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<p>'You're Next' is one of this year's big awards winners at Fantastic Fest</p>

'You're Next' is one of this year's big awards winners at Fantastic Fest

Credit: Lionsgate/Snoot

'You're Next' emerges as biggest winner in Fantastic Fest Awards

'Bullhead' and 'Clown' also stand out in the evening's announcements

It's strange but true:  Monday night is one of the craziest nights of Fantastic Fest every single year.

This is the night that starts with awards and ends with feuds, where the festival gives away prizes, then pits the Americans versus the foreigners, where the drinking starts early and ends ugly.  This is not like any other festival's awards evening, and it's pure spectacle every single year.

Where else do you have to drink beer from the actual prize you are given?  And where else would they follow up the awards with a game show?

I didn't make it into the room for the awards ceremony this year.  I was seated outside on the patio of the Alamo instead, and I got the press release as the awards were being announced.  By all accounts, there was much debauchery and madness over the course of handing the awards out this year, and a truly distressing amount of Shiner was consumed.  I think they got a lot of this right, and they shined some attention on some truly worthy films, some of which I've reviewed now, some of which I haven't.  I'm here at Fantastic Fest until Friday of this week, though, so I'll have plenty more for you in the days ahead.

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<p>Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom HIddleston and, um, another actor we're unsure of in Steven Spielberg's &quot;War Horse.&quot;</p>

Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom HIddleston and, um, another actor we're unsure of in Steven Spielberg's "War Horse."

Credit: Dreamworks Studios

Contender Countdown: The wait for 'War Horse'

Who is on the bubble in the best picture, best actress and best actor races?

Like politics or business, the best picture race is dictated and many times identified by trends.  One year it can be all the contenders opening in December. Another year it's about debuting in October for the long haul.  And some years -- well, many years -- the winner is pretty much decided before the public even knows a race is going on.  The 2012 season is a "wait for the big kahuna" year.  Or, to be frank, "waiting for the big kahunas" year.

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<p>Yasube (Ryo Nishikikido) teaches Tomoya (Fuku Suzuki) a few moves in 'A Boy And His Samurai'</p>

Yasube (Ryo Nishikikido) teaches Tomoya (Fuku Suzuki) a few moves in 'A Boy And His Samurai'

Credit: J Storm

Review: Remarkable 'A Boy And His Samurai' confirms Nakamura as one of the best

If this was in English, your kids would be asking for the Happy Meal right now

How has Yoshihiro Nakamura remained an international secret?

If there was an American equivalent to "A Boy And His Samurai," it would be the sort of film that would end up earning $100 million from family audiences.  It is a sincere, high-concept movie that absolutely plays to formula, but does it with a zeal that is enormously endearing.  It is interesting that I'll be publishing my review of the movie "Real Steel" today as well, because these films both fall into some of the same broad genre definitions.

In both films, there is a boy who needs a father figure, and an unlikely figure, associated primarily with violence, has to learn how to also display a tender and protective side to bond with the boy.  In this movie, Hiroko (Rie Tomosaka) is struggling to raise her young son Tomoya (Fuku Suzuki), who is almost kindergarten age.  He's at that point where kids accept whatever reality works best for them, where the whole world is made of possibilities and they're really starting to come into focus as people.  Hiroko left her husband because he expected her to play some sort of conventional domestic role, and she needs to work.  She needs to have a place in things and be good at something.  And so she's raising Tomoya alone, and one afternoon, the two of them meet Yasube (Ryo Nishikikido), who appears to be a genuine samurai from the Edo period, somehow transported to modern Tokyo.  So of course, Tomoya takes him home.

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Alec Baldwin as Al Pacino on "Saturday Night Live"
Alec Baldwin as Al Pacino on "Saturday Night Live"
Credit: NBC

'Top Gun' screen tests on SNL

 

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<p>The cast of 'Juan Of The&nbsp;Dead' braces themselves for an onslaught of hot Cuban zombie action</p>

The cast of 'Juan Of The Dead' braces themselves for an onslaught of hot Cuban zombie action

Credit: La Zanfona Films

Review: 'Juan Of The Dead' is much more than an easy Cuban zombie knock-off

We want this one to get picked up immediately

Just so we're clear on this, I want a distributor to buy "Juan Of The Dead."  Now.  Immediately.

This has been my busiest festival year so far.  I was at Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, Toronto, and now Fantastic Fest, and part of the game you play when you attend all of these events is figuring out what you need to see now and what you can see later.  Even now, I'm counting on AFI Fest in November to pick up some titles I've missed at other festivals, and even within a festival, I find myself trying to shuffle things around to fit in the most films possible.

One of the films that I had a chance to see in Toronto but missed was "Juan Of The Dead."  I did end up meeting writer/director Alejandro Brugues in a hotel lobby for a few minutes, and I promised him there that I'd see the film during Fantastic Fest.  I missed the first screening here in Austin, and I missed Sunday night's press screening.  So when the Monday morning 11:15 AM screening rolled around, I was in my seat as early as possible.  Good thing, too, because word of mouth has been building on the film over the course of the festival, and it was totally packed.

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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: On 'Dancing with the Stars' one star stumbles through the quickstep

An early favorite fails to deliver but others surprise the judges

We lost Metta World Peace last week, and there are countless lame jokes to be made about this, but really, I'd rather get on to the dancing. It's a quickstep and jive week, and these are always demanding dances for beginners, especially when some of those beginners are shaped like Weebles or are woefully uncoordinated. I'm sure we're going to see some tempers flare (and lots and lots of ice packs), but I'm hoping we see some stars rise to the (considerable) challenge. 

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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' - Gossip Girls

The wives gang up on the new diva in town
Ah, it's time for a new episode of "Housewives," and given last week's episode, we have two wives set to meltdown and a bitchy diva waiting in the wings. While the last few weeks have been a bit sketchy (and the death of Russell Armstrong still hangs over the show like a bitter, controlling ghost), let's hope we can return to what "RHOBH" does best -- people with too much money fighting about nothing in particular. 
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<p>Jason O'Mara of &quot;Terra Nova&quot;</p>
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Jason O'Mara of "Terra Nova"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Terra Nova' Premiere - 'Genesis'

Was the two-hour premiere dino-mite? HitFix weighs in...

Few shows debuting this Fall have gotten more ink than “Terra Nova.” Its production problems? Legendary. Its proposed scale? Immense. The impulse towards schadenfreude? Even greater. But now, the time for analysis shifts away from everything behind the scenes towards what’s actually onscreen. And what’s there is…well, it’s more simplistic than many would like, yet offers some glimmers of potential promise underneath the Spielbergian gloss.

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<p>Rachel Bilson and Nancy Travis in &quot;Hart of Dixie.&quot;</p>

Rachel Bilson and Nancy Travis in "Hart of Dixie."

Credit: CW

'Hart of Dixie' - 'Pilot': Summer goes south

What did everybody think of the new CW drama?

I posted my review of "Hart of Dixieearlier today. Now it's your turn. Was Rachel Bilson likable enough to compensate for the "Doc Hollywood" story, cliched Southern backdrop, etc? Are you disappointed that Nancy Travis won't be around full-time? Glad to have Scott Porter using a Southern accent again? Wishing that Jaime King would go back to "James"? And, most importantly, will you keep watching? 

Have at it.

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<p>Stephen Lang as Nathaniel Taylor in &quot;Terra Nova.&quot;</p>

Stephen Lang as Nathaniel Taylor in "Terra Nova."

Credit: FOX

'Terra Nova' - 'Genesis': Walk the dinosaur

What did everybody think of the FOX time travel drama?

I posted my review of FOX's "Terra Novathis morning. Now it's your turn. Obviously, you folks haven't seen the earlier, better version I have, but what did you make of what was on the screen? Did you find the Shannon family more compelling than I did? Are you ready to have the teenage son eaten by a T-Rex already? Were Stephen Lang and the special effects good enough to compensate for the rest? Do you buy the attempt to sidestep around the butterfly effect (and, possibly, the meteor heading their way in 20 million years)? 

Have at it.

Unless there's significant improvement, I doubt I'll be writing about this show regularly, but Ryan McGee is signed up to do weekly recaps at our Monkeys as Critics blog, and his first should be up even as we speak, for those who want a more detailed blow-by-blow account of the pilot.

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<p>Stephen Lang of &quot;Terra Nova&quot;</p>
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Stephen Lang of "Terra Nova"

Credit: FOX

TV Review: FOX's 'Terra Nova'

There's enough sizzle in this dino-drama to make up for the lack of steak
A fancy new restaurant opens up in your town.
 
The chef is a guy you've seen on countless Food Network specials, a true genius known for making every dish into a work of art.
 
The restaurant was also designed by an interior decorator who has been the focus of shows on Bravo and TLC, legendary for making the smallest space into a spectacle. 
 
But just days before the restaurant is ready to begin serving, you notice some interviews with the people behind the restaurant, the financial backers or whatever, and they're saying some weird things.
 
"Yes, people might talk about the food and design, but what we'd like to emphasize is our unobtrusive servers. There are lots of places people can go for a good meal and some fine ambiance, but we think diners will truly be impressed by how frequently their water glasses are refilled and the smooth removal of finished plates." 
 
That comment may make you stop and pause.
 
And it'd be similar to the reaction you might feel listening to the producers of FOX's "Terra Nova" talk about their new show.
 
You've heard about "Terra Nova" because of Steven Spielberg's involvement. You've heard about the ambitious shoot on locations down in Australia. You've heard about the motion-capture dinosaurs and special effects so special they've required months of extra development and implementation time in order to get "Terra Nova" on air at all. 
 
And then you see the "Terra Nova" producers at WonderCon or Comic-Con or you read or watch interviews with them from myriad media events. And over and over and over again, they seem to be saying the same thing: Well, sure there are dinosaurs and time-traveling. But really, what "Terra Nova" actually is, is a family story. We want people to come and stay for the family.
 
That's what the party line appears to be.
 
If this "Terra Nova" review gets one message across and one message only, it would be this: Do not watch FOX's "Terra Nova" because it's a family story. There are good family stories on TV and if you don't feel there are good family stories on TV, just start rewatching your "Friday Night Lights" or "Gilmore Girls" DVDs. But don't come to "Terra Nova" thinking you're going to get a gripping (or even marginally engaging) family drama and that anything else will be gravy. Tune in to "Terra Nova" because it really isn't like anything you've ever seen on TV before. The scope and special effects are exceptional and for all you've heard about the cost of the pilot, you won't wonder where the money went. Yes, there's a family story and that family story could improve as "Terra Nova" progresses, but it's the dinosaurs and the giant insects and the waterfalls and the lush scenery (real and digital) that will hook audiences.
 
And it's not like FOX doesn't know this. Note how advertising has focused more on marauding carnivores than dinner table conversations.
 
There's no particular shame in any of this, necessarily. "Terra Nova" does spectacle well. Why not own that? Why try to own "intimacy" and "domesticity," which it doesn't do nearly as well?
 
Full review after the break...
 
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'Breaking Dawn' soundtrack revealed: Iron & Wine, Bruno Mars, Noisettes
Credit: Atlantic/Summit/Chop Shop

'Breaking Dawn' soundtrack revealed: Iron & Wine, Bruno Mars, Noisettes

Surprise: No new Muse (or Robert Pattinson) on the 'Twilight Saga' songlist
The tracklist to "The Twiight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" has finally been unveiled, and there are a few surprises.
 
First, what we knew: all the tracks included are exclusive, or are exclusive remixes or alternate versions
 
The "fun" surprises: I love seeing Joy Formidable and Theophilus London on this list, they even out some of the sad bastards and emo bands like Sleeping at Last, Aqualung and Iron & Wine (as loveable as they are). The Daytrotter version of the Everly Brothers -- The Belle Brigade -- may surprise "Twilight's" long-time fans.
 
Here is the "bummer" surprises: No Muse, for the first time in "Twilight" soundtrack history. And it is actress Mia Maestro (Carmen) who contributed the Mystery Twilight Alumni track, not Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart or Jackson Rathbone.
 
And the "huh?" surprise: Who the hell is Cider Sky? The band has, at press time, exactly one dozen fans on Facebook... and is fronted by Simon Wilcox, the female "singer-songwriter with boys' name" that astoundingly showed up on the "Brothers" soundtrack a couple years ago. So this is apparently the band's debut?
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