Latest Blog Posts

<p>Keira Knightley in &quot;Anna Karenina.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina." 

Credit: Focus Features

Tech Support: Jacqueline Durran on playing with history (and Chanel) in 'Anna Karenina'

The British costume designer seeks her third Oscar nod for Joe Wright's latest

It's rare that a single garment in a film takes on an iconic status independent of the character or performer wearing it, yet such was the case five years ago when British designer Jacqueline Durran created That Dress for Keira Knightley in Joe Wright's “Atonement.” I needn't describe it: the shimmery emerald number launched a thousand prom-night knockoffs, has entire blogs devoted to it and is currently on display in London's Victoria & Albert Museum. Durran may have lost the 2007 Oscar to “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” but it turns out there's more than one way to reward great costume design. 

Intricately in-period, yet subtly, flexibly modernized, Durran's creations were a vital collaborative element in Wright's first two films with actress Keira Knightley: two years before “Atonement,” she earned her first Oscar nod for her youthfully mud-splashed Regency garb in “Pride and Prejudice.” 

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<p>Thelma Schoonmaker at the 2004 Academy Awards.</p>

Thelma Schoonmaker at the 2004 Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Kevork Djenasezian

Roundup: Thelma Schoonmaker on the perils of digitization

Also: Older women in the Oscar race, and a 'Grave of the Fireflies' remake?

It's obviously a slow day for movie news, but this Atlantic piece about the danger posed to classic cinema by the digital revolution really registered with me. Much column ink has already been spilled on the demise of 35mm in contemporary film -- some of it overly doom-laden -- but less has been said about the effect the digital switchover will have on repertory screenings. Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who recently found herself unable to obtain a new print of "The Age of Innocence" for a museum screening, is worried, not just about the future availability of older titles, but the preservation of the ones that do get converted: "I saw a digitized version of a film that David Lean made during World War II, and it looked just like a TV commercial that was shot yesterday. It was wrong, the balance was completely off. [Colorists] have no idea what these movies should look like anymore." [The Atlantic]    

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<p>Anthony Hopkins in &quot;Hitchcock&quot;</p>

Anthony Hopkins in "Hitchcock"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Hitchcock'

The Master of Suspense gets his own close-up this weekend

We don't have much more to say about "Hitchcock" around these parts. Greg Ellwood was mostly positive at the AFI Fest premiere. I was surprised at how much it's tale of an artist desperate to feel the spark of creativity again spoke to me. We've talked to star Helen Mirren and even dedicated some content to Hitchcock's own history at the Oscars. But now it's time to hear your thoughts on Sacha Gervasi's film, which makes its way to limited release today. So if you aren't too stuffed with Thanksgiving goodies, give us your take. And feel free to rate it above.

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<p>Grant Bowler and Lindsay Lohan are Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime's &quot;Liz &amp;&nbsp;Dick.&quot;</p>

Grant Bowler and Lindsay Lohan are Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime's "Liz & Dick."

Credit: Lifetime

Review: Lindsay Lohan doesn't impress in Lifetime's 'Liz & Dick'

Co-star Grant Bowler does better as Richard Burton than she does as Elizabeth Taylor
It's not hard to understand why Lifetime would want to take a risk on the erratic Lindsay Lohan to play Elizabeth Taylor in the channel's new movie "Liz & Dick" (Sunday at 9 p.m.).
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<p>Helen Mirren discusses her role as Alma Reville in &quot;Hitchcock.&quot;</p>

Helen Mirren discusses her role as Alma Reville in "Hitchcock."

'Hitchcock's' Helen Mirren say she's no Alma Reville when it comes to her husband's work

The Oscar winner and Taylor Hackford do their own thing

NEW YORK - In the 1950's and early '60s, Alma Reville was a creative power unbeknownst to the moviegoing public.  The wife of acclaimed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, Reville was an accomplished screenwriter, defacto producer and editor who was responsible for much of her husband's success.  While some may question a number of the more salacious storylines in Sacha Gervasi's new drama "Hitchcock," no one will complain that the film is finally giving Reville her long awaited due.

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Kevin McHale and Cory Monteith on "Glee"

Kevin McHale and Cory Monteith on "Glee"

Credit: Fox

'Glee' recap: 'Dynamic Duets'

Not really a Thanksgiving episode, just an episode that airs on Thanksgiving

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll restrict this week's recap to the things I enjoyed about "Dynamic Duets."

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<p>Russell Crowe in &quot;Les Mis&eacute;rables&quot;</p>

Russell Crowe in "Les Misérables"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tech Support: 'Avengers,' 'Les Mis' and 'Skyfall' stir it up with others in Best Sound Mixing

One of the most competitive crafts categories is an embarrassment of riches

Last year’s Best Picture winner highlighted one of the great innovations in cinematic history – the introduction of sound. As I noted in my cinematography column, it is the moving picture that, first and foremost, distinguishes cinema from other art forms. But in the absence of sound, our films feel incomplete. On this American Thanksgiving (even if I’m spending the day north of the border), I’m very grateful for our movie sound artists.

The category of Best Sound Mixing awards those who bring all elements of a movie’s aural experience – music, dialogue, effects – into a soup of sound. When done well, it exquisitely develops the atmosphere and brings the audience into the world on screen.

Up to three re-recording mixers are eligible for the prize (concerned with mixing in post-production) and the production sound mixer (who has the exceptionally important task of capturing and leveling the sound during filming). This is certainly a category where favorite artists tend to do very well as many, many sound re-recording mixers have seven-to-15 nominations over the course of their career, or even more.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Hannah and Her Sisters.&quot;</p>

A scene from "Hannah and Her Sisters."

Credit: Orion Pictures

Roundup: What are your favorite Thanksgiving movies?

Also: The year in film music, and Winslet's royal appointment

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Everybody who gets to participate in it, at least: the rest of us are getting on with our working days and eating less-than-festive dinners. My experience of Turkey Day comes mostly through the movies, so I'm interested to hear if you have any go-to Thanksgiving movies that make the holiday complete. "The Ice Storm" comes first to mind for me, though it's hardly celebratory. Tim Grierson makes a solid case for "Hannah and Her Sisters," which is one of my favorite movies, period. Woody Allen's film, he writes, "recognizes that life is never perfect but that sometimes we can cobble together enough happiness to keep going... there are reasons to be thankful all around us, if only we’ll stop and appreciate them." What films give you that feeling? [IFC]

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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'Tom vs. Emeril: Turkeypocalypse'

It's a Thanksgiving challenge pitting Creole dishes against Italian

I'm curious to know what a turkeypocalypse might be, and not just because it's making the autocorrect on my computer short out. But yes, it's a Thanksgiving-themed episode just in time for our Thanksgiving, so everyone who's cooking anything tomorrow can know beyond a doubt that their food is not as good as what these people are serving up. But first, we start with that grand old Thanksgiving tradition -- a dumpling challenge! Because when I think Thanksgiving, I think dumplings, don't you?

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"American Horror Story"

 "American Horror Story"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story' recap: 'Origins of Monstrosity'

What creates a serial killer? Lack of hugs, for starters

For the record, “American Horror Story” does not get you into the holiday spirit. Or maybe, if you really, really hate the holidays and want to kill anyone who wishes you a chipper “Season’s greetings!” in late October, or who camps out on Black Friday or deep fries their turkey and accidentally sets an entire city block on fire, this might be just the show for you. And hey, there are even cooking tips in this episode! As Dr. Thredson says, “Nutmeg makes all the difference in the world.” If you have not seen this episode, you might think that’s handy advice. And if you have seen this episode? You may never, ever cook with, eat or use the word nutmeg again. As if I needed another reason not to eat pumpkin pie.

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<p>Abi pouts in &quot;Survivor:&nbsp;Philippines.&quot;</p>

Abi pouts in "Survivor: Philippines."

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'Whiners are Wieners'

As power shifts in the game, interpersonal dynamics move front and center

Survivor”’s decision to air a new episode on the night before Thanksgiving is an interesting one. While the show has historically chosen to feature a special “recap” episode at this point in the season, the shift to Wednesday has made it possible for them to more safely air a new hour of television during the holidays.

On the one hand, the decision could reflect a desire to maintain the momentum of what has been a really terrific season, one that has me far more invested in the show than at any point in recent years (where I rarely got through an entire season). However, more cynically, one wonders if this episode is airing tonight in part because the result is inevitable. With the numbers shifting last week as a result of Skupin’s change of heart regarding the original Tandang, the surprise factor seems low, and Pete and Abi seem like they’re on their way out.

Could they be airing “Whiners and Wieners” because it reaches an inevitable conclusion, and those who choose to skip the episode won’t miss much when they return from their holiday next week and discover that all has gone according to expectation? Or are they hoping it’s so enthralling that “Survivor” will be all people can talk about at Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow?

Click through for the full recap to find out…

Pre-credit sequence. When the tribe returns to their camp, Abi feels bad for Artis, and thinks they need another game plan. They fell asleep at the wheel, Pete says, and Abi doesn’t understand how it went down. She seems incredulous to the fact that someone might think “Keeping Tandang Strong” isn’t actually a useful strategy.

For the other side, it’s about finding a way to ensure that Pete and Abi go home before they do. Indeed, Skupin and Denise lay out a very basic plan: Abi and Pete are eliminated, and then the final six duke it out from there. It’s an ideal strategy for Malcolm and Denise (who are more closely aligned than some of the players seem to realize), and would probably work out well for a player like Carter (who, despite being incapable of completing a sentence, is very willing to follow a leader like Penner deep into the game). The credits roll with Skupin promising he has big plans for playing this game.

Breaking up is hard to do (even when she disrespects you at every turn). When they return from commercial, though, Lisa isn’t exactly sure she wants to be part of this six. Indeed, she’s sitting on the beach explaining to Abi that she has never wavered from their alliance. Effectively, Lisa sees this as a breakup, and she’s terrible at getting out of relationships. She’s lost her trust in them, and she finds them to be horrible people, and yet she just can’t quit them. Abi is trying to sell her on being at the top of an alliance—that’s a clear minority—but Lisa would rather be able to sleep at night. For her, aligning with the other five will better her time on “Survivor” and the rest of the life. It’s a bold statement, but Lisa’s gameplay has been so rewarding in part because of how much she’s worn her heart on her sleeve. It’s an honest moment, and one that quickly disperses with any notion that Lisa might be willing to stick around with Pete and Abi. The game is now 6 on 2.

Flipping a coin is harder than it looks. The Reward Challenge, however, is 4 on 4. With a spa day on the line—which yields excitement from Malcolm upon learning he could win a chance to wash his hair—the teams compete in a game of chaos and strategy: the teams each have three large medallions in the sand (with one of each in three circles), and their task is to—as individuals in a multi-round setup—flip your team’s medallions onto their proper side while also flipping back those from the other team. It’s the Red Team (Abi, Carter, Malcolm and Pete) against the Yellow Team (Skupin, Lisa, Penner, and Denise), which is very much divided along age lines. Unfortunately for the older team, this really is a game of speed: although Penner is great at strategizing in these kinds of challenges—think back to last week’s reward—Carter is simply faster, winning the first point based purely on foot speed between medallions.

However, as the next two rounds reveals, this is also a game that requires you to understand how it works. Despite Carter’s dead-eyed existence, it’s Malcolm and Abi who makes the mistakes: Malcolm forgets to flip the Yellow team’s medallion back over (giving Skupin an easy chance to get a point), while Abi proves why she’s sat out the majority of challenges when she flips over Lisa’s third medallion for her (“No, not really,” she says when Jeff asks her if she gets what is happening). Malcolm’s mental lapse and Abi’s fundamental misunderstanding of the game at hand give the Yellow team a lead until Pete outraces Denise to set up a rematch between Malcolm and Skupin in which Skupin “Pulls an Abi” and flips over the Red tile. With that, the young win a spa getaway, and the narrative shifts from naiveté to senility (if one can honestly make such a narrative as a group of incredibly tired people in extenuating circumstances race around flipping stuff in the sand).

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<p>Suraj Sharma in &quot;Life of Pi&quot;</p>

Suraj Sharma in "Life of Pi"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Tell us what you thought of 'Life of Pi'

Ang Lee's visionary adaptation hits theaters just in time for the holiday

Ang Lee's addition to the season is finally here as "Life of Pi" -- hotly anticipated for years -- hits the multiplex. I was favorable when I saw the film at the 50th annual New York Film Festival, though I took some mechanics issues with it. I still feel that way, though the creamy center has really felt richer and richer the further I've spun away from it. HitFix's own Drew McWeeny, meanwhile, has a completely different take, a disagreement with fundamental elements. But let's see what you have to say. Drop your comments below when you get around to seeing the film, and as always, feel free to rate it above.

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