Latest Blog Posts

<p>Sarah (Lauren Graham)&nbsp;visits Amber (Mae Whitman)&nbsp;at her job on &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Sarah (Lauren Graham) visits Amber (Mae Whitman) at her job on "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

'Parenthood' - 'Step Right Up': Shift happens

Lighter stakes makes for a lighter episode

A quick review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I have a second card for dad...

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<p>George&nbsp;Clooney and Shailene Woodley in&nbsp;&quot;The Descendants&quot;</p>

George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Gurus stake their claim

Also: Jeff Nichols goes back into the breach with Michael Shannon and 'Your Next' lights up Fantastic Fest

Linked in today's round-up is the Gurus o' Gold's list of predictions post-Venice/Teluride/Toronto at Movie City News, and I was a bit surprised to see "The Descendants" leading the way in Best Picture. I think that has partly to do with there being a quality known commodity, as skepticism around things like "War Horse" and "J. Edgar" can amplify in the face of something you know has the goods. Still, I don't expect the film, which I respect dearly, to maintain that hold for long. "Moneyball," meanwhile, is a little bit lower than I would have anticipated, though I guess many are conceding that maintaining a conversation for the next four months will be challenging. Finally, "Midnight in Paris" sort of surprised me for it's placement, too. I've been wondering lately whether it can bring out the passion necessary for first place votes (as Guy has contended all along). Now I've gone and dumped on three movies' Best Picture prospects. Though I do think "The Ides of March" is too low on the list. Let's see what's going on in the Oscarweb today...

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<p>Matthias Schoenaerts stars in 'Bullhead,' a disturbing look at the meaning of manhood that played this year's Fantastic Fest</p>

Matthias Schoenaerts stars in 'Bullhead,' a disturbing look at the meaning of manhood that played this year's Fantastic Fest

Credit: Savage Film

Review: 'Bullhead' tells juiced-up twisted coming of age crime story

A terrifying central performance elevates disturbing story of manhood

There's a restaurant right by the Alamo Drafthouse's parking lot, a Tex Mex place called Maudie's that has a sign I've walked past several times during the festival so far.  It says something about "There's no bull in our beef," and lists all the things their meat does not have in it, including hormones.  It's a selling point these days if you're growing animals that are just animals, and it's also something that I think takes place in a world I know nothing about.

That world is the setting of the provocative, disturbing new film "Bullhead," from Belgian writer/director Michael Roskam, and this is one of the most original things I've seen here this week, strong and adult and sweeping in the way it handles some very complicated ideas about manhood and what we owe others as we move through this world.  This is not a film that plays things easy or that establishes any clear moral lines early on.  Both Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Diederik Maes (Jeroen Perceval) move in this shady not-quite-black market world, and when they run into each other early in this film, it's a shock to both of them.  There's some shared history here.

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<p>Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon struggle to hold their marriage together as the world ends, perhaps literally, all around them in 'Take Shelter'</p>

Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon struggle to hold their marriage together as the world ends, perhaps literally, all around them in 'Take Shelter'

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: 'Take Shelter' takes Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain on ride into anxiety

Jeff Nichols builds impressively off his strong 'Shotgun Stories' debut

There is no scene that better captures the modern face of dread that I've seen in any film this year than a moment late in the new Jeff Nichols film "Take Shelter." 

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain star in the film as Curtis and Samantha, a married couple facing a crisis in this quiet, upsetting film.  This film bothers me in the same way the Todd Haynes film "Safe" bothers me, or the way Lodge Kerrigan's work bothers me.  These are films about losing your mind, and while I respect the fact that different things bother different people, this is one of those things I can't imagine without squirming.  Losing my grip on my sanity, on my reason, on my ability to think?  That's beyond a nightmare.  That is loss of self, and Michael Shannon's work here cuts right to the heart of that fear.

It starts small for Curtis.  Dreams.  A feeling.  A growing sensation.  The film is definitely sympathetic to Curtis and his point of view, and we experience the visions and the dreams and the shifting mood with him.  What makes it heartbreaking is just how brightly Jessica Chastain burns in the movie.  After seeing all of her performances this year and ending with this one, I'm convinced she really is an important new presence in film.  She's amazing here, this wide-open heart, the one who tames Curtis in the first place. 

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<p>Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart attend &quot;VH1 Divas Salute the Troops&quot; in San Diego, CA</p>

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart attend "VH1 Divas Salute the Troops" in San Diego, CA

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Commentary: Did the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame get it right with this year's noms?

Who still can't get any Rock Hall love?

Is the boys’ club otherwise known as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame about to shift to ladies’ night?

This year’s potential class of 15, announced Sept. 27,  includes five female or female-fronted acts, including first time nominees Joan Jett, Heart and Chaka Khan (as leader of Rufus), and returnees Donna Summer and Laura Nyro.

If three of the women make the final cut, it will mark the first time more than two female acts have been inducted in the same year.

For trivia buffs, the first woman inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was Aretha Franklin, in 1987. There have been some years when no women have been among the final five, and a handful of years when more than one female has been inducted, especially if one includes acts who aren’t led by a woman, but have a female member like the Talking Heads. Counting only solo female acts, like Joni Mitchell, or female-fronted bands, like Blondie, 20 of the 125 acts inducted over the past 25 years are women.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The &quot;Sons of Anarchy&quot;&nbsp;blow things up real good.</p>

The "Sons of Anarchy" blow things up real good.

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Una Venta': By the time I get to Arizona

SAMCRO has beef with their Tucson charter

A quick review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I bring you my dead bulbs...

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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' kicks off another celebrity

The Scripts and Demi Lovato perform

So, the big scandal overshadowing tonight's results show is, of course, whether or not Nancy Grace had a nip slip. She swears she didn't, the gossips say otherwise, and I don't care. Seriously, her costume covered so much real estate it could have served as a pup tent. I really don't think it was much of a slip, even if it was a slip. Anyway, let's get on with the elimination.

We open the show with the guy dancers ripping off their shirts and shaking it all over Carrie Ann, who seems just fine with that. 

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<p>Jess (Zooey Deschanel) channels her rage on &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Jess (Zooey Deschanel) channels her rage on "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' - 'Kryptonite': Schmidt happens

Jess gets a new roommate and has to confront her ex-boyfriend

A quick review of tonight's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I get a new thumb ring...

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<p>Idina Menzel and Lea Michele of &quot;Glee&quot;</p>
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Idina Menzel and Lea Michele of "Glee"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'I Am Unicorn'

A familiar face returns to Lima, and shakes things up for several members of New Directions

“I Am Unicorn” is a statement about “Glee” itself as much as the characters involved in tonight’s central plots. The hour concerns identity, and how people often view themselves in terms of how they are viewed by others. That’s not a radical way to structure an episode of television, but know what? “Glee” excels when it keeps things simple. At the same time, the multifaceted ways in which that theme played out amongst Kurt, Brittany, Quinn, and others also represents the multifaceted show that is “Glee.” Sometimes, that combination is an ugly mess, slapping disparate elements together to form a horrific Frankenstein of a television program. But as character after character rediscovered things about themselves tonight, perhaps the show rediscovered a few things about itself as well.

The strongest elements of this rediscovery centered around the show actually remembering its own history. “Glee” has this horrible way of rewriting motivations and situations in order to fit whatever they want to accomplish in a particular scene , never mind a particular episode. Reintroducing Shelby Corcoran (guest star Idina Menzel) seemed like a stunt at first, akin perhaps to bringing back Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday. But each scene with her reignited a long-dormant storyline, ones that I forgot because the show had forgotten them as well. Whether bringing Shelby back at this point was intentional or accidentally is besides the point, because either was it is pretty much a masterstroke. Why? Because it forces a multitude of characters to re-evaluate themselves at a critical point in their lives. She functions like Gus Fring from “Breaking Bad”, but with a pitch pipe in lieu of a box cutter.

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Watch: Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris talk 'New Girl'

Meet the New Guy who isn't playing the same character as Damon Wayans Jr.
The comedy airing on FOX tonight at 9 p.m. is still called "New Girl," but more than a few viewers are likely to spend tonight's episode being just a bit distracted by the New Guy.
 
The story is pretty well repeated by this point, but here it goes again: Damon Wayans Jr. did the "New Girl" pilot in second position to ABC's "Happy Endings," which was considered on the bubble for renewal. But when ABC picked up "Happy Endings," the "New Girl" producers had a choice: Recast and reshoot the pilot or get rid of Wayans' Coach after the pilot and bring in a new character.
 
That's why tonight, there's a new roommate on "New Girl" and it isn't Zooey Deschanel anymore, it's Lamorne Morris.
 
Before watching tonight's episode, learn a bit about the New Guy from Morris and learn a little bit about one of the Old Guys from "Veronica Mars" (and "Happy Endings") veteran Greenfield.
 
Check it out...
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<p>Adam punching Zeus in Shaun Levy's &quot;Real Steel.&quot;</p>

Adam punching Zeus in Shaun Levy's "Real Steel."

Credit: Dreamworks Studios

Review: 'Real Steel' is great family fun, even without the robots

This might be the best Amblin' throwback yet

I think it's safe to say I have not been kind to the work of Shawn Levy in print so far.

"Big Fat Liar."  "Just Married."  "Cheaper By The Dozen."  "The Pink Panther."  Both of the "Night At The Museum" films.  That's a painful list.  But it's also a list of films that managed to do well at the box-office, well enough in some cases to see Levy climb onto the A-list.  He's the sort of filmmaker executives love, good with the talent, able to work within a budget, and he makes films that make money.  It should come as no surprise, then, that when Amblin' and producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford went looking for a director for "Real Steel," Levy would be one of the names on their list.

What is a surprise to me is how well Levy seems to have done at making a genuine mid-'80s Amblin' movie.  I know we heard a lot of talk about how "Super 8" was the Spielberg fetish film this year, and certainly that movie indulged a lot of stylistic touches that were designed to evoke that Amblin' feeling.   I'd say it's proof that you're as strong as the actual script you shoot, and John Gatins has taken a whole lot of familiar and done something special with it, something that Levy benefits from as much as he does from a game and able cast.

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<p>Dot-Marie Jones and Jayma Mays</p>
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Dot-Marie Jones and Jayma Mays

Watch: Dot-Marie Jones and Jayma Mays talk 'Glee'

What are Beiste and Emma up to this fall?
Even after last week's uber-clarifying "Glee" premiere, I'll confess that I'm still not 100 percent sure which characters are actually graduating, which are seniors but candidates to be held back a year and which characters have suddenly become underclassmen. 
 
I do, however, know that two characters who aren't likely to be receiving diplomas at the end of the the season are Dot-Marie Jones' Coach Beiste and Jayma Mays' Emma Pillsbury.
 
The two characters, who really only have shared passing lunchroom scenes last year, are on a collision course this fall, when they're united as the unlikely directors of the McKinley High musical.
 
I sat down with the two co-stars to chat about their expanded responsibilities and what we'll be learning about their characters this season. Check it out...
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