Latest Blog Posts

<p>Denis Lavant in &quot;Holy Motors.&quot;</p>

Denis Lavant in "Holy Motors."

Credit: Indomina Releasing

International Cinephile Society big on 'The Master,' 'Holy Motors'

Nominations for the group's awards were announced last week

Amid the Sundance rush, it slipped my mind to list the nominations for the International Cinephile Society's awards -- for which I had a hand in voting. The ICS is a diverse group of over 80 film journalists, academics and the like, so their picks tend to veer a little off the beaten track. Here, for example, you'll find no mention of "Argo," "Les Mis" (no, not even for Anne Hathaway), "Life of Pi" or "Silver Linings Playbook," but plenty for foreign standouts like "Tabu" and "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia." "The Master" leads with 10 bids; "Holy Motors" follows with nine. Winners will be announced on February 9; check out the full list of nominees after the jump, and at The Circuit.

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<p>&quot;Painting the way I feel today. Focus on what matters!&quot;</p>

"Painting the way I feel today. Focus on what matters!"

Credit: Chris Brow/Instagram

Hey Chris Brown, come down off that cross

A few thoughts on the pop star's most recent dust-up

He’s kidding, right? That was my first thought when I saw Chris Brown’s Instagram from yesterday.

In case you missed it, Brown, that paragon of all this is virtuous in this world, posted a painting of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross yesterday alongside the words, “Painting the way I feel today.  Focus on what matters.”

Doesn’t he mean “focus on what martyrs” because we’ve never seen an artist with such a persecution complex and a complete inability to grasp the role he has played in his own ongoing conflicts.

Apparently, he’s feeling a little misunderstood due to his latest dust-up. Yeah, the one where he and Frank Ocean got into a tiff over a parking spot at Westlake Recording Studios on Sunday in Los Angeles. While the facts are blurry, it appears that push came to shove and Brown left the scene before police could question him.

Instead of painting or comparing himself to Jesus, maybe Brown needs to climb down off that cross and go talk to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department, who wants to question him about the incident.  (Sheriff department spokesman Steve Whitmore says that Ocean wants to press charges and told The Los Angeles Times that Brown is “a named suspect in a battery report”). 

Or maybe, just maybe, he needs to have a long time out to figure out why the public just won’t give him a break and realize he’s not such a bad guy. C’mon, people! It’s been four years since he tried to meld Rihanna’s head with a car door and she’s not only forgiven him, they’re seemingly off in their own little twisted loveland again and they tweet and Instagram a near-constant stream of selfies together to prove it.

After every incident—whether it’s throwing a chair after a “Good Morning America” interview doesn’t go the way he’d planned (in that Robin Roberts deigned to ask other than fluff questions) or he and Drake are in a fight in a club or he makes gay slurs he later has to apologize for—the now inevitable and predictable pattern follows. Somehow, Brown makes himself out to be the victim: He’s misunderstood, he didn’t throw the first punch, he was insulted, he’s already apologized, he’s a target because he’s famous, he’s young... what more do we want from him?

What we want from him is some sign that for more than five minutes he can act like an adult. Yes, being a pop star keeps one in perpetual adolescence...and keeps one surrounded by people on the payroll whose main, if not only, job is to constantly reassure the artist the he is right, everyone else is wrong and is just jealous.

If Brown so badly wants to compare himself to Christ, maybe he should think about turning the other cheek.

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Watch: Animal Collective's 'Applesauce' video directed by Gaspar Noé

Watch: Animal Collective's 'Applesauce' video directed by Gaspar Noé

Model Lindsey Wixson eats a peach

Animal Collective's music video for "Applesauce" is directed by Gaspar Noé and features a long, close shot of a model eating a peach in the dark in front of flashing multi-colored lights.

According to a release, "It is intended to be viewed in complete darkness for maximum effect." Taking this video into a dark closet (with at least three days of dirty laundry piled up), it turns into a video of a long, close shot of a model eating a peach in the dark in front of flashing multi-colored lights.

Noé -- who also directed Nick Cave's highly repetitive "We No Who U R" video -- is making use of avant-garde filmmaker Paul Sharits' 1968 short film “N:O:T:H:I:N:G,” which soundlessly loops flashing multi-colored lights.

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<p>Tony Kushner, screenwriter of &quot;Lincoln.&quot;</p>

Tony Kushner, screenwriter of "Lincoln."

Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Roundup: Kushner honored with WGA's Selvin Award

Also: Michael Moore on 'Zero Dark Thirty' and Dr Ruth's Oscar night tips

Guild favorite "Argo" may be closing in on "Lincoln" in the Best Adapted Screenplay race, but even if it continues its sweep, the WGA has ensured Tony Kushner won't go home empty-handed on February 17. The "Lincoln" scribe will be presented with the group's Paul Selvin Award for the script that "best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere." If that award sounds pretty much tailor-made for "Lincoln" (hey, it wasn't going to go to "Django Unchained") it isn't: last year's winner was Tate Taylor for "The Help." [Deadline

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<p>David Fincher directing Kevin Spacey in Netflix's &quot;House of Cards.&quot;</p>

David Fincher directing Kevin Spacey in Netflix's "House of Cards."

Credit: Netflix

'House of Cards' director David Fincher on making 13 hours for Netflix

Acclaimed director has toyed with television before, and now has Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright with him
David Fincher’s directing career was built on works that aired on television — just not the series kind. He made his bones as a director of commercials and music videos, before graduating to movies in the early ‘90s.
 
Now 20 years later (and after a few near-misses) Fincher is finally working on his first scripted television series, the political drama “House of Cards,” adapted from the acclaimed early ‘90s UK miniseries.Only it’s not technically a television series, but rather an original series produced for Netflix’s streaming video service, which will debut all 13 episodes of the first season (a second is already in the works) on February 1. It’s the approach Netflix used for a previous original series, “Lilyhammer,” and the way that Fincher has himself consumed the few TV shows he watches. But as an expensive production with big stars — Kevin Spacey plays the ruthless congressman at the show’s center, and Robin Wright his calculating wife — it’s something of a canary in the coal mine for this approach.
 
Earlier this month, another reporter and I sat down with Fincher to discuss the project’s origins, what he learned about telling a 13-hour story as opposed to a 2-hour film, and more.
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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: 'Stars and Stripes'

Brandi takes the girls on a strip trip and Yolanda bakes

Tonight's episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" contains no fighting. I'm not joking -- no fighting at all. None. I know, hard to believe. But it does include roast chicken and Suzanne Somers, so that's something. Look, I'm really trying here, but this episode was dull as an Amish frat party. I mean, a significant part of the episode was devoted to a sixth grade graduation party. A sixth grade graduation party. I dearly hope never to attend one of these in real life, at least not without a sharp object with which to stab myself to stay awake. But let's get to it, shall we?

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<p>Which Spider-Man do you think resonates more with young fans who see both the Raimi and the Webb version back-to-back?</p>

Which Spider-Man do you think resonates more with young fans who see both the Raimi and the Webb version back-to-back?

Credit: Sony Pictures

Film Nerd 2.0: A Tale Of Two 'Spider-Man's

Raimi or Webb... which one do the boys prefer?

About a week ago, my kids walked into the office where I spend most of my time, the two of them both smiling broadly.  

I knew as soon as I looked at them that they were struggling not to laugh before revealing their joke.  Toshi spoke first, and he sounded completely rehearsed, like he and Allen made a plan.  "Daddy, you know how you said we could ask you any question?"

"Yes," I replied, and I got scared, flat-out scared that they were about to ask me something like "What's a blow job?"  On the day they do ask that, I plan to reply, "Five dollars, same as in town," and then vanish in a puff of smoke.

Thankfully, though, this was something more innocent, more fitting of the mindset of two comic-book crazy kids who are mainlining pop culture.  Toshi nudged Allen, giving him his cue to ask the question, and even before Allen started speaking, he started laughing, and when he talks and laughs at the same time (which is often because he is a very silly little boy), it's like Woody Woodpecker trying to describe something to you.  Waves of giggles as he struggled to ask, "When Spider-Man has to go poop, does he have to take his whole costume off?"

So of course I'm in tears from laughing, too, at this point, trying to stop, and I finally managed to answer, "Yes, but he has to leave his mask on."  Because that image entertains me mightily.

Allen nodded as I spoke, satisfied with the answer, and walked away with a single "Cool."  And that was that.  Pleased with themselves for asking it in the first place, still trailing little flurries of self-satisfied laughter, Toshi and Allen left my office and went back to the playroom.  As they pulled my office door closed, Allen's last comment to Toshi was, "I knew it. I told you."

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: The wheels come off as the girls hit the roller derby

One woman threatens to quit while another gets a 'Pretty Woman' fantasy

So, tonight I'm recapping "The Bachelor" and doing battle with a cold. This means I will either have less tolerance for the high-pitched cat fighting, or I will fall asleep after the 230th time someone says, "I just want him to see the real me!" or "I need to spend one-on-one time with him!" Actually, that would happen any week. It's just that this week, I can blame the snoring on a weakened immune system.

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<p>Sandy Powell, three-time winner of the Best Costume Design Oscar.</p>

Sandy Powell, three-time winner of the Best Costume Design Oscar.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Costume designers finally get their own Academy branch

Makeup branch gets increased representation on Board of Governors

I confess it's news to me that the costume designers of the Academy didn't already have their own separate voting branch -- instead, they've always been lumped into a single Designers' Branch with the production designers, art directors and set decorators. Yet nominees in the Best Costume Design category are often so distinctive -- several of them scoring in no other Oscar field, even Best Art Direction -- that I'd assumed they were the result of a smaller branch of peers voting.

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

Kevin Bacon in "The Following."

Credit: FOX

Review: 'The Following' - 'Chapter Two'

One of Joe's disciples begins killing, and Ryan gets a new supervisor

A few quick thoughts on tonight's "The Following" coming up just as soon as I speak to people through Gothic Romanticism...

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<p>Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller are heartbreaking in the wonderful new film 'The Spectacular Now'</p>

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller are heartbreaking in the wonderful new film 'The Spectacular Now'

Credit: A24 Distribution

Review: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley do exquisite work in heartfelt Sundance hit &#x27;Spectacular Now&#x27;

The new film from the director of &#x27;Smashed&#x27; is gorgeous and sincere

PARK CITY - One of the benefits of staying longer than the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival is that you can catch up with films towards the end of the festival that have picked up buzz over the previous days.  As soon as "The Spectacular Now" made its public premiere, it became a priority for me to see during the festival, and it more than lived up to the early word.  Written by the same writers as "(500) Days Of Summer" and directed by the filmmaker behind last year's "Smashed," I think "The Spectacular Now" is better than either of those films, and it delivers a strong emotional punch in a smart overall package.

Based on a novel by Tim Tharp, "The Spectacular Now" tells the story of Sutter Keely, played here by Miles Teller, who is coasting through his high school career on a cloud of innate charm and alcohol fumes.  He is the life of the party, and that's the problem.  Constantly drunk, he seems to believe that there is no reason to think about the future at all.  He is all about the moment, all about the sensation.  As the film begins, his long-time girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) has reached the breaking point, and she can't do it anymore.  She knows how charming he is, but she also knows that he's dragging her down, and she wants more.  There is a strong tie between the two of them, and as much as it pains her, she can't continue to let him dictate the way they both seem to be failing.  Once Sutter finds himself on his own, he is rudderless, and he spends a lot of energy trying to convince himself that none of it matters, that it's okay that she left him.  His mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has a hard time really communicating with him, and the unspoken space between them has to do with Sutter's long-absent father.  His older sister (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is out of the house, married, and she married into money, doing her best to leave behind her upbringing.

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<p>Tomahawk's &quot;Oddfellows&quot;</p>

Tomahawk's "Oddfellows"

Credit: Ipecac Recordings

Review: Tomahawk's 'Oddfellows,' the rock band's first album in five years

Defining what's so 'odd'

After years and years as a rock chameleon -- in Fantômas, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More and Tomahawk -- Mike Patton, again, proves himself a master of mic technique on the latter's first album in five years, "Oddfellows." All at once wily, sensual, bonkers and practiced, that voice demands an equally versatile backing and a collaborative spirit to keep Tomahawk fans guessing.

Here, Patton grinds down "Oddfellows'" 13 songs with other members of Fantômas and Mr. Bungle, the Jesus Lizard's axeman Duane Denison and Battles drummer John Stanier. The result is a collection worthy of repeat listens, thought it's not always the most cohesive experience. It's right for a big speaker sound, in its happy accidents and tasteful, complicated back-and-forths between Patton and Denison's mini melody battles. The macho torrent that is "Waratorium" is countered by the perverse slink of "Baby Let's Play ______." The Nick Cave-ison lip curls of "A Thousand Eyes" burrow into an anything-goes genre mash on “Rise Up Dirty Waters,” like a heavy rock variety show fit for warm, red lights.

“Stone Letter” and “South Paw” are Tomahawk at its most conventional and – in no coincidence – the most dated-sounding songs on the set, drilling in the ‘90s hard rock rhythms ad nauseum. And ominous church bells aren't enough to save “I Can Almost See Them,” which goes nowhere.

Still, there's a lot to listen to on "Oddfellows," even when that band churns out only two minutes of punk and prog-opera sounds (see: "Typhoon"). The guitar sounds are particularly challenging and excellent, breeding as much poetry as Patton spits, like everyone's getting squeezed to death starting at the diaphragm in the best possible way.

You can hear all of "Oddfellows" streaming via Spin.

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