Latest Blog Posts

Look: Photos of Justin Timberlake recording 'The 20/20 Experience"

Look: Photos of Justin Timberlake recording 'The 20/20 Experience"

He and Timbaland are clearly hard at work

Check out photos of Justin Timberlake in the studio, recording his new album, “The 20/20 Experience.”

Timberlake tweeted a link to the photos Sunday night.  The three black and white stills (he’s clearly working a theme: his Jan. 10 video announcing his comeback was also shot in black and white) show him and producer Timbaland studiously (or quizzically) listening to someone/something we don’t see. You can tell Timberlake is serious because he has on his glasses and he’s chewing on a toothpick.

The next shot shows him playing an acoustic guitar sitting by the console (the recording booth is on the other side of the glass, Justin!). The third show shows him recording vocals. He’s holding his iPhone in his hand, so maybe he hasn’t quite learned the lyrics yet.

A few minutes after posting the photos, Timberlake tweeted how excited he was that the San Francisco 49ers will play the Baltimore Ravens in Feb. 3 Super Bowl. He added “Can’t wait! I’m booking my flight to New Orleans right now!” Then followed with “Oh wait... I don’t have tickets. Dammit! Anybody know anybody?? LOL!”

We’d say that the NFL is already on it, but we’re not sure how welcome back Timberlake is after playing a big role in Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. Maybe as long as he stays on the sidelines....

Timberlake released "Suit & Tie," he first single from "The 20/20 Experience" at midnight Jan. 14. The song quickly soared to the top of the iTunes songs chart and is expected to leap into the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 this week based on digital download sales of between 350,000 and 400,000.

 

Read Full Post
"Downton Abbey"

 "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

'Downton Abbey' recap: Season 3, Episode 3

Sybil and Branson return, but not under the best circumstances

We return to "Downton Abbey" this week and find that, despite Edith's horrifying rejection at the altar, life continues on for our beloved Brits. Though Matthew has (finally) agrees to save Downton from a fire sale, that hardly means everything is smooth sailing. This week's episode takes a while to warm up, but once it does it suggests some difficult times are ahead for some pivotal characters (no spoilers, no spoilers) and that we're going to see even more cracks in the problematic class structure and political landscape of 1920s England. As much as I've enjoyed the more insular storylines (and there's still plenty of house intrigue), I can appreciate that in season three we're moving into a broader view of what was happening in the world beyond Downton -- even if it's abundantly clear that not all of it was good. 

Read Full Post
<p>Stevie Nicks at Sundance</p>

Stevie Nicks at Sundance

Credit: HitFix

Stevie Nicks on 'Sound City' and Fleetwood Mac: 'It's like the Volturi is coming for me'

Watch the video interview for the 'rock star' at Dave Grohl's movie premiere

PARK CITY - Stevie Nicks' storied career started, in part, out of the Sound City recording studio in California, which makes it a fine reason for her to co-star in Dave Grohl's Sundance documentary "Sound City." But the Fleetwood Mac singer and solo artist isn't entirely comfortable in front of the camera -- at least, that's not where she feels at home.

"I don't love being filmed and I don't love all the stuff that you have to think about instead of thinking about your music, I don't love the whole vanity thing. It bugs me," she told me, donning enormous sunglasses and fabulous fur on the red carpet at the "Sound City" premiere this weekend. "I never want to be a movie star… but [being] the Rock Star's O.K. because you don't have to do that that much. You really just have to work on your music and that's really where my heart is. But this is very much fun."

She's been showing up on film for "Sound City" and in the making-of film for her latest album "In Your Dreams," which is still baking. Then there's the re-reunion tour with Fleetwood Mac this year.

Read Full Post
<p>Cameron Monaghan, Jeremy Allen White and William H. Macy in &quot;Shameless.&quot;</p>

Cameron Monaghan, Jeremy Allen White and William H. Macy in "Shameless."

Credit: Showtime

Review: 'Shameless' - 'The American Dream'

Frank tries to move back in and Fiona runs into club night complications

A quick review of tonight's "Shameless" coming up just as soon as I have a pillowcase full of bars of soap...

Read Full Post
<p>Donald Glover as Sandy in &quot;Girls.&quot;</p>

Donald Glover as Sandy in "Girls."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Girls' - 'I Get Ideas'

Hannah clashes with her old boyfriend and her new one, while Marnie finds work

A review of tonight's "Girls" coming up just as soon as I enlighten you about how things are tougher for minorities...

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Linsanity&quot;</p>

"Linsanity"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'Linsanity' spreads to Park City with some candidness

Documentary takes Jeremy Lin fans back to last spring
Merely living under a rock last February wouldn't have sheltered you from the pervasive ubiquity of Linsanity.
 
Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin was all anybody wanted to discuss on sports talk radio. ESPN practically rebranded in his image. Sports Illustrated put him on the cover in consecutive weeks. He was on the cover of Time. He became the most beloved figure in one of the biggest media markets in the world.
 
New York City is known for creating stars in short order, but with Jeremy Lin, the duration between cult stardom (and mainstream anonymity) and global omnipresence was literally less than a week.
 
The Grand Narrative of Jeremy Lin was oft-repeated gospel before he had started five games in the NBA. We knew about his Harvard and going undrafted. We knew about his multiple stints in the NBA Development League and about his being waived first by the Warriors and then by the Rockets. We knew he was moments from his third cutting of the season when he blew up in the second half of a game against the Nets. We knew that even as the Knicks went on a long winning streak, he was sleeping on a couch. We knew about his religious devotion, we knew exactly how many puns you could do on his last name and we knew that if you give the media enough time to talk about an Asian-American athlete stupid people who slip into intended and unintended racism before the passing of a single moon.
 
I sat down for Sunday's (January 20) world premiere of Evan Jackson Leong's predictably titled documentary "Linsanity" with some measure of trepidation, since the last thing I (or Sundance) needed was a hastily turned around Lin documentary regurgitating the same underdog narrative.
 
It's a relief to report that while Leong's "Linsanity" is a relatively familiar hagiography, the director had begun his focus on Lin before the madness and he was working with Lin's candid cooperation. That means that while none of the facts or linear details in "Linsanity" count as a revelation, Lin's personality is able to shine through. There are some very strange choices and problematic missteps in the storytelling here, but it turns out that I like Jeremy Lin and in a brisk documentary that goes a long way.
 
More on "Linsanity" after the break...
 
Read Full Post
<p>Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix both won awards from the London Film Critics' Circle for &quot;The Master.&quot;</p>

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix both won awards from the London Film Critics' Circle for "The Master."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Amour,' 'Life of Pi,' 'The Master' win big as London critics spread the love

Daniel Day-Lewis misses a rare stop on the precursor trail

One of the few downsides of being at Sundance this year is that I missed the awards ceremony of my own critics' group, the London Film Critics' Circle. They've just been handed out at a classy gathering at London's Mayfair Hotel, and I'm pleased to see that a good half-dozen of the nominees I voted for took home awards -- not that I'm inclined to complain about any of the winners on this well-balanced list.

"Amour" was the night's top winner, taking Best Film, Screenplay and Actress for Emmanuelle Riva, but no one film was allowed to dominate too heavily. In something of a surprise, Ang Lee took the Best Director award for "Life of Pi," which took an additional technical achievement award for its visual effects.

Read Full Post
Brie Larson and James Ponsoldt discuss getting teens right on 'The Spectacular Now'

Brie Larson and James Ponsoldt discuss getting teens right on 'The Spectacular Now'

High school romance premiered at Sundance this weekend
PARK CITY - The Sundance Film Festival offers the opportunity for interview backdrops that you can't get anywhere else. It also offers the chance to conduct an interview under the coldest conditions imaginable.
 
Case in point: On Saturday (January 19) afternoon, after the sun had dipped and temperatures had plummeted into the single digits, I chatted with "The Spectacular Now" director James Ponsoldt and co-star Brie Larson about premiering their new teen drama at Sundance. It was frigid, but since "The Spectacular Now" is a film I quite like -- Check out my review -- I was grateful that Ponsoldt and Larson were willing to shiver at the base of the Main Street ski lift to talk about the project and how they want to define it, or maybe not-define it.
 
"They are teenagers, but I think it transcends the usual tropes of a quote-unquote teen film," Ponsoldt says.
 
And when I asked Larson what normal "teen movie" script get wrong, she quickly responded, "The whole thing. Generally, just the whole thing."
 
In the video, Larson and Ponsoldt talk about what they hope their film gets right and the challenges of balancing comedy, earnestness and romance under the same cinematic roof.
 
Enjoy the interview some place warm.
 
Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Inequality For All&quot;</p>

"Inequality For All"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: Robert Reich thrives in the 'Inequality For All' spotlight

It's like 'An Inconvenient Truth' only more entertaining in every way
There will be a knee-jerk desire to compare Jacob Kornbluth's "Inequality For All" to Davis Guggenheim's "An Inconvenient Truth."
 
Both Sundance-launched documentaries feature members of the Clinton Administration giving illustrated lectures that attempt to expand issues of vital importance beyond dry liberal talking points.
 
So far be it for me to break from the expected pack: What "An Inconvenient Truth" was for environmental science, "Inequality For All" absolutely is for economic inequality. 
 
For whoever ends up acquiring and distributing "Inequality For All," there are empirical advantages to that comparison. "An Inconvenient Truth" took in nearly $50 million worldwide, making it the most lucrative PowerPoint presentation in history. It also won a Documentary Oscar in a year that featured Amy Berg's "Deliver Us From Evil," as well as "Jesus Camp" and "Iraq in Fragments."
 
That's high achievement for a documentary which, if we're being honest, was admirably persuasive, but fell short of any high level of filmmaking. 
 
"An Inconvenient Truth" was a filmed position paper and it will probably be a valuable classroom aid for years to come, but it's not a good movie. 
 
So while "Inequality For All" may deserve its easy linkages to "An Inconvenient Truth," that may also be selling the new documentary short. I'm not going to get into the relative political values of their arguments, but when it comes to artistic values, this isn't a close one.
 
Kornbluth's documentary is provocative and smart. It's also energetic and fun. It's "An Inconvenient Truth" for economics, but it's also much better. I may with that "Inequality For All" did a bit more, but what it does, it does well.
 
More after the break...
 
Read Full Post
"Private Practice"

 "Private Practice"

Credit: ABC

Interview: Amy Brenneman talks about the end of 'Private Practice'

The star promises that Violet will get a 'happy ending' - but not with a guy

The end is nearing for "Private Practice," (Tues. at 10:00 p.m.) which will be heading off into the TV sunset after six seasons on Jan. 22. I'll admit I'm sad to see the show, a frequently sudsy medical procedural with unexpected emotional kick, go. Even though I came to the party far too late, having gotten hooked on the show during a trip to Brazil (the show was subtitled instead of dubbed into Portuguese, so how could I resist?), it only took a few episodes for me to get so hooked on the travails of Oceanside Wellness Center's beleaguered staff I added it to my to-do list the minute I got home. 

So, I was excited to get a chance to talk to star Amy Brenneman (Dr. Violet Turner) about what's on the way. The actress,  unlike her grieving character, seemed upbeat and happy to talk about what's next for her (which, so far, isn't TV) and was excited about how Violet's character arc concludes -- hinting that women who might see themselves in Violet should be as well. We discussed whether or not it's possible for the recently widowed Violet to have a happy ending, why she isn't eager to be an "actor for hire" again, and why she found the mixed-up styles of the final season to be "fun, not a challenge." 

Read Full Post
<p>Steve Coogan in &quot;The Look of Love.&quot;</p>

Steve Coogan in "The Look of Love."

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: Coogan and Winterbottom revisit 24-hour party people in 'The Look of Love'

Biopic of London's red light district king could use another pass in the editing room

PARK CITY - Sometimes a title change -- even one necessitated by external forces -- can reveal more about a film's uncertainties than anyone involved could possibly realize. Michael Winterbottom's jazzy but scattershot biopic of London nightlife kingpin Paul Raymond, at one point declared Britain's richest man, is one such example.

Originally dubbed "The KIng of Soho," the film was made to change this straightforward title following the threat of legal action from a rival Raymond project. That's neither here nor there, but as a replacement appellation, "The Look of Love" seems so irrelevant to the subject at hand -- bar the recurring presence of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David chestnut on the soundtrack -- that one wonders whether those who chose it had any idea what the film was about.

Read Full Post
<p>Trust me when I say nothing good can come of this.</p>

Trust me when I say nothing good can come of this.

Credit: The Collective/Bloody Disgusting

Review: Apocalyptic horror anthology 'S-VHS' is that rare sequel that improves on the original

Even more uncommon? Anthology films with no weak links

PARK CITY - Last year, the anthology horror film "V/H/S" made its premiere as part of the midnight selections, and I was there for the first screening.  I really liked "V/H/S," and I think the format for the film is the greatest part of it.  It is an invitation to filmmakers, basically.  A "What If?" game that any horror artist would be happy to play.  I said in my review of the first film that the last segment was the one that impressed me most.  "The final segment by Radio Silence feels like the brakes are off and you're flying off the mountain into the void."  Well, this entire film feels like it starts at that place and then raises the stakes.  The first film told the story of some rotten deaths of some people in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The second film feels more like a document proving that the end of the world is underway.

Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard have spent the last few years carving a space out for themselves to play, and their fingerprints are all over this second film.  The wrap-around segment is written and directed by Simon, and there is a segment written by him and directed by Adam who also stars in in.  Simon appears onscreen in his own wrap-around segment.  Naked.  So you have that to look forward to, America.  Wingard's story mines a potent notion about our increasing relationship to technology.  I have joked that my kids are both cyborgs, but I'm not really kidding.  They think of technology less as individual objects and more as the way the world works.  Wingard is given an experimental replacement eye that also holds a recording device, and in accepting his new extension, he also has to accept access to a whole new visual realm.  Wingard's house becomes a trap, and the rhythm of the piece is aggressive, new scares piled one after another.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME