Latest Blog Posts

<p>Cherien Dabis in &quot;May in the Summer.&quot;</p>

Cherien Dabis in "May in the Summer."

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: Exotic locale for a familiar family melodrama in 'May in the Summer'

Cherien Dabis's film kicks off the U.S. Dramatic competition at Sundance

PARK CITY - If the wedding really is, as certain excitable liberal types will tell you, a fusty tradition increasingly headed for social obsolescence, the movies will hear none of it. Whether in broad Hollywood comedy or finely etched indies, screenwriters seem continually drawn to the tidy structural tension and compressed human emotions brought about by impending nuptials -- as airtight a dramatic excuse as any to combine characters who wouldn't, or shouldn't, ordinarily spend much time together.

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<p>Lisa Fischer in a moment from &quot;Twenty Feet From Stardom.&quot;</p>

Lisa Fischer in a moment from "Twenty Feet From Stardom."

Review: Spectacular 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' showcases music's unheralded voices

A superb doc that not only educates, but completely entertains

PARK CITY - They are the voices in the chorus. That extra kick that turns a solid song into a massive hit. They are the background singers who transformed the music industry in the '60s and '70s often to the detriment of their own solo careers. Finally, these legendary artists step into the spotlight in Morgan Neville's entertaining and enlightening documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom" which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on Thursday night.

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<p>Michael Cera takes a psychedelic trip to Chile in the subtle, affecting 'Crystal Fairy &amp;&nbsp;The Magic Cactus And 2012,' one of the opening night films at the 2013 Sundance Film&nbsp;Festival</p>

Michael Cera takes a psychedelic trip to Chile in the subtle, affecting 'Crystal Fairy & The Magic Cactus And 2012,' one of the opening night films at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: Michael Cera stars in the gentle, sincere mescaline-soaked road trip 'Crystal Fairy'

Sundance opens in a minor key that offers some subtle but genuine insights

PARK CITY - Movies about drug experiences are, in general, a very strange type of film.  They are either movies like the Oliver Stone school of thought, where a filmmaker uses every technique and effect possible to try to reproduce the sensation of being on a drug, visually and aurally, or they are films where we are watching characters deal with the sensations, more external experiences, and in art as in life, it can be incredibly dull to watch someone else drink or smoke or trip.

"Crystal Fairy & The Magic Cactus And 2012" tells the story of a young American named Jamie who is living in Chile for a while, desperate for experience, open to pretty much anything he can get his hand on.  Michael Cera is perfectly cast in the role, and this is a lovely, nuanced turn from him.  As the film opens, he's at a party with his friend Champa, played by Juan Andrea Silva, and Jamie's one of those guys who has decided that taking drugs is his thing.  He's read Aldous Huxley.  He's read some Terrence McKenna.  He's ready to have his heroic experiences, and so he's pretty much always saying yes.  He smokes some weed, tries some coke, drinks whatever's being served, and he and Champa are planning a trip to the beach, where they are going to prepare some San Pedro cactus and take a mescaline trip.  There's a sort of young-man's urgency to the way Jamie tries things.  He's looking for that moment where taking these drugs is more than a diversion, where it actually changes him.  He wants to be transformed.  He's ready to be the person who can speak about these things with authority instead of the person reading about the ones who have already done it.

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<p>&quot;Who Is Dayani Cristal?&quot;</p>

"Who Is Dayani Cristal?"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'Who Is Dayani Cristal?' strands Gael Garcia Bernal in the desert

Beautifully shot border documentary has key structural flaws
From Rory Kennedy's documentary short "The Fence" to Cary Fukunaga's bracing-yet-lyrical "Sin Nombre," the border experience and America's immigration failures have been reliable Sundance staples in recent years, so it was fitting to have Marc Silver and Gael Garcia Bernal's "Who Is Dayani Cristal?" kicking off the 2013 Festival on Thursday (January 17) night.
 
"Who Is Dayani Cristal?" takes the familiar backdrop and attempts to present it in a complicated way, creating a well-intentioned documentary that makes admirable intellectual sense on paper, but becomes an occasional semiotic nightmare in execution. 
 
On one hand, had this been yet another straight-ahead story about "The Corridor of Death" in the Arizona desert across the Mexican border, I'd have probably complained at its lack of inspiration. On the other hand, if the inspiration becomes frustrating and obfuscating more than illuminating... Well, that's a struggle. 
 
More after the break on "Who Is Dayani Cristal?," which is playing in the World Documentary Competition at Sundance...
 
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"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

'The Vampire Diaries' recap: 'After School Special'

Shocking information is revealed in Mystic Falls

Before we get started, I'm assuming all of you have read about the "Vampire Diaries" spin-off? If not, just skip the following paragraph. I can't really say there are spoilers, because we know very little about the show. But if you watch "The Vampire Diaries," it's hard not to come to certain conclusions about how it might impact the original, no pun intended.

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"Project Runway All Stars"

 "Project Runway All Stars"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway: All Stars' recap: Finale: Go Big or Go Home'

Anthony Ryan, Emilio and Uli battle for the title of All-Star winner

Before we start, a heads-up -- I will be interviewing the winner, whoever that may be, tomorrow morning. So keep your eyes peeled! Will post as soon as I'm able, promise. 

Uli, Emilio and Anthony Ryan are our final three, and they'll have to create a mini-collection for a runway show. And they have to create a theme, music, all that stuff. But they have $3,000 and have the night to think about it. Enjoy the sleeplessness, finalists! 

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<p>DJ&nbsp;Qualls, Dan Bakkedahl and Jim Jefferies in &quot;Legit.&quot;</p>

DJ Qualls, Dan Bakkedahl and Jim Jefferies in "Legit."

Credit: FX

'Legit' - 'Pilot': DJ Qualls takes another road trip

What did everybody think of the new FX comedy with Jim Jefferies?

I published my review of FX's "Legit" yesterday. Now it's your turn. What did everybody else think of the new comedy? If you were previously a Jim Jefferies fan, did this feel true to his stand-up persona? If he's new to you, what did you think of the guy? Did you like the visit to the whorehouse or find the whole thing uncomfortable? Did this show make better use of Mumford and Sons' "The Cave" then "Lone Star" did a couple of years ago? (UPDATE: Never mind on that; they dumped "The Cave" at last minute for a fun. song instead.) And will you watch again?

Have at it.

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<p>Archer and Lana in a scene from the season premiere.</p>

Archer and Lana in a scene from the season premiere.

Credit: FX

Season premiere review: 'Archer' - 'Fugue and Riffs'

Archer gets amnesia, and winds up in a place familiar to TV animation fans

A quick review of the "Archer" season premiere coming up just as soon as I ease you into a gimp suit...

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<p>Chris Pratt and the rest of the &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot;&nbsp;men got to play on the Colts field.</p>

Chris Pratt and the rest of the "Parks and Recreation" men got to play on the Colts field.

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Two Parties'

Ben and Leslie have very different bachelor and bachelorette parties

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I'm nationally ranked in Settlers of Catan...

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<p>Carrie Underwood</p>

Carrie Underwood

Credit: Jeff Bottari/Invision/AP

Carrie Underwood added to Grammy Award performers

She joins Taylor Swift, Mumford & Sons and the Black Keys for the Feb. 10 show

Carrie Underwood joins the growing list of performers set to appear at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.

Underwood revealed the news to “Entertainment Tonight.” She joined previously announced performers (and nominees) fun., Mumford & Sons, the Black Keys, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift.  Underwood is up for best country solo performance, while her hit, "Blown Away," is up for best country song for songwriters Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins.

Though the Grammys haven’t officially announced it, it looks like LL Cool J will return as host. He was front and center during the Grammy panel at TCA.

The Grammys will air Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. A one-hour documentary about the making of last year's show, which took place the day after Whitney Houston's death, will air on Feb. 9.



 

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<p>Paul Dano</p>

Paul Dano

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Paul Dano set to play Brian Wilson in Beach Boy's life story

Atticus Ross in discussions to score the film

Paul Dano will play the young Brian Wilson in “Love & Mercy,” a movie about the pivotal moments in the Beach Boy’s career.

Academy Award-nominated producer Bill Pohlad will direct the story. He shies away from calling it a biopic. Instead, a statement about the film says it will “take an unconventional look at seminal moments in Wilson’s life, his artistic genius, his profound struggles, and the love that kept him alive.”

Wilson posted the announcement on his Facebook page with the declaration, “I am thrilled.”  “I still can’t believe how cool it is that my life will be portrayed on th big screen and to have Bill Pohlad as the captain of the Sloop John B is amazing. It just makes me feel so humble. I can’t wait to see it with a full tub of buttered popcorn.”

No casting other than Dano has been announced. Another actor will portray the older Wilson.

Atticus Ross, who won an Academy Award for scoring "The Social Network" with Trent Reznor, is in talks with Pohlad to score the film. Interestingly, the release says the movie will include “the music of Brian Wilson.” What’s unclear is if Mike Love and Wilson’s other co-writers have signed off on their music being used in the film.

River Road Entertainment and John Wells Productions are producing the film.

"Love & Mercy" takes its title from a song on Wilson's self-titled 1988 debut solo album.

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"American Idol"

 "American Idol"

Credit: Fox

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Live-Blog - Chicago Auditions

Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj take their ongoing squabble to a new locale

Yet again, I do want to reassure everyone that Dan is fine. He will be back to recap "American Idol" very soon, and he's just asked me to help out this week and next week, as he's very busy in Park City, Utah. I do hope he gets to see some of these early episodes, though, just so I know I'm not hallucinating these Mariah vs. Nicki encounters, which don't always make much sense (I blame editing) but thankfully don't seem too heated. Yet. 

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