Latest Blog Posts

<p>Matthew McConaughey in &quot;Dallas Buyers Club&quot;</p>

Matthew McConaughey in "Dallas Buyers Club"

Credit: Focus Features

Matthew McConaughey bursts into crowded Best Actor field with career-best 'Dallas Buyers Club' portrayal

How does anyone on the outside even begin to crack this field?

I honestly can't wait to talk to Matthew McConaughey again this year. We sat down at Sundance to discuss Jeff Nichols' "Mud" in some detail, but I'm ready to really dig in on what has driven the actor to such a profound turnaround in his career. It's been covered in fits and starts and superficial flourishes by the media, but I'm ready to get serious. It's fascinating to me.

We've been keyed into the "McConaissance," as it were, for quite some time. Over a year ago we were pondering 2012 as a watershed year for the actor, noting the kinds of talent he was working with: Nichols on "Mud" (which premiered at Cannes in 2012), William Friedkin on "Killer Joe," Steve Soderbergh on "Magic Mike," Lee Daniels on "The Paperboy," Richard Linklater on "Bernie," etc. When you're trying to turn your career around, the first thing you do is sign up to work with a different breed of filmmaker.

This year, "Mud" has finally arrived and become one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. McConaughey has landed the lead role in Christopher Nolan's next big blockbuster, "Interstellar." Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is still to come, the trailer for HBO's "True Detective" promises an intriguing transition to television for the actor and, oh, that Oscar buzz we were expecting to accompany his performance in Jean-Marc Vallée's "Dallas Buyers Club?" It's here.

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Watch: Kanye West performs 'Bound 2' on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'

Watch: Kanye West performs 'Bound 2' on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'

Rapper's surprised appearances paired him with Charlie Wilson, The Roots

Kanye West made an unannounced stop at “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” last night where he performed "Yeezus" track “Bound 2” with Charlie Wilson and house band, The Roots.

West had been in New York for fashion week and while the performance was a surprise, word leaked out later in the day before the show aired.

West’s “Yeezus” tour, featuring Kendrick Lamar, starts Oct. 19 in Seattle. It is his first solo tour since 2008’s “Glow In The Dark.” 

 

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USA renews 'Graceland'


USA renews "Graceland"
The crime drama will be back for a 2nd season.


Arsenio Hall returns to good numbers

Early ratings show Hall was No. 1 in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos. Hall's return included cameos by Paula Abdul and Jay Leno. PLUS: It was smart of Hall to do the exact same show.


The Situation blames "Dancing with the Stars" for his pill addiction
The former "Jersey Shore" star say he's still suffering from a neck injury he sustained on the ABC reality show.


Read an oral history of "The Shield"
Michael Chiklis, CCH Pounder, Shawn Ryan, Walton Goggins and everybody else involved in the FX series sat down for this detailed look back.


"American Psycho" coming to TV

FX is developing a TV sequel to Bret Easton Ellis’ 1980s serial killer story.


Fox puts "The Mindy Project" Season 2 premiere online
Watch next week's premiere right now.

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<p>Keith Urban - 'Fuse'</p>

Keith Urban - 'Fuse'

Credit: Capitol Nashville

Album Review: Keith Urban's 'Fuse' marries country with other musical styles

Miranda Lambert and Eric Church guest on new set

With “Fuse,” Keith Urban announced his desire to shake up his sound a bit, but longtime fans need have no fear. While the "American Idol" judge incorporates eight producers, including popmeisters Stargate and Butch Walker, and he plays beyond country’s confines on a few tracks, most tunes hew closely to what  the faithful have come to love: mid-tempo tunes anchored by banjo or guitar and Urban’s instantly recognizable vocals. The album is out today (10).

“Somewhere In My Car”: The first thing you hear on this mid-tempo wistful track is a banjo, a reassuring sign that as much as Urban has decided to stretch his musical legs a little, he’s not straying that far. The girl is long gone, but in his memory he can remember the feel of her lips on his, kissing in the car and the beautiful pain of a time gone by. A fuzzy guitar gives the otherwise soft song a harder edge.  GRADE: B

“Even The Stars Fall 4 U”: Opening with shouts of “Hey!” before going into an instantly catchy, exuberant love song, “Stars” combines country instrumentation with the most pop production Urban has ever gone for. It has the same multi-format smash appeal like Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Country radio may want a slightly different mix, but given how pop country is leaning right now, probably not. If the label can wait this long, this could be a song of summer, 2014.  GRADE: A-

“Cop Car”: Urban takes a trip back in time as he remembers falling in love in police car after getting arresting for some youthful hijinks. The lyrics stretch for a meaning, but he’s going to lose plenty of folks when he talks about the siren lights reflecting in her eyes. Even as talented an artist as Urban can’t sell this line: “Something about the blue lights shining bringing out the freedom in your eyes.” Nice guitar solo, but that can’t save this song. I’d like to make a citizen’s arrest, please: GRADE: C-

“Shame”: Urban admits his foibles in this mid-tempo tale of skipping bill payments, missing birthdays, burning bridges, hurting lovers, and, basically, being human. “Everyone hurts the same,” he sings, and we all carry our scars around, even though we’re too scared to show them. Interesting lyrics, but may been better sequenced further down the record. GRADE: B-

“Good Thing”:  Forget “Sweet Thing,” Urban is more concerned about the moment as he woos a girl in a club in this bouncy track that’s more Dierks Bentley than Keith Urban. It’s a change of pace for Urban, but it’s a very well produced, fun, upbeat ditty. He promises if she gives him one chance, she’ll never be lonely again. Check out the Jerry Reed-like guitar solo. GRADE: B+

“We Were Us” (featuring Miranda Lambert): Lambert and Urban’s voices wind around each other effortlessly in this banjo-based mid-tempo about a couple who has split, but neither has let go. GRADE: B

“Love’s Poster Child”:  A slow, southern, swampy song that casts Urban as a man in need of a love infusion and he’s found just the woman to do it. Fans of Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country”  will love the feel of this one. Definitely a single. GRADE: A

“She’s My 11”: This uptempo declaration of love will have fans clapping along. The swaying song with a “whoa-oh-oh” sing-a-long features one of Urban’s best vocals.  GRADE: B

“Come Back To Me”: Probably the biggest stretch sonically on the album, “Come Back To Me” is built around a hypnotic electronic loop and a woozy guitar solo. Urban wants his love to come back, but she has already found someone new, so all he can hope for is that he treats her right. GRADE: A

“Red Camaro”: Another entry in the flirty, fun cars-and-girls song pantheon.  GRADE: B-

“Little Bit Of Everything”: The first single, and first No. 1, from “Fuse,” is as easy going as the song’s lyrics, which are about not “needing too much of nothing,” and being happy with life’s simple pleasures. Perfect song to usher out the summer with a very tasty guitar outro. GRADE: B

“Raise ‘Em Up” (featuring Eric Church): Melodically redolent of a slower “Someone Like You,” “Raise “Em Up” plays off the title, whether it be raising a glass or raising a kid. Church is way down in the mix. GRADE:  B-

“Heart Like Mine”: Album closer is a piano-based mid-tempo track with a strong melody, dramatic build and layered, pop backing vocals. The tale of     humility and love ends the project on a strong note and with a strong heartbeat. GRADE: B+

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<p>Scarlett Johansson in &quot;Under the Skin&quot;</p>

Scarlett Johansson in "Under the Skin"

Credit: A24

Toronto: A24 picks up 'Under the Skin' with Scarlett Johansson and 'Locke' with Tom Hardy

Indie distributor is wheelin' and dealin' early in the fall fest circuit

The funny thing about Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin" is that we pretty much called it. Okay, not in print, but Greg Ellwood and I were talking to A24 publicity at the Telluride Film Festival last week and he put it bluntly: "So, you'll be picking up 'Under the Skin,'" he said. "It's an A24 film if there ever was one." And so it is.

I'm glad A24 is out there grabbing titles like this, films that challenge even in the indie vein and might not be attractive buys in the current market for the companies that might have grabbed them in the past. And mostly, I'm just excited I'll definitely be able to see Glazer's latest, which I kept missing at Telluride and again missed at an LA screening after the fest (it's been playing Toronto this week).

Greg called the film a "near-masterpiece" at Telluride, noting that "Glazer has created a conversation piece that will be talked about long after the blockbusters of this year and next have come and gone." He gave high marks to Scarlett Johansson for her performance as well. Guy, meanwhile, called it "the riskiest, most extravagantly sensual and image-fuelled film in Competition at Venice."

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"Snake Salvation"

 "Snake Salvation"

Credit: Nat Geo

Exclusive: Watch the scary ritual of snake handling of 'Snake Salvation'

Two pastors risk everything to follow their faith

Some people consider themselves true believers. And then, there are the snake handlers. Whether or not you think they're deeply devoted, nuts, or both, you can't say they don't have guts. In this exclusive clip from the new Nat Geo series, "Snake Salvation" (debuts tonight at 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET), we get a first glimpse of what pastors Jamie Coots and Andrew Hamblin consider a mission from God -- snake handling. 

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<p>Paulina Garcia (far right) in Chilean Oscar entry &quot;Gloria.&quot;</p>

Paulina Garcia (far right) in Chilean Oscar entry "Gloria."

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Chile's 'Gloria,' Australia's 'The Rocket' among recent entries in foreign Oscar race

Where do we currently stand in this wide-open category?

While in Venice, I lost track somewhat of the submissions process for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar -- and at this stage, with the deadline for entries only a few weeks away, turning your back on the process for even a few days means you feel significantly behind. Last time I checked in, five films had been submitted; today, by my count, the number has gone up to 22. I've gathered them all on the category's Contenders page for your reference, and even done some preliminary ranking based on the entries so far; expect considerable movement there as new films join the race. As always, inside tips and insights from our international readers are most welcome, so don't be shy.

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<p>David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in &quot;The X-Files,&quot;&nbsp;which debuted 20 years ago tonight.</p>

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in "The X-Files," which debuted 20 years ago tonight.

Credit: FOX

'The X-Files' 20th anniversary: The truth was out there

Looking back at the legacy and influence of the classic FOX sci-fi drama

Twenty years ago tonight, FOX debuted a strange little show called "The X-Files." Its stars were virtually unknown — Gillian Anderson was only 24 when the pilot was filmed, and if you recognized David Duchovny at all, it was either as the cross-dressing FBI agent from "Twin Peaks" season 2 or as the man who read letters at the start of every episode of "Red Shoe Diaries" — and the format was an odd mash-up of science-fiction and police procedural, as FBI partners Mulder (the believer) and Scully (the skeptic) traveled the country investigating reports of paranormal activity.

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Jimmy Kimmel was behind the twerking girl on fire viral video


Jimmy Kimmel was behind the twerking girl on fire viral video
Kimmel on last night's show revealed that he filmed the video --which has had nearly 10 million views on YouTube -- with a stuntwoman months ago. Watch the full unedited version with Kimmel.


Sigur Rós joins "Game of Thrones"
The Icelandic post-rock band will play some role in Season 4.

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Hugh Jackman reveals how Denis Villeneuve pushed him to another level in 'Prisoners'

Hugh Jackman reveals how Denis Villeneuve pushed him to another level in 'Prisoners'

Plus: He shares his adoration for cinematographer Roger Deakins

TORONTO - One of the more intense scenes in Denis Villeneuve well respected new thriller "Prisoners" features stars Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano.  And it's a visceral, cinematic moment you'll likely remember the rest of the year.

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<p>Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites have to return to the home that nearly destroyed them as children to fight a subtle, potent evil.</p>

Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites have to return to the home that nearly destroyed them as children to fight a subtle, potent evil.

Credit: Intrepid Pictures

Review: Katee Sackhoff and Karen Gillan both do strong work in creepy 'Oculus'

Director Mike Flanagan's got real chops at both smart and scary

TORONTO - One of the reasons people often seem frustrated by horror films is because of how often certain tropes are trotted out and dressed up for new audiences, and at some point, it starts to feel like you've seen every variation, every interpretation, and it just becomes familiar and numbing. The truth, of course, is that good storytelling is good storytelling, and familiarity does not have to be a bad thing by definition. Mike Flanagan's "Oculus" is a strong example of how you can take something that sounds familiar and, by focusing on performance and the small details, create something that elevates formula.

Director Mike Flanagan, working from a script he co-wrote with Jeff Howard, tells a pretty conventional haunted house story in an unconventional way, and it's so smartly built, so smoothly handled, that you may not realize that about 90% of the film takes place inside this one house. I've seen plenty of low-budget films that were restricted to that sort of space because of money, and they don't know how to keep it interesting, but Flanagan does an exceptional job of not just effectively managing the space, but also juggling chronology. The film begins with a dream involving a man, a gun, and two kids, and as it reaches the culmination, we cut to a psychiatrist's office, where Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites, who has the best haircut I've ever seen on a mental patient in a movie) is describing the dream to his therapist. Tim's just turned 21, and his doctor believes that he has been cured and is ready to be released to the world again.

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<p>Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts both do stand-out work in 'August:&nbsp;Osage County,' but the film still feels oddly muted.</p>

Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts both do stand-out work in 'August: Osage County,' but the film still feels oddly muted.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep try hard but 'August: Osage County' falls flat

All the star power in the world can't quite bring it to life

TORONTO - Tracy Letts has had three of his plays adapted to film now, and I think based on the evidence of the latest, "August: Osage County," it is safe to say that William Friedkin has a far better handle on how to handle his scripts than John Wells does. Both "Bug" and "Killer Joe" are sweaty, upsetting movies that put us face to face with unsettling characters in dire circumstance, and both films have a jangling nervous energy to them that seems perfectly in sync with what Letts does on the page. Considering the stage version of "August: Osage County" won Letts a Pulitzer, it would not be outrageous to suggest that this arrives on movie screens with more expectations than the other two films, and that perhaps it is precisely because of those expectations that the end result feels like a disappointment.

In the film's opening moments, a beautifully cast Sam Shepard plays Bev Weston, the patriarch of a largely-absent family, and he talks about the truce he has made with his wife Violet (Meryl Streep). She takes pills, and he drinks, and the two of them leave each other alone about their vices. It seems like an uneasy peace, though, and as he talks more about his wife and her habits, we see that he's interviewing a Native American girl named Johnna (Misty Upham) about becoming their housekeeper.

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