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<p>Kevin Costner appears not only in 'JFK' by Oliver Stone, but in the JFK-themed film 'Thirteen Days'</p>

Kevin Costner appears not only in 'JFK' by Oliver Stone, but in the JFK-themed film 'Thirteen Days'

Credit: Warner Bros

From JFK To Jed Bartlet: A closer look at how Hollywood has treated the US Presidency on film

Which President, real or fictional, has been your movie favorite?

So it's President's Day.  As with any holiday, you should celebrate with a movie, obviously, but which one?

If you're going to the theater today, then "Lincoln" probably remains your best bet.  After all, not only does it manage to actually raise the 16th U.S. President from the dead via medium/movie star Daniel Day Lewis, but it also does a fantastic job of showing how the power of the Presidency can be used.  There are so many movies about U.S. Presidents that trying to pick from, and so many different types of films, that picking one to enjoy today can be as brutal as your average election season.

Oliver Stone has made a career out of exploring the uses and abuses of power in America, and he may be the only working filmmaker who has made three different films named after U.S. Presidents.  Of the three, I think "JFK" is the best of the bunch, even though it's not really about the President.  There are few films that have ever done a better job of exploring the elusive nature of truth in the media age or that have dramatized the way we can disappear down a rabbit hole in search of answers where there are none to be found.  It is a film about obsession and the way power is brokered in the post-Eisenhower era, and it is nothing less than dizzying to witness.  Stone has never been more technically exciting to watch than he was at this point in his career, and "JFK" is one of the most amazing theatrical experiences he has ever signed his name to.  I'm quite fond of "Nixon" as well, but that may be because I have been fascinated by Nixon for as long as I've been aware of him. 

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<p>The single artwork to Phoenix's &quot;Entertainment&quot;</p>

The single artwork to Phoenix's "Entertainment"

Listen: Phoenix releases new song 'Entertainment' from 'Bankrupt!'

Is it exotic or just... different?

When I read the term "pentatonic" as a descriptor for the new Phoenix album "Bankrupt!," I felt a little skeptical  (the usual emotion after a hearty eye-roll). But that is an honest, qualitative way of illustrating just what "Entertainment" is.

The lead synth melody line sounds like something sampled from a Chinese film, or a movie that's trying at least to depict that. It's both cinematic and a little exotic, more challenging than their big hits like "Lisztomania" and "1901." Furthermore, it comes off as emotionally ambiguous, nesting in neither a major or a minor, and lacks a big explosive proper chorus to let you know either way. It's mostly like a long pre-chorus, with some tricky rhythm work that warrants a repeat listen.

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<p>&quot;Argo&quot;</p>

"Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Off the Carpet: The long, strange trip of 'Argo'

Charting the rise, fall, rise and fall of this year's likely Best Picture victor

The epic journey of Ben Affleck's "Argo" began at the Telluride Film Festival in September. After a couple of years of pandering a bit by accepting Toronto-bound Oscar bait in the form of films like "Black Swan," "The Descendants" and "127 Hours," and then bizarrely bemoaning the surge in awards coverage they yielded, the festival's directors pulled back over the last two years, retreating to their former identity of carefully curating selections from international festivals. But they nevertheless left room for one "Sneak Preview" on the line-up this time around, and that film was "Argo."

The film blew the roof off at its first screening there for patrons of the festival and attending press. A burst of applause hit at the film's oft-discussed airport climax and the stage was set for an Oscar thoroughbred to find its way through the season. But there were still six whole months in the season left to go. And no one wants to be a frontrunner too early for too long.

Soon enough, another film would join the conversation, as David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and delighted audiences there. But "Argo" still had plenty to offer as it had its "official" premiere at the fest, duking it out with Russell's film for the coveted Audience Award.

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<p>Rihanna</p>

Rihanna

Why we don't believe the Rihanna headlining Glastonbury rumors

The Rolling Stones seem a much more likely bet

Is Rihanna headed to Glastonbury or is the rumor as off target as the Rolling Stones/Coachella whispers?  As the news is spreading like on the interwebs, we’re crying foul on the suggestion.

The U.K.’s Daily Star reports that the singer will headline this year’s British festival, which takes place June 26-30 and returns after last year’s edition was canceled because of the London Olympics.

One big red flag that the Daily Star could be wrong? (in addition to the fact that it’s a tabloid better known for its hot “babe” pix rather than breaking news) is that the newspaper suggests Rihanna will headline Sunday night on the Pyramid stage. A quick look at the “Diamonds” tour schedule shows her only open night during the festival is Friday June 28. She is playing at Cologne’s Lanxess Arena on Jan. 26 and 27 and Zurich’s  Hallenstadion on June 29-30.

That’s pretty conclusive proof, however, the final nail in the rumor’s coffin is that less than two weeks before the festival starts, she is playing throughout the U.K., including two nights at London’s Twickenham Stadium, two nights in Manchester and one night in Birmingham. No promoter in the world would book her for a festival that close to her own headlining dates.

We have a request in for a comment from Rihanna's rep, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out this one doesn't have legs.

As far as the Rolling Stones rumor, that one seems to hold more promise. Guitarist Ronnie Wood told the much more respectable U.K. newspaper The Independent last week that he plans to "twist the arms" of his fellow bandmates to get them to play the festival. He plans to bring it up at the band's next meeting in March. That's a little late to leave Glastonbury twisting in the wind if Jagger and co. can't come to terms, however.
 

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<p>Jason Aldean</p>

Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan headline new Faster Horses Festival

3-day country event set for July launch in Michigan

Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan will headline the inaugural Faster Horses Festival, set for July 19-21 in Brooklyn, Mich.

Among those also  appearing at the new festival will be Chris Young, Thompson Square, Thomas Rhett, Kix Brooks, David Nail, Jerrod Neimann Jon Pardi, Greg Bates and Ashley Monroe.

Live Nation will produce the festival, which is a part of the national tour promoters desire to expand further into country markets.  AEG/Golden Voice has the best known and largest country festival with Stagecoach, which takes place ... in Indio, Calif. However, last year, Live Nation launched Watershed Festival at the Gorge, in George Washington, and feels that the genre is an area of growth in an otherwise crowded festival space.

Three-day passes start at $170 and go on sale next Monday. For more information, go to fasterhorsesfestival.com.

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<p>&quot;Lincoln.&quot;</p>

"Lincoln."

Credit: DreamWorks Studios

Oscar Guide 2013: Best Film Editing

'Argo,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Lincoln,' 'Silver Linings Playbook' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' square off

(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)

Best Film Editing is the technical category most closely linked to Best Picture: the slate is routinely dominated by Best Picture contenders, and it's an oft-repeated stat that no film has won the top prize without an editing nod since "Ordinary People" 32 years ago. That's no random Oscar voodoo. Editing is a narrative-determining craft -- it's often said the editor functions as another screenwriter -- so it stands to reason that the Academy's favorite films figure most into this category. A bad film can be beautifully shot or scored, but it's rarely beautifully edited.

Last year, however, the voters threw away the category's unofficial rulebook by handing the win to David Fincher's thriller "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" -- while a film not nominated for Best Picture has taken the prize on occasion, it was the first film since "Bullitt" in 1968 to win this category and no other. This year, however, promises a less surprising result, in a category ruled by Best Picture frontrunners, and featuring just one first-time nominee.

The nominees are...

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<p>Best Actress winner Maribel Verdu in &quot;Blancanieves.&quot;</p>

Best Actress winner Maribel Verdu in "Blancanieves."

Credit: Cohen Media Group

Snow White adaptation 'Blancanieves' beats 'The Impossible' at Spain's Goya Awards

The true-life tsunami drama takes Best Director and four tech awards

"The Impossible" remains, to my mind, one of this season's biggest lost contenders. With a more focused campaign and an earlier release date, this visceral true-life survival story set against the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami could, I think, have gone over in a big way with Academy voters, reaping a lot more than a lone Best Actress nod for Naomi Watts. Anyway, spilt milk.

As it stands, the Spanish production's biggest night of the season was always set to be its home country's Goya Awards. Even there, however, the local box-office smash wound up ceding top honors to "Blancanieves," Pablo Berger's artful silent take on the Snow White story (yep, another one). The film, which I was charmed by at last year's London Film Festival, was Spain's submission for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, but didn't make the Academy's shortlist.   

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<p>Hopefully, my family's time off will turn out better than the Simpsons' trip to Itchy &amp;&nbsp;Scratchy Land.</p>

Hopefully, my family's time off will turn out better than the Simpsons' trip to Itchy & Scratchy Land.

Credit: FOX

Alan Sepinwall's week off

Time for your local TV critic to take the week off, with a few pre-written exceptions

Hey all, it is vacation time, and I'm going to do my best to completely unplug from now until Sunday night, when I'll be back to watch and write about the Oscar telecast.

The blog won't go completely dark while I'm gone, though. I've seen a handful of my regular shows ("Parks and Recreation" and "Community," to name two) in advance already and will be publishing short posts on them to give people a forum to talk about them in my absence. And I'll have one or two longer posts that I wrote last week that will be going up at certain points during the week.

If there's no post on something, it's because I didn't see it in advance, and/or I ran out of time trying to prep things for this vacation. I will not be revisiting anything I missed, as there will be a too many fresh things to write about. So if "Zero Hour" episode 2 turns out to be the show that changed television forever, and I wasn't here to remark upon that, I'm sorry.

Play nice, stay safe, and I'll see you sometime on Sunday night.

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<p>&quot;Lincoln.&quot;</p>

"Lincoln."

Credit: DreamWorks Studios

Roundup: Connecticut continues to bother 'Lincoln'

Also: The global dominance of 'Life of Pi,' and an imaginary Oscar for 'Argo'

In these final days of voting, the last thing you want is headlines like "The Oscar for Best Fabrication," yet the already ailing "Lincoln" got saddled with that in a Maureen Dowd op-ed that was the weekend's most talked-about Oscar piece. Seems this story of a Connecticut congressman taking issue with some artistic license taken by Tony Kushner, essentially switching the 13th Amendment vote of the state's House members, won't go away. Kushner, who had the error pointed out to him at an early stage by one of the film's historical advisors, continues to defend his position, saying, "History doesn’t always organize itself according to the rules of drama." Congressman Joe Courtney continues to push for the error to be amended in the film before it is integrated into school syllabi across the country. What do you think? [New York Times]

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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

 "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" 

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' recap: 'Praise the Pageant'

Cynthia's pageant hits some rough patches and Porsha tries parenting

Le sigh. It's time for yet another uneven episode of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," which alternates between kinda boring and off-the-rails nutjob crazy. This week, it's a little more the former simply because Kenya is behaving herself like a proper Miss USA and not running around twirling her dress. I didn't realize how dependent I had become on Kenya for "RHoA" drama, sort of like ignoring a creeping caffeine addiction or a suspicious mole, but now I'm confronted with the reality that the show is just kind of dull without her shenanigans, whether I like her or not.

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<p>&quot;Life of Pi&quot;&nbsp;may have won the most prizes but &quot;Skyfall&quot;&nbsp;took a key award.</p>

"Life of Pi" may have won the most prizes but "Skyfall" took a key award.

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Skyfall,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Les Mis,' 'Wreck-It Ralph' and 'Game of Thrones' win MPSE Awards

One of the toughest categories to predict just got tougher

With the costumers set to declare on Tuesday, the Motion Picture Sound Editors' 60th annual Golden Reel Awards, announced this evening, were the penultimate industry kudos in advance of next weekend's Oscar showdown. And it was "Life of Pi" that came out the big winner, taking two awards on the night. But 007 had some plans of his own.

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<p>A scene from the &quot;Downton Abbey&quot; finale</p>

A scene from the "Downton Abbey" finale

Credit: PBS

'Downton Abbey' finale recap: Season 3, Episode 7

Everything is mostly fine for the season finale until it isn't

It's been a long, difficult third season for "Downton Abbey," and it wasn't too much for any of us to hope that the show might cruise calmly into a happy ending with this, the seventh and last episode of the season. Of course, this would be the point in the recap where I tell the four of you who've been able to sidestep spoilers for this episode to watch first and then come back. I would hate to be the person to blow the twist in this one for you, simply because it must have taken great effort to block out the hints and full-blown revelations that have been everywhere short of the nutrition labels for Wheetabix. There might even be one there, if you read the fine print. 

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