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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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Listen to Arcade Fire's new single 'Reflektor': Watch two very different videos

Listen to Arcade Fire's new single 'Reflektor': Watch two very different videos

Anton Corbijn directs one, and you help direct the other

Arcade Fire have finally lifted the veil on their new single "Reflektor" which -- if you're any fan of their more dance-happy, disco-laden songs like "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" and "Half Light II (No Celebration)" from their last album "The Suburbs" -- will make you pretty happy.

It's more than seven minutes of what most definitely sounds like one of their collaborations with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, who co-produced the new album. This title track additionally gets the enhancement of two new music videos, one standard directed by Anton Corbijn and one interactive through some geniuses at Google Chrome with director Vincent Morisset.

For the Chrome version of the video, some of the technology may interfere with your actual ability to view (browser, mobile tech and video cards), but you will get a good idea of what you're in store for by watching this featurette and exploring some of the images. In this version of the video, the user follows the protagonist/dancer Axelle "Ebony" Munezero through the streets in Haiti. Arcade Fire have spent recent years supporting non-profits and causes from the troubled country, where co-founder Régine Chassagne was born.

Visit to see the interactive video in Chrome.

Corbijn's black-and-white version of the "Reflektor" experience has its own quirks, too, as the band dons oversized papier mache heads like puppet versions of themselves, hunting down the Disco Ball Man and putting the doll versions of themselves in a shiny coffin. As you do. It's actually a really lighthearted look, at times, at the Montreal-based band, who have made a mystery of themselves in promoting "Reflektor" up until this point. Win Butler and Chassgne put on a good show for this epic-length tune, which plays with the ideas of disillusion, self-reflection and reality, much like "The Suburbs" did.

Interestingling, those cartoony heads were a highlight from the "dance-activated" vid for "Sprawl II," which Morisset directed. There's a continuing theme here, if it's just that the band likes a challenge when playing their instruments.

"Reflektor" as a song just goes and goes, with multiple climaxes, points of entry, and would kill as a instrumental-only. Based on the dance moves in the Corbijn clip, they're having a good time playing it, too.

"Reflektor," the album, is out on Oct. 29. Happy Halloween, we know what you're dressing as.

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Rainn Wilson: Check out my CBS detective pilot that hasn't been picked up

Rainn Wilson: Check out my CBS detective pilot that hasn't been picked up
A four-minute "sizzle reel" of the former "Office" star's pilot "Backstrom" is now on YouTube. It also stars Dennis Haysbert and Mamie Gummer.  "It's in pilot limbo-land but maybe it'll be on TV one day!" tweeted Wilson.

"Extra" adds a "Gossip Girl" segment
"Gossip Girl on Extra" will use the former CW show's brand, including, to report some gossip news.

"Breaking Bad" meets "Lost"
It's a Waaalt vs. Jaaack mashup.

Sharon Osbourne: I had a fling with Jay Leno when I was 25

Osbourne revealed on "The Talk" that before there was Ozzy, there was Jay.

"Boardwalk Empire" is an excellent show -- but why isn't it compelling?
With the exception of a few episodes that end each season, the HBO period drama isn't a must-see-now show like "Breaking Bad." PLUS: "Boardwalk" ratings decline.

"Big Bang" writer got his job by submitting scripts on masturbation and game theory

Which turned out to be a good fit for the CBS comedy.

Jesse Plemons: "Breaking Bad's" breakout star?
Plemons seems to have mastered the art of playing a rube, especially after "Friday Night Lights." PLUS: Todd is a reflection of other "BB" characters, "Bad" crystal meth lab toy sparks outrage, why last night's ending makes sense, and Dean Norris poses with cow brains.

D.B. Sweeney joins "Betrayal"
He'll recur on the ABC drama, starting with Episode 6.

CNN's new "Crossfire" seems to be copying ESPN's debate shows
Unlike the ESPN shows, "Crossfire" debated serious topics like Syria. PLUS: Banter felt scripted.

"Private Practice's" Paul Adelstein joins "Scandal"
The Shonda Rhimes alum will recur in a secret role.

"Boy Meets World" and "Saved by the Bell" are getting Complete DVD box set releases
Individual seasons of both shows are already available on DVD.

Jenny McCarthy offers "The View" the best of Hasselbeck and Behar
She has passionate opinions like Elisabeth, yet she is brassy and unfiltered like Joy.

"Bones" won't delay the Booth-Brennan wedding
It's coming sooner rather than later.

3 former "Doctor Who" Doctors protest outside the BBC
Was it real or a publicity stunt?

Yahoo unveils a bunch of new comedies
Including "Losing It with John Stamos."

Arsenio Hall, 57, returns tonight with a talk show that's a lot like his last one
The main difference? The internet took off after Hall's departure, but there will still be barking. "If I was a guy who had never done a talk show before, you could say, 'What's this show going to be?'" Hall says. "But this is going to look like Arsenio took a long hiatus — a long, long hiatus — but I came back, and redid the set." PLUS: Why the new "Arsenio" could be destined for failure.

Katie Couric gets a surprise visit from her fiance during her season premiere
John Molner greeted "Katie" with a bouquet of roses.

"Homeland" cast hits Washington
Check the cast out "back where it all started."

"Breaking Bad" fan sues Apple for offering the final season as 2 different seasons
An Ohio man's class-action lawsuit argues that last year's mini-season should be sold together with this year's mini-season.

Disney XD announces "Mighty Med," a show about a hospital for superheroes
The show follows two teens who work afterschool at the secret hospital.

"Big Brother" surpasses 500 episodes
An appreciation of Julie Chen & Co. after 13 years on the air.

Jennifer Love Hewitt's fiancee accused of battery on a paparazzo
A police report was filed against "The Client List's" Brian Hallisay, but no arrest has been made.

Check out "Mob City" key art

Frank Darabont has released a poster from his TNT series.

"The Newsroom" became good after it stopped taking itself so seriously
Nowadays, Aaron Sorkin has made the show more in line with "Sports Night" and "The West Wing" by focusing on the silly drama and relationships. PLUS: Watch Funny or Die's Message to Aaron Sorkin.

Can Ryan Seacrest's "Million Second Quiz" deliver eyeballs?

The game show will end 1 million seconds from tonight, or about 11 1/2 days.

"Spartacus" star joins "Tomorrow People"
Simon Merrells, who played Marcus Crassus on "War of the Damned," will recur during Season 1.

WEtv renews "L.A. Hair"
The stylist reality show will be back for Season 3.

Check out "The Bachelor Australia"
The Aussie version premiered last night.

What if Zack Morris lived in modern "Saved by the Bell"?
Mark-Paul Gosselaar tries to imagine what his character would be up to these days.

Los Angeles TV icon Cal Worthington dies at 92
The car dealership owner was a staple on "The Tonight Show" in the '70s.

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Watch: Ellie Goulding's 'How Long Will I Love You' video from 'About Time'

Watch: Ellie Goulding's 'How Long Will I Love You' video from 'About Time'

Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson travel through time in new film

Ellie Goulding’s sweet cover of the Waterboys’ “How Long Will I Love You,” serves as the perfect backdrop for a video that promotes both the song and “About Time,” a British romantic comedy starring Rachel McAdams.

The clip veers between Goulding, who just wrapped up opening for Bruno Mars on his North American tour,  looking sincerely into the camera, her blonde hair gently blowing, and footage of McAdams looking, as always, beautifully adorable. The film clips move through McAdams’ character’s life with love interest Domhnall Gleeson. “About Time,” which opens Nov. 8, is from that new genre rom com sci fi... seriously. It’s about a young man who tries to change his past to alter his future for the better. Better yet, it’s from “Love Actually’s”  Richard Curtis.

Goulding’s version of “How Long Will I Love You” appears on the deluxe version of “Halcyon Days,” which was released Aug. 27. The set includes her 2012 album, “Halcyon,” as well as 10 new tracks, including “How Long Will I Love You.”  Additionally, the song will be on the soundtrack for “About Time.”

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<p>Eminem and Rick Rubin in &quot;Berzerk&quot;</p>

Eminem and Rick Rubin in "Berzerk"

Eminem's 'Berzerk' video gets Rick Rubin, Kendrick Lamar cameos: Watch

Old school song, old school music video

Fish eye lens, backtracking, fake VHS stripes, hyper-contrast, oh my! Eminem's music video is kicking it old-school, and the rapper's brought a few friends along in the time machine.

Rick Rubin, Yelawolf, Kendrick Lamar, Em's Bad Meets Evil cohort Royce Da 5'9″ and Kid Rock all make cameos for the new-old clip, which Eminem previewed last night during one of the most awkward live television appearances ever.

If you weren't embracing the boombox retro style of the single before, Eminem is practically begging you too, now. All it's missing is Mike D and Ad-Rock hugging it out with Billy Squier. With this big love-in of contemporaries and protégés, I say "stroke it" indeed.

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"Long Island Medium"

 "Long Island Medium"

Credit: TLC

Twitter fans of 'Long Island Medium' could win a private reading

The medium will pick Twitter followers during commercial breaks
Want a psychic reading? Good news! On Sunday, Oct. 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET, TLC brings back "Long Island Medium" with an unprecedented live Twitter event with Theresa Caputo. Of course, she gets to pick who will win, and she probably already knows their dead relatives, so better hope you've got some chatty contacts in the afterworld if you want the free trip, people. 
Starting at 8pm, TLC will launch "Tweet to Win - Live," in which viewers have the chance to win a reading with Theresa by tweeting with the hashtag #LongIslandMedium during the airing of the 9pm premiere, as well as the premiere of "Alaskan Women Looking for Love" at 10:00 p.m. ET. Theresa will randomly select winners during live segments within the commercial breaks and will announce them on the air (all winners are subject to eligibility and rules of the contest). With a waiting list of several years and countless daily requests for readings worldwide, the lucky contest winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip for two to meet Theresa and receive a private reading.
Also, Theresa isn't doing all this work for nothing. At 9:00 p.m. ET, an all-new "Long Island Medium: On the Road" episode kicks off the new season. Theresa gets hundreds of fan letters a day from men and women across the country begging for a chance to meet with her for a session. This time around, Theresa travels to Philadelphia to surprise her fans with messages from their loved ones. While exploring the best of what Philly has to offer, Theresa is able to help a mother heal from her son’s tragic passing, allow a young widow to reconnect with her true love, and give a little girl closure on the loss of her baby sister.
In the new episodes and on the home front this new season, Theresa also decides to do some major construction on the house, forcing her to have to do readings at her father’s house. Her father, Nick, gets a reading from his daughter for the very first time, with shocking results. Victoria also comes back from college and brings home an un-announced friend. Additionally, viewers will see even more emotional and mind blowing readings, including a devastated man who finally releases the guilt he feels from his parents’ tragic passing, and another man who hears validations from his wife that no one else would know.
Will you be tweeting to win?
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 200

Dan and Alan talk 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Derek' and the pilot for 'The Wire'


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
Depending on how you keep count, this is either Episode 200 for the podcast, or the 199th podcast that Sepinwall and I have done together. It all depends on whether or not you believe in Podcast No. 34.
In any case, if this was a milestone, it goes unremarked upon within the podcast. Instead, we talk about "Sons of Anarchy," Netflix's "Derek," Sunday's "Breaking Bad" -- Sepinwall loved it, I do not, disagreements ensue and y'all will take Alan's side -- and we conclude our Summer Pilot Rewatch with a long segment on "The Wire."
And next week? All Hell breaks loose, fall season-wise.
Here's today's breakdown:
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:00:40 - 00:19:00)
"Derek" (00:19:00 - 00:29:40)
"Breaking Bad" (00:30:00 - 01:03:00)
Summer Pilot Rewatch - "The Wire" (01:03:40 - 01:33:40)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.



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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 200: 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Breaking Bad' & more

Dan and Alan also review Ricky Gervais' 'Derek' and discuss 'The Wire' pilot


Only four topics for this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, but they were all meaty enough to add up to a good-length show, including the return of "Sons of Anarchy," the American premiere of Ricky Gervais' "Derek" on Netflix, some contentious "Breaking Bad" discussion and the conclusion of our summer pilot rewatch with "The Wire." 

Note: While this is the 200th episode of the podcast, Dan objects to the notion of it being our bicentennial, since I recorded one podcast with Mo Ryan while he was out of the country. So whatever anniversary things we do (if any) will be on next week's show.

The rundown:

"Sons of Anarchy" (00:00:40 - 00:19:00)
"Derek" (00:19:00 - 00:29:40)
"Breaking Bad" (00:30:00 - 01:03:00)
Summer Pilot Rewatch - "The Wire" (01:03:40 - 01:33:40)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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Of course Miley Cyrus got naked for her new music video 'Wrecking Ball'

Of course Miley Cyrus got naked for her new music video 'Wrecking Ball'

Emotional single bares her soul or something

Let me start by saying I actually very much like "Wrecking Ball" as a Miley Cyrus single. It's got that "I Knew You Were Trouble" vibe while also allowing a pristine vocal comp to make the former Disney star sound like an honest-to-God grownup. It hints the tabloid trubs from her engagement to Liam Hemsworth, exposing 100 million times more emotions than her dark comedy/summer hit "We Can't Stop."

There are some problems with this video. Allow me to explain.

1. In the Crying While Singing genre, you do not start with the crying. This quickly reminded me of Duncan Sheik's 1990s chart-topping single "Barely Breathing," what with the kissing away of saline tears. These may very well be genuine eye leakage, but it's faking your way to emotional orgasm as a video piece.

See Bieber, Justin: "As Long As You Love Me"
See Monae, Janelle: "Cold War"

2. Sexual intimacy with filthy, dirty, destructive objects... I see what you did there. Metaphors! But it's around the first time Cyrus' naked nethers make contact with a literal wrecking ball that remind me of girls who ride the New York subway in skirts and no undies in summer: basic human sexuality takes a turn for the yeccch. While the sight of anybody naked would unfurl many's flags, this just makes me squirm like a bare back on a mound of rubble. Oh wait.

Miley Cyrus licks a sledgehammer for Wrecking Ball

Peter Gabriel, have you anything to say for the example you've set? This is stupid.

3. This video was likely shot before Cyrus' scattershot MTV VMAs performance, which only continued the crescendo cries of "Hannah Montana All Growed Up." Personally, I didn't have a problem with the racy nature of that televised performance, but I did with her use of black women as her personal line of cred(it).

Here, she is subsisting purely on the carnal, erasing whatever good feelings I had for the song by displacing genuine emotional value with a ball-and-chain stripper pole, an image so desperately mixed, she probably had to go method to justify the inanity.

Dotting the soft porn with emotional lip-syncing does not make up for this, nor does it surprise me, the most shocking element being the volume at which I said "DUH" in learning that Terry Richardson directed this pile.

4. Cyrus' handlers are well aware of Billboard's recent rule additions to the Hot 100 now include YouTube views. Yes, Psy and Baauer benefited from this. So did Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," as did Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors," both of which feature naked women.

Don't pretend there aren't at a zillion people on the planet who are Googling the query "Miley Cyrus naked," and guess what will pop up as the top entry? (I mean aside from this blog post. You knew what this was.) See you at the top of the charts?

"Wrecking Ball" is off of Miley Cyrus' "Bangerz," due on Oct. 4.

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<p>James Hetfield is going to outlive us all, isn't he?</p>

James Hetfield is going to outlive us all, isn't he?

Credit: Picturehouse

Review: Metallica's 'Through The Never' pushes 3D IMAX past the breaking point

Even non-fans may find themselves banging their heads

TORONTO - On the heels of "Avatar," Hollywood went slightly crazy for 3D, and between weak post-production conversions and unnecessary use of the process, they have already started to kill any interest the audience has in it, which is a shame. Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" makes a strong case for the dramatic potential of the format, and now Nimrod Antal's "Metallica Through The Never" reinforces just how visceral an experience it can be when used correctly.

This morning's screening of the film at the Toronto Film Festival was held in the IMAX theater at the Scotiabank complex, and I can honestly say it was one of the most technically impressive screenings I've seen in IMAX anywhere. The soundtrack alone is such an intense experience, such an assault, that I started laughing trying to imagine the horrified crowd sitting in a tender, quiet Iranian drama next door. I've said before that the sound systems in IMAX theaters are as important as the size of the screen, and it sounded like this film gave that system a workout it's never had before.

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"The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

"The Real Housewives of New Jersey" 

Credit: Bravo

'Real Housewives of New Jersey': Is Melissa really ready to forgive?

It's another week of New Age bonding, but will it stick?

So, another week of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," another week of awkward New Age bonding. This week, we get tightrope walking and Zennis, which appears to be a desperate attempt to spin whacking a ball at another person a way into a path to spiritual connection. Unfortunately, when Melissa and Teresa play Zennis, it's more like an attempt to connect ball with skull, or, when a brain injury is outside of their skill set, to win at any cost. Teresa, it turns out, is a sore loser, but we knew that. 

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