Latest Blog Posts

<p>Renee Zellweger in &quot;Chicago.&quot;</p>

Renee Zellweger in "Chicago."

Credit: Miramax

Roundup: Is authenticity ruining the musical?

Also: Portman named most bankable star, and Hathaway's Oscar hosting advice

The live-sung approach of "Les Misérables" may have yielded glowing reviews for the likes of Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne, but less vocally gifted stars -- principally Russell Crowe -- have taken some flak. Back in the golden age of the Hollywood musical, his musical numbers might well have been dubbed, as Audrey Hepburn's were in "My Fair Lady" or Natalie Wood's in "West Side Story." Inkoo Kang wonders why we can't go back to that system: "The tendency toward multi-hyphenation is also a treat for celebrity gawkers, who get a glimpse behind the curtain, or at least feel like they are doing so, by watching stars in a rawer, less accomplished form." Personally, I don't mind an imperfect vocal when it's part and parcel of the performance and character: the very narrative of "Chicago," for example, benefits from Renee Zellweger being a more awkward performer than legions of Broadway Roxie Harts. You? [Salon]

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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: AP Photo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'Jalapeno Business'

It's a roller derby duke out and Josie loses her cool
I love it when "Top Chef" forces our cheftestants out into the big, bad world, blinking and shivering like frightened moles. This week, they get to frolic in the bay, shucking oysters, slurping them down, and then worrying about what awaits them back in the test kitchen. Probably something involving oysters. Just a guess.
The Quickfire Challenge is simple: the chefs must make oysters for Emeril! Five will make hot dishes, five will go cold. And how will that be decided? Chefs who grab a red apron get to cook hot, the rest get stuck with blue aprons and cold food, as it seems the appeal is really to make a hot dish. The winner will get $5,000, and they get 25 minutes. As expected, there's a rush on red aprons. I've never been an oyster fan, I have to say, so I don't have much to add on this challenge, I have to say. 
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<p>Rodrigo Prieto (left)&nbsp;and Ben&nbsp;Affleck on the set of &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Rodrigo Prieto (left) and Ben Affleck on the set of "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tech Support: Rodrigo Prieto on finding the right trio of looks for 'Argo'

The DP worked out distinct visual cues for each of the film's three worlds

Over the past month, Ben Affleck’s “Argo” has firmly entrenched itself as a surefire Oscar contender. Since it opened to outstanding reviews and box office earlier in the year, numerous commentators have lauded it for its portrayal of how Canadian diplomats, American spies and Hollywood big shots worked together to rescue six Americans from Iran in 1980. It has also been praised for its gripping suspense and aesthetic.

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto was responsible in significant part for that aesthetic – a look he is the first to admit was also the result of a team. I recently spoke to the Oscar nominee (“Brokeback Mountain”) about his part in creating the film.

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<p>Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington in &quot;Django Unchained.&quot;</p>

Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington in "Django Unchained."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

The Long Shot: Hot potato shuffle

A number of Best Picture hopefuls are prompting healthy debate

What are the worst Best Picture winners of all time? Though the answers may overlap, it's a question that's not entirely the same as, "What are the worst films ever to win Best Picture?" Several titles on the Academy's ultimate honor roll are artistically lacking, though that doesn't necessarily make them terrible winners. Accepting as most of us do that the Academy is rarely, if ever, going to agree with us on the year's single greatest film, we begin to value alternative virtues in Oscar champs: durability, universality, pop-cultural standing, provocation, reach.

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<p>Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in &quot;Les&nbsp;<span style="color: rgb(45, 45, 45); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 18px;">Mis&eacute;rables.&quot;</span></p>

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in "Les Misérables."

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: The dream remains distant in garishly grim 'Les Misérables'

Rousing source material sunk by directorial affectations

(I had scheduled this review to go up yesterday, but held back in the interests of not being a total Christmas Day Scrooge. Keep sharing your reactions.)

"Do you hear the people sing?" blusters the famous closing chorus of stage blockbuster "Les Misérables," and rarely in musical theater has a question been more rhetorical. The line is an imperative, a war cry, sounding not only the purposeful social discontent firing the 1832 June Rebellion, but a proactive admonishment to the show's critics.

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Lady Gaga plans 'ARTPOP' documentary with Terry Richardson

Film chronicles her life and creation of her new album

Lady Gaga fans rejoice: Mamma Monster is making a film just for you with her favorite photographer at the helm.

On Christmas, she tweeted, “Merry Christmas little monsters! Terry Richardson @Terry_World is making a #LadyGagaMOVIE documenting my life, the creation of ARTPOP + you!”

She later thanked fans for being “so patient waiting for my new album,” which still has no release date. And then sent a tweet to Richardson: “I love you @Terry_World thank you for believing in me and my fans, I have looked up to you and your work for so long, its a dream come true! Lady Gaga recently tweeted that she has written more than 50 songs for the new album.

Maybe the documentary will include more footage of her doing a striptease and cavorting with two other women in a bath tub.

As for any other clue as to how Lady Gaga spent her holiday (other than on Twitter), she later tweeted, “I'm listening to @MariahCarey 's christmas album dancing in my room with my weed xmas sweater. all i need now is my box wine #bestdayever

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<p>Quvenzhane Wallis in &quot;Beasts of the Southern Wild.&quot;</p>

Quvenzhane Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Roundup: Bless the 'Beasts' and 'Lincoln'

Also: Why 'Argo' is still the one to beat, and R.I.P. Charles Durning

What do "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Lincoln" have in common? Beyond both being American Oscar hopefuls that happen to be his two favorite films of the year, A.O. Scott thinks they share something else: a "Spielbergian" quality: "Both films have been accused of painting some of the calamities of American life, past and present — poverty, slavery, racism, environmental disaster — in unduly optimistic colors.“Lincoln” and “Beasts” are radically, fundamentally and in complementary ways, about freedom... They are also examples of what, for an American filmmaker, freedom looks like." Good points all round, and also indicative of why, in my opinion, "Beasts" has a cleaner shot at a Best Picture nod than many believe it does right now. [New York Times]

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From 'Smash' to 'Newsroom' - TV's Worst of 2012 from The Fien Print

From 'Smash' to 'Newsroom' - TV's Worst of 2012 from The Fien Print

Vampires, news anchors, thespians and aspiring stars make the Bottom 10
If you've listened to the Worst of 2012 Firewall & Iceberg Podcast that posted on Monday afternoon, you've heard several of these rants already and you also probably heard the rules that I set for my "Worst" lists.
The most important rule is that in order for a show to make my "Worst" list, I have to actually watch it. There's no point in me telling you that "Dance Moms" is awful, because what do I know? I've watched 10 minutes of "Dance Moms." That's not enough.
It's also not enough for me to have hated a pilot. The "Beauty and the Beast" pilot was the worst hour of TV that I watched in 2012, but five minutes into the second episode, I gave up. I understand that some of my colleagues don't play by these rules, but I've seen too many shows start off with awful pilots and then improve. "Neighbors" and "Chicago Fire" both were listed among my Worst New Shows of 2012. I kept watching "Neighbors" enough to see that it's an average and inoffensive comedy, not good enough for me to keep watching after four-ish episodes, but probably not bad enough to include in this gallery. And I actually found myself somewhat liking "Chicago Fire" after the first handful of episodes. It's not great, but it has a season pass on my DVR and I watch episodes while I'm folding laundry or building galleries like this one. 
Sometimes networks help me keep their shows in this gallery. If "Work It" had aired a full season, there's no chance I'd have watched it for long enough to justify its inclusion, but because ABC pulled the cross-dressing alleged comedy after the two episodes I watched, it has a place of dishonor here. CBS did roughly the same with "Partners," pulling the Monday dud just as it became too unbearable for me to watch.
Most of these are shows that I watch because I used to like them or shows that I regularly watch because they're simply too central to the ongoing dialogue in the industry that I cover for me to quit on them. And some of them are shows that I made sufficient commitment to that I figured I might as well see them to the end. 
There are three shows making repeat appearances from my Worst of 2011 Gallery. But there's only one show that's made my Worst Of... lists three years running.
Anyway... The gallery is below. Check it out!
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<p>&quot;Django Unchained&quot;</p>

"Django Unchained"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Tell us what you thought of 'Django Unchained'

Quentin Tarantino's latest hits theaters this holiday

If you listened to the top 10 podcast or read through the subsequent column, you know very well what I think of Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." It is perhaps for me his best work since "Jackie Brown" and easily one of the year's best films. And it's hitting screens this holiday with a lot of anticipation built-up and ready to pop. So here's your space to tell us what you thought of the film, so rifle off your take here when/if you get a chance to see it, and feel free to rate it above.

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<p>&quot;Les Mis&eacute;rables&quot;</p>

"Les Misérables"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Les Misérables'

Tom Hooper's musical adaptation finally comes out into the spotlight

The wait is over for those heavily anticipating the transition of "Les Misérables" from stage to screen as the film hits theaters this holiday season. I'll be very interested to know how it plays for our readers. It's been a funny thing, watching such split reactions. Critics are mostly lukewarm but Academy members eat it up. I'm somewhere in the middle there. I cried a bit, cringed a bit, and mostly enjoyed the enterprise. But do tell us what you thought. And feel free to rate it above.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 163: Worst TV of 2012

Dan and Alan also talk about Glen Mazzara's exit from "The Walking Dead"


On the previous Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, Dan and I talked about our favorite TV shows of 2012. On today's podcast (likely our final of the year), we offered the dark side of that, with some of the worst and/or most disappointing shows of 2012, from a cross-dressing comedy everybody knew would be bad to a prestige cable drama we had such hopes for. The rundown: 


"The Walking Dead" without Glen Mazzara (00:01:00 - 00:10:55)

The Worst of 2012 (00:11:00 - 01:11:00)


As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 163 - Worst of 2012

Dan and Alan discuss their least favorite TV shows of the year


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
Last week, Sepinwall & I celebrated TV's Best of 2012
As Santa Claus would tell you, it's pleasant to put together a "nice" list, but it's MUCH more fun to penalize the kids who have been naughty.
That's why we're dedicating what will probably be our last Firewall & Iceberg of 2012 to handing out lumps of coal. And there are plenty to go around.
And because we recorded this podcast on Friday, pretty much at the second that AMC announced the Glen Mazzara-free renewal for "The Walking Dead," we talked for a bit about the potential ramifications for the zombie drama. Since very little has changed or evolved in that particular story, I doubt that the segment will seem too outdated. 
The breakdown:
"The Walking Dead" without Glen Mazzara (00:01:00 - 00:10:55)
The Worst of 2012 (00:11:00 - 01:11:00)


As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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