For Tim Burton, his movie "Frankenweenie" is a labor of love -- right down to the stars he cast to voice the animated characters in it. Both Martin Short ("Mars Attacks") and Catherine O'Hara ("Beetlejuice") have worked with the director before, and were happy to work with him again -- even if that didn't leave a ton of time for prep work. "It's not even a meet, you go right to the studio," O'Hara says. "They'e got the drawings up on easels and walk your through the characters and tell you about the story."
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It'll be a few days yet before the Academy officially announces the longlist -- the odd last-minute addition, switch or disqualification is par for the course at this stage -- but with the official deadline for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submissions having passed on Friday, we can effectively size up the playing field. And with 68 films having been entered for consideration, it's a crowded one: indeed, if they're all approved, it'll stand as a record number.
I've mentioned before that this is looking like an unusually competitive year for nominations in this category. There have been fewer controversial submissions than usual: only Portugal really raised eyebrows by opting for family melodrama "Blood of My Blood" ahead of swoony critical sensation "Tabu," and even then, they might have made the more Academy-friendly choice. (The same goes for France, who were always going to plump for commercial phenomenon "The Intouchables" over more broadly acclaimed fare.) By and large, however, countries largely submitted what everyone thought they would (and should); it's a field stacked with festival hits and bracing auteur works, and the executive committee will have their work cut out for them when they choose just three films to rescue after the initial vote.
With “Skyfall,” Adele and co-writer Paul Epworth have created a classic James Bond theme that honors the tradition of Bond and pays homage to the musical themes of the past. How appropriate given this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film.
The majestic ballad opens with only a heavy piano and very ominous warning from Adele: “This is the end/hold your breath and count to 10.”
Slowly, strings come in, but there’s no change in tempo, which remains steady and stately throughout. Instead, Adele and co-writer/producer Paul Epworth, layer on orchestration —the song was recorded with a 77-piece orchestra— to create a tremendous sense of foreboding as the song progresses and builds. The tension from the arrangement keeps the song from being a little, dare we say it, plodding.
Perhaps appropriately, given the golden anniversary, Adele and Epworth incorporate the heavy strings from the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” which became the theme most associated with Bond. Sadly, for Adele, the Oscar rules disqualify any song that includes non-original elements, so deserving as the tune may be, it can’t be nominated. Happily for the rest of us, its usage grounds the song with a certain gravitas from which her vocals can soar.
The lyrics in the sweeping chorus, which is more grandly impressive than anything you’ll be singing to yourself in the checkout line, presents a unified front: “Let the sky fall/when it crumbles/we will stand tall or face it all together,” she sings, as the strings collide as if the world really may be ending.
The second verse begins and there’s an audible change in the directness of Adele’s delivery. It’s possible that she’s channeling Bond as she sings: “You may have my number/you can take my name/but you’ll never have my heart.”
However, by the third verse, love reigns supreme again: “Where you go I go/what you see I see/I know I’ll never be without the security of your loving arms to keep me from harm/Put your hand in my hand and we’ll stand.
[More after the jump...]
Remember what I said about Alexandra Patsavas making the soundtrack to "Perks of Being a Wallflower" a love letter to good taste? The music supervisor has crafted an album of exclusive material for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" as a love letter between two vampires. And who better than strong solo ladies like Ellie Goulding, Feist, St. Vincent and Christina Perri, and commercial knock-outs Green Day?
Yeah. Because Green Day hasn't been too busy otherwise lately.
The tracklist (via Yahoo!) also has songs form Passion Pit, film composer Carter Burwell and some fun lesser-knowns like Pop ETC and the Boom Circuits. This is a return for Perri, who "Part One" portion of "A Thousand Years" was in the "Breaking Dawn - Part 1."
Hold your breath, too, for real-life lover music-making from former "American Idol" contestant Paul McDonald and his 'Twilight" actress-wife for an untitled work way down on the tally. Goulding's "Bittersweet" is also the first track of hers to be produced by her famous boyfriend Skrillex.
At this point, it's safe to say "True Lies 2" is never going to happen, no matter how much Tom Arnold wishes it would.
The sad thing about that is there was a perfectly natural sequel built into the DNA of the first film, and even better, they cast is just right by accident. When Eliza Dushku played the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in the first film, that was before "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," and Dushku was still very young. In the years since, she's grown into a credible action lead, thanks in large part to her years of working with Joss Whedon as the morally compromised Faith. The first film dealt with the way spouses keep secrets within a marriage and how much stronger you are as a duo when you're able to finally see each other clearly without any lies to separate you. The sequel could easily have been about that moment when a child finally starts to see their parents as people instead of just "parents," and how that adjustment can be difficult. Putting Dushku in the middle of a spy caper with her parents could have paid off beautifully and actually expanded on the original's ideas thematically.
Ne-Yo has dropped another ode to the ladies that can conduct themselves like decent human beings, this time with rapper Wiz Khalifa. "Don't Make Em Like You" has the R&B crooner tipping his hat to girls who aren't stumblebum drunk as they leave the club, and he likes you "just the way you are."
It has Khalifa on Cloud Nine, and he devotes his verses to his future wife and baby's mother Amber Rose. Instead all the puffery about puffing, the notorious stoner just leaves the green behind and suffices with a good high giggle at the end of the guest spot.
As for Ne-Yo, dude's got a mixed history of exactly what makes up a good woman. His hit "Miss Independent" likes a girl who can pay her own bills and "doesn't need you." "Let Me Love You (Until You Love Yourself)" on the flip side has the singer falling for someone with poor self-esteem, with the desire to fix her right up. Furthermore, he helped write "Pretty Girl Rock," Keri Hilson's awful failure in girl-power which sets its focus on women's looks and abilities to compete with one another.
Here, 32-year-old Ne-Yo just seems to be beyond the artifice. I'd extrapolate more, but I'm frequently distracted by the overbearing turntable noises and thudding refrain.
Happy to see Wiz in love, though.
The track can be found on Ne-Yo's next album "R.E.D.", due on Nov. 6
CeeLo Green is among the many pop singers with Christmas efforts coming to town, but the video-makers behind the video for his "Silent Night" can't help but to think of their own, erm, chimneys.
The slo-motion clip features a few Santas and their apparent helpers, who are in their underwear.
The song has a gospel choir and Green impeccable tone. I'm not sure what the audio has to do with the visual, but it helps explaining that this debuted on Maxim. Baby Jesus must be confounded by Los Angeles.
"CeeLo's Magic Moment" will be out in stores on Oct. 30, and will feature cameos from covers-addict Rod Stewart, Green's "The Voice" co-host Christina Aguilera, the Muppets and a capella fever dream Straight No Chaser.
This year’s crop of nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is staggering eclectic and definitely stretches the traditional definition of rock and roll by a wide margin.
As we reported yesterday when the nominations were announced, such diverse acts as Motown girl group the Marvelettes are vying for a spot alongside Rush, Public Enemy and Donna Summer.
Below, I give a quick assessment to each act's chances, and boldly (and somewhat impulsively) declare yes or no on which artists will be inducted in the class of 2013. Only five acts go in each year, so many artists who are deserving will have to come back again later.
Rush: Finally! The Canadian power trio has long been one of the Rock Hall’s most glaring omissions...along with virtually any other act that borders anywhere near prog rock. They’re tremendously successful, tremendously influential, and still going strong. Now that they have finally crossed the threshold to getting nominated, I predict that like Guns N’ Roses, who got in the first time, so will Rush. There is so much pent-up demand for this one. YES
Deep Purple: Like Rush, Deep Purple has been long neglected when it comes to attention from the Rock Hall, who has tended not to give heavy metal its due. How else can you explain Judas Priest and Iron Maiden also being roundly ignored. They should be in for “Smoke On The Water” alone. Plus, given how many former members there are, it would be a blast to see who actually shows up at the induction. Sadly, it’s too late for co-founder Jon Lord, who died earlier this year. NO
Public Enemy: Closest thing to a sure bet this year. Chuck D and company represent political rap that has had broad social impact far beyond the music. YES
N.W.A.: One of the most seminal gangsta rap acts, N.W.A., like PE, produced music that spoke to the history of the times. They will definitely be rewarded down the line, but not this year. NO
Heart: As I’ve previously written about Ann and Nancy Wilson, regarding their long omission, If they had testicles, they would have been in the first year they were eligible. Having said that, Ann and Nancy Wilson have more balls than 99% of the rockers out there. Ann’s voice hasn’t diminished a bit--it can still peel the paint from the walls. YES
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: Jett is a true believer. Her influence on rock, in general, and on female rockers, specifically, is undeniable. In fact, her earlier band The Runaways deserve to be as well. Dave Grohl called playing with her one of the highlights of his life. ‘Nuff said. However, in a year where she is up against Heart, it feels more like their year. NO
Randy Newman: Newman’s singular, often witty, take on our modern times filtered through his uniquely American view is a one-man history lesson. Plus, few singer/songwriters have ever captured the complexity of the male-female dynamic as honestly as he. YES
Donna Summer: She’s been nominated five time before, but like fellow nominees, Chic, has a bit of an uphill climb since some voters still look at disco-era artists as anathema to rock and roll. However, given the outpouring of love she received following her death earlier this year may cause voters to reconsider and realize that is a total artist who has long deserved inclusion. It’s a shame that her induction didn’t happen before she died. YES
Kraftwerk: No reason to exit the Autobahn yet. The seminal experimental rock band is rightly considered a pioneer in electronic music, but the competition is too tough for them this year. NEIN
Procol Harum: My desire to see them play “Conquistador” aside, PH falls into a somewhat nebulous category of British rock groups that blended prog rock, baroque, and blues. Like Deep Purple, it would be very interesting to see who shows up at an induction. They deserve the nomination, but induction is probably quite some ways away. NO
Chic: If it were based solely on innovation, Chic should have been in the first year they were nominated in 2003 (they’ve been nominated six additional times). However, any votes that they would have gotten this year will likely go to Summer. The Rock Hall is going to have to eventually acknowledge what the rest of us already know: Chic was far more than “just” a disco act. NO
Albert King: Two-thirds of the holy trinity of great blues Kings are already in as both B.B. King and Freddie King. Albert is more than deserving, but it won’t happen this year. NO
Paul Butterfield Blues Band: This seminal band has a vaunted place in the history books for its blending of rock and blues, but it may be some time before there’s a year that they land among the top five-- and it’s only going to get tougher as years go by and more acts become eligible. NO
The Marvelettes: The Rock Hall may not like disco, but the membership has bent over backwards to try to include black artists who influenced so many and yet have rarely gotten their proper due. The Marvelettes toiled in the shadow of the Supremes and may be a little bit of a tough sell. NO
The Meters: The Hall has tried to take care of New Orleans’ rich musical heritage by already inducting such acts as Professor Longhair, Fats Domino and Dr. John, but there as so many more that deserve consideration. The Meters helped define contemporary funk music in a way that few people even realize. They, along with the Neville Brothers and Irma Thomas, should all eventually be inducted. NO
Among the acts once again not invited to the party, all of whom should be considered: Hall & Oates, Kiss, The Monkees (I'm very surprised that Davy Jones’ death didn’t get them more consideration this year), Todd Rundgren, The Runaways, Moody Blues, Peter Gabriel (as a solo act), Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pat Benatar, Roxy Music and Iron Maiden.
The 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held April 18. In order to be eligible, an artist must have released his or her first single or album at least 25 years ago. The final ballot goes to more then 600 music industry executives and journalists. For the first time, fans may also vote. All fan votes will be combined and counted as one of the 600 total votes. Vote through various websites, including rockhall.com and rollingstone.com.
Who do you think should get inducted this time?
Will the use of the original James Bond theme on 'Skyfall' disqualify Adele's original song hopeful?
Even though the song is set to officially debut tomorrow, I imagine most interested parties have already heard the leaked portion of Adele's new Bond tune, "Skyfall." (UPDATE: The song is available now.) One of the cooler elements of the track is that it incorporates the original Monty Norman "Dr. No" theme that became, of course, the signature Bond melody. But while it's a nifty nod, it also might have done the song in where Oscar is concerned.
The rules are relatively clear about this. Per rule 15, category I B: "An original song consists of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the motion picture." The bold is the Academy's, not mine. So judging by that, just having that lingering bit of melody from the classic music is potentially enough to keep it out of contention.
That puts a slight dent in Greg Ellwood's theory that the category is set to be dominated by popular songstresses like Adele, Florence Welch and Katy Perry. Though, respectfully, I never really thought it would be, and if anything has been proven over the last few years (which have seen the eligible songs presented in context to voters rather than just sent on a CD or something), it's the song or the artist itself isn't the thing. Just ask Bruce Springsteen.
Big badda boom.
At this point, the only way to approach the ongoing adventures of John McClane is with a wink, because the very notion of the first film has been undermined by the entirely understandable urge by the studio to turn the character into an ongoing franchise. What made the first "Die Hard" so great is the exact thing that makes the sequels less interesting. John McClane was just a normal cop. That was made very clear in the film, and that's why it was so great to watch this guy take down this elaborate heist. It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the right time, and he beat Hans Gruber and his merry band of thieves through sheer tenacity. McClane simply wasn't going to let them win, and as a result, he managed to not only stop the bad guys but he also won back his wife in the process. Great character arc, great premise, lean and mean and self-contained.
And while I can roll with the notion of "Die Hard With A Vengeance" because it's about an act of specifically-targeted revenge, a true sequel to the first film, I have more trouble getting my head around the coincidental nature of "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" and "Live Free Or Die Hard," where McClane goes from being a normal cop in extraordinary circumstances to being a lightning rod for elaborate bad guy plots.