Latest Blog Posts

<p>Helen Mirren eyes some more silverware.</p>

Helen Mirren eyes some more silverware.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Roundup: Helen Mirren to be honored at European Film Awards

Also: Variety might share stables with Deadline, and defending Chris Hemsworth

Well, it sure is nice to see Helen Mirren win an award for once. It was announced today that the Oscar-winning actress will receive this year's European Achievement in World Cinema Award at December's European Film Awards ceremony -- "a very meaningful honor," she said, while clearing some shelf space. Of course, there's the possibility that this won't be the high point of her awards season, with Fox Searchlight planning a Best Actress Oscar campaign for her turn as Alma Reville opposite Anthony Hopkins's "Hitchcock." In other Mirren news, she's reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth II on the West End in a new Peter Morgan play, to be directed by Stephen Daldry. Seats will no doubt be in high demand, so I'll graciously sit this one out. [European Film Academy]

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Taylor Swift's new song, 'Begin Again'

Broken hearts can sometimes learn to love again

Following the energetic “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,”  Taylor Swift returns to her dreamier, country side with “Begin Again.”

The well-crafted acoustic ballad, bolstered by a gentle pedal steel and mandolin, tells the tale of a starting over while the scars of a past love affair have barely scabbed over and remain brutally raw.

[More after the jump...]

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Album Review: Mumford & Sons' 'Babel' towers over 'Sigh No More'

Strong sophomore set highlights British band's musicianship

Mumford & Sons helped usher in a new acoustic rock movement two years ago with the release of the multi-platinum “Sigh No More.”

Utilizing primarily acoustic instruments such as banjos, mandolins, guitars and upright bass, Mumford & Sons created a ferocious, layered racket on hits like “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave” that had more in common with the most urgent rock tunes than folk or bluegrass.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Ke$ha's &quot;Die Young&quot; cover</p>

Ke$ha's "Die Young" cover

Credit: RCA

Watch: Ke$ha unleashes lyric video for new single 'Die Young'

Dancing 'til you die?

For her new single "Die Young," Ke$ha taps back into the speak-singing power that launched her first big hit "Tik Tok," but some of the hungover trash-talking specificity of that old track is missing here.

The singer and songwriter now has both feet into the dance-pop tropes, as she hits the dance floor, ode-ing your heartbeat; however, I do applaud the superiority of verse 2, particularly the rhyming scheme "Young hunks, taking shots / Stripping down to dirty socks." 'Cause you know that ish actually happened at some point in Ke$ha's time on this earth -- if not every day -- and Lord knows the term "hunk" is vastly underused into today's common vernacular.

The late-night cable access vibe of the lyric video released today doesn't do much about "That magic in your pants," but there's some ghostly shots of der Ke$ha riding the subway with her raccoon eyes and penchant for trouble, with a hint of Tokyo futurism. The violent colors indicate another endeavor into the '80s neon fever-dream that dominated her stylistically aggressive "Cannibal."

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<p>On &quot;Revolution,&quot;&nbsp;Billy Burke was apparently not a fan of C. Thomas Howell's work in &quot;Soul Man.&quot;</p>

On "Revolution," Billy Burke was apparently not a fan of C. Thomas Howell's work in "Soul Man."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Revolution' - 'Chained Heat'

Not much improvement to see in the second episode. Will the ratings hold up?

A review of last night's "Revolution" coming up just as soon as there's a sale on heroin...

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Carrie-Anne Moss in "Vegas"

 Carrie-Anne Moss in "Vegas"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Carrie-Anne Moss talks 'Vegas' and life post-'Matrix'

The actress says she's ready to dig into her new CBS series

 Fans of "The Matrix" trilogy surely remember Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, a perpetually black-clad ass-kicker. But after that? Sure, she popped up in "Chocolat" and "Memento," but largely seemed to fall off the pop culture radar. But Moss is back in a big way with "Vegas," the new drama on CBS (premiering Tues. Sept. 25 at 10:00 p.m.). Set in the 1960s, the inspired-by-a-true story series will be focused on mobster Vincent Savino ("The Shield"'s Michael Chiklis) duking it out with an old-school cowboy sheriff, Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid). However, there will still be plenty of room for Moss' assistant district attorney Katherine O'Connell, an iconoclast who exists in a time when there weren't many women working, much less as lawyers. I spoke to Moss at the TCA press tour about the show, her recent low-profile (and the reasons for it) and why she won't be taking her three children -- Owen, Jaden and Frances -- to the set anytime soon.

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<p>In &quot;Vegas,&quot;&nbsp;wiseguy Michael Chiklis takes on cowboy Dennis Quaid.</p>

In "Vegas," wiseguy Michael Chiklis takes on cowboy Dennis Quaid.

Credit: CBS

Review: CBS' 'Vegas' pits cowboys against gangsters

But will Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis and company be wasted on procedural formula?
With many new TV shows, there is what I want it to be, and there is what it actually is. Sometimes, what it is turns out to be good enough on its own; at other times, the gap between expectations and execution is too wide for me to accept, fairly or unfairly.
On paper, CBS' "Vegas" couldn't be more appealing to me. It has Dennis Quaid, one of my favorite movie actors, facing off against Michael Chiklis, one of my favorite TV actors. It has cowboys going up against wiseguys, and a setting — Las Vegas in the early '60s, just as a cow town is about to turn into a monument to sin — that evokes Michael Mann's classic '80s series "Crime Story." And one of its producers is Nicholas Pileggi, whose book "Wiseguy" was the basis for "Goodfellas."
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Watch: 'New Girl' star Zooey Deschanel discusses Season 2

Watch: 'New Girl' star Zooey Deschanel discusses Season 2

How does it feel one year after the adorkable premiere?
One year ago, "New Girl" premiered on a wave of promotion and publicity centered around star Zooey Deschanel and her adorkability.
While "New Girl" didn't cease to be a showcase for the "500 Days of Summer" and "Elf" star as the first season progressed -- she was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her performance -- the ensemble around her strengthened and helped elevate the show.
"I knew last year that I would have to carry a lot of the press and stuff because the guys were more unknown and it's really lovely this year that people know them and they know those characters and they're able to take some of the burden... [she laughs] or the pressure off," Deschanel told me when we sat down a couple weeks back to talk about the new season of "New Girl."
In the second season, Deschanel's Jess undergoes a big change in her professional life, but will that produce big changes in Jess? 
And what was it like watching the cast come together last season?
Check out the full interview ahead of Tuesday (September 25) night's season premiere.
[Oh... And this interview was conducted shortly before it was announced that Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis were cast as Jess' parents. You can decide if it looks like Deschanel actually already knew and she was just being coy with me.] 
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<p>Joe Swanberg at the Fantastic Fest debates</p>

Joe Swanberg at the Fantastic Fest debates

Credit: Katie Hasty

Fantastic Fest Debates: Behind the scenes of film fest blood sport

Watch a fight: Are Tim League's Drafthouse bouts courting personal beefs?

“Looks like somebody wasn’t in on the joke.”

These are words a colleague said after the Fantastic Fest Debates this weekend, about an hour after critic Devin Faraci’s clock was cleaned by filmmaker Joe Swanberg.
The Debates event followed the same format this year as it has for the four previous: a verbal debate, followed by a physical fight in a boxing ring. There's an announcer and entrance music. The Badass Digest mainstay and the mumblecore director exchanged some academic barbs and name-calling on the very subject of mumblecore, and then they fit boxing gloves on their hands, put in mouth guards and tried to beat the piss out of each other.
I can see why the Debates may be taken as a joke on their face. For one, the night’s six combatants’ outfits largely looked like they were homemade with Sharpies, bought at a thrift store or purchased from a Halloween pop-up shop. “Rocky” and "Karate kid" jokes abounded, as did cinematic self-referentials fueled by the granular genre knowledge of a few hundred Fantastic Fans. WWE sumptuousness pairs with the non-athleticism of such a nerd gathering in a multitude of naturally hilarious ways.
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<p>Emily Blunt was typically charming and forthcoming during our recent conversation about her new film 'Looper'</p>

Emily Blunt was typically charming and forthcoming during our recent conversation about her new film 'Looper'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: 'Looper' star Emily Blunt talks about playing mother and chopping logs

Her key role in the film pushed her in some interesting new ways

Pierce Gagnon is not a name most people know at this point, but after they see "Looper," it is a name they'll want to learn.  Gagnon positively steals the film out from under the already-outstanding adult cast that includes Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Garret Dillahunt, and Emily Blunt, who plays Sara, mother to Gagnon's character, Cid.

Gagnon was five years old when they shot his part in the film, and it's an amazing performance for an actor of any age.  I think Rian Johnson and his cast did something very special in capturing his work, and that was one of the things I really wanted to discuss with her when we sat down during Toronto.

It feels like I interview Blunt about four times a year now, which is a perfectly lovely arrangement as far as I'm concerned.  She's a smart performer, and she's been making great choices for the last few years, starring in a number of films that I've enjoyed, racking up one strong performance after another.

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<p>I pretty much wrote this story up just to have an excuse to run a picture of Rachel Weisz in 'The Mummy.' Kate Beckinsale, I assume you'll be the lead this time.</p>

I pretty much wrote this story up just to have an excuse to run a picture of Rachel Weisz in 'The Mummy.' Kate Beckinsale, I assume you'll be the lead this time.

Credit: Universal Home Video

Len Wiseman reportedly signing to reboot 'The Mummy' for Universal

Do his 'Die Hard' and 'Total Recall' efforts qualify him for the gig?

Universal is, in many ways, the house that horror built, so it is little wonder they view their various famous monster properties as some of the key assets for them as a studio.  I am not remotely shocked to learn that they are interested in rebooting "The Mummy."  After all, the most recent incarnation has already spawned two sequels and at least two spinoff films, and at this point, it would be preposterously expensive for them to try to get Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz back to play their characters again.

Instead, it looks like they're headed in a very different direction with the film, and if they want to freak out film fans, they've certainly made the right choice.  Len Wiseman is reportedly the choice the studio has made, and while I understand the reasoning on the level of "he's made films of a certain budget in the past and is capable of managing a big-budget movie," I would be hard-pressed to believe that  there are any hardcore Wiseman fans.  The "Underworld" series is profitable enough to support however many movies they've made so far, but I don't get the feeling they're particularly well-liked.  A quick survey of audiences after the release of "Total Recall" this summer probably wouldn't yield many people able to mount more than a passing defense, and while I was kinder than most, I would also say that Wiseman has yet to really prove that he can develop a script to the point where it really lives and breathes.  His movies feel like the description of a movie I should like, but there's something missing.  He makes Real Doll movies.  They're synthetic, and while they look like movies, they don't satisfy in the way a real film does.  I'd love for him to prove me wrong, too.

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<p>Alexis Marceaux of &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>

Alexis Marceaux of "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - Blind Auditions, Part 6

Yup. More Blind Auditions with Christina, CeeLo, Adam and Blake
Here we are in the third week of blind auditions for “The Voice”. If you can currently pick half of the already-selected team members out of a crowd…well, you’re a better person than I. Having 64 participants may yield a vast and varied talent pool, but will also render more than half barely identifiable when the Battle Rounds start. Toss in the fact that each audition since the premiere has thrown in a montage of accepted contestants, and “The Voice” runs the risk of muddying up the waters before it even leaves the audition phase of the competition. Leaving the audience unable to bond with finalists seems like an unwise move.
So let’s see if anyone stands out tonight. Blake Shelton could use the most help, as he only has seven members on his team to date. Christina Aguilera has ten, and Adam Levine and CeeLo Green each have eleven. As always, I’ll be keeping a running diary of the auditions. As always, all times are EST. As always, if a contestant’s sob story doesn’t pass muster, I reserve the right to assign them a role in one of the 300 television programs premiering this week. Let’s press some buttons, people.
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