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<p>There is a reason I named my son Toshiro, and at least part of it is because of his iconic work in 'Seven Samurai'</p>

There is a reason I named my son Toshiro, and at least part of it is because of his iconic work in 'Seven Samurai'

Credit: Toho Films

How I picked my twenty favorite films of all time and why

A famous once-a-decade poll started me thinking

Yes, I know Roger Ebert recently wrote a piece about struggling to define his ten favorite films of all time.  He was doing so as part of the "Sight & Sound" critic's poll, and it was a typically great Ebert piece, even if I disagree strongly with some of the titles on his list.

Disagreement is, of course, part of the point.  And since I wasn't asked to be part of the "Sight & Sound" poll, and neither were any number of interesting online voices, it was immediately appealing when Cole Abaius from Film School Rejects asked me to contribute my list to a piece he's doing this week.  I decided it would be a fun exercise and opened up a file to start writing and…

… froze.

I've taken a shot at a similar list before, almost in passing, and I've certainly got a running short list in my head of my favorite movies.  But actually quantifying what my ten, or in this case twenty, favorite films are, without cheating, without including trilogies, without padding the list out… that's tough.  And by the time I was done, I realized this needed to be a stand-alone article here on the blog.

One film you won't see on my list?  "Citizen Kane."  I might include it on the list of the ten most significant films of all time, and I certainly think much of what we consider modern film language evolved from choices that Welles and Gregg Toland made on that film, but as far as personal enjoyment?  It's not in my top ten or even my top twenty.  I just don't feel compelled to revisit it often, nor do I feel there is much more I can ever take from it as an experience.

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<p>Vanessa and Ralph of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Vanessa and Ralph of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Vanessa & Ralph talk 'The Amazing Race'

The 4th place finishers discuss Japanese game shows and on-air fights
Wisecracking, occasional Mean Girl Vanessa and her affable, but occasionally pugnacious  boyfriend Ralph were one of the more polarizing teams on the recently completed season of "The Amazing Race."
For some fans, Vanessa's loopy and occasionally biting wit, plus Ralph's solid physicality made them an easy team to root for. 
But for other viewers, it felt like Vanessa was picking on "Big Brother" veterans Brendon & Rachel, which would only be a negative if you happen to believe that Brendon & Rachel didn't deserve to be picked on.
Ralph & Vanessa had a steady, but unremarkable "Amazing Race" run, always competitive, but never rising above third on any Leg. 
At least they had a memorable departure as Vanessa, nursing an injured ankle from an earlier fall, was forced to complete in a Japanese game show Roadblock that asked contestants to sprint against the tide of a treadmill, periodically leaping to grab rubber chickens. It was an exhausting challenge under any circumstances, but with a sprained ankle, it seemed to be untenable. While Ralph urged Vanessa to quit and take the penalty, Vanessa battled through, refusing to quit. They still finished in fourth and were eliminated, but at least they left with their heads up.
In their exit interview on Monday, Vanessa & Ralph discussed that last Roadblock, their battles with each other and with Rachel & Brendon and why fighting may have been the secret to Dave & Rachel's winning success.
Click through for the full interview.
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<p>Gene Kelly in &quot;Singin' in the Rain&quot;</p>

Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain"

Credit: MGM

Academy to fete Gene Kelly with centennial tribute

In celebration of incomparable performer's 100th birthday

The AMPAS is set to honor Gene Kelly, the icon of the golden age of the elaborate Hollywood musical, in a two-night celebration hosted by his widow, Patricia Ward Kelly. The event will feature film clips, personal remembrances and a look at the radical impact Kelly had on the way dance was filmed.

Kelly's on-screen presence as a singer/dancer and behind-the-scenes work as a director and choreographer altered how musical numbers were conceived and executed both in his day and beyond. He is remembered for his indelible self-directed performances in films such as "An American in Paris" and "Singin’ in the Rain," and his innovative use of settings such as rain-soaked sidewalks and props ranging from umbrellas to mops to sheets of newspaper and roller skates invigorated the expansive musicals of the day.

Kelly was buoyant, muscular and full of vibrant charm. He was the quintessential 1950s archetype of what the United States wanted people outside and inside its boundaries to believe Americans were: attractive, confident and good-natured, with a witty sense of play.

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'The Voice': Blake Shelton and Jermaine Paul

'The Voice': Blake Shelton and Jermaine Paul on the final night of performances

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' final performances

Tony Lucca, Juliet Simms, Jermaine Paul and Chris Mann duke it out one last time

"It's been an incredible season!"

At least that's what Carson Daly tells us to kick off the final performance night of "The Voice" season two. And if you can't trust Carson, who can you trust?

For the first time this season the audience has full control -- the coaches can't save or eliminate anyone -- so it will be the biggest test yet of the show's voting pool. From classic rock (Juliet) to pop rock (Tony), RnB uplift (Jermaine) to classical uplift (Chris), a choice must be made. Who will it be?

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<p>A scene from Sergei Loznitsa's &quot;In the Fog.&quot;</p>

A scene from Sergei Loznitsa's "In the Fog."

Credit: Belarusfilm

Cannes Check: Sergei Loznitsa's 'In the Fog'

Continuing our series of Cannes competition previews

The director: Sergei Loznitsa (Belarusian, 47 years old)

The talent: Amid a sea of unfamiliar actors -- some of them Russian workhorses, but many of them first-timers -- two names stand out, though both of them are in supporting roles. Romanian actor Vlad Ivanov made a striking impression (and scooped an LA Critics' award) as the surly abortionist in "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days"; veteran Russian actress Nadezhda Markina's stunning turn in the title role of "Elena" earned a European Film Award nod last year, and will hit US screens next week.

As on his last film (and first narrative feature) "My Joy," Loznitsa wrote the script, while that film's editor Danielius Kokanauskis, production designer Kirill Shuvalov and cinematographer Oleg Mutu are all on board. Mutu, in particular, is a name to note: he's been a key figure in the recent Romanian new wave, having shot "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu," "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" (which he also produced) and "Tales From the Golden Age." This is one of two Competition credits for him this year: he also lensed Cristian Mungiu's latest, "Beyond the Hills." 

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<p>Animal Collective</p>

Animal Collective

Listen to two new Animal Collective songs

On the heels of Record Store Day 'Gyrus' release

Little by little, Animal Collective is making new noise.

The experimental electronica crew dropped two new tracks today, available for immediate purchase digitally and due on 7” vinyl on June 26. Side 1 is “Honeycomb,” which is the aural equivalent of different-sized bouncy balls going down a flight of stairs. They seem to have reserved all their nuance for side 2, “Gotham." Both would sound great on a nice, warm vinyl slab.
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<p>Beastie Boys</p>

Beastie Boys

Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horovitz remembers fellow Beastie Boy Adam Yauch

He salutes Yauch in photo and words on the band's website

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch’s bandmate, Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), took to the band’s website Sunday night to comment about the passing of his friend. Yauch (aka MCA) died May 4 from cancer at 47.

“As you can imagine, shit is just fkd up right now,” Horovitz write, “But I wanna say thank you to all our friends and family (which are kinda one in the same) for all the love and support. I’m glad to know that all the love that Yauch has put out into the world is coming right back at him. Thank you.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Nicki Minaj</p>

Nicki Minaj

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Is Nicki Minaj's Pepsi commercial a 'Moment 4 Life?'

Will all the Barbies pick up a Pepsi now?

Nicki Minaj is the latest in a long line of musical acts to sign on to shill soda. Her Pepsi commercial bowed Monday morning and, in a word we never thought we’d use in association with Minaj, it is boring.

The extended version follows a young couple, who, upon opening a can of Pepsi, find themselves very alive in a sea of other people frozen in mid-activity, whether they be mid-skateboarding, mid-volleyball game, or, oddly, mid-tomato fight. There are also 30- and 60-second versions, in addition to this 90-second cut.

They go to the beach, walk the runway as part of a Betsey Johnson fashion show (clearly before Johnson filed for bankruptcy) and, ultimately to a Minaj concert, all while a remix of “Moment 4 Life” plays. They open up another can and unfreeze Minaj, whom we see performing the song in concert, and, thank goodness, the tomato fighters.

[More after the jump...]

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 127
Credit: USA

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 127

Dan and Alan talk 'Common Law,' Upfronts and more


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
Time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
Due to a paucity of new show premieres this week -- USA's "Common Law" is our only review -- most of this podcast is dedicated to premiering next week's upfronts. Oh and we talked about Rory Gilmore and Mr. Belding guesting on "Mad Men."
As we mention in podcast, due to upfronts we have no clue when we'll be able to podcast next week or how many times. Smart money says there'll be a podcast on Monday or Tuesday and then a second podcast on Thursday or Friday. 
Here's today's breakdown:
"Common Law" (00:01:00 - 00:11:10)
"Desperate Housewives" reflections (00:11:10 - 00:18:20)
Upfronts Preview (00:18:20 - 01:01:50)
"Mad Men" (01:02:00 - 01:26:20)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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<p>Death Grips</p>

Death Grips

Death Grips abruptly cancel tour on eve of kick-off

What reason did the hot band give?

Death Grips, who are in the throes of some mighty critical praise for new album “The Money Store,” have abruptly cancelled all upcoming tour dates in order to focus on its next album “No Love.”

The group broke the news via Facebook and Twitter over the weekend, simply stating, “We are dropping out to complete our next album ‘No Love.’ See you when it's done. (there are no longer any scheduled shows).” And they meant immediately: The Sacramento-based industrial hip-hop group didn’t show up for its gig Saturday night at the Sacramento Electronic Music Festival.

Death Grips, who signed with Epic Records after a number of labels pursued them was one of the highlights of the Coachella festival. 

It looks as though that band cancelled the dates without telling some of the venues. Brooklyn’s Music Hall tweeted after the Death Grip’s cancelled via FB that it was still waiting on official word about the cancellation of its June 13 show. It later confirmed that it was now offering refunded.

The tour was slated to start May 5 in Sacramento and run through June 21 in Minneapolis, with some European dates in the middle. Death Grips was also on the bill for New Jersey's All Tomorrow's Parties festival on Sept. 23.

It’s a highly unorthodox move for a band to cancel a tour, on the eve of the first date, to hang in the studio, especially one that has fans clamoring to hear what all the buzz is about. While some fans on Facebook were sympathetic in their comments, others blasted the band for lack of professionalism. We have to say, guys, even a “We’re sorry,” may have helped ease the pain. The Facebook comment seems to be the only one forthcoming from the band as there has been no official confirmation or statement from either the band's independent publicist or label.

“No Love” is slated for a fall release.

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<p>You know what is good in life?&nbsp; Mondo's amazing new 'Conan The Barbarian' poster. And the lamentations of the wimmens.</p>

You know what is good in life?  Mondo's amazing new 'Conan The Barbarian' poster. And the lamentations of the wimmens.

Credit: Mondo News

Exclusive: Check out Mondo's 'Conan' poster for Alamo's Summer of '82

We're helping the Alamo kick off their special summer celebration

It's hard to believe that the summer of 1982 is already upon us.

Oh, sure, it happened 30 years ago, but what I'm talking about is the Alamo Drafthouse celebration of what I consider the best genre summer of all time.  This week, they're warming up with a Tuesday booking for the great sleazy "Vice Squad," and then the party starts in earnest with "Conan The Barbarian" this Friday.

HitFix is pleased to co-present this first weekend's movie, and as part of that, we've got a very special premiere for you today of Mondo's special poster that they've put together for the event.  Believe me when I say to you, there are very few things that are going to make me this happy this year.

Unlike "Blade Runner" or "The Thing," two films that have become critical hits in the 30 years since their release, "Conan The Barbarian" is still dismissed by many, and that drives me crazy.  I think it's a genuinely great film, and while it's not exactly my interpretation of Robert E. Howard's dark and strange pulp stories about the sword-bearing Cimmerian, I love what John Milius did with it.  It's one of my favorite performances by Arnold Schwarzenegger, too, and I think he benefits enormously from Sandahl Bergman's work in the film.  She makes him more soulful simply because of how she plays against him.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 127: Bubble Watch 2012

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 127: Bubble Watch 2012

Dan and Alan preview the network upfront week, review USA's 'Common Law' and look back on 'Desperate Housewives'


Next week will be crazy for the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast due to the broadcast network upfronts, so we tried to prepare both ourselves and our listeners this week with 40+ minutes of speculation on which bubble shows will survive and which are doomed. Also, we found a bit of time to review USA's "Common Law," look back on the unlikely success of "Desperate Housewives," and, as usual, chat about last night's "Mad Men." 

The line-up: 

Here's today's breakdown:
"Common Law" (00:01:00 - 00:11:10)
"Desperate Housewives" reflections (00:11:10 - 00:18:20)
Upfronts Preview (00:18:20 - 01:01:50)
"Mad Men" (01:02:00 - 01:26:20)
As we discuss towards the end of the show, we will likely have two podcasts next week, but also probably not on Monday. It will be catch as catch can. Follow our blogs, iTunes, the RSS feed, Twitter, etc., to have some sense of when a new podcast has been published.

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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