Latest Blog Posts

<p>Jason Aldean in &quot;Tattoos on This Town&quot;</p>

Jason Aldean in "Tattoos on This Town"

Watch: Jason Aldean's video for 'Tattoos on This Town' leaves its mark

Country superstar amps up the story in new clip

Jason Aldean had the country hit of the summer with the massively popular country rap “Dirt Road Anthem.” Will he rule the fall with “Tattoos on This Town.” The song, which is already No. 23 on the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, will undoubtedly get a boost from the video released today.

Aldean is one of country’s resident hunks, so he needs to be in the video, which intersperses footage of he and his band playing in an abandoned warehouse with a story that takes a deeply tragic turn that, to my mind, is a bit too heavy handed for the song. Having said that, congrats to the songwriters, Neil Thrasher, Wendell Mobley and Michael Dulaney, who came up with an image we haven’t gotten before in country songs—or any song—about leaving your permanent mark on your home city by comparing it to a tattoo.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Chris Hemsworth in the original &quot;Thor.&quot;</p>

Chris Hemsworth in the original "Thor."

Credit: Marvel Studios

Will 'The Killing' helmer Patty Jenkins' take a journey to Asgard for 'Thor 2'?

Marvel Studios continues to surprise with their director chair

You may not agree with every decision Kevin Fiege makes as head of Marvel Studios, but for the most part he's got an excellent track record.  Many questioned the inexperienced Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branaugh (for blockbusters at least) helming "Iron Man" and "Thor" respectively.  Or, Joe "I'm almost in movie jail" Johnston taking the reigns of "Captain America: The First Avenger."  Needless to say, critics, audiences and the box office validated all of those decisions.  And for future Marvel films, Feige and his team have continued to make unconventional choices. 

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Harry&nbsp;Potter and the Deathly Hallows:&nbsp;Part 2,&quot; with a healthy Best Picture push to help it along, looks to be a contender across the board in the craft categories this year.</p>

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," with a healthy Best Picture push to help it along, looks to be a contender across the board in the craft categories this year.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tech Support: A new year of crafts coverage

Films like 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' and 'War Horse' look to figure into this year's below-the-line races

Welcome back. Today marks the beginning of the sixth year of Tech Support here at In Contention. I am delighted about the new collaboration with HitFix, which will doubtless result in even more comprehensive awards coverage.

Over the next 10 weeks, we will analyze each of the “technical” category races in this space: Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, Original Score, Original Song, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. The ways in which the artists behind these crafts can improve a film are innumerable. While excellent crafts artistry certainly can wow the audience, it can, more importantly, bring us into a world being crafted by the director, writers and stars, building mood, character and period, among other things.

Despite all the ways in which the crafts artists improve a film, and are an indispensable part of making one, they are almost always ignored by the press. Indeed, there are gripes almost every year that including these categories in the ceremony takes too long and it would be better if they were taken out of the show. While it is true that people do tend to see films for the story, direction and acting, there nonetheless seems a profound unfairness in this respect given the importance of crafts artistry to filmmaking, not to mention the fact that that first, key draw -- story -- is told via every element of the process.

Read Full Post
<p>Guided By Voices</p>

Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices releasing new album with reunited 'classic' lineup

'Lets Go Eat the Factory' due new year's day: will Robert Pollard be able to help himself?

It's been one hell of a week for '90s/rock-era news. R.E.M. split, Nirvana's "Nevermind" 20th anniversary is on Saturday, Guns N' Roses is touring America, Pearl Jam's rock doc and subsequent soundtrack is out and Radiohead is acting like Radiohead.

On a smaller scale -- but significantly -- Guided By Voices have taken their reunion to the next step and are releasing the first album of new material from its "classic" lineup for the first time since 1996. (The band's final lineup split on New Year's Eve in 2004).

Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell and Kevin Fennell (circa ~1992-1996) got back together last year for Matador Records' 21st birthday, and then hit the road in a full tour. Now, a 21-track set is on the way, "Let's Go Eat the Factory," and will be ready for a January 1, 2012 release. For those playing along at home -- in the words of another band celebrating a major anniversary soon -- that's "on New Year's Day."

Twenty-one tracks is about on par with GBV releases (average number of tracks: 2,389), but it'd be shocking if the rockers have just one album in their back pocket.

Read Full Post
<p>Luke Skywalker stared out at the binary sunset of Tatooine and dreamed, and my generation did the same thing with the 'Star Wars' films, and now it's time to pass them on to our own children.</p>

Luke Skywalker stared out at the binary sunset of Tatooine and dreamed, and my generation did the same thing with the 'Star Wars' films, and now it's time to pass them on to our own children.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Film Nerd 2.0: We kick off a special series with a first viewing of 'Star Wars' on Blu-ray

What happens when 21st century kids finally watch the biggest myth of the '70s?

This day has been a long time coming.

We all have landmarks by which we measure our lives and our accomplishments, goals you've set for yourself that you've either accomplished or not, and I'm certainly someone who holds film experiences very dear.  The moment I knew I'd spend the rest of my life somehow involved in movies took place in a dark movie theater when I was seven years old, and it was one of those lightning bolt occasions.  I felt pinned to the back of my chair as I watched a tiny blockade runner fleeing from a seemingly endless Star Destroyer that just kept coming out and over, more real than anything I had ever seen, and I've never wavered in my determination to be involved in storytelling somewhere, somehow.

Because of the relevance of "Star Wars" in my development as a fan of storytelling in general, reaching the moment of sharing these films with my kids has been one of my primary goals since I've been writing about the entire experience of sharing narrative with my children.  I know people who start screening the films for their kids as soon as they are old enough to open their eyes, and I respect that.  Of course I know other people who don't think it's of any particular importance, and I respect that as well.  For me, "Star Wars" is special, and I wanted to wait until they were old enough to process them as stories, so they're not just wallpaper, images without context.

Read Full Post
<p>Radiohead at 2011 Glastonbury</p>

Radiohead at 2011 Glastonbury

Credit: AP Photo

Radiohead to tour in 2012; Thom Yorke releasing Atoms For Peace album

Jonny Greenwood plots album with Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki

Radiohead is continuing to show renewed interest in actually promoting "King of Limbs" -- or simply their own legacy -- with plans to tour in 2012.

Frontman Thom Yorke was guest DJing on BBC's Radio 1 this week and revealed to host Gille Peterson that the British band will be on the road "on and off during the year" next year, though not specifying if they'd be returning to America after the quick spate of dates at the end of this month.

Were the 2012 tour to be in support of their latest album from February, Radiohead are a bit behind the ball; however, it seems more than just "KoL" and forthcoming remix album "KOL 12345657" are slated for promotion.

Yorke also said during the program that he's continuing to pursue efforts with his side project Atoms of Peace, which features Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich. The band did a handful of dates last year, which “sparked something off, it was really exciting … It had really good energy.” Thus, he's currently "finishing" an AFP album with Godrich, drop date to be determined.

Read Full Post
<p>Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera from &quot;Moves Like Jagger&quot;</p>

Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera from "Moves Like Jagger"

Do Maroon 5, Xtina and 'Jagger' dance to 3 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100?

Who sets the record for oldest living artist to zoom -- OK, walk -- onto the charts ?

“Moves Like Jagger” stays perfectly still this week as the Maroon 5 tune featuring Christina Aguilera remains at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for the third week in a row.

“Jagger” isn’t the only static song: the top four on the chart remain the same as last week: Adele’s “Someone Like You” is No. 2, Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” is No. 3 and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” is No. 4.

Read Full Post
Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh and Rachael Taylor are the three new "Charlie's Angels."
Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh and Rachael Taylor are the three new "Charlie's Angels."
Credit: ABC

Review: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels' too dull to be sexy

Remake with Minka Kelly and company takes itself far too seriously

No one ever confused the original "Charlie's Angels" with great television. It was what it was - what Jerry Krupnick, my predecessor on The Star-Ledger's TV beat, liked to call "supertrash," a formula show that was entertaining despite its lack of ambition - and never apologized for it. It was an excuse for three terrifically attractive women to run around in tight outfits in service of perfunctory detective stories, and it was a huge hit.

It was also very much of its time (it was considered shocking, for instance, that the Angels were so often clearly bra-less), and modern remakes have had to figure out a new approach to the material. The first "Charlie's Angels" film, directed by McG and produced by star Drew Barrymore, was a cheeky, self-aware action comedy; it was greeted with reviews that were almost surprised by how good it was.

The new ABC series version - also produced by Barrymore, but mainly run by "Smallville" alums Alfred Gough and Miles Millar - on the other hand, has gone the opposite route, deciding that the key to unlocking "Charlie's Angels" in 2011 is to take the concept, and the Angels, very, very, deathly seriously.

And it's a much bigger mess than '70s critics ever accused the original of being.

Read Full Post
<p>A scene from Wener Herzog's &quot;Into the Abyss:&nbsp;A&nbsp;Tale of Death, a Tale of Life&quot;</p>

A scene from Wener Herzog's "Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life"

Credit: Sundance Selects

Pondering America's insistence on capital punishment as the debate rages in theaters

Films like 'Paradise Lost 3' and 'Into the Abyss' spotlight the issue this year

I find myself thinking about Werner Herzog's death row documentary "Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life" a lot lately. You'll recall it was my favorite film out of this year's Telluride Film Festival, and striking, it was, for the uncharacteristic Herzog it brought with it. Here was a film ultimately about the beauty of life, and for a man who has made a career of dark depictions that have at times approached near-nihilism, it was a bit unexpected for that.

"Whatever your position on capital punishment, the film is necessary, plain and simple," I wrote from the fest. "[The film is] crucial viewing for anyone who thinks he or she has an opinion on the matter. It simply isn’t right to have that opinion safely, from a distance. The stakes are too high."

I was reminded of the film once again when I stumbled across Christopher Hitchens's recent dissection of America's insistence on clinging to the death penalty over at Lapham's Quarterly. It's a subject the author and journalist has touched upon frequently in his time, particularly around the hanging of Saddam Hussein in December of 2006.

Read Full Post
<p>Rihanna: a yellow diamond in the light</p>

Rihanna: a yellow diamond in the light

Credit: AP Photo

Listen to Rihanna's new single 'We Found Love,' plus new album details

Take that, Lady Gaga

Rihanna has "found love in a hopeless place," and that place is squarely in the middle of a busy, arena-sized dance floor. The Bajan singer dropped her new single "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris) at 9 a.m. EST this morning (Sept. 22), simultaneously detailing her next, as-yet-untitled album. And throwing a trump card at Lady Gaga.

"We Found Love" was "unlocked" once Ri-Ri's Facebook fans reached 45 million, which is a few hundred thousand more than Mother Monster's 43.7 million. Thus, Rihanna becomes the most popular solo female artist on Facebook (for the moment). Ain't nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.

The great unveiling sent this song straight to all the usual outlets, and, in all likelihood, straight to the top of my heart. Er, charts. Ugh, did I just say that?

Read Full Post
<p>Gloria (Sofia Vergara)&nbsp;goes for a ride in the &quot;Modern Family&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

Gloria (Sofia Vergara) goes for a ride in the "Modern Family" season premiere.

Credit: ABC

'Modern Family' - 'Dude Ranch'/'When Good Kids Go Bad': Let's hear it for the boy

The Emmy-winning comedy heads to Wyoming for the first half of its season 3 premiere

A quick review of the "Modern Family" season-opening double-feature coming up just as soon as I practice my pancake-eating...

Read Full Post
<p>Will Arnett and Christina Applegate in &quot;Up All Night.&quot;</p>
<br />

Will Arnett and Christina Applegate in "Up All Night."

Credit: NBC

'Up All Night' - 'Cool Neighbors': Isn't it ironic?

Reagan and Chris go too far trying to impress the neighbors

A quick review of last night's "Up All Night" coming up just as soon as I make my Facebook pictures look good...

Read Full Post