Latest Blog Posts

<p>'We Bought a Zoo'</p>

'We Bought a Zoo'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Cameron Crowe and Jonsi talk 'We Bought A Zoo'

Crowe confesses to missing the "studly move"

While Cameron Crowe directed “We Bought A Zoo,” he and his team juggled completing this fall’s “Pearl Jam Twenty” documentary and “The Union,” his film about the making of Elton John and Leon Russell’s 2010 album of the same name, which comes out in January.

“They all fueled each other,” Crowe says, noting that he’s hardly the first moviemaker to multi-task. “To me, the best documentary certainly in the last 25 years was [2005’s] ‘No Direction Home,’ and I heard [Martin] Scorsese did that while he was doing ‘The Departed’.”

For “We Bought A Zoo,” which had a sneak peak this past weekend (read Drew McWeeny’s glowing review here) and will open nationally on Dec. 23, Crowe knew that for the first time in one of his movies, he wanted to focus more on a score than licensed music (although “Zoo” features a number of songs). “I just had the feeling that this was the movie where we could do more score than ever before,” Crowe told me when I interviewed him recently for a piece for Variety (this article includes  a few comments from that piece, but primarily is previously unpublished material).

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Shannon was nominated for his leading performance in Jeff Nichols's &quot;Take Shelter,&quot;&nbsp;which sahred the lead on nominations.</p>

Michael Shannon was nominated for his leading performance in Jeff Nichols's "Take Shelter," which sahred the lead on nominations.

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Film Independent spotlights the right stuff in Independent Spirit Award nominations

'The Artist' and 'Take Shelter' lead the field with strong showings from 'Drive' and 'Take Shelter'

Much more interesting to me this morning was Film Independent's list of nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards. Any slate that features multiple tips of the hat for "Drive," "Take Shelter" and "Beginners," love for Woody Harrelson in "Rampart" and recognition for Corey Stoll in "Midnight in Paris" is fine by me.

The announcement was made via Film Independent's Twitter feed. No online stream or TV announcement. The economy route. Which made things kind of hairy if you were also following the New York Film Critics Circle's feed at the same time. But it also brought a smile to my face to see, say, Albert Brooks winning a Best Supporting Actor prize for his work in "Drive" while at the same time receiving a nomination for same at the Independent Spirit Awards. Ditto Jessica Chastain and her work in "Take Shelter."

Still, let's not do this again, okay? Too much at once.

Read Full Post
<p>John&nbsp;Goodman in NYFCC&nbsp;Best Picture winner &quot;The&nbsp;Artist&quot;</p>

John Goodman in NYFCC Best Picture winner "The Artist"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'The Artist' wins Best Picture, Best Director from NYFCC

Gotham crowd spotlights 'Moneyball' and 'The Tree of Life' as well

After all the extraneous stuff surrounding the New York Film Critics Circle and their vote, the organization finally sat down and painstakingly settled on its list of award winners for 2011 this morning. They were lapped by Film Independent's Independent Spirit Awards announcement (more on that in a moment), which was revealed via Twitter, just as the NYFCC announcement was. But when the dust finally settled, it was an ode to silent cinema that walked away with the goods.

Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt were each cited for their work in "The Tree of Life," alongside other projects they have in play this year, while Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") and Albert Brooks ("Drive") rounded out the acting honors. "Moneyball" also did quite well, nabbing Best Screenplay and getting cited alongside "The Tree of Life" for Pitt's award.

If you didn't keep track in real time, you can read my commentary on all of the award winners below. From here, the National Board of Review takes the baton on Thursday and the circuit marches on.

Read Full Post
<p>Ryan Gosling of &quot;Drive&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Ryan Gosling of "Drive"

Credit: Film District

'Descendants,' 'Drive' and 'Take Shelter' lead 2012 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees

'The Artist' is a surprise best feature film nominee

Film Independent announced the nominees for the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards this morning and "Take Shelter" and "The Artist" received the most nominations with five each. "The Descendants," "Drive" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" received four respectively.  Surprising nominations came for internationally financed "The Artist" in the best feature film category and George Clooney and Kirsten Dunst not receiving nominations in the lead actor categories. 

Read Full Post
<p>Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in&nbsp;&quot;Moneyball&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Paging 'Moneyball'

Also: 'Hugo' aims to win the marathon and the original ending to 'The Muppets'

Yesterday I asked via the Off the carpet column what films and/or performances needed some wind in their sails from the upcoming critics awards circuit. But now is also the time to strike for a film like "Moneyball," which has that flash of effortless panache that seems to be missing this season. Smartly, the campaign has started showing signs of life as Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill participated in a Los Angeles post-screening Q&A for the film Sunday night. I wouldn't say anything is falling away, but nothing appears to be running away with it. So, carpe diem. Sophia Savage was on hand Sunday. [Thompson on Hollywood]

Read Full Post
<p>Bill Pullman in &quot;Scott Turow's Innocent.&quot;</p>

Bill Pullman in "Scott Turow's Innocent."

Credit: TNT

Review: 'Scott Turow's Innocent' kicks off TNT mystery movie series

Bill Pullman, Marcia Gay Harden and Richard Schiff star in belated, silly 'Presumed Innocent' sequel

TNT has already established quite the profitable brand for itself as home to the kinds of square-jawed, retro dramas that the broadcast networks stopped making a long time ago. So it stands to reason that the channel would eventually try getting into another business the networks have largely abandoned: the made-for-TV-movie. And if they can be the kinds of movies that fit comfortably alongside "The Closer" and "Rizzoli & Isles," so much the better.

Over the next three weeks, TNT will be airing a half-dozen mystery movies, all based on works by best-selling authors like Sandra Brown and Mary Higgins Clark, all starring actors who are past their career peak but have the ability to make you stop channel surfing to say, "Oh, I like him/her."

The movies kick off tonight at 9 with "Scott Turow's Innocent," a very belated sequel to Turow's "Presumed Innocent," which was made into a hit 1990 film starring Harrison Ford as prosecutor Rusty Sabitch, who was accused of murdering his mistress, only for it to be revealed (21-year-old spoiler alert!) that his scorned wife Barbara had done it and framed him for the deed.

Read Full Post
Martin Scorsese's cameo appearance in "Hugo"
Martin Scorsese's cameo appearance in "Hugo"
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Martin Scorsese embraces 3D beyond the realm of 'Hugo' and fantasy

The director says he would like to shoot future films with the technology

As I walked past the offices of Technicolor on my way to see a screening of what may (one day) be considered the film that represents the first true step the entertainment industry at large took in its embrace of 3D as a legitimate cinematic tool, Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” I could not help but think of Kris’s piece on the company’s efforts to restore and preserve cinema’s classics. There is something beautiful and compelling about the symmetry of a film that is reverential in its depiction of cinema history nudging a business that is still at odds with itself about a new technology. And there's something about a company that is responsible for one of the most significant advances in film restoring its past that I find intriguing.

I was struck again by a sense of synchronicity when I read Mr. Scorsese’s interview with Deadline this weekend in which the director indicated that he would be interested in shooting his future projects in 3D. He, as James Cameron frequently does, compared 3D to the advent of Technicolor in the mid-1930s. "We view everyday life with depth,” he said. “You have to go back to Technicolor; when it was used in 1935 with Becky Sharp. For about 10-15 years, Technicolor was relegated to musicals, comedies and westerns. It wasn't intended for the serious genres, but now everything is in color.

Read Full Post
<p>Patton Oswalt, Charlize Theron and Jason Reitman walk the red carpet to promote &quot;Young Adult&quot; at the 2011 Gotham Awards.</p>

Patton Oswalt, Charlize Theron and Jason Reitman walk the red carpet to promote "Young Adult" at the 2011 Gotham Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

10 things we learned at the 2011 Gotham Awards

'Beginners' shock, Charlize Theron's push, rude New Yorkers and more

Having attended the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Britannia Awards, the Critic's Choice Awards and, god help me, the Hollywood Film Awards (just once I say, just once!), it felt like a big adventure crossing the country to the Spirit's little New York, um, sister, the Gotham Awards.  

Read Full Post
<p>Vanessa Redgrave (center) in Ken Russell's &quot;The Devils.&quot;</p>

Vanessa Redgrave (center) in Ken Russell's "The Devils."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Remembering the madness of Ken Russell

Oscar-nominated British director passed away on Sunday at 84 years of age

Back in July, I had the rare privilege of seeing Ken Russell's grandly insane 1971 ecclesiastical drama "The Devils" in all its pristinely restored, newly uncut glory on the generous screen of London's BFI Southbank -- and left feeling rather as if I'd pummelled in the face with a movie camera. In a good way.

I'd never seen this hard-to-access film before, and was glad I'd waited to meet it with no missing parts: a feverish, alarming story of sexual repression and religious persecution in 17th-century France, it's the kind of fearlessly unhinged filmmaking that is best served by being permitted to go all the way. (And by 'all the way,' I do mean a mass of nuns sexually assaulting a church crucifix and Vanessa Redgrave masturbating with the charred bones of an executed priest. Christmas is coming -- order in the DVD!) "Chilling, silly, beautiful, usually at once," I tweeted, slightly dazed and in need of a drink, after the screening. "Ken Russell's bravura barminess, as possessed as his subjects, never met apter material."

Read Full Post
"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' - 'Adrienne's Fashion Show'

It's Adrienne's moment to shine - if the girls can stop fighting and behave

Oh, yay, it's time to dwell on all the boring minutiae of Pandora's wedding. You know, I didn't like this stuff when I was getting married, and just because it's pukingly expensive here doesn't make it any less annoying. We watch Lisa and Pandora fawn over their gorgeous wedding invitations ($15,000! That's a NEW CAR for some people. Not a car Lisa would be caught dead in, but a car nonetheless). Fawning and seemingly useless wedding planner Kevin Lee endlessly chirps "million dollar wedding" and "fabulous" like a brain-damaged parakeet while Pandora and Lisa sample ridiculous drinks (it's infused vodka! And nitrogen! And martini glasses made out of the skulls of a rare and practically extinct species of mountain goat! It's fabulous!) While Lisa isn't entirely sold on the cocktails, Giggy gobbles up some of the food, so at least the catering gets a thumbs up. Kevin Lee, of course, thinks it's fabulous.

Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Hot Chelle Rae</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

 Hot Chelle Rae

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Interview: Hot Chelle Rae on 'Tonight Tonight,' 'Whatever' and Taylor Swift

Will the American Music Award lead to any Grammy nominations?

The members of Hot Chelle Rae, who took home the best new artist award at the American Music Awards a few days ago, may have only experienced their first big hit with “Tonight Tonight” this summer, but they have decades of experience at their disposal.

That’s because the pop quartet, whose second RCA album, “Whatever,” comes out tomorrow (Nov. 29), grew up in the music business and have learned from a very young age how to navigate both the creative and professional sides of their careers.

Lead singer Ryan Follese and his drumming baby brother Jamie, as well as Nash Overstreet, have dads who are prominent, award-winning, Nashville-based songwriters, who have written hits for the likes of  Randy Travis, Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn, Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and The Judds (Nash’s brother is Chord Overstreet, formerly of “Glee.”) Bassist Ian Keaggy’s father is Dove Award-winning contemporary Christian artist Phil Keaggy.

Read Full Post
<p>Christopher Plummer in a scene from &quot;Beginners,&quot;&nbsp;which won Best&nbsp;Ensemble and tied for Best&nbsp;Feature</p>

Christopher Plummer in a scene from "Beginners," which won Best Ensemble and tied for Best Feature

Credit: Focus Features

Focus Features has a big night at the Gothams

'Beginners' and 'Pariah' netted awards while nomination leaders 'The Descendants' and 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' went home empty-handed

After all that clamoring to anoint this or that contender, the New York Film Critics Circle was stuck in a theater being the FIRST! to see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" while preparations for the first legitimate awards show of the season were being finalized. And say what you might about the Gotham Awards, which some argue turn in dubious representation of the independent film scene year after year, but I'm glad it was them, instead of a group led by outright ego, who fired the starting gun.

Alas, the starting gun didn't come with any particular dose of authority, as things ended in a tie for Best Feature. Two of the year's absolute best films shared the prize, however: Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" and Mike Mills's "Beginners." I am so okay with that.

The surprises actually started early, though, with a heartening win for Dee Rees in the Breakthrough Director category. Rees, whose "Pariah" has been nurtured all season by Focus Features, beat out high profile contenders such as Sean Durkin ("Martha Marcy May Marlene") and Vera Farmiga ("Higher Ground"), as well Evan Glodell ("Bellflower") and Mike Cahill ("Another Earth") for the honor.

Read Full Post