Latest Blog Posts

<p>If Mr.&nbsp;Finch was still with us, he'd surely be &quot;mad as hell&quot;&nbsp;about this.</p>

If Mr. Finch was still with us, he'd surely be "mad as hell" about this.

Credit: MGM/UA

Sidney Lumet's 'Network' robbed by critics' Sight & Sound poll


I kept looking through the "N-O" section. Surely I missed it. Is there a "next page" link? No. Am I in the, I'm not on the wrong page. I'm in the "all films" section. Let me search by director, for the Lumet films. There's "Dog Day Afternoon." There's "Night Falls on Manhattan." There's "12 Angry Men." One vote each. Maybe it's a glitch. Only three Lumet films? I'm getting side-tracked.

Finally it just settled: 846 top 10 lists from correspondents in 73 countries citing 2,045 different films, and not one of them -- not a single one -- thought 1976's "Network" deserved a mention. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" gets to call itself one of the lot, but not one of the greatest films of all time, indeed, the greatest screenplay of all time.***

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<p>CJ&nbsp;Adams and Odeya Rush co-star in 'The Odd Life&nbsp;Of Timothy Green'</p>

CJ Adams and Odeya Rush co-star in 'The Odd Life Of Timothy Green'

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Review: Earnest and sentimental 'The Odd Life Of Timothy Green' never quite blooms

A game cast doesn't ground this strange fairy tale enough

I interviewed writer/director Peter Hedges when he was getting ready to release "Dan In Real Life," a Steve Carrell movie from a few years ago, and our 20 minute scheduled conversation ended up lasting much longer.  Hedges struck me as a decidedly non-Hollywood type, smart and sincere and serious about making movies with a nice mix of sentiment and ideas.

That sensibility is definitely represented in "The Odd Life Of Timothy Green," the latest movie by Hedges, and there are definitely things to like about the film.  It's uneven, though, with a central conceit that doesn't quite hang together, and I'm not sure the film's theme is focused enough to really work.  It's a hard film to dislike because of just how earnest it is, but it's also a film that has some severe problems, making it hard to give a blanket recommendation.

Hedges, starting from a story by Ahmet Zappa, has crafted a movie that aims to make some profound statements about the nature of parenthood and what it takes to nurture someone, and he is assisted greatly by a cast that includes Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rosemarie DeWitt, David Morse, M. Emmet Walsh, Lois Smith, Dianne Wiest, Ron Livingston, Common, and James Rebhorn.  He's got John Toll shooting, so you know the movie looks great.  It is, aesthetically speaking, uncommonly pretty for a Disney live-action family film, and it aims to earn copious tears from you.

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<p>Rhona Mitra as new &quot;Strike Back&quot;&nbsp;heroine Rachel Dalton.</p>

Rhona Mitra as new "Strike Back" heroine Rachel Dalton.

Credit: Cinemax

Season premiere review: 'Strike Back'

What did everybody think of the Cinemax action drama's return?

I posted my review of the new season of "Strike Back" yesterday. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the season-opening two-parter? Do you feel Rhona Mitra fit in, or was it an Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie situation? Did the scenes of Stonebridge back on the homefront work, or did they just feel like marking time until he got back to Section 20? Were you intrigued with what we've seen so far of our big villains for the season (including Tywin Lannister himself, Charles Dance)? 

This is a show I have a lot of fun watching, but not one I have much to say about week to week. Perhaps I'll check in if there's a particularly notable episode, but for the most part, "Strike Back" does what it just — just very, very well.

But as for the premiere, have at it.

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<p>Kelsey Grammer in &quot;Boss.&quot;</p>

Kelsey Grammer in "Boss."

Credit: Starz

Season premiere review: 'Boss' - 'Louder Than Words'

What did everybody think of the Starz political drama's return?

I posted my review of the new season of "Bossearlier this week. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the season premiere? Did you like new additions Sanaa Lathan, Jonathan Groff and T.I.? Do you like the way we're seeing Kane's condition progress? Did you notice any significant stylistic differences from the arrival of new showrunner Dee Johnson? 

I won't be covering the show weekly, but I'll try to come back at the end of the season to talk about everything that's happened. In the meantime, have at it.

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<p>Travis Knight is a huge supporter of stop-motion animation as an art form, and in addition to running Laika Studios, he's also an animator</p>

Travis Knight is a huge supporter of stop-motion animation as an art form, and in addition to running Laika Studios, he's also an animator

Credit: HitFix

Watch: The filmmakers behind 'ParaNorman' talk technique, tech and talent

Meet the people who made 'ParaNorman' such a visually spectacular treat

It's unusual at these broadcast press days to get time to talk technical with filmmakers.  For the most part, these events are all about getting a sound bite out of a movie star.

On a film like "ParaNorman," thought, it's great to have that chance to talk to the people who actually brought the remarkable world of the movie to life.  Stop-motion is one of those art forms where survival depends on younger artists learning from those few people who are still actually doing this, and Laika's new film plays like a master class on the potential for stop-motion.  They've combined classic technique with high tech in a way that is visually dazzling.

Beyond that, though, "ParaNorman" is an example of just how beautiful and affecting performance work can be when you've got masterful animators at the helm.  Laika is unusual as a company because Travis Knight is not only the head of the company, but also an animator who did a lot of the hands-on work himself.  There are some dazzling sequences in the film that he was the lead animator on, and it's proof that he's not just some executive.  His father is Phil Knight, the co-found of Nike, and Laika was created out of the passion that Travis Knight feels for stop-motion animation in general.

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<p>Immediately after the interview ended, I defeated Statham in a kickboxing battle. I wish you could have seen it.</p>

Immediately after the interview ended, I defeated Statham in a kickboxing battle. I wish you could have seen it.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Jason Statham shares some butt-kicking secrets from 'The Expendables 2'

One of the best action stars working tells us about building a fight scene

When you sit across from Jason Statham, it's hard to not be aware that he could end you if the mood struck him.

As one of the youngest members of the core team of "The Expendables," Statham gets to do some of the most physical hand-to-hand combat in the movie.  He's got a scene in a church in the film that is him at his balletic badass best.

Talking to him about this second film in the series, I wanted to ask about how the action scenes were designed this time around.  It feels like this second film did a much better job of building scenes that gave each cast member room to show off the skills that qualified them for the movie in the first place.  Statham talked to me about how he works with his fight choreographer, a guy who he's been working with for a while now.

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<p>Philip Seymour Hoffman in &quot;The Master&quot;</p>

Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Listen: A track from Jonny Greenwood's score of 'The Master' is mad (good)

Radiohead sound-maker pairs with Paul Thomas Anderson yet again

Judging from all the trailers of "The Master," some of the themes seem to be dealing with the disorienting feeling that down is up, and what you know is never the full truth. And listening to a bit of Jonny Greenwood's work for the film, the score will be rolling with that tide.

"Application 45 Version 1" is the track that you'll get if you pre-order Nonesuch's Sept. 11 drop of the soundtrack to the Paul Thomas Anderson film. And it'll have you poking around for the downbeat, wondering if it's minor or major and generally exciting the jitters that are beyond your 4 p.m. cup of caffeine. The cello is enough to give you goosebumps.

This is the second time Greenwood and Anderson have teamed up, after their phenomenal combination on "There Will Be Blood": the score to that film was ruled ineligible for a soundtrack Academy Award, as it included previously recorded material. However, it did earn a Grammy nod for Best Score Soundtrack but lost out to "The Dark Knight" because, man, seriously.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Death for Sale,&quot; Morocco's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.</p>

A scene from "Death for Sale," Morocco's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Credit: Entre Chien et Loup

Morocco strikes first in the foreign language Oscar race

Meanwhile, Denmark's submission committee has a tough choice to make

I'm surprised it's taken this long for me to have to write one of these posts -- international submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar usually start trickling through in July or so. So expect a lot more of these announcements before the October 1 deadline for submissions. We'll be keeping track of them -- or doing our best to, as they begin flooding in in the thick of festival season -- on our Contenders page for the category.

Anyway, Morocco is first out of the gate this year, having selected Faouzi Bensaidi's socially-minded thriller "Death for Sale" as their best hope for awards glory. Perhaps the country's selectors are feeling a little more confident, having unexpectedly cracked the nine-film longlist for the first time back in January with the under-the-radar prison drama "Omar Killed Me," and therefore having come tantalizingly close to their first Oscar nomination. Not a prolific film industry by any means, Morocco has only entered the race eight times since 1977.

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<p>From &quot;Today's Supernatural&quot;</p>

From "Today's Supernatural"

Watch: Animal Collective debuts trippy 'Today's Supernatural' video

Dunebuggy and the Clown

Working with the same visuals director over and over again, Animal Collective get to play around with their strong suits and are allowed to experiment. Their suits in "Today's Supernatural" are clown suits, and a Chinese dragon.

The Danny Perez-helmed full-length-movie-thing "ODDSAC" was a good example of how the members of the New York band sort of ooze and bolt in and out of their own tracks, musically and visually. There was a lot of similar electricity and tech-y weirdness that shows up in this track -- culled from AC's forthcoming full-length "Centipede Hz" --  and it works. The desert pastels and decadent styling enhance this upbeat ode, which is about as close to "pop music" as Animal Collective really gets.

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Watch: Nickelback's new video for 'Trying Not To Love You' with Jason Alexander

Watch: Nickelback's new video for 'Trying Not To Love You' with Jason Alexander

What's George Constanza doing in the coffee shop?

Jason Alexander has a nice little side gig going with his work in music videos. After appearing in Brad Paisley’s clips for “Celebrity” and “Online,” he’s back as an everyman barista in Nickelback’s clip for “Trying Not To Love You.”

He plays a double role as Bud, the sweet schlub who has a way with a cappuccino maker, and as his unnamed nemesis, who has elevated the art of coffee-making to an Olympic sport.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>John&nbsp;Hawkes in &quot;The Sessions&quot;</p>

John Hawkes in "The Sessions"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

John Hawkes steals the heart in 'The Sessions'

Plus: Check out the Oscar-winning 1996 doc 'Breathing Lessons' and the new poster

One of the first screenings I caught here in New York this week was Ben Lewin's "The Sessions," which I saw yesterday. The film debuted at Sundance (where it was called "The Surrogate") to much acclaim and became an instant contender for Best Actor (John Hawkes) and Best Actress (Helen Hunt). William H. Macy's supporting performance could also be a player.

It's a very emotional film, ultimately, even if it gets there with a lighter touch. Much of that has to do with Hawkes's fantastic performance, carving an endearing portrait of real-life polio sufferer Mark O'Brien. O'Brien was a Berkeley poet and journalist who spent the majority of his waking hours in an iron lung and, toward the end of his life, wanted to know the pleasure of being with a woman. But the film ends up being about way more than the physical joy of sex, navigating a path of spirituality and humanity toward that most important of life's offerings: intimate human connection.

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<p>Mandy Patinkin and Claire Danes in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Mandy Patinkin and Claire Danes in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

New 'Homeland' trailer promises we'll be watching you

Showtime drama teases Sept. 30 return with a Police cover

I'm embedding the new Showtime trailer for "Homeland" season 2 (which premieres on Sunday, September 30) for a couple of reasons: 

1)I'm very excited to have the show (one of last year's best) back, and I imagine seeing glimpses of Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Mandy Patinkin and friends should pump up your excitement level as well.

2)I love the choice of song: Scala & Kolacny Brothers covering The Police's "Every Breath You Take," a song that has been weirdly turned into a ballad of undying love in recent years (even Sting stopped fighting this particular battle a long time ago and will perform it as such) when it was written as a tale of obsessive stalking. The original interpretation fits "Homeland" perfectly, not just because of the show's extensive use of surveillance, but because of how that in turn fueled the unsettling affair between Carrie and Brody.


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