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<p>Jeremy Irons in &quot;Night Train to Lisbon.&quot;</p>

Jeremy Irons in "Night Train to Lisbon."

Credit: Berlin Film Festival

Berlinale: Jeremy Irons derailed in 'Night Train to Lisbon,' but Arvin Chen charms again

Chen's 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' a worthy follow-up to 'Au Revoir, Taipei'

BERLIN - Looking at the list of seen films I have yet to write up out of the Berlinale, I'm finding it harder than usual to forge connections between them that would make for a satisfying review roundup. Some have been good. More have been bad. That's about the extent of the narrative at a festival that, while enjoyable as ever, hasn't so far maintained the standard of last year's "Tabu"-"Sister"-"Barbara"-"War Witch"-"A Royal Affair" mini-feast. Only Sebastian Lelio's wonderful "Gloria," meanwhile, seems to have buyers buzzing along with the critics; it'll be a major shock if it doesn't take a significant prize from Wong Kar-wai's jury on Saturday.

So forgive this rather randomly paired duo of reviews, which have little in common beyond their presence in lineup and... well, they're both vaguely Valentine's Day-friendly. I thought I'd at least couch bad news with good, which wouldn't have been the case if I'd opted to pair up two former Best Foreign Language Film winners instead. (More on Danis Tanovic's drab Competition entry "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker" -- surely a candidate for the most parodic-sounding arthouse movie title of all time -- at a later stage.)

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Bryan Singer says he'll be able to 'correct a few things' in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

Bryan Singer says he'll be able to 'correct a few things' in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

Does Singer view this as a reset? And who is Hoult psyched to meet?
RICHMOND, ENGLAND - Earlier this week, I was sitting in the drafty, damp, historically epic recesses of the Hampton Court Palace chatting with "Jack the Giant Slayer" director Bryan Singer and star Nicholas Holt.
 
Most of our conversations revolved, of course, around their upcoming 3D reimagining of the classic fairy tale, which opens on March 1 at theaters everywhere. But that doesn't mean that I didn't sneak in a question or two about Singer and Hoult's upcoming work on "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which will begin production in April and will hit theaters in 2014.
 
"This movie's gonna be not only quite epic, 'Days of Future Past,' but it also takes place in completely different times than the 'X Men' movies have taken place," Singer told me. "There'll be new technology, new things we haven't seen before in 'X-Men' films. Certain characters and certain story and certain drama that hasn't be done yet, so it's not so much sequel. It's more of its own kinda thing."
 
I like, however, Singer's reaction to my follow-up using the word "reset."
 
"I'll be able to correct a few things," he hints, with a smile.
 
As for Hoult, making his second appearance as Hank McCoy and Beast, he wouldn't give away details, but he admitted to excitement about getting to work with original "X Men" castmembers like Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen.
 
"As much as it felt like a real 'X Men' film last time, because we were all a new cast it almost felt like it didn't, whereas doing one with those guys is going to feel very much like..." he said, before adding that he's going to be like a big fanboy.
 
Check out the video above.
 
And stay tuned for more of my interviews from Hampton Court as we get closer to the "Jack the Giant Slayer" release date.
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<p>Andrea of &quot;Survivor: Caramoan&quot;</p>

Andrea of "Survivor: Caramoan"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Caramoan' Premiere - 'She Annoys Me Greatly'

A second 'Fans versus Favorites' showdown begins with familiarity
Welcome to "Survivor: Caramoan." It takes three seconds for me to realize I can't tell the difference between a bushbaby and a spectral tarsier. Based on geography, I'm saying those were spectral tarsiers in the opening. Not that that has anything to do with anything. Oh gracious. What sort of wormhole did I just go down? Oy. Let's start over again, shall we?
 
Pre-credit introductions. Bearded Matt, already a pre-show favorite, calls this surreal. Shamar, an Iraq veteran, says that this game (or his competitors) will be lunchmeat. A blonde, I think it's Allie, says she knows enough about people to make it to the very end. A different, totally indistinguishable blonde, [Laura, I guess?] profiles that because Michael wears glasses, he's going to be a strategist. Michael thinks Laura looks too young to be out there. Or maybe he thinks that about Allie. Or possibly Hope. Come on! It's bad enough I can't tell spectral tarsiers from bushbabies, but differentiating between Hope, Laura and Allie may kill me. Fortunately, speaking of telling people apart, Jeff Probst is reminding us who each of the "favorites" is or was. I remember nothing about two or three of these people and I wouldn't call more than four or five of them "favorites." Adorable Andrea helpfully explains that the theme of this season is people who made big mistakes. But if that's the case, why is CBS calling it "Fans versus Favorites" as opposed to "Newbies versus Ooopsies" or something?
 
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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'Glacial Gourmand'

It's time for the final three chefs to cook from the heart

 So, I've had a very "Top Chef" kind of week. First I got to interview season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio (and eat very tasty sandwiches from his ink.sack restaurant),  and now I'm watching the final three (well, final three before the winner of "Last Chance Kitchen" is dumped back into the mix) duking it out for the title of season ten winner. I won't lie -- I'm rooting for Brooke, though I wouldn't complain too much if Sheldon or Kristen (via "Last Chance") took the prize. The only chef I would be a little sad to see win is, honestly, Josh. He seems like a nice guy, but his reliance on bacon and breakfast just makes me wonder if he has the breadth of skills to make him a worthy winner. 

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<p>No one accepts an award as well as Peter Dinklage, seen here linked in by satellite to this year's Scream Awards live from the set of 'Game Of Thrones'</p>

No one accepts an award as well as Peter Dinklage, seen here linked in by satellite to this year's Scream Awards live from the set of 'Game Of Thrones'

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello/Invision

Bryan Singer confirms Peter Dinklage will be joining 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past'

Plus new details emerge about what sounds like a super-sequel

It feels to me like Bryan Singer is desperately trying to put together a version of "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" that will erase any lingering bad feelings about what has happened to the "X-Men" franchise since he jumped ship to run off and make "Superman Returns."

If that's true, then hiring Peter Dinklage to play a key role in the film is a major step in the right direction.

Right now, there's no word on who he's playing, but that's the great thing about a guy like Dinklage.  No matter who you've hired him to play, you know you're going to get something interesting out of him.  It's been really exciting watching him blow up as a nerd icon in the last few years thanks to "Game Of Thrones," because he's one of those guys who has been highly respected by film fans for years, even if there are times where he's felt like a well-kept secret.

Now what I'm most curious about is how Singer's going to juggle what sounds like a positively massive cast of characters.  He's had fun announcing new additions to the cast on Twitter, and he seems positively giddy about returning to the franchise he kickstarted.  Our own Dan Fienberg was in London over the weekend to discuss "Jack The Giant Killer" with Singer and his cast, and he talked to the director and Nicholas Hoult about the sequel, and we'll have that up for you soon.

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<p>Margo Martindale as &quot;Grannie&quot;&nbsp;in &quot;The Americans.&quot;</p>

Margo Martindale as "Grannie" in "The Americans."

Credit: FX

Review: 'The Americans' - 'Gregory'

Margo Martindale and Derek Luke turn up for the strongest episode yet

A review of tonight's "The Americans" coming up just as soon as I talk to your eighth grade science teacher...

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Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich discuss forging 'Beautiful Creatures' chemistry

Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich discuss forging 'Beautiful Creatures' chemistry

The two young stars also chat about fate and destiny in their careers
The cast of "Beautiful Creatures" may be dotted with Oscar and Emmy and Tony winning actors, but at the film's center are a pair of young stars who you may not have heard of yet. Don't worry. You're gonna hear more about them.
 
Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich play the couple at the center of the young adult romance. He's Ethan, a motherless dreamer who wants nothing more than to escape his South Carolina hometown. She's Lena, a young witch -- Sorry, "caster" -- counting down the days til her true nature is revealed, dark or light.
 
For now, chances are good that unless you were a big fan of "Tetro," the best way to ID Ehrenreich for you is from that Natalie Portman Dior commercial. And while Englert has generated strong buzz for the indies "Ginger & Rosa" and "In Fear," it's still coolest to think of her as Jane Campion's daughter.
 
I sat down the two stars to talk about the challenges to forging their "Beautiful Creatures" chemistry on the fly after Ehrenreich was a late addition to the cast. And since "fate" and "destiny" play a major role in the movie, I asked about how those forces impacted their career choices. 
 
You can also check out my interviews with "Beautiful Creatures" co-stars Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis and Emmy Rossum.
 
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
 
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<p>The Women take Hollywood!</p>

The Women take Hollywood!

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Live-Blog - Hollywood Round, Part 3

Finally the 'Idol' Women do Hollywood

I'll repeat this again for "American Idol" producers: I appreciate the need for occasional formula innovation, so you didn't do anything wrong by splitting Hollywood Week up into separate segments for Men and Women. 

Just don't do it again, OK? Consider this a failure, but don't be bothered or disturbed. Dust yourself off and figure out an another twist for next year. 

Because... I'm done with Hollywood. I did it last week. There were solos. There was Group Night and people whined and cried. And then there were more solos and the judges made their decisions. I took that journey. It wasn't entirely satisfying, because the men don't seem all that great this year and there were no women, but I went through that arc. Now I'm ready for what comes next. I'm not especially interested in deja vu sans man-parts. 

But... Here we go!

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<p>The Weeknd</p>

The Weeknd

Watch The Weeknd's NSFW music video to 'Twenty Eight'

Happy Valentine's Day to all you broken-hearted, here's some self-loathing

The music video for the Weeknd's "Twenty Eight" is the next in a long series of clips that feature women dancing for the R&B singer, under the auspices that romances are apparitions that just happen to the Weeknd, and not relationships in which he plays an active part.

And again, the passivity of being either behind or in front of the camera: either way, he's not a participant. Truly, to be a sexual partner of the Weeknd, one must keep it on the "down low" as he suggests (though, do not mistake "secret" for "subtlety." This clip is all but subtle.). Lesson being that he's not exactly Loverman of the Year, but boy can he sing, right?

Fashion week in New York can transpire now. The hottest accessory of the season is topless, melancholy women.

"Twenty Eight" is part of "Trilogy," the re-released collection of mixtapes dropped late last year. The Weeknd said on Twitter that he's already hard at work for a new album in 2013.

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<p>Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, and Sebastian Koch co-star in the limp 'A Good Day To Die Hard'</p>

Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, and Sebastian Koch co-star in the limp 'A Good Day To Die Hard'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: Bruce Willis may save Russia, but there's no saving the 'Die Hard' series after this

A huge misstep in a franchise that was already wearing thin is the last straw

I'll keep this brief.

Even taken at face value as a stand-alone film, unconnected to a franchise, "A Good Day To Die Hard" just plain doesn't work.  Reverse-engineered to try to duplicate some of the key pleasures of the original film, now 25 years old, the film breaks the cardinal rule of action movies: it's boring. Worse than boring. It's one of those films where every time they explain more exposition, I found myself more and more disconnected. The basic idea here is that John McClane has to get closer to his estranged son, and he flies to Russia to help him when he learns that John Jr. (Jai Courtney) is in prison.  Mayhem happens, and male bonding follows in its wake.  Those bare bones could work, but first, I'd have to care about John Jr. as a character, and since the script never seems to figure out who this guy is, there's nothing to him onscreen. Courtney seems to carry himself well enough, but there's almost nothing here for him to actually play.

Bruce Willis isn't on autopilot here.  I think he's genuinely still interested in playing McClane and making him human-scale and playing the ridiculousness of the situation with a wry observational wit, and all of that is fine.  But what made the first "Die Hard" great, and what's been missing in almost all of the sequels, was the sense that there was a game being played here that McClane doesn't fully grasp at first.  The really wonderful thing about the first film wasn't just the "trapped in an office building" conceit, but the way the film slowly unpacked its surprises.  Every supporting character had a purpose, played some part, fit into the larger overall picture.

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<p>Macklemore &amp; Ryan Lewis</p>

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' 'Thrift Shop' tops Billboard Hot 100 for fourth week

Static chart sees little movement in the top half

It’s a mighty static week on the Billboard Hot 100 with the top six titles remaining in place, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some action bubbling under.

To recap: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” featuring Wanz holds at No. 1 for the fourth week.
The next five places also stay the same: former No. 1 “Locked Out Of Heaven,” from Bruno Mars is No. 2, Will.I.Am and Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout” is No. 3, the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” is No. 4, Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” is No. 5 and Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” featuring John Martin is No. 6.

Maroon 5’s “Daylight” shines through galloping 14-7, following the band’s performance of the song (with Alicia Keys) on the Feb. 10 Grammy Awards to mark the group’s seventh No. 10 hit.

Similarly Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” featuring Jay-Z also sees a nice post-Grammy bounce, rising 13-8. The song debuted at No. 84, then soared to No. 4, then dropped to No. 13 for the past two weeks.

Although he didn’t perform the song on the Grammys, Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” leaps 22-9, giving Mars two songs in the top 10. Think radio doesn’t love him? He’s the first male artist to have top songs in the top 10 as a lead act since, well, himself, when he did so with “Grenade” and “Just The Way You Are” in December 2010, according to Billboard.

The Grammy-absent Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj fall 7-10 with “Beauty and a Beat.”

Though the Grammy bounce has already registered for a number of songs, next week is when the chart will reflect the full impact of the Grammy Awards.

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<p>The Strokes</p>

The Strokes

Listen: The Strokes release new radio single 'All the Time'

From 'Comedown Machine,' due in March

If the new Strokes song "One Way Trigger" didn't remind you much of the garage-snarl of the band's past, then the much safer, rock-friendly single "All the Time" may scratch that itch.

The track was farmed to radio today, and will be a free download on Feb. 19 to those who pre-order The Strokes' new album "Comedown Machine," which will be out on March 26.

Not sure how much traction they'll get with this, since it doesn't seem to have much bite, even compared to 2011's "Angles" single "Under Cover of Darkness." And while I love Albert Hammond, Jr.'s hand at a solo, this one made me forget I was listening to a song; I went and made a sandwich.

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