Latest Blog Posts

<p>Ed Helms and Ellie Kemper in &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

Ed Helms and Ellie Kemper in "The Office."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'The Office' - 'Couples Discount'

Ed Helms returns, but do even 'The Office' writers know what a terrible character Andy's become?

A quick review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as we go outside to play catch...

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<p>That photo is such a lie, and I&nbsp;love how everything about the marketing of 'Side Effects' is a giant elbow to the ribs of the audience.</p>

That photo is such a lie, and I love how everything about the marketing of 'Side Effects' is a giant elbow to the ribs of the audience.

Credit: Open Road

Review: 'Side Effects' gives Rooney Mara a killer role in a sly Soderbergh thriller

Jude Law lets his inner weirdo out to play in a key supporting part

If this is how Steven Soderbergh decides to go out, let it be known he was playing games right up till the bitter end.

One of the interesting things about Soderbergh's career has been how low key the marketing on many of his films has been.  Considering how prominent he's  been in the Hollywood landscape since "sex, lies and videotapes" first vaunted him to fame, Soderbergh's films often feel like stealth events when they arrive in theaters.  Considering this is the last theatrical release he's supposedly ever directing, "Side Effects" arrives in theaters with surprisingly little fanfare, and when I walked into the theater, I hadn't seen anything.  Not a photo.  Not a trailer.

I've said before that there are two different versions of a film.  There's the version that is seen by the audience that has seen the trailers and the clips and the commercials, who walks in with a certain degree of the movie spoiled because that's how we sell movies these days.  They're the ones who walked into "Terminator 2" knowing full well that Arnold was not only back, but that he was the good guy this time.  They're the ones who sit through movies that have twist endings waiting for the twist ending.  Even if they don't know what it is, they know it's coming.  Then there's the version of the film that someone sees nine years later when they're at home one day and they see that the next thing on cable is called "Side Effects," and they've never heard of it, but they see that it's a Soderbergh film with Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum in it, and they decide to watch it, and whatever the narrative does, it hits them cold and the script works the way it's supposed to work in a vacuum.  If you see "Terminator 2" and you somehow haven't been spoiled at all, the first time Arnold appears, it looks like he's the bad guy again.  There's no indication that he's anything but The Terminator until he fires past John Connor and hits Robert Patrick.  That's the beat where suddenly the first film implodes and we realize something else is going on this time.  If it can work on you in that perfect vacuum, without being ruined at all, it's a very special narrative experience, and I value them when they occur.

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'Beautiful Creatures' star Emmy Rossum discusses Ridley's new style, future

'Beautiful Creatures' star Emmy Rossum discusses Ridley's new style, future

'Shameless' star enjoyed playing the bad girl
In Richard LaGravenese's "Beautiful Creatures," Emmy Rossum's Ridley Duchannes captures the essence of the character from Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's bestselling YA novel, while making dramatic and effective external changes. 
Gone is the lollypop-sucking Lolita with the pink streaks in her hair and the cosplay wardrobe. Instead, the character has a still-sexy Old Hollywood glamour that makes the linkage between Ridley's dark caster powers as a man-luring siren and the fact that retro movie starlets were also called sirens. 
I sat down with Rossum last weekend and we discussed Ridley's big screen makeover and her inspirations, as well as a new scene that explores Ridley's Claiming, the moment she became a dark caster.
I was a bit less successful in getting Rossum to go along with my attempted thematic linkage between Ridley and Fiona, her character on Showtime's "Shameless." Not all reportorial tangents can be successful and I still insist this one makes sense.
Finally, Rossum seems excited about exploring Ridley's progression in potential sequels, though she gives away a plot point from the new book in Garcia and Stohl's saga. She does, however, offer a helpful "spoiler warning."
Check out the full interview above.
Stay tuned over the next week for more interests with the stars of "Beautiful Creatures," including Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis.
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
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"Project Runway"

 "Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway' recap: 'Surprise Me'

Designers must dress Heidi Klum for a fragrance launch - and some stink

Hey, guess what! Each season of "Project Runway" has a certain number of challenges in which our poor, hardworking designers must be slave labor for the judges, and that's begun in earnest tonight. I kind of hate these challenges, mostly because they reek of labor law violations, but also because they usually suck. Remember the mommy and me challenge? The ugly workout clothing challenge? The dressing Nina challenge? Let's hope this one, which is Heidi-centric, at least doesn't force the designers to create plus-size T-shirts for a Walmart line or overalls for NASCAR. You think I'm joking. All I think is that someone in marketing for the show just hasn't made the deal yet.

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<p>Lazaro waits pensively on &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Lazaro waits pensively on "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Live-Blog - Hollywood Round, Part 2

More quality time with the 'Idol' men from Hollywood

On Wednesday night, we spent a lot of time with the "American Idol" Men. Too much time, if you ask me. Hollywood Week used to be a highlight of the "Idol" schedule, but Wednesday's show was a mess that didn't leave me appreciating a single singer on a particularly high level.

But maybe Thursday's show will be better as we trim the masculine side of the "Idol" field...

Click through...

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<p>Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn in &quot;Scandal.&quot;</p>

Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn in "Scandal."

Credit: ABC

Review: 'Scandal' - 'Nobody Likes Babies'

The reinvented Shonda Rhimes drama wraps up its first major arc in fine fashion

When "Scandal" debuted last spring, I wasn't sure what to make of it, beyond recognizing that Kerry Washington had the goods to carry a series and Shonda Rhimes had fashioned an excellent role for her.

This season, though, Rhimes has kicked the show up to another level by ditching the Crisis of the Week procedural format in favor of reinventing "Scandal" as a gonzo hybrid of conspiracy thriller and high-stakes soap opera, involving election rigging, a presidential assassination attempt, a failed internal White House coup, and all sorts of other crazy shenanigans. It's ludicrous on virtually every level; it's also an enormous amount of fun, thanks to the writing and the performances.(*)

(*) The series has also benefited from ditching the charming but redundant Henry Ian Cusick and beefing up Josh Malina's role as a good guy who's righteously focused on bringing down Olivia.

Rhimes treated the season's first 13 episodes as one big arc, which culminated tonight with a whole bunch of revelations, shifted allegiances, and dastardly conduct. "Nobody Likes Babies" was a particularly strong showcase for Jeff Perry and Bellamy Young, and it resolved almost everything from this arc while setting up some interesting new conflicts for whatever comes next.

I'm talking to Rhimes sometime next week about how she reinvented the show for the better, but I wanted to mark the end of this first arc, and see what those of you who've been watching all along felt about how things wrapped up. We'll see if Rhimes can find a way to top this, but for now, bravo.

What did everybody else think?

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"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

'The Vampire Diaries' recap: 'Into the Wild'

Professor Shane leads the gang on a quest for Silas

If you thought all the mass killing and double-crossing and flip-flopping leading to our Scooby gang finally getting down to the nitty gritty of unearthing Silas, well, there's more where that came from. Tonight's episode is about all the many, many moving parts of this plot, and honestly, it's enough to make your head hurt. I can't decide whether Professor Shane is an evil genius or just confused, because if it's the latter? Can't blame him a bit. 

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<p>Zhang Ziyi in &quot;The Grandmaster.&quot;</p>

Zhang Ziyi in "The Grandmaster."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Wong Kar-wai's long-awaited 'The Grandmaster' opens Berlin on a conflicted note

Typically gorgeous but narratively choppy martial arts epic fails to fly

BERLIN - The waiting, as noted philosopher Thomas Earl Petty once said, is the hardest part. Just as some of Terrence Malick's languorously produced films premiered as near-mirages, to the point that the mere fact of their existence had to be absorbed before the critical conversation could begin in earnest, it's difficult to consider Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmaster" without its extensively delayed arrival having some effect on one's gut response.

In the moment, heated anticipation can turn a merely good film into a masterpiece, a mere misfire into a disaster. "The Grandmaster," a predictably picturesque but surprisingly unconfident foray into would-be lusty commercial movie-making for the singular arthouse stylist of "Chungking Express" and "In the Mood for Love," goes to neither of these extremes, but its missteps are doubly dismaying for the knowledge that Wong deliberated over them so long.

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<p>Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler in &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler in "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Ann's Decision'

Ann wants a baby, April wants to be more like Leslie, and the guys get food poisoning

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I stand trial for counterfeiting Euros...

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<p>Jim Rash and Joel McHale in &quot;Community.&quot;</p>

Jim Rash and Joel McHale in "Community."

Credit: NBC

Season premiere review: 'Community' - 'History 101'

Dean Pelton hosts his own 'Hunger Games' as the study group returns for senior year

"Community" is back for a new season. I published my review of the start of the post-Dan Harmon era this morning, and I have specific thoughts on the premiere coming up just as soon as you waive the tomfoolery prerequisite...

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Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Park City Live/AP Images

Grammy Awards 2013: Handicapping Best Dance Recording

Why is Al Walser up against Skrillex and Avicii?

As the Feb. 10 55th annual Grammy Awards edge closer, we’re analyzing a category a day. Today, we look at Best Dance Recording.

Best Dance Recording nominees:
“Levels,” Avicii
“Let’s Go,” Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo
“Bangarang,” Skrillex
“Don’t Your Worry Child,” Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin
“I Can’t Live Without You,” Al Walser

Anything by David Guetta. The dance screening committee may now consider him too pop for inclusion in this category, which is pretty hard core, despite some of the songs having expanded beyond their initial dance home.

You can be forgiven if you saw Al Walser’s name and went, “Huh?” Like last year when an unknown named Linda Chorney was nominated in the Americana category, Walser, an EDM producer from Liechtenstein, simply knew how to game the system by lobbying Grammy voters through Grammy’s in-house social network, Grammy365. Otherwise, this is a very solid slate.

THE ODDS: Swedish House Mafia has been at this longer than Avicii, Calvin Harris and Skrillex, but that may not count for anything in an industry that wants to reward the new innovators. Plus, “Don’t You Worry Child” probably became a pop hit a little too late in the voting process to affect dance dilettantes voting in this category.  “Levels” was massive for Avicii from colleges to clubs to radio, but Skrillex seemed omnipresent this year and was the face of dubstep.

THE WINNER: “Bangarang,” Skrillex

Previous predictions:

Record of the Year
Best Urban Contemporary Album

Song of the Year
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Best Rock Song
Best R&B Performance
Best Pop Vocal Album
Best New Artist

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<p>&quot;Paul's Not Home&quot;</p>

"Paul's Not Home"

Credit: Third Man

Jack White at work on new solo album and drops track with Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes

Label man an axe-wielder already 20 songs in to a 'Blunderbuss' follow-up

Surprising no one, Jack White says that he's already knees deep into making a new solo album, the follow-up to 2012's "Blunderbuss."

Talking to BBC 6 Music, the Third Man Records founder and current Grammy nominee said “I’m writing a lot of songs for another record… I have over 20 tracks I’m working on right now.”

America will be hearing a bit more from White this coming weekend, as he hits the stage for the 2013 Grammy Awards in support of his three nods at this year's ceremony, including Album of the Year.

White also revealed in his interview this week that 25,000 blues tracks originally released on Document Records are going to be remastered and reissued on Third Man Records. That's a lot of tracks, maybe even more than he's produced in the last two years. BAH-ZING.

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