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<p>They might be starlings.</p>

They might be starlings.

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: Shane Carruth's 'Upstream Color' is a beautiful mystery uninterested in answers

The director of 'Primer' has returned to the fest with a worthy follow-up

PARK CITY - Seeing the insane line outside the Eccles Theater today, I couldn't help but wonder how many of those people knew what sort of movie they were getting into when they sat down for Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color" this morning.  Based on the conversations I overheard on the bus afterwards, I'd wager the film caught a lot of those people by surprise, and little wonder.  Dense, beautiful, hypnotic, and almost willfully opaque, "Upstream Color" is a great movie, but it is not an inviting one.  Carruth expects you to do a certain amount of the work for yourself, and for some viewers, there is no more frustrating kind of film than that.

Personally, I see plenty of movies every year where every little detail is spelled out in such an obvious manner that I don't mind when I see someone change it up.  Carruth's movie starts strange, gets very dark, then takes a left-turn into one of the most damaged movie romances I can remember before finally lifting off into about a half-hour long finale with no dialogue whatsoever.  It is completely different in aesthetics and narrative approach than Carruth's previous film, "Primer," but like that film, it seems to have no real interest in conventional narrative.

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Watch: Kelly Clarkson sings 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' at Inauguration

Watch: Kelly Clarkson sings 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' at Inauguration

'American Idol' winner thanks Obama for 'opening for me'

Kelly Clarkson traveled from  “American Idol” to the American inauguration of President Barack Obama today, singing a stirring rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Beyonce performs 'Star-Spangled Banner' at Inauguration

Watch: Beyonce performs 'Star-Spangled Banner' at Inauguration

Does she hit it out of the National Mall?

On this uniquely American day, Beyonce added her own stamp to Barack Obama’s second inauguration as president of the United States.

[More after the jump...]

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The Postal Service to reunite for Coachella and other dates

The Postal Service to reunite for Coachella and other dates

Deluxe edition of 2003's 'Give Up' also coming

After Ben Gibbard emphatically declared in October to Spinner that there were no plans to record a second Postal Service record, the duo will reunite to play Coachella, according to Billboard. Additional dates are expected to be announced.

Additionally, Death Cab for Cutie’s Gibbard and his Postal Service partner Jimmy Tamborello have collaborated on a deluxe 10th anniversary package of “Give Up,” the pair’s one and only album. It will come out next month. The original set came out Feb. 19, 2004.

The band launched a new website today. It’s scant on details, to put it mildly, but definitely signals that The Postal Service is back in business. It features the band’s logo against a black background and “2013.”

“Give Up” spawned the hit “Such Great Heights” and sold more than 1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Coachella takes place April 12-14 and April 19-21.

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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

 "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' recap: 'Battle of the Booty'

Phaedra and Kenya ask the eternal question: stallion or donkey?

Whatever did this show do before Kenya? Really, the girl is a one woman drama factory, and now that NeNe finds reality TV a bit beneath her, Kim has shuffled off to her own show and Sheree has been unceremoniously dumped, "The Real Housewives" desperately needs an unhinged nutbag like this one. Even with Walt out of the picture, she's still able to stir up plenty of drama all on her on with nothing more than a twirl-worthy dress and a hair flip. Bring it on, Crazypants!

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Credit: HBO Films

Sundance Review: 'Manhunt' examines the search for Osama Bin Laden

HBO doc features many of the analysts on Bin Laden's tail
It was Saturation Sunday at Sundance's MARC Theater as the film festival saw the premieres of a pair of documentaries with the potential to have viewers shrugging at oft-repeated stories.
I've already reviewed Evan Leong's "Linsanity," which adds Jeremy Lin's voice to an underdog story most sports fans hear ad nauseaum last spring.
Before seeing "Linsanity," I caught Greg Barker's US Documentary Competition entry "Manhunt," which follows the Oscar nominated hit "Zero Dark Thirty" (my favorite theatrical release of 2012) and the NatGeo telefilm "Seal Team Six" among recent depictions of the search for and killing of Osama bin Laden.
Both feature-length projects have been preceded by disagreements and controversy, which is a logical factor of a story in which some of the facts are classified, some of the facts are open to interpretation and many of the facts are coming courtesy of variably reliable sources. It's an informational quagmire out there and it's hard to get much consistency.
While "Manhunt," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Seal Team Six" have some overlap, they have somewhat different main focuses, which has prevented Osama bin Laden fatigue from fully settling in. "Seal Team Six," which I'm not actually suggesting you watch, is mostly about the raid on Abbottabad that got Bin Laden. "Zero Dark Thirty" is about the raid, but also the intelligence gathering that led to the raid. And "Manhunt" is about the process that led to the intelligence gathering that led to the raid, but it only gets up to the "Zero Dark Thirty" intelligence gathering in its last quarter and it never gets to the raid at all.
That's my way of saying that while "Manhunt" is, indeed, the latest incarnation of a narrative you've heard before, Barker has a different angle on the story and a different set of sources. That angle and those sources caused me to be simultaneously appreciative and wary of "Manhunt," though I was never uninterested.
More after the break...
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<p>&quot;Gangster Squad&quot;</p>

"Gangster Squad"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Roundup: Surviving the January release graveyard

Also: Tweets vs. critics' quotes, and can Jackman win?

It's common knowledge that January is a cruel month for moviegoers -- assuming you can't just jet off to Sundance for the hell of it, once you've caught up with the late-releasing awards titles, there's little left to see but studio dregs like "Gangster Squad." Ty Burr considers the problem, digging up such noble January exceptions as "Dr. Strangelove" and "The Silence of the Lambs," and making this suggestion: "We should simply declare the first month of the year a new-release-free zone. As a preliminary step toward regaining our trust, studios would have to rerelease their most underrated entertainments from the previous year for a second chance: 2012’s sly meta-shrieker 'The Cabin in the Woods,' say, or the found-footage superhero movie 'Chronicle.'" [New York Times

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<p>Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in &quot;Ain't Them Bodies Saints.&quot;</p>

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in "Ain't Them Bodies Saints."

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara have a Badlands romance in 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

Deliberately paced mood piece boasts stunning sound and images

PARK CITY - There's something alluringly, disconcertingly off-kilter from the get-go in "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," an imposing third feature from editor-turned-filmmaker David Lowery, and it's not merely the quivery infighting of strings and handclaps in Daniel Hart's striking score: it's that the opening scene of this film is one that has closed so many others. Bob and Ruth, criminal lovers on the lam, are apprehended by the cops on dun-colored Texan terrain after a bloody shootout, A killing spree is ended, justice is served, the couple is parted, pledging devotion. The end. No, the beginning.

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<p>&quot;Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes&quot;</p>

"Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes"

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

My Sundance 2013 so far, from 'Crystal Fairy' to 'The East' and more

Catching up with some capsule thoughts

PARK CITY - Four days into this year's Sundance fest and I should probably catch up with some thoughts on this and that. I've already written at length about the two films that are the big stand-outs to me thus far, Jeff Nichols' "Mud" and Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight," but I've filled in my schedule with a few things in between.

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<p>Ethan&nbsp;Hawke and Julie Delpy in &quot;Before Midnight&quot;</p>

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in "Before Midnight"

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Linklater, Delpy and Hawke take Jesse and Celine to a new level in 'Before Midnight'

The ongoing cinema romance is a natural, profound next step

PARK CITY - Prior to tonight's world premiere of Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight," I went back and revisited the first two installments of what has now become a trilogy. "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" are incredibly easy watches at 90 and 80 minutes apiece. They have an easy flow, owing plenty to the writerly collaboration between the director and his stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, which yielded a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for "Sunset" in 2004.

The story of Jesse and Celine is one of the great romances in all of cinema, and one of Linklater's most significant accomplishments in a unique, rebellious career. The whole journey began on a train in 1995 with a couple arguing in German. That rocky relationship, which somehow seems perfectly stable despite the aggression and the fact that we have no clue what they're arguing about, fires an intriguing starting gun for three films that follow the progression of Jesse and Celine's love and lust and star-crossed passion over 18 years.

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<p>Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in &quot;The Spectacular Now&quot;</p>

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in "The Spectacular Now"

Credit: A24

Upstart distributor A24 adds to its 2013 slate with 'Spectacular Now' Sundance acquisition

Company already has 'The Bling Ring' and 'Spring Breakers' in tow

PARK CITY - James Pondsolt burst onto the scene a year ago with break-out Sundance hit "Smashed." The film was acquired a few months later by Sony Pictures Classics and was released during awards season, where Mary Elizabeth Winstead's performance turned a few heads but never managed to get any real traction.

He's back this year with one of the most buzzed films of the festival, "The Spectacular Now," starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, with Winstead, Kyle Chandler, Brie Larson and Jennifer Jason Leigh filling out the cast. But he won't be waiting quite as long to find a home this time around, as upstart distributor A24 has announced its acquisition of the title.

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<p>Dave Grohl from &quot;Sound City&quot;</p>

Dave Grohl from "Sound City"

Credit: Roswell Films

Sundance Review: Dave Grohl's 'Sound City' is a fun, shaky rock doc

Jaw-dropping performances and a mangled argument for reel-to-reel

Dave Grohl set out to tell the story of his recording console, sold to him from the now-defunct Sound City recording studio in California. What he filmed was a lot more than that, and he ended up with too much to say.

"Sound City" marks the Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana member's directorial debut, and Grohl seemingly fell into the claptrap that most documentary filmmakers face when they tackle a topic they love.

The doc begins with a road story, of Nirvana touring their way to this unofficial, unseemly rock hall of fame. It went on to tell of the studio's origins and its founders; then the technology of the Neve console and Sound City's drum room. From there, the script was strangled by a series of anecdotes and side tangents, polished moments and lingering interviews. It's as though the story were laid out in bullet points with only the thinnest segues. Like, Fleetwood Mac formed here, something something then Jimmy Iovine and Tom Petty, something something then the girls that worked at the studio, a brief on punk rock in the early 80s, Neil Young's car, the development of Rick Springfield by the studio manager, the advent of the CD age, something something now here's the new songs section...

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