Latest Blog Posts

<p>Arnold is, indeed, back.</p>

Arnold is, indeed, back.

Credit: Lionsgate

Review: Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Last Stand' delivers big action fun

Acclaimed Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon makes a strong US debut

There are very few actors who could walk away from the world of film for a decade and expect to be welcomed back by an audience, but Arnold Schwarzenegger has made a career out of defying the odds.  No one would have expected that a muscle-bound Austrian with a thick accent would be able to carve out a successful career starring in not only action films but comedies as well.  No one would have believed that America would embrace an action icon with the last name "Schwarzenegger."  And now, he manages another truly astonishing feat, returning to the world of movies after his time spent as the Governor of California, and to complicate things, he did it in a really good movie.

I am amazed that "The Last Stand" is as fun as it is, but I shouldn't be.  After all, it's directed by one of the few filmmakers to place not one but two films on my end-of-the-year top ten lists in the last decade.  Kim Jee-woon has more than proven himself as a significant voice in Korean cinema with movies like "The Foul King," "A Tale Of Two Sisters," and "A Bittersweet Life," but it was the back-to-back punch of "The Good, The Bad and the Weird" and "I Saw The Devil" that convinced me that he is an important voice in genre film.  He has a remarkable gift for staging action sequences, and he has a knack for building in all sorts of surprises into each sequence.  I honestly believe we'll be discussing his work for as long as I'm writing about film, and now we'll be able to add a chapter to that conversation in which we talk about how he snuck into the American system making a better-than-it-should-be Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie.

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: Week two and the claws come out

The women pull off the gloves as they show their true selves - but not to Sean

Oh boy! It's week two of "The Bachelor," and you now what that means -- this is the week the women turn on one another! I could rattle on about how limited resources in a confined space tend to bring out a primitive, competitive urge in people, and how this artificial dating pressure cooker has transformed a decent guy into a demigod and otherwise normal women into psychotic monsters. I could, but what fun would that be? Bring on the crazy!

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<p>Julia Goldani Telles and Sutton Foster in &quot;Bunheads.&quot;</p>

Julia Goldani Telles and Sutton Foster in "Bunheads."

Credit: ABC Family

Review: 'Bunheads' - 'Channing Tatum is a Fine Actor'

Carl and Boo meet the parents, and Truly's store gets a new location

A quick review of tonight's "Bunheads" coming up just as soon as I shave above my knees...

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<p>Shirley MacLaine of &quot;Downton Abbey&quot;</p>

Shirley MacLaine of "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

Press Tour: PBS chief addresses 'Downton Abbey' airing delays, Kevin Clash fall-out

Will 'Downton' ever air day-and-date with The UK?
PASADENA, CA. - After 10 days of network and TV panels at the Television Critics Association press tour, Monday (January 14) marked the beginning of PBS' presentation time, with PBS President Paula Kerger addressing big news like the "Downton Abbey" premiere schedule and the fall controversy involving departed "Sesame Street" star Kevin Clash.
 
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Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake
Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

How is Justin Timberlake's new song 'Suit & Tie' selling?

Read what other critics are saying about his comeback single

We weighed in on “Suit & Tie,”  Justin Timberlake’s first new song in more than six years, last night. We felt it was a good start and a nice, retro-soundng track.

And you are responding loud and clear as well: the song is on top of the iTunes Songs chart (in part because Timberlake’s label, RCA, is swatting the song down any time it appears on YouTube). The response at radio has been strong with many Clear Channel  and CBS-owned stations playing it hourly.  Billboard predicts the single could sell as many as 400,000 copies in its first week.

Here’s what some other critics are saying about the song, the first tune from Timberlake’s forthcoming album “The 20/20 Experience.”

The Los Angeles Times’ August Brown says: "We’re pleased to report that the results are quite sexy. "Suit & Tie" is a radiant, ramshackle song that's less of a coherent single and more of a coronation event. It grafts at least three different Timberlake settings -- the slow-rolling futurist, crisp-collared soul man and backseat driver to a rap kingpin (here, Jay-Z) -- into one strange track that comes off like a best-man wedding toast. It’s rambling and full of awkward transitions; yet occasionally finds its feet and ultimately heralds a joyful event:  Justin Timberlake making music again."

People Magazine’s Chuck Arnold give it a thumbs up: "JT goes for a more retro vibe on this suave single, which previews his much-anticipated third solo album, The 20/20 Experience, due out later this year. With its smooth, horn-kissed lushness, it recalls the '70s R&B of Marvin Gaye as well as Robin Thicke's modern-day take on old-school soul." 

PItchfork likes Timberlake, Jay-Z not so much. Writes Stephen M. Deusner: "While not quite as risky as "SexyBack" or as rewarding as "My Love", "Suit & Tie" is still one hell of a wedding reception jam, as bubbly as champagne. Timbaland creates a smooth beat out of a marimba roll and harp gliassando that Marvin Gaye must have left on the cutting-room floor, and Timberlake rides it with that fluid, effortless falsetto. "Let me show you a few things," he sings by way of seduction. Because it’s a song called "Suit & Tie", Jay-Z is on here, delivering the obligatory rapped verse like he's crashed a wedding. It's another in a string of uninspired cameos by Hova."  

Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz is Team Timberlake...with reservations: "Suit and Tie" is a good song, but it's not the artifact from another planet that we've been expecting, nor it is the ambitious experiment that Timberlake alludes to when he describes heading into the studio and "just creating with no rules." Comparing "SexyBack" with "Suit And Tie" makes the latter seem almost impossibly safe: it's a sumptuous, fairly straightforward love song with forgettable lyrics ("Love is swinging in the air tonight"?), a useless opening 40 seconds and a Jay-Z verse that dutifully penetrates the beat while offering nothing unexpected."

Rolling Stone’s Dan Hyman
says "Suit and Tie," a horn-addled shuffler likely to inspire many new dance routines, finds JT waxing poetic about his love for dapper duds. "I be on my suit and tie shit/ Can I show you a few things, little baby?" he croons. Jay-Z later joins in with lines about "truffle season," wearing tuxedos for no reason and the trendy designer Alexander Wang

How do you feel about "Suit & Tie?" Hear it here.
 

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<p>Jaden Smith is alone... Jaden Smith is <em>utterly</em> alone...</p>

Jaden Smith is alone... Jaden Smith is utterly alone...

Will Smith's kids Jaden and Willow tap into teenaged pain on 'Kite': Listen

Drake and Rihanna, together again!

Willow and Jaden Smith are 12- and 14-years-olds, both the progeny of Will Smith. And they are "lost," according to their new track together "Kite."

Their ages are worth reiterating, shedding light on the elementary nature of each's rhymes, but also on the times: it's true that the Weeknd and Frank Ocean blew up in 2012, and in 2013, these Smiths -- as is their nature -- are imitating them.

Willow's no stranger to working her way around her girlish range like Rihanna, with previous output like "21st Century Girl." She put on her blackest eyeshade for another release "Sugar and Spice," out last week, which had her emoting over a sample from Radiohead's dour "Codex"; I did my best to ignore it (partly due to the further infantilization of women by a 12-year-old who couldn't possibly comprehend such an infliction particularly on her generation, but I digress) but "Sugar" was indicative of the sour...

Because at the top comes Jaden, with Drake as an overt influence, as he rhymes about his obvious teenaged sorrows of having every privilege and still feeling unhappy. "I am a poet, I do not explain..." he says in the middle of a 32-bar exploration of "-ain." Pain, being the most prevalent.

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Watch: Johnny Marr's new video for 'Upstarts'

Watch: Johnny Marr's new video for 'Upstarts'

Bouncy first single from Smiths' first solo album, 'The Messenger'

Johnny Marr recently told The Guardian that The Smiths “invented indie.” I’m not so sure that he’s right about that, much less what that actually means.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Santigold's 'Girls' video for 'Girls' features girls, but no Lena Dunham

Watch: Santigold's 'Girls' video for 'Girls' features girls, but no Lena Dunham

And that's OK... now dance

Lena Dunham's show "Girls" took home gobs of Golden Globes Awards last night, but today is Santigold's "Girls" triumph.

As previously reported, the songwriter contributed the song "Girls" to the "Girls" TV show soundtrack. And it's fun. It evidently is fun to other girls as well. The video companion features women and girls of all ages lip-syncing to the track, bouncing and bounding in their natural habitats. No exposed booties or eye-popping costumery; no glamorous lens tricks or luxury cars or slathered-on makeup. We're so used to artifice, it's refreshing to just see females having a good time to a song after their own heart.

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<p>&quot;The Queen of Versailles&quot;</p>

"The Queen of Versailles"

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

'Ai Weiwei,' 'Queen of Versailles' join Oscar players in DGA documentary nominations

'Searching for Sugar Man' looks strong as ever

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has offered up its list of nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking, and it's a nice slice of vindication for a pair of Oscar snubees.

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Watch: Beyonce reveals Blue Ivy's ultrasound in new documentary trailer

Watch: Beyonce reveals Blue Ivy's ultrasound in new documentary trailer

She wants us to know that she's 'a human being'

Beyonce wants us to know that she’s “a human being. I cry. I get scared. I get nervous, just like anyone else.”

In the trailer for her new HBO documentary, “Life Is But A Dream,” her voice over hints at how difficult it is to be Beyonce and that her struggles to balance a commercial life with her artistic vision: “I always battle with how much do I reveal about myself...how do I stay current. How do I stay soulful,” she asks.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Ozzy Osbourne</p>

Ozzy Osbourne

Credit: AP Photo

Black Sabbath releasing first Ozzy-led album in 35 years

'13' will not feature original member Bill Ward

For the first time in 35 years, Black Sabbath led by Ozzy Osbourne is releasing an album of new originals. Ozzy, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler combined with Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk and superstar producer Rick Rubin for "13," due in June.

It was announced in late 2011 that Sabbath was reuniting for some festival dates, along with the promise that a new set was happening. But then original drummer Bill Ward quit over a contract dispute, claiming he was being short-changed, and Tony Iommi continued hard into his struggle against lymphoma.

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<p>Bounty Hunter Embo was introduced in a 'Seven Samurai'-inspired episode of 'The Clone Wars,' and now Zack Snyder is apparently using the same film to inspire a stand-alone 'Star Wars' movie.</p>

Bounty Hunter Embo was introduced in a 'Seven Samurai'-inspired episode of 'The Clone Wars,' and now Zack Snyder is apparently using the same film to inspire a stand-alone 'Star Wars' movie.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Warner Home Video

Zack Snyder developing stand-alone 'Star Wars' film inspired by 'Seven Samurai'?

Kurosawa and 'Star Wars' have always gone hand-in-hand

The true test of the ongoing commercial appeal of "Star Wars" will not come with the release of Episodes VII, VIII, and IX.  The true test will come when they finally leave the story of the Skywalker family behind and begin telling stories that are set in the universe that George Lucas created, but that explore new corners and new characters.

That test may be coming sooner than anticipated, and I am eager to see how it plays out.  Zack Snyder is developing a stand-alone film that uses Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" as a foundation, according to a report this morning on Vulture, and that seems like a perfectly logical development.  After all, "Star Wars" has Kurosawa in its DNA in a major way.  The first film in 1977 was directly inspired by elements from "The Hidden Fortress," and when Lucas began casting the movie, they made overtures to Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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