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After last week's debacle, during which Tom actually took back the $10,000 prize because all of the food was so consistently lousy, I'm hoping the chefs can turn it around this week. If not, I predict food poisoning, intestinal distress and tears.
For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs gather around Padma and a little old lady Dallas John thinks might be "Martha Stewart's mother." Alas, she's not. She's Marilyn Hagerty, the food writer for the Grand Forks Herald. She's been writing about middle-American restaurants in her area for 30 years! She recently wrote about the Olive Garden in her fair city, and it went viral (read her review here). She didn't even know what viral meant! Wow!
“Category fraud.” It's a phrase that means precisely nothing to anybody who doesn't scrutinize the Oscars with all the methodical dedication of a veteran trainspotter – but within that self-selecting circle, it's an issue that seems to prompt more heated opinions by the year.
Implying veritably criminal levels of bad faith, it's a strangely emphatic term for a practice that frequently occurs in the grayest of areas, amid such intangibles as narrative, perspective and character. The Oscar campaigning game has seen many dirty tricks and cynical strategies pass undetected over the years, but woe betide the supporting hopeful whose role is seen as a little too large for his targeted trophy, or the uppity ensemble player with ideas above his station – awards geeks do not easily forget such infractions.
Ian McKellen probably never expected the odd turn that his career has taken over the last fifteen years, but he seems to have embraced it with grace and gusto.
I'm sure if you'd told him before all of this that he would end up beloved by an audience of fantasy-loving comic-book-reading genre fans all over the world, he would have dismissed the idea as silly. Even when he appeared in "Gods and Monsters," the sensational James Whale biopic by Bill Condon, he probably never expected the particular way that his audience would expand.
Now here we are, sitting down with him to discuss his return to Middle Earth, and I love that he sees a distinct difference between playing Gandalf the White and Gandalf the Grey. Like McKellen, I prefer Gandalf the Grey, and one of the nicest things about "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is getting my favorite version of my favorite wizard back in action. He brings such warmth and humor to the part that it was sad to see him changed into more of an action hero on the final film.
It's Final 4 time on "The X Factor."
But really, if we're being honest, it's time for the Top 2 -- Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens haven't let anybody else in since voting began -- and then Emblem 3 and then, somewhere in the distance, Fifth Harmony. The stratification in this "X Factor" season was established early and other than the occasional minor blip -- Vino Alan's elimination was no more or less random than how high he'd be polling previously -- nothing has changed. It was a fantastic idea for "X Factor" to reveal vote ranking, but it was also a horrible idea. Everybody wants to believe that voting on these shows is fluid and that one great performance can turn somebody from an underdog to a star, but that probably isn't the case at all.
So what difference could Wednesday's show possibly make? Do we really think that Tate and Carly Rose can be displaced in the finale?
Let's see how the performances go...
One of the things that has rekindled my love of the anticipatory period before a film is released is having kids in the house who go absolutely bananas at every new glimpse they get of the things they are interested in the most. My boys are giant monster fanatics, and they adore robots of all types, so from the very first moment I described "Pacific Rim" to them as "a movie about a war between giant robots and giant monsters," they have been positively rabid to see anything from it.
This is one of those movies that seems like it should already exist. It is hard to believe there has never been a real big-budget treatment of this sort of material. True, it would have been difficult to pull off with any degree of photo-realism before now, but it still seems surprising that it has taken this long for Hollywood to realize that there will most likely be an audience for two hours of robots that do kung-fu laying a beating on giant monsters that breathe fire. Actually, there's a wide range of things that both the Jaegers (the official name for the giant robots) and the Kaiju (the official name for the monsters) are capable of, and we'll see quite a few examples of both in the film.
A friend and I were talking yesterday about how we couldn't wait for more material from Karin Dreijer Andersson, frontwoman for The Knife and Fever Ray, in consideration that Fever Ray's "The Wolf" soundtracks the first trailer to "Welcome to the Punch."
Today, it's announced that The Knife have a new album coming out in the spring. So basically what I'm saying is we're responsible for the news. You're welcome.
"Shaking the Habitual" will be out in the Spring via Mute. Swedish troupe The Knife -- which is Karin and brother Olof Dreijer -- put out an opera "Tomorrow, In a Year" in 2010 but earned initial critical acclaim with their 2006 set "Silent Shout." Andersson also put out a solo album under the name Fever Ray in 2009.
LOS ANGELES—In Judd Apatow’s “This is 40,” Paul Rudd plays a music executive trying to bring back British singer/songwriter Graham Parker. At last night’s sold-out show at the Roxy here, Parker proved he needs no help.
Playing his first show with his original band, The Rumour, at the venue in more than 30 years, Parker headlined the “This Is 40” soundtrack release party. Fittingly enough, Apatow opened the evening, announcing, “This is a ridiculously good show,” before sitting beside Rudd for the rest of the evening. He was right. Also appearing on the bill were Ryan Adams and Lindsey Buckingham, both of whom have songs on the movie’s soundtrack.
Adams took the stage first for a three-song set, opening with the lovely “Shining Through The Dark,” a live version of which appears on the soundtrack. The prolific songwriter sat on a low stool for his set, making all but the crown of his head invisible for the standing audience. No idea how he looked, but he sounded lovely as he also ran through “Lucky Now” and “Everybody Knows,” accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar.
In a nod to Buckingham (and to Parker's band, no doubt), Adams joked “I was going to play [Fleetwood Mac's] ‘Rumours’ front to back. I was going to play it on a Casio keyboard and dress up as a vampire.”
If Adams' short opener was lovely, Buckingham, introduced by the soundtrack’s producer Jon Brion, reached transcendence in his remarkable four-sing set. Giving a short bow to the audience before strapping on an electric guitar, Buckingham was fully engaged from the first note. He skipped his two songs on the “This Is 40” soundtrack —”Sick Of You” and “She Acts Like You— and instead played an extended, incendiary “Shut Us Down,” which appeared on Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown” soundtrack. The sound man took a second to catch up, but by the time Buckingham eased into a menacing, sensual “Go Insane,” his guitar playing was crystal clear. That’s a good thing because there are few guitarists who can play with his precision, speed and melodicism. He gets more sound out of a guitar than most musicians do from a full band. A slowed-down, time-shifting, hypnotic “Never Going Back Again” followed before he wrapped with “Big Love.” He remarked on how when he originally wrote the song in 1987, the line “Looking out for love” hinted at a sense of alienation. Now he sees the song as “a meditation on the power of change.”
The evening belonged to Graham Parker & The Rumour, who played a wide-ranging 22-song set that spanned the title track from his 1976 debut album, “Howlin’ Wind” through this year’s “Three Chords Good.”
He parted with The Rumour in 1980, not reuniting until last year when they began recording “Three Chords Good.” All five of the original members are on tour with him: guitarists Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont, bassist Andrew Bodnar, keyboardist Bob Andrews, and drummer Steve Goulding. Though it took them a few minutes to seeming get into the groove, by “Get Started, Start a Fire” (from 1988’s “The Mona Lisa’s Sister”), the band was locked into a solid groove.
Though he slightly preceded them, Parker’s music recalls his fellow angry young man/British pre-punk colleagues Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, as well as U.S. singer/songwriter John Hiatt. His literate lyrics wrapped around guitar-driven, often ska-inflected, soulful melodies, and, while embraced by critics, he never had the breakthrough in the U.S. that many anticipated for him given his songs’ infectious nature.
Now 62, his once-legendary performances are still spirited, especially when he strips off the guitar and engages with the audience, as he did on the spiky “Nobody Hurts You” and the classic “Protection,” leaning over the audience and shading his eyes on the lyric, “You wanna hide?”
His most engaging tunes remain those that embrace a rollicking twanginess, including “Hotel Chambermaid” and “What Do You Like,” which he recorded with the Punch Bros. for “This Is 40.” He also performed the atmospheric 1977 track, “Watch The Moon Come Down,” another song Apatow snagged for the soundtrack.
It was hard to tell who was having more fun: Parker or the audience, as the crowd’s loud applause brought him back for two encores. He concluded the evening with his bounciest track, “Soul Shoes” and his sparkling cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” which he’s been performing for decades not.
Dirty Projectors' song "Offspring Are Blank" sounds like two different songs put together, so it's appropriate that its music video looks the part.
DP's frontman David Longstreth directed the clip, which features him walking through a field of garbage and dug-up dirt and then rocking out in its original backdrop of picturesque, steep, lush hills. He dons a tox-suit with a three-piece underneath. Dude works hard and plays hard here in dystopia.
"Offspring Are Blank" are the first of three videos debuting this week from Dirty Projectors' 2012 "Swing Lo Magellan": "The Socialites" and "Swing Lo Magellan" will debut tomorrow and Friday. They're all part of the shoot that resulted in short film "Hi Custodian." Watch that trippy trip below, too.
As one of the judges on "Project Runway All Stars," Marchesa founder Georgina Chapman gets a chance to encourage and (sometimes) humble aspiring designers. Pregnant with her second child, she probably also appreciates the opportunity to sit down for a few hours. During a conference call with journalists, Chapman (who is married to "Project Runway" executive producer Harvey Weinstein) discussed why she decided to take on the show, why she's a fan, and why she signed up for her own special, "Project Runway Spotlight: Marchesa" (airs Thurs. Dec. 20 at 10:00 p.m.)
The new trailer for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is full of CGI mayhem, ninjas on mountaintops, and Bruce Willis, The Rock, and Channing Tatum all ladling on the macho. It looks like every 13-year-old kid's dream version of an action movie, ridiculous but impossible not to watch.
One of the things that impresses me about the ninja mountain battle footage you see here is that I was on the set where they shot those scenes, and it couldn't have been any more fake. The stuff here looks great, and I think Jon Chu could turn out to be an inspired choice for this one. I know it's been a difficult film in terms of production set-backs, second-guessing, and release date shuffle, but in the end, all that matters is whether or not the film is any fun, and it looks like it is.
There's a part of me that always feels bad saying something looks like fun when it's got the sort of wholesale destruction that this film appears to have. If they really destroy London the way they show it here, then it's starting to look like Hollywood has some anger issues about London that they're working out, between this and the "Star Trek Into Darkness" poster.