Latest Blog Posts

<p>&quot;War Witch&quot;</p>

"War Witch"

Credit: Tribeca Film

Oscar nominee 'War Witch' leads Canadian Screen Award nods

Plus, the only nominations you'll see this season for 'Resident Evil: Retribution'

Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee "War Witch" could, I think, have been a real contender for the win in another year; the African-set child soldier drama delivers an emotional punch that's hard to argue with. As it is, it'll likely remain nobly content with the nomination, but it stands to dominate at its local answer to the Oscars, the Canadian Screen Awards. With 12 nominations, the film leads the field for the inaugural awards, which have assimilated the formerly separate Genie and Gemini Awards.

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<p>Jessica Biel in &quot;Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes.&quot;</p>

Jessica Biel in "Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes."

Exclusive Sundance Clip: Jessica Biel in 'Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes' clip

First look at the new dramatic competition entry

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is only days away and, as usual, it will be a welcome breath of fresh air for the industry after weeks of award season campaigning and holiday blockbusters.  On the outset, this year's slate of U.S. dramatic competition films and premieres appear friendlier than usual to mainstream audiences.  A number of the dramatic competition films have more recognizable than previous years stars such as "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" (Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck), "Afternoon Delight" (Kathryn Hahn, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch), "Austenland" (Keri Russell), "Kill Your Darlings" (Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall), "Fruitvale" (Octavia Spencer, Chad Michael Murray), "The Lifeguard" (Kristen Bell) and "Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes."  

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio in &quot;Inception.&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio in "Inception."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Roundup: On Leonardo DiCaprio's odd Oscar history

Also: The genius of Jodie Foster's speech, and the oldest living Oscar nominees

The word "snub" is one we all abuse on occasion -- I prefer "not nominated," since it doesn't imply active antagonism -- and I've seen it used a lot lately about Leonardo DiCaprio. It doesn't seem justified in his case either, given that the Academy evidently has a lot of respect for someone they've nominated three times, but it's true that he does boast more near-misses than most working actors today. Daniel Montgomery, meanwhile, notices an interesting anomaly: he's starred as a lead in six Best Picture nominees -- usually a decent route to Oscar attention -- but has only been nominated for one of them. Of course, "Django Unchained," in which he came up against unfortunate internal competition, is the latest example of this odd phenomenon. [Gold Derby

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<p>Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders and Ray Wise in &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders and Ray Wise in "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

Review: 'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Band or DJ?'

Barney seeks the approval of Robin's dad, while Lily and Ted clash over wedding plans

A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I give the rabbit a backstory...

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: 'Moroccan Madness'

Brandi gets a threatening letter and Kyle's husband loses his cool

Aww, darn. This episode started out on such a pleasant, only mildly crazy note. But we know that mildly crazy is never as much fun as sobbing and fighting, so everything melts down pretty quickly. Plus with Taylor in the house (yes, she's still on the show; isn't that weird?), it only takes a moment for her to try to make an argument all about her, even when it's not and no one seems to have noticed she was there.

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<p>&quot;Lincoln&quot;&nbsp;screenwriter Tony&nbsp;Kushner and &quot;Team of Rivals&quot;&nbsp;author Doris Kearns Goodwin at the New York&nbsp;Film&nbsp;Critics Circle Awards</p>

"Lincoln" screenwriter Tony Kushner and "Team of Rivals" author Doris Kearns Goodwin at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

'Perks of Being a Wallflower' joins Oscar nominees on list of 25th USC Scripter finalists

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tony Mendez and Yann Martel get their own awards notice

The USC Scripter Awards is celebrating its silver anniversary this year. And in this 25th year, the USC Libraries' set of nominees is reflective of a very competitive year as, for the first time ever, a tie resulted in six nominees as opposed to the usual five.

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<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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