Latest Blog Posts

Listen: O.A.R. and B.o.B collaborative Olympics theme 'Champions'

Listen: O.A.R. and B.o.B collaborative Olympics theme 'Champions'

A match made in a laboratory

I know what you're thinking. B.o.B. O.A.R. Together at last. And for an Olympic theme song, to boot.

The corporate sponsored-song "Champions" has an accompanying video interspersing sports clips with the two artists in the studio and their entourage nodding in the control room.

O.A.R. is already known for their songs-with-a-message. It's just that so few of those end with a saxophone line, a la Clarence Clemons. Otherwise, this song seems to have been crafted in a lab, so be inspired at least by the science of entertainment. My favorite part is where Bobby Ray puts his fists up in the air like a boxer and ad-libs "yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah."

We've already won.



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<p>From the Magnetic Fields' &quot;Quick!&quot;</p>

From the Magnetic Fields' "Quick!"

Credit: Merge

Watch: The Magnetic Fields' darling 'Quick!' music video

What do trash can people eat?

The Magnetic Fields is a great band for the painfully shy. For all you trash can people out there: "Quick!" is for you.

Check out the music video for the new single from the band's latest "Love at the Bottom of the Sea," out earlier this year.

Does the clip make you wide-eyed?

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<p>A scene from Cristian Mungiu's &quot;Beyond the Hills.&quot;</p>

A scene from Cristian Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills."

Credit: Sundance Selects

Cannes Check: Cristian Mungiu's 'Beyond the Hills'

Continuing our series of Cannes competition previews

The director: Cristian Mungiu (Romanian, 44 years old)

The talent: A number of first-time actresses pepper the cast list of Mungiu's latest, including his two leads, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur. Keen followers of the Romanian New Wave may recognize (if not necessarily be able to name) the odd face in support, including a number of bit players from "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days." The biggest name here, relatively speaking? Luminita Gheorghiu, who won an LA Critics' award a few years back for "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu." 

Mungiu wrote and produced the film himself. It's interesting, however, to see Belgian brothers (and two-time Palme d'Or winners) Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne on the list of co-producers, just in case its Croisette cred needed any beefing up. "4 Months" cinematographer Oleg Mutu is also, invaluably, back on board -- as mentioned yesterday, this is one of two Competition entries this year shot by him. That film's production designer Mihaela Poenaru returns, joined by Calin Papura, who did some striking work on Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth Without Youth." Editor Mircea Olteanu (who also doubles as sound editor) makes his feature debut here.

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Nelly Furtado
Nelly Furtado

Watch: Nelly Furtado has a growth spurt in 'Big Hoops' music video

She definitely believes the bigger, the better

Nelly Furtado is definitely taking the lyrics of her new song, “Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)” literally in the tune’s official video.

The attack of this 10 foot woman takes place as she strolls nonchalantly down the street, totally oblivious to her shorter minions gawking up at here in awe and/or terror.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Gary Busey. 'Piranha 3D'. Bloopers. Whattaya need, a roadmap?</p>

Gary Busey. 'Piranha 3D'. Bloopers. Whattaya need, a roadmap?

Credit: Dimension Films

Exclusive: Want to see Gary Busey 'Piranha 3DD' outtakes? Of course you do

The 'Feast' boys bring you a new movie about those hungry, hungry fish

When someone contacts you and asks if you want to see Gary Busey bloopers from the sequel to "Piranha," the answer is ABSOLUTELY NO QUESTION "yes."

All I needed to hear was "Gary Busey" and "bloopers," because I can only imagine what it looks like when he gets something wrong.  The performances they cut together of his these days look like outtakes in the first place, barely sane collections of reaction shots that only loosely relate to what's happening around him, so bloopers?  Please.  As many as possible.

Busey is a big personality, and at this point, you know what you're getting when you cast him.  I give him credit for holding together this sort of niche he's carved out, finding films that can make use of his particular presence and his box-office percentages in the overseas financing game.  Thanks to some of the hits he's been in, Busey can help get a film made.  He is a vital piece of the chess board, and I seriously respect any working actor who figures that out for themselves.  Lots of people appear in movies.  Not many people do it for forty or fifty years in a row.

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<p>Sara Watkins</p>

Sara Watkins

Interview: Sara Watkins talks 2nd solo album, Fiona Apple, Nickel Creek

Listen to 'Sun Midnight Sun' -- including her duet with Apple -- in its entirety

You can’t talk about Sara Watkins without dropping some big names. The former Nickel Creek member produced her first, self-titled 2009 album with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. She’s spent the years between now and then as a touring fiddler and backing singer for the Decemberists, as performer and occasional guest host for “Prairie Home Companion” and continuing the foundations of the Watkins Family Hour at L.A. mainstay Largo with her brother and Nickel Creek cohort Sean.

“I’ve gotten some nice invitations, and I said yes to them,” Watkins said in our recent interview. This time, for her new solo album “Sun Midnight Sun,”she said yes to collaborations with artists like Fiona Apple and Jackson Browne, with Dawes’ Blake Mills at the helm.
Each experience in the past few years has helped to inform Watkins, Solo Artist. “Prairie Home” was the opportunity to “pretend I was Dolly Parton… I’d do my thing, then sit on my bench and watch and enjoy.” Decemberists was what it was “to work and be in someone else’s band – I’d ride on the bus, no accounting, no driving. I’d use my energy to rest up and play for an intense couple of years. I learned to be relaxed and I got refreshed… It’s really fun to see how other people put on a show.”
Watkins paired up with Apple on cover “You’re the One I Love” for “Sun Midnight Sun,” and she said it was a thrill to put two very different female voices on an Everly Brothers tune. “I love Fiona. She’s a sweet person, lovely to be around and exciting to sing with and work with,” Watkins said. “There’s a particular girl-backed intensity. When we sang it together it was the absolute highlight of my career.”
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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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