Latest Blog Posts

<p>Oh, the horrors of war.</p>

Oh, the horrors of war.

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2' is a fitting end to the series

The weirdest mainstream franchise in history gets weirder in the home stretch

Bill Condon had one advantage working in his favor from the start as director of both halves of "Breaking Dawn," the final film in "The Twilight Saga," and that is that the nature of a conclusion allows you to do things dramatically that no other story in the series can do. 

Catherine Hardwick deserves high praise for the same reason Chris Columbus did on the "Harry Potter" series, because even if their respective films in their respective franchises aren't the best films in those series, they still had to get the whole thing up in the air to start with.  They had to find the cast.  They had to set the stage.  They had to establish a tone and a visual language that every other director in the series then had to react to, and if you're the fourth guy on the series, you're going to benefit from any mistakes other people have made on the earlier films.  You'll be able to build from what they've done, and while they're busy feeding the audience exposition or grappling with the inertia of a movie like "Eclipse," where nothing of consequence happens to anyone at any point, if you're making the conclusion, you get to deliver payoffs, and that's always going to be more fun.

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<p>Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in &quot;The Departed.&quot;&nbsp;The Martin Scorsese directed thriller won the best picture Academy Award in 2007.</p>

Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Departed." The Martin Scorsese directed thriller won the best picture Academy Award in 2007.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Contender Countdown: Is this a 'Departed' or 'Chicago' type season?

Is it a legit three-way race?

As the annual Oscar season unfolds, there are a number of expected events that traditionally make or break a best picture winner.  These signposts usually indicate who is the frontrunner, who is gaining traction and who isn't.

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<p>The Rolling Stones in rock 'n roll old age.</p>

The Rolling Stones in rock 'n roll old age.

Credit: HBO

Review: HBO's 'Crossfire Hurricane' an entertaining look at The Rolling Stones

Brett Morgen revisits a familiar story of Mick, Keith and the world's biggest rock band

"Crossfire Hurricane," Brett Morgen's new documentary celebrating 50 years of The Rolling Stones (9 p.m., HBO), opens in intentionally disorienting fashion.

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<p>Lola Creton in &quot;After May.&quot;</p>

Lola Creton in "After May."

Credit: Palace Films

Exclusive: First international trailer for Olivier Assayas' Venice winner 'Something in the Air'

1970s memory piece is being released elsewhere as 'After May'

From "Irma Vep" to "Demonlover" to "Summer Hours," Olivier Assayas has been one of the world's most vital filmmakers for some time now, but it seems many only caught wise to his gifts two years ago with "Carlos," his galvanizing five-hour biopic of infamous 1970s political terrorist Carlos the Jackal. Thanks to its unusual release both in cinemas and as a TV miniseries, the film managed to win Assayas a slew of US critics' awards, a TV Golden Globe and even an Emmy nomination. (If that wasn't surreal enough, he lost to "Downton Abbey.")

It'll be interesting to see if the Frenchman's newly acquired admirers follow him to "Something in the Air," a softer, woozier, faintly autobiographical reflection on an equivalent period of 1970s radicalism to "Carlos." You may also know the film as "After May," a literal translation of the French title being used in other territories. It's also the one used in the first international trailer for the film, which we're pleased to premiere below -- by kind permission of Australian distributor Palace Films.

A shimmery ensemble piece casting its gaze upon a group of teenage activists variously finding their own place in the post-1968 countercultural war, it takes more cues from Assayas' 1994 breakthrough feature "Cold Water." IFC Films is releasing the film Stateside in 2013; Artificial Eye will be doing the honors in the UK.

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<p>Melissa George in &quot;Hunted.&quot;</p>

Melissa George in "Hunted."

Credit: Cinemax

Cinemax moves forward on 'Hunted' without the BBC

Spy thriller will be rebooted to continue Melissa George's story without some others

Both HBO and Cinemax have benefited from trans-Atlantic partnerships the last few years, resulting in shows like "Extras," "Strike Back" and most recently "Hunted," the Cinemax thriller starring Melissa George as Sam Hunter, a British private spy looking for revenge on the people who tried to kill her. These partnerships have given the larger HBO family access to series and talent who might not have been available without taking on a partner in the U.K., and at a cheaper price than if they were producing it on their own.

But some partnerships don't always go smoothly, as Cinemax has found out with "Hunted." The series still has a few weeks to go in its U.S. run (original episodes air Fridays at 10), but BBC One has already announced that they won't renew the show for a second season, despite Cinemax's interest in continuing the show.

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<p>Tom&nbsp;Hanks in &quot;Cloud Atlas&quot;</p>

Tom Hanks in "Cloud Atlas"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tech Support: 'Cloud Atlas' and 'The Hobbit' lead the race for Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The category gets a name change as a varied field takes shape

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on how Best Production Design is a welcome name change for the category previously known as Best Art Direction. It is not the only such change this year, as the award for Best Makeup is now finally called Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

For years, I have said that the hairstyling portion of this award has been neglected. Whether the sorts of films that get nominated will change remains an open question. But at the very least, this should highlight for the public that the category isn't all about prosthetics and foundation.

This remains a unique category in that there are only three nominees. Moreover, said nominees are chosen from a group of seven finalists that are announced in the weeks leading up to the nominations. Voters from the branch view bake-off reels on the work done in those seven films before choosing the nominees.

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<p>Daniel Day-Lewis in &quot;Lincoln.&quot;</p>

Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Roundup: Why Abe isn't gay (or straight) in 'Lincoln'

Also: Women vying for foreign Oscar, and Channing Tatum's first 2012 award

Was Abraham Lincoln secretly gay or bisexual? Playwright and "Lincoln" co-writer Tony Kushner believes there's ample reason to speculate that he may have been, but you won't find any such suggestions in Steven Spielberg's recently-released film. Why? Because matters of sexuality have no place in this particular strand from Honest Abe's political career, says Kushner. "I wanted to write about a very specific moment and I chose this moment and I don't feel that there was any evidence at this particular moment that Lincoln was having sex with anybody," he tells Tom O'Neil. "I don't say in my movie whether the Lincoln character was gay or straight. You can ask Daniel (Day-Lewis) what he was playing, but it did not seem to me a thing to make a movie about now." [Gold Derby]

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<p>Malin Akerman as Tessa's mother Alex in &quot;Suburgatory.&quot;</p>

Malin Akerman as Tessa's mother Alex in "Suburgatory."

Credit: ABC

Review: 'Suburgatory' - 'The Wishbone'

Malin Akerman arrives as Tessa's estranged mom, and Sheila gets a good look at Malik

A review of last night's "Suburgatory" coming up just as soon as I top streaming "Cool Runnings" to my phone...

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<p>Gorgeous... simply gorgeous..</p>

Gorgeous... simply gorgeous..

Credit: Dreamworks Animation

Review: Animated 'Rise Of The Guardians' opens the door to a beautiful family franchise

Could this kick off a new series for the studio?

William Joyce is one of the best guys working today in the world of children's books, and the work he produces deserves to be added to the same shelf where we put names like Sendak and Silverstein and Seuss.  He has a beautiful, instantly recognizable art style, and he writes in the loveliest cascades of language.  There's something very dreamy and very familiar about his work as soon as you're introduced to it.  He is absolutely among the top tier of people who do what he does, and "Rise Of The Guardians" is, before anything, a tribute to his storytelling style and a fairly remarkable realization of the visual worlds he creates.

The film, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Peter Ramsey, begins with Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) slowing waking up to consciousness.  He remembers nothing.  He is newborn to his powers, and we watch him get his footing, like the early scenes in "Bambi," and then leave into the wider world.  He doesn't really understand the way the world works or what his place in it is, and he operates on an instinctual level. 

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'Breaking Dawn' star Michael Sheen discusses Aro's laugh, Volturi bonding and his James Bond future

'Breaking Dawn' star Michael Sheen discusses Aro's laugh, Volturi bonding and his James Bond future

Powerful 'Twilight' vampire now sports a powerful mustache
In 2003, David Morrissey and Michael Sheen played Gordon Brown and Tony Blair in Stephen Frears and Peter Morgan's political drama "The Deal."
 
For some reason I find it funny that in the past two months I've talked with David Morrissey about hobnobbing with zombies on "The Walking Dead" and Michael Sheen about his latest tour of bloodsucking duty in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2."
 
There's nothing like an acclaimed British actor to add prestige to vampires, werewolves, zombies and more.
 
In "Breaking Dawn - Part 2," Sheen adds more than his respected pedigree. As Aro, telepathic leader of the vampire-ruling Volturi, Sheen adds impeccable menace and, once again, archly camp hilarity. 
 
In particular, Aro's laugh as become a weapon as finely honed as Jane's pain-infliction. That was the first thing I bought up when I sat down with the finely mustachioed Sheen, who explains the laugh's origin, even crediting franchise scribe Stephenie Meyer for assistance. 
 
In our conversation, we also discussed the off-camera bonding among the Volturi, his upcoming Showtime drama "Masters of Sex" [featured in this separate interview snippet] and, in jest one assumes, his James Bond future.
 
I've already posted my "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" interviews with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner and Elizabeth Reaser & Nikki Reed and Kellan Lutz & Jackson Rathbone. Expect one more as we get closer to Friday's (Nov. 16) premiere...
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<p>Abi-Maria of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Abi-Maria of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'Little Miss Perfect'

Loyalties are tested as Jonathan Penner scrambles once again
Pre-credit sequence. I still don't understand Jonathan Penner's vote from last week's wacky finale. Let's see if we get an explanation as Dangrayne returns from booting Jeff Kent. Mike Skupin is the first to speak, calling it Tribal Council History, raving at Blair Warner stepping in to rescue him. Abi, though, is pissed off at everybody, sarcastically thanking Skupin for voting against her. He didn't. Penner, if you'll recall, did vote against Abi, and he doesn't deny it, saying he doesn't like to be kept in the dark on Plan Bs. Penner is, in fact, still trying to make sense of the overall vote. HAHA. We spent all that time last week trying to make sense of Penner's potentially passive aggressive vote to get Jeff Kent out? Nope. It turns out that he just didn't know the play. "So I'm the one who blew it by not voting for Pete?" Penner asks Man-Dana. He genuinely has no clue if he made a horrible mistake. That's really hilarious and I guess I appreciate his candor. Meanwhile, Blair Warner and Malcolm make bygones, though Blair Warner is feeling like in lying and betraying and breaking promises, she did herself a disservice. "You're just amazing," Blair tells Malcolm, thanking him for being magnanimous. "It's bigger than me," Blair Warner says of "Survivor." 
 
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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'A Shock at the Space Needle'

The show adds an unexpected twist featuring familiar faces

It's the first "real" week of competition, and the good news? We get a twist! You don't get to season ten without trying to mix things up a bit, and "Top Chef" is no different than any other reality TV series. Luckily, no one dances, there will not be ice skating (I don't think) and there will not be a McDonald's fry cook challenge (I hope). Maybe next season.

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