeeal hard.</p>

Jason Momoa isn't screwing around.  Either see 'Conan The Barbarian' or he is going to plunder you.  Reeeeeeeeal hard.

Credit: Lionsgate

Review: 'Conan The Barbarian' is bloody, brutal, and possibly brain-damaged

A game cast makes the most amidst Marcus Nispel's gore-soaked madness

Marcus Nispel's new "Conan The Barbarian" is the film equivalent of having someone punch you in the face for two straight hours while someone screams in your ear.  Now, if you like that sort of thing, buckle up, because "Conan" is absolutely stark raving mad from the first frame to the last.  Hyperviolent, with all the sexual sophistication of an eleven year old who just read his first "Hustler," and filled with utterly nonsensical set pieces, it is no more faithful a rendering of the work of Robert E. Howard than the 1982 John Milius film was.  It is, however, pulpy in an almost defiantly unapologetic way, and there is some kick to seeing a movie this gleefully unconcerned with offending modern sensibilities.  I would not call this the definitive "Conan" movie that I still hope someone makes some day, but I would say that it's unforgettably deranged, and I had fun watching it even as I felt shame over how much fun I was having.

I grew up on the Robert E. Howard stories, as well as the stories by other authors working in his world and the Marvel comics treatment by Roy Thomas, and I had very strong feelings about the character before I ever saw the original Milius film.  When that came out in 1982, I fell in love with it as a movie, even though I didn't love it as an adaptation.  This time out, screenwriters Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood have drawn definite inspiration from Howard's work, and you can go through the film and pick out moments here and there that are directly lifted from this story or that story.  

Read Full Post
<p>J. Cole in &quot;Work Out&quot;</p>

J. Cole in "Work Out"

Watch: J. Cole's official 'Work Out' music video

Remember the '90s?

J. Cole isn't the global superstar he deserves to be yet, which is probably why his music video for "Work Out" was budgeted only $16, for solo cups, lanterns and some masking tape. A certain liquor brand product placement likely paid for the rest.

I don't mean to be cruel. I'm a fan of this first single from his Roc Nation debut, "Cole World: The Sideline Story." But this clips certainly brings it back -- with the voice box sample and the basketball-in-the-yard, it's the '90s, and it looks the part. (He also rips from Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," but the '80s has no place here.)

Cole also looks a little stiff here, and a little hallow-eyed. Loosen up, guy, you've got a Sept. 27 drop date to promote.

Read Full Post
<p>Keith Urban in &quot;Long Hot Summer&quot;</p>

Keith Urban in "Long Hot Summer"

Watch: Keith Urban's got his toes in the sand for 'Long Hot Summer' video

Enjoy while there are still a few weeks left

Jump in, the water’s fine. Before we say goodbye to summer, Keith Urban is giving us one last longing look at what we’ll miss for the next several months.

In the video for “Long Hot Summer,” he celebrates love and sand between your toes. He and his band play on the beach (as with most videos set in the desert or beach, we just have to suspend disbelief that there are no outlets anywhere in sight to plug in their equipment) as two pretty young things roll down the coast highway in a convertible. They’re meeting their beaus, who are surfing. (As first, we thought one of the surfers was perhaps Urban, but it’s another shaggy-haired, pretty boy).

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>The 'Nine Lives of Chloe King' love triangle</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

The 'Nine Lives of Chloe King' love triangle

Credit: ABC Family

'Nine Lives of Chloe King' and 'Teen Wolf' finale thoughts

ABC Family and MTV's animalistic teens wrapped their summer runs
Tis the week to say farewell to both of the summer's high profile teen-becomes-an-animal-and-falls-in-love-with-the-child-of-their-nemesis cable dramas.
MTV's "Teen Wolf" wrapped up its first season on Monday (August 15) night with a finale that included a few lingering questions, but no pressing cliffhangers. If you're a writer-producer, it's the sort of finale you can turn in if you're confident that you'll be continuing the story a few months down the road. Indeed, MTV renewed "Teen Wolf" weeks ago and new episodes will premiere in 2012 and if the network holds off till the summer again, I'll probably even keep watching, despite the galling awareness that Australian doctorologists say that TV is killing me at a rate of 22 minutes per small screen hour. Since reading the results of that scientifically questionable study, I've been evaluating what percentage of my TV viewing is worth dying for. With "Teen Wolf," I'm certain it's a loss. 
While I haven't loved "The Nine Lives of Chloe King," I've found it to be a pleasantly entertaining summertime diversion, low impact but likable. When musing on the TV that's killing me, "The Nine Lives of Chloe King" doesn't go under the heading of TV Worth Dying Slowly For, but unlike "Teen Wolf," it also can't be filed under Oh God, I'm Squandering My Life. It's better suited for the I Probably Wasn't Gonna Do Anything Better With That Time pile, which isn't too shabby.
Read Full Post
<p>Phil Rosenthal and Ray Romano are obviously listening to this week's edition of the Motion/Captured Podcast.</p>

Phil Rosenthal and Ray Romano are obviously listening to this week's edition of the Motion/Captured Podcast.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Listen: The Motion/Captured Podcast with 'Raymond' creator Phil Rosenthal

Plus the return of Movie God and this week's new releases

It's been a while since I've had Scott Swan over to record a podcast, and I could blame Comic-Con or I could blame other trips, or I could blame Scott's crazy work schedule or the films he's gearing up to direct, but the truth is, we just plain let it get away from us.  My bad entirely.

This weekend, though, I finally got him over to the house, and we sat down for what turned out to be one of our longest, loosest, strangest podcast recording sessions so far.  The reason I enjoy doing this show with Scott is that I've known him for over 25 years now, and the two of us can gab about pretty much anything with little or no preparation.  It keeps things spontaneous, and almost no one else has the ability to reduce me to helpless tears of laughter as often or as scientifically as him.

I'm still struggling to find the exact right format for the show, but one thing you've been very vocal about is that you want Movie God to be part of the show.  Rest assured, we brought it back this week.  We also have an interview, as normal, this time with Phil Rosenthal, who created "Everybody Loves Raymond."  He has a new documentary out on DVD and Blu-ray right now, and we talked to him about trying to reproduce that hit show for a Russian audience.

Read Full Post
<p>Hi, Tom Waits! Hi!</p>
<br />

Hi, Tom Waits! Hi!

'Bad' new Tom Waits song due next week

Songwriter has something up his sleeve

Did you hear that thud? That was me falling out of my chair. In excitement. That's what happens.

Tom Waits has let his newsletter subscribers and Twitter followers know that he's aware of the "rumors," and that soon he'll be setting the record straight.

Amazon has posted a pre-order option for a little 3:10-clocked MP3 called "Bad As Me," which could very well be the title track from an upcoming album from the legendary singer-songwriter. The listed drop date: Aug. 23. That's next Tuesday, people.

The Anti- Records-signed artist also encouraged fans to head to his website on that date. This may be all the more entertaining, considering another time he "set the record straight" during a "press conference" in 2008. He's hiding something from the rest of us.

Waits' last studio release was "Real Gone" from 2004. He also dropped triple-disc compilation "Orphans" in 2006.


Tom Waits Bad as Me

Read Full Post
Listen: Lady Antebellum's new song, 'We Owned The Night'

Listen: Lady Antebellum's new song, 'We Owned The Night'

Will it be as big a hit as 'Just A Kiss?'

Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night,” out Sept. 13, is already off to a good start with kick-off single, the honey sweet “Just A Kiss” landing at No. 1 on the country charts.

Second single, “We Owned The Night,” which features Charles Kelley singing lead, just hit iTunes and radio. While I was in the minority, I found “Just A Kiss” a little too treacly.  “We Owned The Night,” with its driving guitar and anthemic themes of love and loss has a great Keith Urban-type feel. My favorite Lady A tunes feature Kelley and Hillary Scott singing together, such as on “Run To You” or “Need You Now,” but I’m a big fan of Kelley’s solo vocals (though Scott does some nice harmonies here). I predict this one’s going straight to No. 1 and is going to be a live favorite. It’s one of Kelley’s best vocals since “Love Don’t Live Here.”

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post