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With 'To the Wonder' on the way, the top 10 performances in Terrence Malick films

With 'To the Wonder' on the way, the top 10 performances in Terrence Malick films

Rarely viewed as an 'actor's director,' Malick has nevertheless brought out some great work

This article first appeared in part at InContention.com on May 24, 2011. It seemed like a good time to re-purpose it for new readers here at HitFix with the release of "To the Wonder" on the horizon.

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<p>Jack&nbsp;Black in &quot;The&nbsp;School of Rock&quot;</p>

Jack Black in "The School of Rock"

Credit: Paramount

Andrew Lloyd Webber will raise his goblet of rock with 'School of Rock' stage adaptation

He recently revealed he's acquired the rights to Richard Linklater's 2003 comedy

Richard Linklater's "The School of Rock" was one of the best films of 2003. That opinion seemed odd to many at the time -- it's one of the handful of latter year declarations I've made that just didn't go down easily for some -- but I stand by it. It's a brilliant screenplay with a top notch movie star performance and it's a thematically resonant piece of work.

Apparently legendary musical theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber is of a similar mind, as he's snatched up the stage rights to the 2003 comedy. The news apparently came via CBC radio as Webber said he was very excited to tackle the project.

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<p>A scene from &quot;La Grande Bellezza.&quot;</p>

A scene from "La Grande Bellezza."

Credit: Medusa Film

Another Cannes taster in first look at Paolo Sorrentino's 'La Grande Bellezza'

Trailer promises a new stylistic direction from the Italian virtuoso

Slowly but surely, the trailers for this year's (probable) Cannes selections are trickling in: we had "The Bling Ring" recently, "Only God Forgives" last week, "The Past" over the weekend and "Behind the Candelabra" yesterday. Today's Cannes taster isn't quite as eagerly anticipated, but it's for a film that is very likely to be in Competition: Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino's "La Grande Bellazza."

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Avril Lavigne's new song: 'Here's To Never Growing Up': Review

Avril Lavigne's new song: 'Here's To Never Growing Up': Review

Watch the fan-made lyric video

Avril Lavigne’s new single, “Here’s To Never Growing Up” may reference Radiohead in its first line, but the act it most recalls is Ke$ha. The sing-songy track, built around a big, kick-drum stomp, sounds like a cross between the “Tik-Tok” singer and the arena hands-in-the-air, acoustic-guitar-strumming, simple-minded tunes crafted by Nickelback’s leader, Chad Kroeger, who just happens to be a co-writer on the song and Lavigne’s fiance. Throw in a little dose of "Girlfriend's" attitude and call it a day.

With lines like “we’ll be running down the street yelling  kiss my HEY/We’ll be like, 'yeah, whatever,' we’re still living like that,” the song is an aptly-titled salute to staying forever young (so much so that one cover of the single features Lavigne holding a teddy bear).

Lavigne has always had an annoyingly mannered delivery, but it reaches new heights on “Growing Up,”  “boom” sounds like “bim,” and when she sings, “This is who we are,” you’ll swear you fell into a vat of  Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga in &quot;Bates Motel.&quot;</p>

Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga in "Bates Motel."

Credit: A&E

Review: 'Bates Motel' - 'Trust Me'

Norman gets to know Deputy Shelby, and an incriminating piece of evidence turns up

A review of last night's "Bates Motel" coming up just as soon as I think you're pretty like an old woman...

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Were secrets revealed in 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' reunion?

Did this clip-heavy reunion deliver the goods?

While this is technically a piece of the multi-part reunion for this season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," this mish-mash is half clip job, half reunion and mostly a mess. Jumping from past to present, battle to battle and from silly to unspeakably sad, this one is sure to hurt your head. And even though this is the "Secrets Revealed" episode, there weren't so many secrets. But there are a few takeaways from this episode, and none of them revolve around Alexia learning to drive. So you can fast forward through that insanely boring segment. You're welcome. 

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<p>Pitbull and Tim McGraw perform at ACM&nbsp;Presents:&nbsp;Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night in Las Vegas Monday night.</p>

Pitbull and Tim McGraw perform at ACM Presents: Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night in Las Vegas Monday night.

Credit: Ap Photo/Al Powers

We take you to the taping of Tim McGraw's upcoming TV special

Get the scoop weeks before you can see it on TV

LAS VEGAS - For the past four years, the Academy of Country Music has taken advantage of having a flotilla of country artists in Las Vegas for the annual ACM Awards to tape a special the following night that airs several weeks later.

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<p>Valorie Curry of &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Valorie Curry of "The Following"

Credit: Barbara Nitke/FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'The Curse'

A familiar face returns, the FBI gets closer and Claire confronts Emma

To quote "The Curse": "???????????????????????????"

 
In all seriousness, "The Curse" is one of "The Following"'s better episodes, but I have to agree with Claire -- Joe's writing is atrocious. If it weren't for that little aside in tonight's episode, I'd question the writers' decision to include the manuscript. Well, okay. I question it anyway. But I question it a little less now that I know at least Claire hates Joe's work, too.
 
"The Curse" is clearly one of the few episodes in "The Following's" arc that was planned out right from the start -- I feel like we've been waiting for this episode for weeks now, slogging through a few filler episodes that crammed in a kink club and a few more dead women for no clear reason. By comparison to those catastrophes "The Curse" is downright masterful -- thematically consistent and even compelling, at times. For once, it feels like things are happening -- plot devices that seem to push forward the creepiness, rather than continue treading water with empty horror and needless gore.
 
Nothing is very creepy, of course. But the episode is playing with a few of the major characters' morality, revealing some of the tension between good and evil that drives the characters forward. I'm not convinced that a morality tale is really the best way to move forward a suspenseful plot, but it provides an avenue for the killers to get inside our heads, with their twisted logic. It also gives the killers to get a chance inside Ryan Hardy's head, who is our Everyman stand-in, more or less.
 
The terrible book Joe is writing is his attempt to finish the chapter of the story with Ryan Hardy. But dude, Joe is stuck. He has writer's block. Murderer-writer's block. Because Ryan, his main character, is a dark, twisted personality whose motivations are very difficult to determine, apparently. I really did like how this storyline ended up, but I have to call shenanigans on the idea that Ryan is all that difficult to figure out. Joe already knows about his survivor's guilt, and he has all kinds of intelligence from Molly, the nurse that sleeps with Ryan.
 
According to the exposition, though, Joe is unraveling. Along with the writers' block, his followers are not as reliable as they were when they started out. Roderick is a wildcard, motivated by… something… to be randomly murderous and vicious; and as the FBI inches closer to finding the cult, Roderick's weaknesses as a manager and the cult's (obvious) vulnerability as a target are becoming more important. Joe's not in a very good mood much of the time lately, and that apparently leads him to do something drastic -- to go out in public himself to lock down the leak. (I have to say, the subplot this week about how exactly the FBI gets into the same space as the killers is very hard to follow. There's a lot of running around in abandoned hallways, but more than that, I can't tell you. Fortunately, it doesn't matter much.)
 
The climax of "The Curse" is two separate but simultaneous confrontations -- Jacob with Agent Parker, and Joe with Ryan, over a gagged and bound Agent Weston. It's the type of showdown we've seen on television before, but I liked that both conversations are mini-dramas themselves, where each character is trying to manipulate the other. Ryan's trying to draw out Joe to protect Mike, and Joe is trying to goad Ryan into admitting more details of his particular version of survivor's guilt. Parker is trying to wheedle some humanity out of Jacob, and Jacob is trying to convince her that she's in real danger.
 
"The Following" wants to be a show that plays with morality. It's not subtle enough to get into the nuances of life and death, good and evil -- but what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for with shlocky exposition and sound effects, which you know, can work if you're in the right mindset. I didn't love the flashback to Ryan's father's death, but I like knowing that he killed a guy with heroin as a teenager, because that's kind of interesting. My problem is that it's hard to get into this morally gray area when the "bad" characters who you are supposed to be interested in and sympathetic to act like they are unhinged, alien, or psychotic. This isn't a war between good and evil, this is a battle between the clinically insane and the slightly less crazy.  If "The Following" can sort out who its evil characters are supposed to be, it might have a shot at getting coherent before the end of the season.
 
This is most obvious with Joe, who is the most inconsistently written character on the show. He's by turns calculating, genius, ruthless, sympathetic, and loving. I think the idea is that because James Purefoy is a recognized actor, those hiccups will work themselves out. But lately it seems like Joe is just a random series of traits strung together. Who would have guessed that the misogynist murderer from the pilot would be writing a really bad book as a way to carry out his nefarious plan? It doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?
 
Still, I'm taking a feather from David Sims at The A.V. Club and trying to keep a sense of humor in mind. Because as the season draws to a close, the ridiculous elements of "The Following" are getting more and more hilarious. Random, overwrought hooking up between Joe and Emma? Yes! Fistfight between Emma and Claire because Emma wants to be "friends"? Excellent! Jacob tearfully calling his dad? Awesome! Roderick wearing his uniform all the time for no reason? Why not?! The laughs just keep coming.
 
Odds and Ends:
 
*** Is it just me, or is Agent Weston way unstable after coming out of the hospital?
 
*** Agent Parker is still the only character who feels real and relatable to me. And even she has some hilarious lines in this episode, like "I once got hit in the face with a bat and it hurt, dude, it hurt." Okay, that wasn't a real quote. But you get the idea.
 
*** I hear a heroin overdose is not such a bad way to die.
 
What do you think? Are Ryan and Joe both motivated by death? And if so, do you care?
 
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<p>Henry Cavill's debut as one of the most iconic characters in pop culture arrives in theaters in June, and the first TV&nbsp;spots for 'Man Of Steel' are starting to show up online.</p>

Henry Cavill's debut as one of the most iconic characters in pop culture arrives in theaters in June, and the first TV spots for 'Man Of Steel' are starting to show up online.

Credit: Warner Bros.

A restrained TV spot for 'Man Of Steel' appears during the NCAA Championship

Why doesn't Warner Bros. show us the action?

The most frequent question I heard from those of you who stopped me at WonderCon or who sent me e-mails in the days after the event was "Why didn't Warner Bros. show new 'Man Of Steel' footage during the panel?"

Obviously, Warner Bros. marketing doesn't run their decision-making by me for approval, so I can't answer that question conclusively. I can, however, guess based on the reactions I've heard from people who have seen Zack Snyder's Superman movie, and it seems to me that Warner Bros. didn't bring new footage to screen because, frankly, they don't have to.

The most dangerous thing to do with a giant blockbuster in today's media landscape is to jam it down the throat of the audience to the point where they learn to hate the film before they ever lay eyes on it. Sometimes, it's the only option that the studio has, and when they know a movie doesn't work, that's when they kick into overdrive. When a movie has a pre-release awareness as automatic as a new Superman movie and they feel like the film completely works, that's when they get to lay back a bit and let the actual anticipation of the audience do the work for them.

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Kristen Stewart, 'Terminator 2,' Jim Carrey: 10 fun facts about the MTV Movie Awards

Kristen Stewart, 'Terminator 2,' Jim Carrey: 10 fun facts about the MTV Movie Awards

The 22nd annual show is set for April 14

The MTV Movie Awards are coming up this weekend (April 14), and the slate of nominees wasn't as terrible as it has been in recent years, so it might actually be a fun watch. Last year I went back in time for a retrospective on the inaugural edition from 1992, and I plan to go back to the 1993 awards in an upcoming piece. In the meantime, here's something different.

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<p>Matt Damon plays a sick man desperate to make it to an off-world space station where he can be cured in Neill Blomkamp's new science-fiction action film 'Elysium'</p>

Matt Damon plays a sick man desperate to make it to an off-world space station where he can be cured in Neill Blomkamp's new science-fiction action film 'Elysium'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Neill Blomkamp unveils new footage from the Matt Damon science-fiction film 'Elysium'

The 'District 9' director discusses his new big idea and how he put it together

Sony Pictures held an event today in Hollywood to introduce new footage from Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium," the first film from the acclaimed science-fiction director since his breakthrough debut, "District 9." Ralph Garman moderated the event, which featured in-theater appearances by Blomkamp, actor Sharlto Copley, and producer Simon Kinberg. The star of the film, Matt Damon, is in Germany right now shooting the movie "Monuments Men," and so he was patched in via satellite from a theater in Berlin. The new trailer, which arrives online tomorrow, was the first thing shown, and then there was a ten-minute reel prepared specifically for the event. At the end of the footage, Garman asked Damon what he thought of what he saw. Damon waited for the satellite delay, then answered, "Well, we're in Berlin watching it, so I have to say that I'm impressed. My German was flawless."

It's fitting that the event was staged on an international scale, since the movie was an international affair. The film is a very immediate science-fiction metaphor that deals with the real-world divisions between the haves and the have-nots right now, and in order to create a stark difference between the perfect world of the Elysium space station and the left-behind slum that is the Earth, Blomkamp shot the Earth footage in Mexico City, and everything on Elysium in Vancouver. He did his best two treat the two parts of the production as totally independent units, and it pays off in the visual contrast we saw even in the ten minutes of footage they showed us.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 176: 'Mad Men,' 'Da Vinci's Demons,' 'Nurse Jackie,' 'Veep & more

Dan and Alan also break down the finales for 'Justified' & 'Shameless'

The

I had to rush out on the end of today's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, and yet we still wound up talking for over 90 minutes, thanks to a dense "Mad Men" premiere, a pair of notable finales and three premieres. And we didn't even talk at all about Roger Ebert, which was a giant failure on our parts, and something we can hopefully rectify in next week's podcast — though it's not clear what day that will be published on, depending on Dan's travel schedule. The lineup:

"Da Vinci's Demons" (00:01:10 - 00:18:00)
"Nurse Jackie" (00:18:15 - 00:28:45)
"Veep" (00:28:50 - 00:36:05)
"Justified" finale (00:36:40 - 00:48:35)
"Shameless" finale (00:48:40 - 01:03:30)
"Mad Men" (01:03:30 - 01:31:55)

 

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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