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<p>From &quot;Under the Electric Sky&quot;</p>

From "Under the Electric Sky"

Credit: Jason "Ohdagyo" Fenmore

Sundance Review: 'Under the Electric Sky' is a long-form Electric Daisy Carnival commercial

Music festival utopia is loud and homogenous

The Electric Daisy Carnival – one of the preeminent dance music festivals in the world – threw itself a parade in new Sundance-selected documentary “Under the Electric Sky." And why shouldn’t they? As a three-day gathering in Las Vegas, EDC was sold-out this past summer with a 115,000 cap each night, with seven stages and more than 200 DJs. It’s a festival so successful that it may launch into a second weekend, a la Coachella, with top-tier dance music superstars continually, annually gravitating toward it.

The film starts out with a countdown. The organizers lay out their plans for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the June 2013 fest will be held. Directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz begin their journey with a handful of characters and crews with A Story To Tell. There’s Jose, an EDM lover who is confined to a wheelchair, and Sadie, an outcast in her Texas hometown. There are two couples, one of which is a duo of lifelong ravers who intend to marry at the fest. A group of beer-chugging bros that call themselves The Wolf Pack plan their RV pilgrimage in order, in part, to honor their friend who died of a drug overdose.
 
These varying archetypes are presented and shaped by the constant flow of music in the film, as though the viewer is already in the parking lot and heading to the gate. The soundtrack is dotted with huge dance hits from Avicii and Calvin Harris, artists like Afrojack and Tiesto having their say, Fatboy Slim and Riva Starr's anthem “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” repeating, and top-tier DJ Kaskade providing an energetic score.
 
Under the electric sky, there are happy tears and hugs and candy, misfits finding other misfits and dancing in a circle. All the performances are equally entertaining, all the stages are off-the-hook unbelievable and every night goes off without a hitch. No puke, no litter, no assault; it’s affordable and comes with a soft recommendation that ticket-holders stay hydrated and say no to drugs. None of the subjects take molly or get hangovers. When they wake up, they leave fulfilled.
 
“Under the Electric Sky,” indeed, is a carnival, a parade. It’s an 85-minute commercial.
 
Like at any major music festival, you can also draw at least a pretty, vague portrait of youth – pretty in this case being the operative word. Despite the banner that EDC draws fans from all walks and its lead subjects of the film so purposefully diverse, the vast majority of the doc’s B-roll and crowd shots center on fist-pumping six-packers, the most attractive bikini-wearers, so many white people between the ages of 17 and 22 representative of the hetero-normative ideal it’s like a glossy cruise pamphlet.
 
Should its filmmakers wish to give a tip of the hat at rave forebears or even contemporary maestros, then they also did a gross disservice to the gay community in this portrait. The story of EDM becoming a mainstream juggernaut is simply incomplete without acknowledging queer community. Cameras pan a dozen hot girls kissing each other – spring break forever, y’all -- and yet there’s no panning to men with other men, no hand-holding or kissing, no meet-cute like other couples’ tales. The concession is their following a group of hard-partying young guys and girls whose kinship is so strong they all wish to marry each other at the fest, their travels framed so comically that any underlying message of pride and PLUR is buried under a tapestry of conventionally attractive giggles and animal hats. The movie only barely touches on EDM and rave’s transition from underground to its international popularity, and it leaves behind some of where this “community” was actually bred.
 
And if the subject of marriage and romantic fulfillment seems like an overarching theme, it’s even weirder that hook-up culture, sexual fashion, and overt sexuality of festival-going is tamped down in favor of a safer, and frequently infantilized vision. There’s an odd shot of fest founder (“Electric Sky” exec producer) Pasquale Rotella clinking glasses of champagne with his new fiancée Holly Madison in the VIP section of the fest, like “Hey, let’s keep this thing classy,” while there’s a toothless (privates-less?) approach to the gaggle of the nearly-nudes in neon pink thongs below their raised platform.
 
This is not to judge the people in the pink thongs and the animal hats. The film does an exquisite job of creating a judgment-free environment, hand-in-hand with its advertisement for EDC’s particular brand of utopia. Its intention is to show what a festival should be. When Sadie has an anxiety attack at the festival, there is no wait for a nurse and -- lucky for her! – she’s the one fan out of tens of thousands chosen to get up on stage to drop the beat during Above & Beyond’s set. For electronic and dance music lovers, that storyline may hit the spot, especially with the non-stop throb and the colorful scenery. There is no competing version, which is “Under the Electric Sky’s” triumph, and also its problem.

 

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<p>The stars of &quot;Land Ho!&quot;</p>

The stars of "Land Ho!"

Credit: Andrew Reed

Review: 'Land Ho!' offers understated charm and comedy

Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson shine in Sundance favorite
Fortunately, it isn't my job to figure out what Sony Pictures Classics is going to do with its brand-spanking-new Sundance pickup "Land Ho!"  
 
The part of me that attempts to ponder the commercial possibilities of film festival acquisitions looks at "Land Ho!" and sees a tonally challenging international roadtrip comedy about a couple senior citizens played by a pair of stars who aren't just unknowns to mainstream audiences, they're barely-knowns even to art house snobs.
 
Fortunately, that's not a hat that I'm ever called upon to wear, at least not in practical terms. 
 
All I know is that "Land Ho!" plays. 
 
It's a funny and moving film about aging, but it's also a wacky journey across Iceland with two characters who are instantly likable and ultimately quite lovable. And with Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson, it's a perfectly cast buddy romp.
 
Getting audiences to see Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz' writing-directing collaboration won't be easy -- "Land Ho!" is playing in the NEXT program at Sundance and up until yesterday, it was flying way under the radar -- but once you're watching, it's hard not to be taken in my charm.
 
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Angela Lansbury is 'relieved' NBC scrapped its "Murder, She Wrote" reboot


Angela Lansbury is "relieved" NBC scrapped its "Murder, She Wrote" reboot
"I knew it was a terrible mistake. I didn't want to sully the memory," says the 88-year-old Lansbury, adding: "Octavia Spencer is a superb actress. She had no business being put into a situation that she couldn't win."


ABC orders a drama project from David O. Russell

The "American Hustle" director's project is described as "“an upstairs/downstairs soap centered on a private country club."


HBO passes on "People in New Jersey" starring Sarah Silverman and Topher Grace

The comedy about an adult brother and sister was to be produced by Lorne Michaels with Paul Feig directing.


Jay Leno tells "60 Minutes" Jimmy Fallon is "probably more like a young Johnny"

Watch a preview of Leno's "60 Minutes" profile, airing Sunday.


Group that claimed premium channels are losing subscribers backpedals
The NPD Group says it "should not have called out declines in subscribers for specific premium TV channels, HBO and Showtime."


Why Bill Cosby just might save NBC
Unlike Michael J. Fox and his failed "Michael J. Fox Show," Cosby is the creative force behind his projects.


Animal Planet's "Call of the Wildman" accused of abusing animals, being fake

A Mother Jones investigation, found "evidence of a culture that tolerated legally and ethically dubious activities." They also found that Animal Planet scripted the show, staging rescues and using raccoons as "performers."


Presenting an "SNL" census
U.S. News & World Report counted the race of nearly every current and past "SNL" cast member, from Rob Schneider (half Filipino and half white) to Rich Hall (part Cherokee).


"The Millers" to have an "Arrested Development" reunion

Jeffrey Tambor will play the owner of the station where Will Arnett works.


"General Hospital" to keep on going
The long-running soap will be back next season, though ABC hasn't officially announced a renewal.


"Psych" remakes a Season 1 episode, and hijinks abound

Unlike with the original episode, says writer Andy Berman, "We weren't able to put a lot of the really, really goofy stuff in."


"The Mindy Project" meets "The Following"
It's the crossover romance you weren't expecting.


"Girl Meets World's" Season 1 order expanded to 21 episodes

That's eight more than the previous order.


"True Detective" and "Girls" decline in Week 2
The serial killer drama fell from 2.3 million to 1.7 million, while Lena Dunham's comedy dropped to 779,000 viewers.


Introducing the "Downton Abbey" board game

This new board game allows you to compete as a maid or a footman.


"Workaholics" guys are found it a bit challenging writing Season 4
Adam DeVine recalls pitching a story idea that already appeared on the show.


Comedy Central's "Broad City" is done in the spirit of "Louie"

The comedy from  Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson and exec producer Amy Poehler has that same kind of first-person experimental yet hilarious voice that "Louie" has.


"Shameless" star Shanola Hampton welcomes a daughter

Cai MyAnna Dukes was born on Monday.

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"American Horror Story: Coven"

 "American Horror Story: Coven"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story: Coven' recap: Will Fiona survive or 'Go to Hell'?

It's a grisly episode, but what else is new?

I was talking to a friend of mine about why he hates "American Horror Story: Coven," given that he loved the first two seasons of "AHS." "There's no one to like this season," he grumbled. "Everyone's a jerk." I'm not sure I completely agree with that (I can think of a few characters, like Delia and Misty, who aren't all bad), but I get his point.

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<p>FOX tells me this is Melanie Porras and she'll appear on Wednesday's &quot;American Idol.&quot;</p>

FOX tells me this is Melanie Porras and she'll appear on Wednesday's "American Idol."

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 13 Auditions #3 - Detroit

The judges head to Motown for two more hours of auditions

Greetings from Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival comes to a screeching halt so that I can recap the Wednesday, January 22 episode of "American Idol."

Yup. The Festival has stopped all screenings for two hours tonight just for me.

Isn't that sweet of them? And then I'll head over to see "Land Ho!"

So click through and follow along for all of the Detroit auditions, or all of the Detroit auditions our condo wifi will allow me to watch...

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<p>Pink</p>

Pink

Credit: AP Photo

2014 Grammys Predictions: Song of the Year

It's Pink vs. Bruno, Lorde, Katy and Macklemore

As we get closer to the Sunday’s Grammy Awards, we’re making our predictions in the Big Four categories: Record, album, song of the year and best new artist.

Monday,  we tackled Record of the Year.  Tuesday, we looked at Album of the Year. Today, we look at song of the year, an award that goes to the songwriter. This year, all of the performers of the nominated songs are also among the co-writers (Fun Fact: Ella Yelich O’Connor is Lorde’s real name and Macklemore’s real name is Ben Haggerty).

Song of the Year nominees:

“Just Give Me A Reason,” Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess  (Pink)

“Locked Out Of Heaven,” Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars (Bruno Mars)

“Roar,” Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter (Katy Perry)

“Royals,” Joel Little and Ella Yelich O’Connor (Lorde)

“Same Love,” Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert and Ryan Lewis  (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)



The Grammys often like to award songs that have a certain amount of heft or message to them in this category,  though certainly not always. “Just Give Me A Reason” is a touching ballad with a traditional verse and chorus, so that may appeal to some of the voters who appreciate that song craft  (should it win, fun.’s Nate Ruess will capture the award two years’ running after “We Are Young’s” victory last year. “Roar” is all about empowering yourself but it feels a little lightweight here, same with the incredibly catchy “Locked Out Of Heaven.” “Royals” is a better record than song. “Same Love,” other than Mary Lambert’s part, is basically spoken word, but its willingness to step out in support of gay marriage certainly makes it the most message oriented of the nominees.  In a year with no clear frontrunner, my hunch is this is a race between “Just Give Me A Reason” and “Same Love,” and I’m going with “Just Give Me A Reason.”

Should Win: “Just Give Me a Reason”
Will Win: Just Give Me a Reason”

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<p>Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan eat their way across Italy in the aptly-titled 'The Trip To Italy'</p>

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan eat their way across Italy in the aptly-titled 'The Trip To Italy'

Credit: IFC Films

Review: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return in the low-key sequel 'The Trip To Italy'

While this may not dig deep, it certainly has pleasures to offer

PARK CITY - When I saw "The Trip," I saw the feature film version, not the six-episode television series, and I thought it was an enjoyable lark. It's not the most profound or the most enjoyable film from Michael Winterbottom's filmography, but it might be the easiest to share with other people.

After all, it's basically just Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan trading riffs on food, love, and Michael Caine for a few hours. One of the things I found most fascinating when I saw it again was how Coogan and Brydon are playing fictionalized versions of themselves, so you can't call the film a documentary, no matter how much it feels like one at times. One of the stylistic touches that I appreciate is that they aren't trying to pretend it's a documentary. It allows Winterbottom to shoot very intimate moments without having to justify why a camera would be there or why Coogan and Brydon would allow certain things to be shot. It's a subtle approach, but a careful distinction, especially in this one as we see that Brydon's not quite the amiable family man he appeared to be in the first one and that Coogan doesn't quite fit the role of perpetual cad that he's been associated with so often.

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<p>Ke$ha and friends</p>

Ke$ha and friends

Credit: AP Photo

Pitbull and Ke$ha's 'Timber' remains the most popular song in the land

Can it fend off a charge from Katy Perry?

Pitbull and Ke$ha continue their reign at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 as “Timber” spends its third week in the top spot.

It fends off a charge from Katy Perry, whose “Dark Horse,” featuring Juicy J, trots 4-2. If it reaches the summit, three co-ed collaborations in a row will have hit No. 1 following “The Monster” by Eminem and Rihanna and “Timber.”

Perry’s ascension pushes OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars”  down 2-3 and the aforementioned “The Monster” down 3-5. A Great Big World’s “Say Something,” featuring Christina Aguilera rebounds 5-4, according to Billboard.

Passenger’s “Let Her Go” holds at No. 6 and Lorde’s “Royals” at No. 7. Lorde pulls off a neat feat: she also holds the No. 8 song with “Team” leaping 11-8.  One Direction’s “Story of My Life” rises 10-9 and Bastille’s hit “Pompeii” makes its first appearance in the Top 10, moving 12-10, more than three months after it topped Billboard's Alternative Songs chart.


 

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<p>Sandra Bullock in &quot;Gravity&quot;</p>

Sandra Bullock in "Gravity"

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Gravity' wins big with Denver critics

Alfonso Cuarón's film takes four prizes

We're about a week late in wising up to the Denver Film Critics Society's list of winners this year but, well, better late than never. "Gravity" was the big winner, taking prizes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score and Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film. The acting categories all went to the frontrunners save Best Supporting Actress, which went to "American Hustle's" Jennifer Lawrence rather than "12 Years a Slave's" Lupita Nyong'o. Steve McQueen's slavery drama, which was nominated for seven awards, received no trophies. Check out the nominations here, the winners below and keep track of the season at The Circuit.

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<p>&quot;Blue is the Warmest Color&quot;</p>

"Blue is the Warmest Color"

Credit: IFC Films

'12 Years a Slave' and 'Blue is the Warmest Color' win with Gay and Lesbian critics

'Behind the Candelabra' and 'Orange is the New Black' win in TV fields

"12 Years a Slave" has picked up yet another Best Picture prize from a critics organization, as the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) tapped it the year's best for 2013. Oscar frontrunners Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett won top acting honors, while "Blue is the Warmest Color" received a pair of prizes including LGBT Film of the Year. HBO's "Behind the Candelabra" and Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" picked up awards in the TV categories, including a tie for TV Drama of the Year. Check out the full list of nominees and winners below and remember to keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>Uma Thurman in &quot;Nymphomaniac (Part One).&quot;</p>

Uma Thurman in "Nymphomaniac (Part One)."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Review: Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac' is thrilling and hilarious... so far

The first part of the erotic epic played as the Secret Screening at Sundance

PARK CITY - Reviewing a new Lars von Trier joint is never exactly a breeze, though it's usually a little easier when you've seen the whole thing. Presented last night as the not-so-secret Secret Screening at the Sundance Film Festival, "Nymphomaniac (Part One)" offers at least a full film's worth of theories, provocations and retina-branding images in its first half -- as well it might, given that its first half is nearly two hours long. But they're cut off cruelly in limbo, with nothing so much as a tidy temporary knot or mini-catharsis to tide us over until Part Two, and I can't feign any insight as to the film's narrative or thematic endgame.

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Review: 'The One I Love' with Elisabeth Moss is a sensational surprise

Review: 'The One I Love' with Elisabeth Moss is a sensational surprise

Don't spoil the secret, well...

PARK CITY - During the Q&A for Charlie McDaniel's "The One I Love," an audience member asked the director and cast how would anyone be able to market this film without giving its big secret away? McDaniel, stars Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and screenwriter Justin Lader laughed it off, but the same question could also be asked of someone reviewing the film. How do you attempt to review a movie where part of its success is not knowing a major key ingredient to the story? Perhaps that's why the term "spoiler alert" was invented. In any case, we're going to give it the old college try. And, provide an out if you'd like to stay ignorant of the set-up because this is one movie with more surprises than you could ever imagine.

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