Latest Blog Posts

<p>Dermot Mulroney in &quot;The Rambler&quot;</p>

Dermot Mulroney in "The Rambler"

Credit: Anchor Bay Films

Weinstein, Anchor Bay strike first on Sundance acquistions

'Twenty Feet From Stardom' and 'The Rambler' find homes

PARK CITY - Sundance is well under way and on opening day, acquisitions had already been announced.

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<p>&quot;The World According to Dick Cheney&quot;</p>

"The World According to Dick Cheney"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'The World According to Dick Cheney' offers no apologies

R.J. Cutler doc will premiere on Showtime this spring
I watched "The World According to Dick Cheney" last week to talk with director R.J. Cutler about the doc, which is set to air on Showtime in March.
 
I found the film to be informative and compulsively infuriating in intriguing ways. And in the 15 minutes I chatted with Cutler -- that interview will run closer to the Showtime premiere -- it became very, very, very clear that the fascination I felt with "The World According to Dick Cheney" wasn't, in any particular way, in synch with Cutler's perception of his own movie. This doesn't bother me. An artist creates work and puts it out there for interpretation. I've often interviewed filmmakers about projects I actively disliked and that they thought were brilliant, or at least they professed to at the time. This isn't that sort of thing. In fact, I mostly mention the discordance here because it's somewhat less frequent that I get into disagreements with filmmakers over the nature of something that I quite liked.
 
Realistically, "The World According to Dick Cheney" is, as you might guess, designed to be a litmus test sorta movie and many reactions are going to hinge on your position on the political spectrum and your interpretation of what Cutler was or wasn't able to get from Dick Cheney. 
 
I rewatched "The World According to Dick Cheney" at its premiere on Friday (January 19) afternoon at the Sundance Film Festival and even watching with Cutler's words in my head -- not necessarily something a critic should normally try to do -- I came away with my opinion -- still positive -- and my perception still intact.
 
Your perception, like R.J. Cutler's perception, may vary. [Note that Greg Finton is also credited as director on "The World According to Dick Cheney," though it's still called "an R.J. Cutler film."]
 
Full review after the break...
 
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<p>I&nbsp;know the feeling.</p>

I know the feeling.

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: 'Escape From Tomorrow' is a surrealist treat that will give Disney's lawyers nightmares

One-of-a-kind film screens as part of the Sundance NEXT category

PARK CITY - Probably a half-hour into "Escape From Tomorrow," I turned to William Goss, another critic who was at the screening with me, and whispered, "How does this exist?"

Perhaps the most unusual thing I've ever seen at a film festival, "Escape From Tomorrow" is a slow descent into madness, told from the perspective of a father who finds out that he has lost his job on the final morning of a family vacation.  As he spends the day with his family, trying to make them happy, his grip on reality seems to come gradually unhinged, leading to… well, I'm not sure I could describe what it leads to even if it weren't a spoiler.  Shot in black-and-white, the film has a strange disassociated vibe to the storytelling, and writer/director Randy Moore has a very clear authorial voice.  It is not an understatement to say that it is one of the most unsettling things I've experienced in a theater in quite a while, and part of that is because, even now, even after seeing the Q&A with Moore, even after talking it over with Goss while we ate dinner, even after going over it in my head, I still don't fully understand what I just saw.

All I know is Walt Disney's lawyers are probably climbing onto helicopters and planning a raid on Park City right now.

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Joshua Jackson in tonight's "Fringe"

Joshua Jackson in tonight's "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'Liberty'/'An Enemy Of Fate'

The show wraps up its five-year run.

“It’s not about fate…it’s about changing fate. It’s about hope. And protecting our children.” September, to Walter Bishop

Here we are, at the end of the “Fringe” journey. It started with a mysterious incident on a plane and ended with a white tulip addressed to Peter Bishop. In between were some of the loveliest, most evocative, most affecting (as well as effective) genre storytelling on television in recent memory. It was far from a perfect show, as even the hardiest of fans would agree. But when it worked, it worked like gangbusters, and there was nothing else like it. Considering how downright strange, how openly earnest, and how narratively demanding it was, it’s no hyperbole to say that television as a whole was better for having “Fringe” in its ecosphere.
 
But it’s unfortunately also not hyperbole to say that tonight’s final two episodes proved this fifth and final season to be a huge misstep.
 
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<p>'Austenland'</p>

'Austenland'

Credit: Fickle Fish Films/Moxie Pictures

Review: Keri Russell and Jennifer Coolidge charm in potential breakout hit 'Austenland'

Who knew Bret McKenzie had a romantic leading man in him?

PARK CITY - As a movie pitch "Austenland" seems like a no-brainer. A devoted and sadly single Jane Austen fan (appropriately named Jane and played by Keri Russell) decides to spend her life savings to visit Austenland, an immersive vacation resort which promise her a personal Mr. Darcy experience. Of course, nothing goes as planned, but our heroine still finds love where she wouldn't have expected it. Throw in some quirky British characters trying to pull off the 19th Century in the 21st Century and you have numerous comedic opportunities.  Based on the novel by Shannon Hale and co-produced by Stephenie Meyer, Jerusha Hess' "Austenland" should quickly evoke a bidding war that will make the numerous studios regret passing on the first time around.

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<p>Amari Cheatom and Trae Harris co-star in the stoner relationship comedy 'Newlyweeds' at this year's Sundance Film&nbsp;Festival</p>

Amari Cheatom and Trae Harris co-star in the stoner relationship comedy 'Newlyweeds' at this year's Sundance Film Festival

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: 'Newlyweeds' is a stoner's riff on the romantic comedy, but how potent is it?

An unven feature debut by Shaka King features some strong performances

PARK CITY - So far, Sundance has managed to get me ruminating on my own personal career of chemical misadventures, purely by coincidence.  Last night's film, "Crystal Fairy & The Magic Cactus and 2012," had me thinking about what it is that draws us to the extreme experiences, the personal tests that we sometimes impose on ourselves out of a drive to see if we are strong enough to handle them, and this morning's movie, "Newlyweeds," left me reflecting on the way certain relationships in my own life were defined by what substance I had in common with someone.

Shaka King's debut feature, "Newlyweeds" examines the dynamic between Lyle (Amari Cheatom) and Nina (Trae Harris), a young couple who have a mutual love of smoking marijuana.  Lyle works as a repo man for a rent-to-own company, and Nina gives museum tours, and the two of them are full of dreams and seem perfectly matched as the film begins.  There are many things to like about the way the film unfolds, and for about an hour of the running time, it seems like it works well.  Cheatom and Harris do a nice job of playing the couple, and Tone Trank also displays real charisma as Jackie, who is Lyle's partner at work.  For a while, there's an aimless quality to the film that works in its favor.  We see how Lyle and Jackie have to find ways to get into the apartments where they're supposed to repossess things, and we see how the weed manages to both bring Lyle and Nina closer together at times while also introducing real problems into their relationship.  It's great to have someone to smoke with at the end of a day when you're relaxing, someone who is on the same wavelength as you are, but when that person ends up smoking an entire eighth while you're at work and they're unwilling or unable to replace it, the strain it causes is very particular and not really like a normal relationship issue.

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Bruno Mars' 'Locked Out Of Heaven' remix by M Machine

Would you like a little dubstep with that?

Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” has taken up residency at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and now he’s going for club domination.

Check out this dubstep remix of the tune by M Machine. The trio’s version is on “Jukebox,” an album featuring remixes of tunes from Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox.” The remix set comes out Tuesday (21), according to Rolling Stone.  Listen to it here.

How do you like it? It adds a nice dimension to the song, but being a pop baby myself, i still prefer the original. This version takes out some of the giddiness out and eliminates Mars’ infectious “Woah, woah, woahs,” but it has a great peppy section around 2:40. Plus, it has "beep beeps." Still, I give the advantage to Mars.

M Machine’s new EP, “Metropolis Pt. Two,” drops Feb. 19 on Skrillex’s label, OWSLA.

 

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<p>James Purefoy and Kevin Bacon in &quot;The Following.&quot;</p>

James Purefoy and Kevin Bacon in "The Following."

Credit: FOX

Review: FOX's 'The Following' an empty horror exercise

Kevin Bacon chases a charismatic but cliched serial killer in new drama from Kevin Williamson

Kevin Williamson has forgotten more about horror than I'll ever learn. His scripts for both the big screen ("I Know What You Did Last Summer") and small ("Dawson's Creek") are overflowing with a love of popular culture and horror stories in particular. His movie debut, 1996's "Scream," breathed new life into a thoroughly played-out genre by making a slasher movie where all the characters were aware they were in a slasher movie, and of the rules that govern such a story.

His new FOX drama "The Following" (it debuts Monday night at 9) is informed by Williamson's devotion to another kind of horror story: tales of charismatic, omniscient serial killers, particularly as popularized by "Silence of the Lambs" and the other Hannibal Lecter films. But here, the tone is deadly serious throughout. It's a series riddled with clichés, but without anyone to point them out along the way.

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Watch: DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, T.I. and Future go looking for fun in 'Bottles' video

Watch: DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, T.I. and Future go looking for fun in 'Bottles' video

The women are hot and the liquor is cold in predictable, boring video

Let’s see if I have this right: a woman is  basically an object that you order just like a drink. in the new video for  DJ Khaled’s  “Bitches & Bottles (Let’s Get It Started)”  featuring T.I., Lil Wayne, and Future, they are ordering “bitches and bottles” and if they — the girls, not the bottles— aren’t pretty they’ll send them back (yeah, because these dudes are so hot).

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking in Winston-Salem, North Carolina</p>

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Credit: UNCSA

UNCSA film school graduates out in force at Sundance 2013

Alumni across the board credit a college-born spirit of camaraderie

PARK CITY - Sometimes things dovetail nicely and come full circle. As a University of North Carolina School of the Arts alumnus, I'm always interested to see how my former classmates and fellow Fighting Pickles are finding their way in the film industry, and a quick glance at this year's Sundance line-up revealed that, across a number of disciplines, the Winston-Salem-based school's afterglow is in full force. It seemed a story was worth pursuing. So I pursued it.

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<p>Tom Morello</p>

Tom Morello

Credit: Nightwatchmanmusic.com

Tom Morello to replace Steven Van Zandt on Australian Bruce Springsteen tour

Rage Against the Machine guitarist will be honorary E Street Band member

Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello will take Steve Van Zandt’s place in the E Street Band for Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming Australian tour.

Van Zandt will be busy filming his Netflix series “Lilyhammer.” Appropriately enough, he will rejoin the band on April 29, when the band plays Oslo, Norway.

As fans know, Morello is an honorary member of the E Street Band already. Since 2007, he has routinely joined the group on stage during Southern California appearances for a spirited version “The Ghost Of Tom Joad,” as well as other tunes.

The Australian tour begins March 14 in Brisbane and concludes March 31 in Macedon.

Before then, Morello will pay tribute, along with such artists as Tim McGraw, Natalie Maines, Alabama Shakes, and Mumford & Sons, to the Boss when he is honored at MusiCares, Feb. 8.

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Anthony Ryan Auld

 Anthony Ryan Auld

Credit: Lifetime

Interview: 'Project Runway''s Anthony Ryan Auld is one 'smart cookie'

The Baton Rouge designer explains why his BFF Josh couldn't pitch in

 

As promised (and hopefully this isn't a huge spoiler for anyone), I interviewed this season's "Project Runway All Stars" winner Anthony Ryan Auld today. It's always a relief to find that someone who seems personable and chatty on reality TV (which, given the sleep deprivation and stress, is not so easy to pull off) is just as friendly over the phone. Auld, who called from his Baton Rouge home, talked about what's next, what he thought of the other finalists, and what was really going on when his BFF Josh McKinley refused to help him in the finale. 

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