Latest Blog Posts

<p>Michael Gambon in &quot;Luck.&quot;</p>

Michael Gambon in "Luck."

Credit: HBO

'Luck' - 'Episode 7': Ashtrays to ashtrays

Most gambles fail to pay off, and syntax becomes a big problem

A review of tonight's "Luck" coming up just as soon as I watch my barn get put on the Facebook...

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<p>Drew McWeeny, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon talk 'Cabin in the Woods'</p>

Drew McWeeny, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon talk 'Cabin in the Woods'

Epix HD, Lionsgate and HitFix present a live-chat with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

Drew McWeeny moderates a special discussion with the makers of 'Cabin In The Woods'

10:30 AM, I had to be downtown at the San Jacinto Ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel, where I would be moderating a special discussion with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, the creators behind the new movie "The Cabin In The Woods" at noon local time.  Since I'm not on either coast, I'm almost constantly confused about the time in other places right now.  It didn't help that the night before, I'd seen a midnight movie that started an hour late and thanks to Daylight Savings time, I'd also lost an hour to the time change.

This is our archived version of the final interview, and I'll confess that this was an exciting interview for me.  Somehow, even after all the time I've been writing online, I'd never met Whedon.  The entire reason Hercules The Strong ever went to work for Ain't It Cool News is because when I met him, we started talking about our mutual adoration of the TV show "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," which was still in early days at that point.  I was on the set of "Serenity," but it was more about observation and listening to a presentation by Whedon.  I would hardly consider it a meeting of any kind.  I've liked much of his work, and I've certainly written my fair share about him over the years.

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<p>&quot;Bob's Burgers.&quot;</p>

"Bob's Burgers."

Credit: FOX

Review: 'Bob's Burgers' cooks up more weird family fun for season 2

Quirky animated comedy deftly mixes the bizarre with the sweet
I wasn't sure what to make of "Bob's Burgers" when it debuted last spring. Where FOX had been content for a while to let its Sunday animated lineup be dominated by "The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and related series, here was an idiosyncratic cartoon not involving Matt Groening or Seth MacFarlane, but created by Loren Bouchard, whose last show for network television was "Home Movies," which UPN canceled after 5 episodes back in 1999. (Adult Swim later picked it up and produced several more seasons.) It had Bouchard regular H. Jon Benjamin in the title role as struggling burger chef and family man Bob, presiding over one of the more eccentric brood of kids I'd seen on TV in a while, including hormonally confused adolescent Tina (Dan Mintz), amoral schemer Louise (Kristen Schaal) and loudly incompetent Gene (Eugene Mirman).  
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<p>Katy Perry</p>
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Katy Perry

Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP

Music Power Rankings: fun. has a good time this week with Katy Perry and Garth Brooks

Taylor Swift and The Boss make the list

1) fun.:  We are Young, We are the first rock band to take our first charting single to No. 1 since Nickelback in 2001. And people don't hate us nearly as much.

2) Taylor Swift: She tops the likes of U2, Kenny Chesney, and Lady Gaga to be named Billboard’s Top 40 Money Makers 2012 list.  The magazine estimates she took home (not grossed) more than $35 million in 2011 from touring and assorted royalties. Money can’t buy her love, but it sure can buy everything else.

3) Vevo: It’s a good week for the video streaming site as it reunites with MTV following a 2010 dispute and it gets a spiffy new redesign in preparation, supposedly, for its upcoming deal with Facebook.  Viva la Vevo

4) Bruce Springsteen: The Boss is back with the timely, excellent “Wrecking Ball,” which may swing Adele’s “21” right out of the No. 1 spot. Plus, his appearance on Jimmy Fallon shows both his funny side on “Sexy and I Know It” and shows that he makes a 40-year old gem like “E Street Shuffle” sparkle and shine.

5) Monkees: As we’ve seen all too much recently, death means a boost to album sales. Following Davy Jones’ death, all the Daydream Believers boost the group’s album sales 1, 265% over the previous week.

6) Metallica: The metal band picks “Predators” director Nimrod Antal for its 3D concert/narrative film. We bet it will be some kind of monster.

7) Katy Perry:
She’s one step ahead of Metallica. Her 3D film, “Part of Me,” will come out this summer. Hey, 3D worked for “Glee,” didn’t it... Oh yeah... 

8) Fiona Apple: Her album titles alone have more words than the average pop song. #nooneneedsa23wordtitle

9) Garth Brooks: The superstar gets the highest honor a country artist can receive: induction into the 2012 Country Music Hall of Fame (alongside Connie Smith and studio musician Pig Robbins)   He has friends in high places.

10) The Allman Bros.: They are part of an $8 million settlement made by Sony Music over digital royalties. Just as sales even off and stop plummeting, labels are going to have to reach into their deep pockets to make up for potentially shortchanging artists for years.


 

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<p>Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder</p>
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Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder

Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP

'Vampire Diaries' team talks love triangles and fan-fic at PaleyFest

Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev and company play to the fans
Saturday (March 10) night's PaleyFest panel for The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" was characterized by lengthy, amusing digressions.
 
Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, for example, waxed enthusiastic for a good five minutes about the opulence of Evander Holyfield's house in Atlanta and the excitement of shooting with Evander Holyfield present. They gushed about the amenities and star-power without wondering at the lack of laughter from and audience that pretty clearly had no clue who the former heavyweight champion is.
 
The audience was far more engaged, though, in the lengthy side-trip into the world of fan fiction, particularly the fan fiction envisioned by Matthew Davis and his alter ego Ernest Riley. Series co-creator Julie Plec even encouraged Davis by praise two pieces of his fan-fic, though she put an immediate end to Davis' favorite pairing, Alaric and Elena.
 
"Totally unacceptable," Plec said.
 
"And inappropriate," added Nina Dobrev.
 
As if sensing a vacuum in the inappropriate fan fic market, Somerhalder and Wesley veered into banter of a homoerotic and incestuous nature involving Damon and Stefan.
 
Don't worry. That's not going to happen either, though Plec repeated a frequently heard point about the show's core relationship.
 
[More after the break. Very minor spoilers, but nothing major. The live-stream only got to join in after the panelists had a 10-minute discussion about this Thursday's episode...]
 
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<p>Jonah Hill and The Shins</p>
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Jonah Hill and The Shins

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Jonah Hill and The Shins

Did the '21 Jump Street' star deliver? Did The Shins change your life?
The good news for Jonah Hill? There’s almost no way his hosting duties on “Saturday Night Live” will receive the scrutiny that befell Lindsey Lohan’s attempt last week. So even if Hill falls flat on his face tonight, it’s not like people will treat him any worse than her. Or, you know, the way people treated him on “Allen Gregory.” So there’s that! Coming along for the ride is the band that changed Zach Braff’s life, and perhaps yours as well: The Shins. It’s yet another artist I actually know, and not because I spent six months trolling hospital waiting rooms hoping some girl would put her headphones on my ears and start up a wonderful yet complicated romance whose end was anything but certain.
 
As per usual, I’ll be reviewing each sketch. As per usual, you’ll get outraged by the grade I give each one. Why ruin a good thing now, right?
 
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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

Reality TV Roundup: 'Survivor' guys make a stupid move and Courtney gets thrashed on 'The Bachelor'

It's been a busy week, so get all your reality news here, now

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...?

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch "The X Factor," "Survivor," "Top Chef," "Project Runway," "Celebrity Apprentice" or any other competition shows, the latest elimination for each show is probably revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 

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<p>Julianne Moore in &quot;Game Change&quot;</p>

Julianne Moore in "Game Change"

Credit: HBO

Julianne Moore owns Jay Roach's 'Game Change' as Sarah Palin

The actress gives one of her finest performances to date in the HBO adaptation

So I was out most of the day and had to come into Jay Roach's "Game Change," which premiered this evening on HBO, somewhere in the middle. No way I was gonna wait and watch it all in one fell swoop. I've been eager to see this and, particularly, Julianne Moore's performance as Sarah Palin, for some time now. When it was over, I waited an hour, caught the first half and here we are. Full disclosure.

And make no mistake, Moore OWNS this film. But not in the way you'd have expected. Sure, any actress tasked with portraying a lightning rod like Palin is going to get a lot of scrutiny and consideration, and the performance is bound to play up broad elements because, well, Palin can be a broad character.

But Moore hits the deep fissures of fear and mortal terror, emotional overload and, ultimately, unbridled narcissism expertly -- at times, profoundly. It's one of her finest performances. And while I won't say I was brought too far into empathetic territory, I was happy with the textured consideration that really gives you a reason to maintain issue with who Palin is, deep down: an egomaniac.

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<p>But they're sweet kids.&nbsp; Really.</p>

But they're sweet kids.  Really.

Credit: Funeral Kings LLC/SXSW

Review: 'Funeral Kings' is a confident coming-of-age debut from McManus Brothers

This lovely little film should find a distributor here this week

Coming of age stories depend upon authenticity if they are to have any power whatsoever.  I've certainly seen enough phony versions of a young man's first steps into a larger world to know when something rings true and when it doesn't.  The strength of "Funeral Kings," the debut feature of Kevin and Matthew McManus, is that it evokes a sustained emotional state that perfectly captures life at a certain age, straining against everyone else's definition of you, in a way that suggests these are filmmakers worth watching.

Charlie (Alex Maizus) and Andy (Dylan Hartigan) and Felix (Charles Kwame Odei) are friends, all going to the same Catholic middle school.  They're good kids, altar boys, but at 14, they're ready to be 30 years old, and they're pushing it in every way they can.  From the rowdy energy of the opening title sequence to the defiant smile that lights up the final frames, "Funeral Kings" is confident and controlled and, with an unabashed vulgarity underscoring everything, about as pure a piece of movie memory as I can name.  It's just one random week in the lives of these kids, and what happens when Bobby (Brandon Waltz) drops off a padlocked trunk with Andy to hide and a new kid named David (Jordan Puzzo) moves to town.  Each of them seems to be just on the verge of really figuring out who they are, and it's not easy for them.  Felix is lucky… he's got an older brother, and he's pretty much ready to make the jump to manhood with someone watching him every step of the way.  The other guys don't really have that, and they're floundering.  Charlie in particular seems to be cursed with a baby face and a hair-trigger temper.  He gets embarrassed easily, and he reacts badly when he does.

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<p>Willem Dafoe (middle)&nbsp;and Andrew Stanton (right)&nbsp;on the set of &quot;John&nbsp;Carter&quot;</p>

Willem Dafoe (middle) and Andrew Stanton (right) on the set of "John Carter"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

‘John Carter’ star Willem Dafoe talks performance capture and Oscar

The actor reflects on the hot button medium following his recent experience

Disney’s “John Carter” opened this weekend and, thus far, seems to be maintaining a slightly stronger presence at the box office than was originally anticipated. Andrew Stanton's film won Friday night with $9.8 million, though Universal’s “The Lorax” is predicted to overtake it by today’s end.

Adapted from Edgar Rice Burroughs's “A Princess of Mars” (initially published in 1917), the first in the author's sci-fi/fantasy series about the planet “Barsoom” (Mars), the film follows an embittered Civil War veteran on his unlikely journey to the planet, where he is, once again, drafted into a conflict not of his making.

Established character actor Willem Dafoe signed on to don a performance capture suit and stilts in order to portray Tars Tarkas (the 9-foot-tall leader of the alien warrior race the Tharks) in the film after having worked with helmer Stanton on “Finding Nemo” and was intrigued by the idea of doing something he had never done, or seen, previously.

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<p>Danny Strong (between HBO's Len Amato and &quot;Game Change&quot; director Jay Roach)</p>
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Danny Strong (between HBO's Len Amato and "Game Change" director Jay Roach)

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

HitFix Interview: Writer Danny Strong discusses HBO's 'Game Change'

'Buffy' and 'Gilmore Girls' acting veteran talks Sarah Palin and more
When "Recount" premiered on HBO in 2008, a large subset of TV fans found themselves excited about Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary and the rest of the top-notch cast, but what was truly intriguing was that the acclaimed movie was written by Jonathan from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and Doyle from "Gilmore Girls."
 
A few years later, we may still think of Danny Strong from those roles and from an arc on "Mad Men," but that "Recount" Emmy nomination (and WGA Award win) has helped solidify his position as one of Hollywood's busiest screenwriters. He's writing "The Butler" for "Precious" director Lee Daniels and he just signed on to adapt Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" for the big screen.
 
At the moment, Strong is attracting attention for his script for "Game Change," an HBO adaptation of John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's bestseller that has prompted outrage from Team Sarah Palin weeks before anybody in the former Vice Presidential nominees camp even saw the movie.
 
For "Game Change," Strong took an already exhaustively researched book and went off on a research mission of his own, interviewing all of the people associated with the McCain/Palin 2008 campaign, or at least the people willing to accept his interview requests.
 
I spoke with Strong after interviewing "Game Change" director Jay Roach, so I think I was able to tailor them as complimentary, rather than overlapping, interviews. Yes, the controversy came up again, but Strong mostly talks about why the Palin story attracted him, how well he feels like he understands the former Alaska Governor and why he's excited about working on a Tom Hanks blockbuster.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
 
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<p>I'm guessing they didn't realize how short-term a commitment 'Til death do us part' was going to be in the world of '[REC] 3'</p>

I'm guessing they didn't realize how short-term a commitment 'Til death do us part' was going to be in the world of '[REC] 3'

Credit: Magnet Releasing

Review: '[REC] 3' delivers gore and thrills and unexpected laughs at midnight

SXSW's first round of midnight shows featured a much-anticipated horror sequel

I have always found the idea of a horror franchise to be somewhat backwards.

Horror frequently relies on the unknown to scare us.  There is an involuntary element to what happens when a great scare delivers.  The more often we see a monster and the more close-up we get with it, the less chance there is it's going to scare us.  Most horror franchises revolve around the constant resurrection/destruction cycle, bringing their boogeymen back from the dead at the start, then making sure he is defeated again by the end.

It bores me.  I don't understand people who watch something like "Halloween 5," unless maybe that's their version of comfort food.  Familiar.  Comforting.  Utterly without any chance of actually scaring you.  I'd rather be off-balance in a horror film, uncomfortable, trying to get my bearings.

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