Latest Blog Posts

<p>Michael C. Hall in &quot;Cold in July.&quot;</p>

Michael C. Hall in "Cold in July."

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: 'Cold in July' is a retro blast of a thriller with an excellent Michael C. Hall

Indie genre expert Jim Mickle continues his hot streak

PARK CITY - Four features into his career, any words along the lines of “look out for Jim Mickle” are beginning to feel somewhat redundant – we’re looking, and he keeps showing up, nailing one nifty little genre film after another. To describe him as “going places” is to imply that there’s somewhere else he needs to be: Hollywood, perhaps, where his jacknife formal discipline and rowdy sense of humor would enliven any number of multiplex entertainments. 

But that’d be to deny us more of his strange, slippery and often gleefully brutal genre hybrids on the independent front. And after 2010’s sharp vampire-zombie fusion “Stake Land” and last year’s frankly superior remake of cannibal drama “We Are What We Are,” Mickle’s hot streak is still intact: “Cold in July,” which sees him graduate to Dramatic Competition status at Sundance, is a cracking domestic thriller, playing a little like David Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence” structurally smashed to a pulp – with the emphasis firmly on “pulp.”
Read Full Post
<p>On &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother,&quot;&nbsp;Marshall (Jason Segel)&nbsp;and Lily&nbsp;(Alyson Hannigan)&nbsp;enjoy a moment of passion.</p>

On "How I Met Your Mother," Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) enjoy a moment of passion.

Credit: CBS

Talkback: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Unpause'

Marshall and Lily resume their fight, and a drunken Barney reveals all

On one end of things, tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" was a clearinghouse for unanswered questions about Barney, and Robin, and about Ted and the Mother's future children, as well as an opportunity for random stealth quoting of "Knuffle Bunny" when Barney went past Jabba the Hutt drunk. On the other end, it dealt with the current crisis in Marshall and Lily's marriage by revisiting their biggest schism of the whole series.

What did everybody think of it? Were you amused by all the Barney revelations? Did you enjoy the 2017 scenes? Do you think the show is being fair about the issues, past and present, in the Eriksen marriage? And how 'bout those names?

Have at it.

Read Full Post
<p>Michael C. Hall at the Sundance Film Festival</p>

Michael C. Hall at the Sundance Film Festival

Exclusive: Michael C. Hall talks 'Cold in July' and leaving Dexter behind

The TV star's first leading film vehicle is a dark Sundance hit

PARK CITY - Michael C. Hall is no stranger to the Sundance Film Festival (he was in Park City only last year for "Kill Your Darlings"), but representing a film as the leading man is a new experience for the TV star, best known for his Emmy-nominated roles in "Six Feet Under" and, of course, "Dexter." With the latter show having finished its long run last year, however, Hall is free to switch things up a bit.

Read Full Post
<p>Daft Punk</p>

Daft Punk

Grammy 2014 Predictions: Record of the Year

Is it Daft Punk or Bruno Mars?

The 56th annual Grammy Awards will air this Sunday (26). Starting today, we’ll predict the winners in the four major categories —album of the year, song and record of the year, and best new artist. On Friday, we’ll throw in predictions for a number of other categories.

Let’s start with Record of the Year:

“Get Lucky,” Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers
“Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons
“Royals,” Lorde
“Locked Out of Heaven,” Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell and T.I.

People, understandably, get confused between this category and song of the year, especially because they often include some of the same songs. Record of the year goes to the artist, producer, engineer and mixer. Song of the year goes to the composer of the tune. So think of this as an award for everything that happens to the song after it is written: the voice that goes on it, the instrumentation, the arrangement, the production, the recording, the engineering and the mixing.

While I think leaving Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” out is a major omission, all five of these songs sound great: “Get Lucky” takes Chic’s ‘70s disco sound and updates it, “Radioactive” combines rock and a little touch of dubstep in a very interesting way. Lorde’s “Royals” has deceptively simple production with loops and Lorde’s voice up front. “Locked Out of Heaven” is busy, but in all the right ways that Mars excels at, and “Blurred Lines,” despite its somewhat controversial lyric, strikes the perfect tone between pop and R&B.

Given that Imagine Dragons and Lorde didn’t get best new artist nods, which they definitely deserved, I don’t think either can win this. I also think the voters won’t be able to separate “Blurred Lines’” production with the controversy, so I’m eliminating it.  That means it’s between “Get Lucky” and “Locked Out Of Heaven.” It’s close, but I’m going with “Get Lucky.”

Should Win: “Get Lucky”
Will Win: “Get Lucky”

Who do you want to win Record of the Year?

Read Full Post
<p>Sheila Vand is mesmerizing in the Iranian-language vampire film 'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night'</p>

Sheila Vand is mesmerizing in the Iranian-language vampire film 'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night'

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: 'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night' is a new twist on the familiar vampire tale

A lovely new voice finds a home at Sundance this year

PARK CITY - The easy joke is to call this film "the best Iranian vampire film I've ever seen," but that's reductive and unfair to this gorgeous, sad, haunting accomplishment by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour.

Why do we make so many movies about monsters? What do they tell us about ourselves? At this point, if someone's making a film about a vampire, they have to be doing something else at the same time or there's no point. Amirpour draws on the traditions of the genre, but by setting her story in Bad City, an Iranian town on the edge of an oil field, she is also telling us about the dreams and frustrations and fears of being a woman in this society, powerless by definition, empowered by this fantasy. The Girl (Sheila Vand) rarely speaks, but we know what she wants and how she feels based on who she makes victims and who she spares.

Fans of "Let The Right One In" may get a similar vibe from some scenes in this movie, but The Girl is no child, nor is Arash (Arash Marandi), a gardener struggling with his feelings about his junkie father Hossein (Marshall Manesh). Hossein keeps buying heroin long past his ability to pay for it, leaving Arash to pick up his mess and deal with Saeed (Dominic Rains), a drug dealing pimp who proves that every society has its own variation on the Guido. One night, Saeed makes the mistake of inviting The Girl into his home, taking her silence as a sort of cowed obedience. Once she feeds on him, she leaves, and when Arash arrives a few moments later, he realizes that he has an opportunity. He takes Saeed's briefcase full of drugs and money and sets himself up as the new Saeed, dealing drugs to anyone except his father, who is trapped in their apartment, grappling with withdrawal.

Read Full Post
<p>Edward Zwick</p>

Edward Zwick

Credit: AP Photo

Filmmaker Edward Zwick to be honored by industry sound mixers

Four of the director's films have been recognized by the Academy for sound

I remember a few years ago, one of the more surprising Oscar nominees for both Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing was Edward Zwick's "Blood Diamond." It made sense in hindsight. Not only was it great work from respected artists, but Zwick has always had an ear for quality sound work; four of his films have been recognized with Oscar nominations by the branch. So he's a nice choice for this year's Filmmaker Award at the 50th annual Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Awards.

Read Full Post
Lance Bass releases new single, 'Walking On Air': Listen

Lance Bass releases new single, 'Walking On Air': Listen

We waited 12 years for this?

Lance Bass has been way too busy planning his escapade into space, dancing with pseudo-stars, writing his autobiography, planning his wedding, participating in the blink-if-you-miss-it ‘N Sync MTV Video Music Awards reunion, and executive producing documentaries to make new solo music, but after a 12-year hiatus, he’s back.

His new song, “Walking on Air” —not to be confused with the Katy Perry tune —is a collaboration with DJ/producer Anise K, featuring Snoop Dogg. I’m now convinced I could get Snoop Dogg to be on my single if I asked him.  The song got a little coming out party at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, where it was featuring in the opening segment, according to E! News.

Bass told E! that he’d been looking for material for two years
and Anise K’s track resonated with him. Listen to "Walking On Air" here.  

Well, maybe should have kept looking... or waited until he had more time.  While he is listed as the artists on the cover art here, he’s basically a guest on Anise K’s record.  He does get his own verse.... maybe it was the line about being a “satellite” that drew in the future astronaut.

And as for Snoop Dogg, he comes in at the beginning and then drops a totally tepid verse on the totally tepid, unremarkable song.

“Walking On Air” is way too grounded for its own good. A slightly different version, featuring Ian Thomas, came out in Belgium a few months ago. That version is below.


Read Full Post
Beyonce and Jay Z to perform at 56th annual Grammy Awards
Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Beyonce and Jay Z to perform at 56th annual Grammy Awards

Is Madonna also on the bill?

Beyonce and Jay Z are headed for the Grammy stage.

Just as Justin Timberlake got a big performance platform on last year’s Grammys, despite not being eligible for any statues, it looks like Beyonce will get the boost this year for her December surprise, "Beyonce." 

She and husband, Jay Z, were listed as performers in a commercial that aired Sunday night for the Jan. 26 Grammys.

They join Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, Metallica, Pink, Katy Perry, Keith Urban and a slew of other artists who have already been announced as performers on the awards ceremony.

No word yet on if the pair is performing together, perhaps on “Drunk On Love,” or separately. Jay Z has nine nominations, including for best rap album.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Beyonce would appear, breaking the news before Sunday night’s commercial. The same LA Times piece also said that Madonna will join one of the night’s nominees in a performance, but that has yet to be confirmed by the Grammys.

Will you be watching the Grammys on Sunday night?


Read Full Post
<p>Mitt Romney of &quot;Mitt&quot;</p>

Mitt Romney of "Mitt"

Credit: Netflix

Sundance Review: 'Mitt' gets all-access to Mitt Romney with bland results

Behind-the-scenes doc will premiere on Netflix on Friday
One of the hardest documentary approaches to wrap your head around is the one in which the filmmaker goes to a lot of trouble to show you that beyond the public facade of a subject matter, the previously unseen reality is... exactly what you already thought you knew.
I got into multiple good-natured fights last year with R.J. Cutler, including an amusing back-and-forth in the snow on Main Street in Park City, about whether or not the former Vice President's stubbornness in "The World According To Dick Cheney" was a lack of introspection or a display of self-conviction and how that shaped the rest of the film. I'm sure Cutler was right, but what made "The World According To Dick Cheney" work was that no matter your ideology, your feelings on Cheney were confirmed but tweaked in interesting ways. What you didn't get from "The World According to Dick Cheney" was enlightenment, but that's a product of the kind of man Dick Cheney seems to be and the kind of access R.J. Cutler had. 
In the fittingly titled "Mitt," Director Greg Whiteley was granted unprecedented access to Mitt Romney from 2006 through 20012 and he was able to follow him from the beginning of an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008 and an unsuccessful run for the Presidency in 2012.
At an early fundraiser in 2006, Romney tells potential backers of the risks  of unsuccessful runs for high office. 
"We just brutalize whoever loses," he says. 
It could just be my own perception, but I don't feel like Romney was ever "brutalized," per se. At his absolute nadir, he wasn't viewed as anything worse than a slightly robotic, slightly ideologically insecure man who weathered a few major gaffes and pulled off one debate surprise, but still wasn't able to convince the majority of Americans that he deserved to be president. There were jokes about his interchangeably huge family and certain people never forgot accusations of abuse regarding a family dog and rumbling about his Mormon faith was occasionally in the background, but a fundamental blandness prevented any real long-lasting vilification. I could be wrong, but I don't think Democrats are likely to use "Mitt Romney" as the punchline for jokes in the way that, say, "Michael Dukakis" has been getting laughs from both parties for decades.
So Greg Whiteley's "Mitt" has to combat an image of bland innocuousness and, at the end of 92 minutes befitting its surplus of access, we're left with a portrait of Mitt Romney that is... blandly innocuous. I was not a Mitt Romney supporter, but I'll agree without hesitation that he comes across as a sturdy guy and a good family man here. And for Romney family members and supporters, I think there may be a feeling that this documentary shows the side of Romney that maybe America didn't get to see in 2012, which I don't quite think is true. I think "Mitt" shows the side of Mitt Romney that everybody was willing to accept on faith was there in 2012. We just didn't care.
[More on "Mitt," premiering out of competition at Sundance, after the break.]
Read Full Post

Ken Burns to tackle 'Country Music'; PBS to examine 'Earth'

Ken Burns to tackle "Country Music"; PBS to examine "Earth"

PBS announced that a Burns country music documentary will air in 2018, while "Earth — A New Wild" will be shown in 2015. PBS also announced special programming to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June. PLUS: PBS won't stop airing "Downton Abbey" in January.

HBO and Showtime subscribers are on the decline as Netflix rises

A new study has found that households with premium TV channels fell 6%, though it's not clear if they are fleeing for Netflix.

Fred Armisen and Patton Oswalt are traveling with "Modern Family" to Las Vegas

Armisen will play one-half of a gay couple who have fun with Mitch and Cam, while Oswalt will play a magician.

Amazon remaking "Barbarella"

The Jane Fonda film is set to get a web TV remake.

Watch the 1st episode of HBO's "Looking"
HBO has posted the first episode on YouTube.

"An American Education" adds Buzz from "Home Alone" and Jackie Chiles from "Seinfeld"

Devin Ratray and Phil Morris will play a teacher and the principal in the remake of the UK's "Bad Education."

Kate Gosseln's twins open their mouths on "The View"

Did Kate force them to talk after last week's "Today" debacle?

New "SNL" cast member Sasheer Zamata is a "Girls" tour guide

Watch a bit she filmed before joining "SNL."

Read Full Post
<p>Phedon&nbsp;Papamichael (left) on the set of &quot;Nebraska&quot;&nbsp;with Bruce Dern,&nbsp;Will Forte and Alexander Payne (right).</p>

Phedon Papamichael (left) on the set of "Nebraska" with Bruce Dern, Will Forte and Alexander Payne (right).

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Phedon Papamichael on shooting Alexander Payne's black and white vision for 'Nebraska'

How the stark landscape of small town America informed the film's look

Alexander Payne's vision for "Nebraska" was always in black and white. Going way back to prep on 2004's "Sideways," he told his director of photography, Phedon Papamichael, that he had this little road trip movie he was keen to do free of color, which of course was appealing to Papamichael. Nearly a decade later they finally set out to make the movie, but they had a bit of a roadblock.

Read Full Post
<p>Cameron Monaghan and Noah silver in Carter Smith's &quot;Jamie Marks is Dead.&quot;</p>

Cameron Monaghan and Noah silver in Carter Smith's "Jamie Marks is Dead."

Review: 'Jamie Marks is Dead' is a very unexpected supernatural drama

Young stars from 'Homeland' and 'Shameless' get the spotlight

PARK CITY - One of the more intriguing aspects of the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival is just how unconventional it has been. Dramedies and films with slight sci-fi elements have been a mainstay of the festival's premier category, but straight comedies, zombies and supernatural horror? Well, that's something very new to the mix. One picture that mixes serious drama and supernatural elements in this year's dramatic competition premiered Sunday night, "Jamie Marks is Dead."

Read Full Post