The New York Film Festival kicks off its golden-anniversary edition tonight with the world premiere of Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" -- Kris will be on hand to offer his thoughts. In the meantime, A.O. Scott shares his notes on the films he's seen from the lineup, including "Pi," which he describes as "a lavish reminder that film nowadays is sometimes not film at all, but rather a rapidly evolving digital art form." He also notes that it's an unusually large-scale choice of opener for an arthouse-dominated fest that kicked off with an Alain Resnais film three years ago. Have they sold out? Scott discusses. [New York Times]
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The early critical narrative about Showtime's "Homeland" was "Okay, this is a great pilot, but how do they make it work as a series?" Then it was, "Okay, it's great so far, but they're going to screw it up in the end, right?" By the end of the season, it was — mostly — "Well, that was a terrific finish, but what do they do for an encore?"
I think the "Paranormal Activity" series is fun. Not great. Not important. Not a redefining series of genre films. But fun. 2007's "Paranormal Activity" did not pick up a distributor right away, and it didn't hit theaters until September 2009, with Paramount treating it almost as an experiment. It caught fire and it quickly became evident that the studio was going to want a follow-up. Oren Peli, who wrote and directed the original, stepped into a more supervisory position, and as he started branching out with projects like "The River" and the still-unreleased "Area 51," he helped other people build out the mythology that he started.
Tod Williams directed the sequel, and Michael R. Perry and Christopher Landon and Tom Pabst all contributed to the script. It expanded the world a bit and started to try to make sense of what happened to Katie (Katie Featherston) and Michah (Micah Sloat) in the first film. It carefully built the big set pieces so it leaned on the exact same sort of scares that the first film did, but with a baby right there in the middle of things. The film ended with an upsetting cliffhanger of sorts with Katie making off with young Hunter (William Juan Pietro), and part three went back in time to the '80s to show Katie and her sister Kristi as kids, bringing in co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman to work with with Christopher Landon, who returned as the sole writer this time. I think the last fifteen minutes or so of "Paranormal Activity 3" is the scariest sustained sequence in any of the movies, and I thought it set up a really interesting broader canvass for the films. When I saw that Joost and Schulman were coming back to direct the fourth film, I thought the movie was in great hands, and I was excited to see what they came up with.
I love Ian Brennan's vision for "Glee."
"Makeover," which "Glee" co-creator Brennan wrote and Eric Stoltz directed, wasn't a Very Special episode like last week's "Britney 2.0." There was no musical icon to celebrate or serious social issue to tackle. There was a special guest star in Sarah Jessica Parker, but Brennan knows how to write to that having previously penned Gwyneth Paltrow's debut episode "The Substitute" and Ricky Martin's "The Spanish Teacher."
More importantly, Brennan knows how to keep "Glee" light on its feet. "Makeover" was both the most relaxed and best episode we've seen so far in Season 4. We're still making progress.
Can you believe Ven is gone? I know; it's a huge relief. Anyway, the designers feel the same way, and not just because they were so sick of that fan/flower trick they wanted to yank their own teeth to distract themselves from the searing pain of seeing it over and over and OVER again. But Ven's timely exit has left them a little shaken -- and focused on getting to Lincoln Center. Christopher, however, is feeling confident, having won three challenges. I think Christopher may be getting a little smug, really.
I posted my review of CBS' "Elementary" yesterday. Now it's your turn. For those who tuned in tonight, what did you think? Was it too easy to compare it to either "Sherlock" or "The Mentalist" (or any other CBS procedural) to enjoy, or were Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu interesting enough to make it work? If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan, did this feel like a fair take on the character? Did you figure out where the story was going before Holmes and Dr. Watson did? And will you watch again?
Have at it.
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I lecture you on consistent font use...
Fixating as we do on the seasonal ins and outs of the Oscar process, it’s easy to forget that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a purpose beyond handing out gold stars to the industry’s great and good. As an organization dedicated both to the development and preservation of the medium, they have fostered a wealth of films and archive materials that have scant relationship to the Academy Awards. Little wonder they warmed so to the film-preservation paean that was “Hugo” last year.
Still, when their archiving obligations overlap with celebration of the awards that made them famous, it’s an irresistible promotional opportunity for AMPAS. Hence the launch of their Oscar’s Most Wanted movement, which seeks to complete their library of every single film, short or feature-length, that was once graced with the golden man’s touch.
Band of Horses will contend that the move from an indie to the major label system definitely works in some artists’ favor. It did for them. Since moving on from esteemed Sub Pop to a partnered drop with Fat Possum and Columbia, now squarely on Columbia, the rock troupe has seen a lot more sales action even without a big radio presence. Just this week, they earned their second-best charting and sales tally for new “Mirage Rock,” landing at No. 13 yesterday.
I posted my review of ABC's "Last Resort" yesterday. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the show? Did the writers make good use of Andre Braugher's gift of gab? Did you think Scott Speedman was up to working opposite him? Did the story flow well, or do you feel like there was too much of a rush to get the sub to the island? Too many characters? Not enough? Once we got to Hawaii, did you start waiting for Smokey to start clicking away? Did you like how they called it "Captain" instead of "Pilot" because of the setting? And will you watch again next week?
Have at it.
There’s still four days before the chart reporting week closes, but look for Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” to score the largest debut of 2012 next week.
The British group’s sophomore set, released Sept. 25, may sell as much as 600,000 copies in its opening frame, according to Billboard. That total would handily topple the previous biggest 2012 debut, Justin Bieber’s “Believe,” which sold 374,000.
The sum will also be the largest opening week for a rock act since AC/DC sold 784,000 with “Black Ice” in 2008.
“Babel’s” predecessor, “Sigh No More,” has sold 2.5 million in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.
So why is this happening? Although album sales are definitely losing ground to single downloads, there are still certain acts whose fans want to hear their complete body of work as the artist intended for it to be heard. This is usually the case for a rock act, like Radiohead or Coldplay, who is not as dependent on Top 40 radio and pop support as a superstar like Rihanna or Katy Perry. While such artists’ albums sell well, the bulk of their sales has switched over the digital singles sales. That’s not to say that all the radio play that M&S received so far on “I Will Wait,” which is at No. 2 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs Chart, and the band’s stop at “Saturday Night Live” this week don’t deserve credit as well.
The pop exception (other than Adele) is Taylor Swift. We fully expect "Red," which comes out Oct. 22, to blow past 600,000 in its first week, despite the fact that her singles immediately top iTunes sales chart as soon as they become available and the album's first single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together " has already sold more than 1 million copies in the month since its release.
Read our review of “Babel” here.
Have you been holding your breath for the past 23 hours?
When we left "The X Factor" on Wednesday night, 13-year-old Trevor Moran was being raced to the hospital. Yes, Trevor was annoying, but we hope he survives.
Note that this is the third or fourth time that FOX has used the "Medical Emergency Cliffhanger" to liven up an otherwise dull episode of reality TV auditions. Each time, the hospitalized contestant has survived.
So I've got a good feeling about Trevor.