Latest Blog Posts

<p>Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric in &quot;Venus in Fur.&quot;</p>

Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric in "Venus in Fur."

Credit: Lionsgate

Cannes Review: Roman Polanski gets frisky in smart but slight 'Venus in Fur'

Adaptation of Broadway hit is more fun than 'Carnage,' but just as minor

CANNES - For a man who spent the better part of a year under house arrest between 2009 and 2010, it's odd that Roman Polanski seems to have subjected his own art to the same punishment ever since. "Venus in Fur" is his second straight film -- after 2011's largely forgettable "Carnage" -- to fashion an economical stage play into clammy real-time cinema that doesn't leave the confines of a single interior space.

Read Full Post
<p>David Cross and Jason Bateman of &quot;Arrested Development&quot;</p>

David Cross and Jason Bateman of "Arrested Development"

Credit: Mike Yarish/Netfix

TV Review: 'Arrested Development' Season 4 brings laughter and lulls to Netflix

Some episodes shine, while others fall flat
I skipped the communal madness of marathoning "House of Cards" when it premiered on Netflix earlier this year. I've still only seen six or seven episodes, though I like it enough that I'll certainly finish it this summer. It's a project I'm happy to undertake.
 
I also skipped the communal self-abuse of marathoning "Hemlock Grove" when it premiered on Netflix a couple months later. I may finish that one as well some day, but more out of my usual much-discussed completist sensibilities than any enjoyment.
 
Apparently, however, there was something forcing me to watch 15 episodes of "Arrested Development" Season 4 in only 15 hours. I queued up the first episode at seconds after midnight Pacific Time, as East Coasters on Twitter were still ranting about their inability to read clearly written premiere announcements. Poor East Coasters. I ran through eight episodes before passing out at 5 a.m. and then at 10:30 a.m. I was back to watching for the remaining seven.
 
That was a lot of "Arrested Development" in a very short period of time.
 
And it was much, much more "Arrested Development" than anybody had any reason to expect. Netflix initially announced a 10 episode season knowing that they were planning on making at least 13 and then those 13 became 15 episodes when all was said and done. But even saying that Season 4 of "Arrested Development" is 15 episodes is a distinct undersell. When it aired on FOX, "Arrested Development" episodes had a network-standard running time of 22-ish minutes. Netflix doesn't care. Without any ad-load, it's the Wild West out there and the shortest of the new episodes is 28 minutes and the longest is 37 minutes. An additional six or seven episodes of material is just squishing out of the sides of what's here, like the melted filling of an ice cream sandwich.
 
That was a lot of "Arrested Development" in a very short period of time.
 
One of the major causes of American obesity is, of course, and Netflix’s original programming has become like the Las Vegas buffet of entertainment options, and not the cheap, skuzzy buffets that you might get at the end of The Strip. I'm talking about the buffet at The Wynn or the Beluga, where you're paying $40-ish and the dining experience becomes one of simultaneous gustatory delight and personal recklessness. Yes, you *could* just concentrate on the top-tier seafood items, do only shrimp and crab legs, and walk out after a quick meal. But that's not what you're there for. That's not what you paid for. You paid for the Pan-Asian station and the pizza station and the prime rib and the dim sum and the seven kinds of pie.  You paid for the sensation of disgusting satiation. You paid not for the individual quality or merit of anything that you ate, but for the totality of an experience in which the availability of excess supersedes the illusion of free choice. 
 
I'm reasonably sure that on a level of intellectual appreciation, Netflix would do more honor to high quality shows like "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" by parceling out the distribution. Let people digest each morsel, contemplate each idea. Drag viewers along for several weeks, even if not for the months that network shows require.
 
"That network shows require." Netflix doesn't want to be thought to be playing by network rules. While networks have been forced to provide more choice -- OnDemand, iTunes, online streaming, DVD releases, etc -- over the years, Netflix is all choice. Nobody's forcing you to watch any particular way. You might get pulled into marathoning because you're loving the show or because you're a sheep, but that's on you. And my very different approach to "House of Cards" and "Hemlock Grove" and "Arrested Development"  proves, at least somewhat, that the freedom isn't an illusion. If you don't care about the Internet ruining things for you, you can take six months to watch one show. Or you can do it in one or two breathless spurts. 
 
I don't think "House of Cards" has suffered from my delays and I really can't tell you if "Arrested Development" benefitted from my haste. 
 
Shrug. 
 
In its three years on FOX, I loved "Arrested Development." In its 15 episodes on Netflix, I found myself frustrated by the wide variation of my response. Attempting to give the whole season a grade is pure folly. Out of 15 episodes, there are four or five episodes I'd put in the "A" range. There were two or three episodes I'd put in the "C" range. And the majority of the episodes were variably uneven, hardly devoid of brilliance and the sort of hilarity that most currently running shows can't even approach, but usually diluted to an infuriating degree by the structure and lack of structure of the endeavor. 
 
For "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz and his talented team of writers, Season 4 rises and falls on that unusual pairing of self-imposed structure and self-denied limitations. At times, the 15 episodes work much better than you'd imagine they possibly could and at times they stumble on entirely avoidable obstacles.
 
More after the break. And yes, I already know that this is a rambling, loose, poorly edited review in which I'm going to complain about "Arrested Development" Season 4 being rambling, loose and poorly edited. Like Mitch Hurwitz, I am a victim of the freedom of the Internet. 
 
Read Full Post
<p>The Coen brothers at the 2013 Cannes Film&nbsp;Festival</p>

The Coen brothers at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

Credit: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

Cannes and the Coens

'Inside Llewyn Davis' has put the filmmaking siblings in rare air at the fest

It wouldn't be too apt to call the Coen brothers the Kings of the Croisette or anything. They have amassed five awards at the Cannes Film Festival throughout their career, but Lars Von Trier, the Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke and, certainly, Ken Loach have all won more.

However, with today's announcement of awards at the 66th annual fest, the filmmaker siblings did enter a bit of rare air with their latest film, "Inside Llewyn Davis": Joel Coen joined Haneke and Wim Wenders as the only filmmakers to have netted a Palme d'Or, a Grand Prix and a Best Director award at the festival. A few have won two of the three, from Buñuel to Clouzot* to Antonioni* to Altman (and Malick, too), but only Haneke, Wenders and now Coen have scored the hat trick.

Here's a look back at the Coen brothers' history with Cannes…

Read Full Post
Paulina Rubio

 Paulina Rubio

Credit: Fox

Reality TV Roundup: 'Idol,' 'X Factor,' 'Dancing with the Stars' and more

It's been a busy week, so get all your reality news here, now

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch any competition shows, the latest elimination for each show is probably revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 
Read Full Post
Ramona Singer, Vicki Gunvalson, Porsha Stewart

 Ramona Singer, Vicki Gunvalson and Porsha Stewart of "The Real Housewives" franchise. 

Credit: Bravo

10 Real Housewives' stars who need to go, now

One show in the franchise should fire its entire cast

As new versions of "The Real Housewives" franchise come and go, so do cast members. New cast members bring new perspectives, new clothes and, most importantly, new drama. The problem comes when cast members overstay their welcome.

Read Full Post
<p>Director Abdellatif Kechiche (left) and actors Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux receive the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film&nbsp;Festival.</p>

Director Abdellatif Kechiche (left) and actors Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux receive the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori

'Blue is the Warmest Color' wins Palme d'Or at Cannes, Coens take second place

Spielberg's jury made history by handing top prize to the film's director and stars

CANNES - There were those who suggested that a Cannes jury headed by Steven Spielberg might be responsible for a lot of safe choices, but the Hollywood legend sure proved us wrong. Not only did did he present the Palme d'Or to "Blue is the Warmest Color," Abdellatif Kechiche's edgy, erotic epic about first lesbian love, but he also made history by handing the award jointly to Kechiche and the film's two young stars -- an unprecedented move that brazenly dodges the festival's recent, restrictive rule that the winner of the top prize can't also take an acting award.

Read Full Post
<p>Can &quot;Inside Llewyn Davis'&quot;&nbsp;Oscar Isaac survive the long road of awards season to his first Oscar nomination in January?</p>

Can "Inside Llewyn Davis'" Oscar Isaac survive the long road of awards season to his first Oscar nomination in January?

Credit: AP Photo/Laurent Emmanuel

Did Oscar make a stopover in Cannes this year?

A weak year for awards season on the Croissete

CANNES - The granddaddy of global film festivals has always had an up and down relationship with Oscar. Over the past few years Best Picture nominees such as "Amour," "Midnight in Paris," "The Tree of Life," "Inglorious Basterds," "Babel" and "Up" had their world premiere's on the Croisette. Debuts "The Artist" and "No Country For Old Men" even went on to win the Best Picture prize. Before 2007, however, the pickings were slim for decades. For every "Pulp Fiction" and "Moulin Rouge!" there were multiple years where awards season and Cannes barely intertwined. 2013 looks like something of a mixed bag for films hoping to find recognition from the Academy down the road. Let's take a look at each major category and which contenders emerged from this year's Cannes.

Read Full Post
<p>Can Michael Douglas win Best Actor at Cannes for an Emmy-bound performance?</p>

Can Michael Douglas win Best Actor at Cannes for an Emmy-bound performance?

Credit: HBO

Previewing the Cannes Film Festival awards: What will win, and what should

Who will get the gold from Steven Spielberg and his fellow jurors?

CANNES - I say it every year: trying to predict the Cannes Film Festival awards is a fool's errand. Unlike, say, the Oscars, you aren't making educated guesses about a large, consistent body of voters with plenty of precedent and precursor information to go on. The Cannes jury is tiny, highly idiosyncratic and changes every year; you're effectively trying to read the minds of nine individuals with no voting track record. Who knows whether Nicole Kidman harbors a quiet passion for Mexican new wave cinema, or if Steven Spielberg is an unlikely Jim Jarmusch devotee? Perhaps not even them, until they see the films in question.

Read Full Post
10 Worst Sketches of 'Saturday Night Live' Season 38
Credit: NBC

10 Worst Sketches of 'Saturday Night Live' Season 38

We’ll reveal the ten best next week

With the thirty-eighth season of “Saturday Night Live” in the books, it’s time to look back at the highlights as well as lowlights of the season that was. These represent not just the best/worst sketches, but also moments/trends throughout the season. This should help present a better picture of the show as it recharges its batteries over the summer months. Today, we’ll be looking at the ten worst things about this season. Next week, we’ll look at the ten best.

Check out our picks for the ten worst here:

Read Full Post
<p>Zach Sobiech and Amy Adamle</p>

Zach Sobiech and Amy Adamle

Credit: Ben Garvin/AP

Music Power Rankings: Zach Sobiech, Blake Shelton, and Ray Manzarek

What is Paris Hilton doing on the list?

1.Zach Sobiech: 18-year old Sobiech died this week of cancer, but his legacy has already begun as his video viral sensation, “Clouds,” lands atop the iTunes singles chart and is poised to come onto the Billboard Hot 100 next week.  Better yet: All proceeds go to the cancer research fund started in his name. How soon before the movie about his inspirational life is made?

2. Daft Punk: The French duo makes helmets fashionable as its first album in eight years, “Random Access Memories,” is poised to top 300,000 in the U.S. alone in its first week, as well as top the charts in countries around the world. “Get Lucky” indeed.

3. Blake Shelton: The Voice” coach is the first Oklahoma artist  to organize a benefit for victims of the horrific tornado that destroyed Moore, Ok. last week, while Toby Keith put his boots down in his hometown hours after the disaster. Kudos also to fellow Okie Carrie Underwood, who donated $1 million to the Red Cross. 

4. “American Idol”: In an effort to stave off sinking ratings, the talent contest is contemplating bringing back past finalists, such as Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson as judges. Say what you will about the idea and the show, but it’s the only vocal competition that has actually produced winners whose names we remember.

5. Robin Thicke
: He’s had some kind of resurrection as “Blurred Lines” hits no. 1 on iTunes and sales soar 204% Maybe every video should have naked women... well, the 2% that don’t already.

6. Pharrell: Sure he produces, but his career as a performer is going just fine: He’s the featured artist on Daft Punk’s first top 10, “Get Lucky,” he’s featured on Robin Thicke’s comeback single, “Blurred Lines,” and “Happy,”  his tune from “Despicable Me 2,” will be a major summer jam.

7. Paris Hilton: She signs to Cash Money. Can’t wait for the duet with Nicki Minaj featuring Lil Wayne.

8. Labrinth:
He’s going to be the next big thing as his son with Emile Sande, “Beneath Your Beautiful,” prepares to blow up here as it already has abroad.  Get ready...

9. Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio:
The two become the latest judges to sign on to Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor.”  We’ll see if they fare better than Britney Spears.  If you haven’t been asked to be part of a talent show judging panel yet, raise your hand. No? No one?

10. Ray Manzarek: The Doors’ keyboardist always managed to light our fire, lead our Spanish caravan, be a rider in a storm, steer our crystal ship, until he died this week. The End.

Read Full Post
"Orphan Black"

 "Orphan Black"

Credit: BBC America

'Orphan Black' recap: Is Helena really a threat on 'Unconscious Selection'?

The clones continue to unravel the master plan, as does Detective Bell

One of the best things about "Orphan Black" (and there are many, many good things about this savvy little series) is how meticulous the writers and producers have been about all the little details. As so many of you have commented, when there is a mistake on this show, it's like spotting a Scaly-sided Merganser hanging out by the public pool. It happens, but not all that often, and it really goes to show how carefully constructed this show is. Granted, it has to be. If it wasn't, do you really think any of us would be this excited about clones, a subject that could easily be pure '70s retro kitsch?

Read Full Post
<p>Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in &quot;Blue is the Warmest Color.&quot;</p>

Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in "Blue is the Warmest Color."

Credit: Sundance Selects

Early Cannes awards for 'Blue is the Warmest Color,' 'The Past,' 'Fruitvale Station'

Cambodian film 'The Missing Picture' wins Un Certain Regard section

CANNES - With screenings having wrapped here at the Cannes Film Festival, all eyes are on tomorrow's big awards. I'll preview those in the morning, but in the meantime, we received the first Competition bellwether in the form of the FIPRESCI Critics' prize, which went to Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour lesbian romantic drama "Blue is the Warmest Color" -- currently the bookies' favorite for the Palme d'Or.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME