Robin Williams is an institution.
I'm sure that's not something an actor wants to hear, particularly one who still pushes himself out of his comfort zone so regularly this far into a career, but it's true. He really is a living legend, and the pleasure at this point comes from watching the choices he makes.
In "Happy Feet Two," he once again plays two roles, and they're very different in attitude. He's Ramon, the lovesick penguin who is still on the hunt for a mate, and he also plays Loveless, who appears this time as the most ardent cheerleader for Sven, a false prophet who shows up promising to save the penguins and teach them to fly.
It's hard to believe, but this may be the first formal interview I've done with Williams. I've met him before, and we had a great and funny encounter a few years back when we ran into each other at Meltdown Comics, which Williams told me is one of his favorite places anywhere. He's always been very genuine when I've run into him, and in this case, I was showing up about halfway through his second day of press for the film, and everyone I talked to was raving about how he was so on fire in their interview, doing impressions and voices and jokes.
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Robin Williams is an institution.
This year’s dark horse Oscar contender “Shame” has caused some people to question the purpose and validity of the NC-17 rating. It was no surprise when the MPAA slapped the film with the potentially restrictive scarlet letter as a result of frequent nudity and explicit (depressing) sex. Of course the emotional nature (or lack thereof) of the intercourse depicted is not listed as an official cause for the rating, but it is likely that it played a role (consciously or not) in the association’s decision.
It's easy enough to name a multitude of R-rated films that treat the human body with little to no dignity (topless water skiing was a fun addition to 2009’s “Friday the 13th” – topless water skiing), and though no one is surprised by the decision, “Shame’s” NC-17 does raise questions about the ratings system.
“I mean, it’s sex,” director Steve McQueen said at a recent press conference for the film. “I think it’s what most of the people in this room have done, if not all of us have done. I mean I’ve never held a gun in my hand in my life. So, it’s this whole weird thing where what we do in our daily lives should be censored. It’s very odd. And things that we have no idea of, or have no capability of doing, should be viewed on the masses.”
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest trailer of them all?
Fair question to ask now with the release of Relativity Media's first peek at their comic fantasy "Mirror Mirror," which finds itself in direct conflict with the recently-released first trailer for "Snow White and the Huntsman," a far more sober-minded take on fairy-tale reality.
Today's trailer is interesting, especially in light of the idea that distributor Relativity Media is dealing with the morning-after fallout from the release of "Immortals," their big Greek mythology-as-modern-action-movie that was also directed by Tarsem Singh, who Relativity has bet big on. The idea that they had him direct another fantasy so quickly, even before "Immortals" was in theaters, suggests that Relativity really liked what they saw. I wasn't able to make it to "Immortals" before it came out, and it's been a crazy few days since then, so I have no idea how the film came together. I know the overall critical reaction hasn't been particularly kind, and I've certainly had both great ("The Fall") and not-so-great ("The Cell") reactions to Tarsem's previous films, so I can see how a movie by him might be divisive.
"Frozen River," "The Messenger," "The Savages," "In Bruges," "Dirty Pretty Things," "You Can Count on Me," "Winter's Bone," "In the Loop," "City of God," "The Sweet Hereafter." All examples of smaller and/or independent films over the past 15 years or so that found a way to sneak past the big boys into the Oscar party. There are a number of potential candidates to join that list this year, but the big surprise among them may be "Margin Call."
Former “American Idols” Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams are in a frisky, holiday mood as thy duet on the wintertime classic “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It’s a sweet, jazzy video that we think the Gap should immediately appropriate for its Christmas campaign.
The video comes a day after fellow season 10 finalist Paul McDonald released his duet with his wife, “Twilight” actress Nikki Reed on a sweet, country-flavored tune called “Now That I Found You.”
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The Fray’s Isaac Slade may want to “kiss your scars tonight” as he sings in the group’s new single, “Heartbeat,” but he also wants you to download the video for free.
The video for the track, which is soaring up Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs chart and this week is sandwiched between, oddly enough, Nickelback and LMFAO, premiered today on iTunes.
They are very few people on this planet cooler than Dave Grohl, but one who definitely fits the bill is Joan Jett, whose coolness is off the meter.
As fans of both acts know, Jett joined the Foo Fighters a few days ago at New York's Madison Square Garden for a blazing version of Jett’s punk classic, “Bad Reputation.” It’s fun to watch Pat Smear and Grohl bouncing around, obviously having the time of their lives, as Jett tears the roof off MSG. Grohl, who notes it's the first time they've performed together, appropriately introduces her as “the baddest motherfucker I know” and calls it the "greatest fucking night of the tour." I'm convinced that if you look up "true believer" in the rock and roll dictionary, there would be a picture of Jett, who wrote this song with her longtime manager Kenny Laguna, Ritchie Cordell and Marty Joe Kupersmith more than (gasp) 30 years ago.
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The cold, hard truth of the TV business is that most new shows fail, and fail relatively quickly. But the kinds of early failures can vary.
First and foremost, you have your shows that deserved to fail, and conveniently did so. This season, for instance, the only people mourning the ends of "The Playboy Club" and "How to Be a Gentlemen" are the ones who worked on them (and maybe not even all of them). Bad idea and/or execution, and no one's going to miss it.
On the opposite end of the extreme you have those shows that spring into the world fully-formed, but that for one reason or another don't click with audiences. That kind of failure stings for the small group of people who watched, but at least they have a perfect collection of episodes to watch again and again on video. (My "Freaks and Geeks" DVDs and "Terriers" downloads say hi.)
In between you have all the shows that weren't terrible, but weren't instantly great, either. Maybe there's unrealized potential, maybe parts of it work and others don't, but it never really clicked and the people involved would probably be better served doing something else. ABC's "Mr. Sunshine" (yay) comes to mind.
And then there are the shows that are just starting to work out the bugs and become really, genuinely good when the plug gets pulled. "Journeyman" was one of those a few seasons back, where it took off creatively shortly before cancellation. And "Prime Suspect" -which isn't on NBC's mid-season schedule and is essentially a dead show walking - looks like another one of those. It became great, but only after almost everyone stopped paying attention.
I can't help myself. I'm Muppet Mad at this point.
You'll see for yourself in a very few days, and when you do, I'm willing to bet that if you've ever loved The Muppets, you'll find yourself utterly defenseless when the film comes out.
For example, there's the music. There are a few classic callbacks, including a freakshow casino jingle version of the "Rainbow Connection" that is sort of amazing, and it's nice to hear those old faves again. The new material, though, is just as strong, which is a really welcome thing. This is fun movie music, smart and funny and sweet, and even something as potentially terrible as Chris Cooper rapping in character as an evil billionaire named Tex Richman works on repeat listens.
But what the Muppets ultimately gets right is the characters, and recognizing what made them icons in the first place. And they are. They really are. Anyone underestimating the deeply-seeded love that many people have for these characters hasn't seen it close up. Jason Segel just recently signed up for Twitter, and in the first day or so of having his account, he told the story of a guy in his 40s who had a breakdown during an interview with Kermit in Mexico City, and the guy just started to hug Kermit while crying and mumbling in Spanish, and everyone except Jason got weirded out.
In trying to parse just what bothers me about Drake, I can’t help but compare him to Kanye West, particularly the success of last year’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” While hip-hop still rages at hip-pop, here’s a whole load of so-called emo rap, both with the self-inflicted trappings of conflicted princes/kings; both with so much about feelings; both with artists expressing doubt and cosmic reflections through some singing, a lot of rhymes and a bevy of guest spots.
Though Jónsi's music, both as part of Sigur Rós and on his beautiful solo album,"Go," have luscious cinematic elements, his work on Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought A Zoo” marks the first time the Icelandic artist has composed music specifically for a theatrical release.
In addition to scoring the film, Jónsi also wrote two new songs for the movie, including “Gathering Stories,” which he co-wrote with Crowe. While “Zoo” is the first collaboration between the two, Crowe licensed three Sigur Rós tunes for 2001‘s “Vanilla Sky.” “Gathering Stories” premiered on NPR today. Hear it here.