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<p>Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in &quot;The&nbsp;Iron&nbsp;Lady&quot;</p>

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Meryl Streep is good-to-great in meh-to-good 'Iron Lady'

Looks like it's boiling down to her and Viola Davis for the Best Actress Oscar

It's really striking, the similarities between Phyllida Lloyd's "The Iron Lady" and Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar." Both attempt to paint a sympathetic portrait of a conservative politician whose ideals were eventually warped and obsessed upon. Both ultimately whitewash those ideals in favor of broad, glossed-over history lessons built from lazily structured screenplays. And both feature leading performances that, in better films, would likely be no-brainers for Oscar wins.

Lloyd's film begins with aged former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher having difficulty merely buying milk in a brave new world that has moved on ahead of her. It initiates the viewer with a dementia-stricken Thatcher and finds some success in using mundane daily encounters -- a dinner party place setting, a tea cup -- to ignite her memory and send the narrative back in time for the usual biopic foundations. But that ultimately gives way to rather arbitrary flashbacks to cover her life in politics quite broadly, rarely finding time to dig in on the various human hues with which it wants to paint its subject.

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<p>&quot;Hey girl, want to see my tattoos?&quot;</p>

"Hey girl, want to see my tattoos?"

Watch: Wale drops videos with Rick Ross, for the 'Ambitious Girl, and 'Lotus Flower'

Is the rapper's girl paying her way through school by stripping?

I like Wale's new record overall because of it's variety. It's clear that Wale like a lot of variety in his ladies, too, judging from two new videos, plus another street clip with Rick Ross, all released this week.

"Ambition" was released early this month, but three vids dropped just this week, including today's "Ambitious Girl." It's a love poem to a girl he hasn't met yet, but she proves self-worth through the woman she aspires to be. She also just happens to be a stripper, y'know, to get herself through school. F'real. The slow-mo clip is otherwise well-shot, only a little gratuitous and well-meaning on the whole.

"Lotus Flower," on the other hand, is a LOT gratuitious, but not without a good laugh by the end. Miguel lays down the bedroom-jamming refrain. I suddenly feel the need to wear a leotard?

And then there's "Tats on My Arm," with Bawse, both rhymers woofing all over this simple record for the club (and, of course, your local tattoo parlor).

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Taking questions for 11/18 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

You know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll address as many as we can on the podcast tomorrow.

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<p>Ralph Fiennes in a scene from&nbsp;&quot;Harry Potter and the&nbsp;Deathly Hallows:&nbsp;Part 2&quot;</p>

Ralph Fiennes in a scene from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tech Support: 'Hugo' and 'Harry Potter' set the scene for Best Art Direction

Other contenders include 'War Horse,' 'The Artist' and 'J. Edgar'

The design of a film truly does “set the scene.” I’m obviously speaking literally in part – the sets fill up our screen and can therefore present interesting opportunities for glitz and glamor, the complete opposite or anything in between.

But I’m also speaking on a more fundamental level: sets and props build the atmosphere of the world a film's characters inhabit. If done well, the job of the directors and actors becomes much easier. It seems only fair that the talented individuals who engage in this art are recognized by their peers in an Oscar category.

Despite being called the Academy Award for Best Art Direction, the art director is unfortunately not awarded in the category. Rather, the production designer and the set decorator are cited. The production designer is in charge of the film’s entire art department as well as designing and blueprinting set construction. The set decorator is in charge of filling up those sets with elements that flesh out the space.

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<p>Feist in &quot;How Come You Never Go There&quot;</p>

Feist in "How Come You Never Go There"

Watch: Feist finally releases a new music video, for 'How Come...'

Cut your hair, hippy

Feist became well-known for her music videos from "The Reminder," particularly for the one for "1234." For "Metals," however, it's been quiet on the A/V end. Until now.

The Canadian singer-songwriter stars solo in this black-and-white Middle Earthish shoot, for "How Come You Never Go There." She sports a very long wig, which is being tousled by the wind. Perhaps she borrowed a machine from Rebecca Black?

Leslie Feist told me in an interview recently that she hasn't been feeling music videos lately, in part because she lost collaborator Patrick Daughters (who stepped away from video-directing to focus on other art). There hasn't been a name associated with this clip yet, but perhaps it's the start of another beautiful friendship.

 Feist is currently on tour in North America in support of "Metals." She has help from troupe Mountain Man on backing vocals. It's really good, guys. "Metals" was released this fall.

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<p>David Byrne</p>

David Byrne

Listen: David Byrne, Will Oldham collab for Sean Penn's 'This Must Be the Place'

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Talking Heads legend combine with Michael Brunnock

Sean Penn is channeling The Cure's Robert Smith for his look for forthcoming new film "This Must Be the Place," the but the title itself was inspired by the Talking Heads' song of the same name. So it only makes sense that David Byrne was pulled into the project, for the soundtrack, forming a unique collaboration with Will Oldham.

The two went further and hooked up with singer Michael Brunnock for a couple songs on the 17-track set, and the trio perform those songs under the name The Pieces of Shit, probably because they are mature grown men.

Oldham, aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy, loaned his gorgeous "Lay & Love" to the soundtrack, on which Brunnock sings lead; as a matter of fact, Brunnock leads most of the five original tunes, with the music by Byrne and lyrics by Oldham. Got it?

A live version of Byrne's performance of the title track and the song played in the trailer, “Every Single Moment In My Life Is a Weary Wait," both make the cut. Hair paste not included.

Check, too, Jonsi & Alex's previously released "Happiness," Gavin Friday's lengthy "Lord, I'm Coming" from his new album this year and Iggy Pop's classic "The Passenger."

As HitFix's Gregory Ellwood points out, "This Must Be The Place" just got major distribution and will be out in theaters some time in 2012. In the film, Penn plays a retired rock star who hunts down a Nazi. Yup!

Here are the five new tunes plus "Lay & Love" from The Pieces of Shit:

Here is the tracklist for "This Must Be the Place":

“Lord I’m Coming” - Gavin Friday
“Lay & Love” - The Pieces Of Shit *
“Open Up” - The Pieces Of Shit
“Chairmaine” - Mantovani & His Orchestra
“Spiegel Im Spiegel” - Daniel Hope & Simon Mulligan
“This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” [Edit] - Trevor Green
“This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” [Live] - David Byrne
“Gardermoen” - Julia Kent
“Happiness” - Jonsi & Alex
“Eliza” - The Pieces Of Shit
“The Passenger” - Iggy Pop (4:41)
“You Can Like It” - The Pieces Of Shit
“Achille’s Heel: II. Second Bounce” - Brooklyn Rider
“If It Falls It Falls” - The Pieces Of Shit
“This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” - Gloria
“Every Single Moment In My Life Is a Weary Wait” - Nino Bruno E Le 8 Tracce
“The Sword Is Yours” - The Pieces Of Shit

* Oldham, Byrne, and Brunnock

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Kim Kardashian
Credit: AP Photo

A petition wants the Kardashians yanked from the air - but should they be?

Viewers irritated by Kim's quickie wedding want her fifteen minutes to be over

An online petition at GoPetition.com requesting that E! pull "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" has garnered over 120,000 signatures as of this morning -- and it's not the only one out there (there's also a website and Facebook group devoted to banning the family). There's been a lot of griping about Kim and her klan in the blogosphere (and I'll admit to making my fair share of snipes at Rob's thuddingly dull performance on "Dancing with the Stars"). The grumbling has gotten loud enough that the Los Angeles Times has pondered whether Kim's quickie marriage has permanently damaged the brand Kris Jenner has worked so hard to build. Even a co-worker of mine wondered why I hadn't weighed in on the bubbling backlash against the Kardashians. 

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<p>Scott Weiland in &quot;Winter Wonderland&quot;</p>

Scott Weiland in "Winter Wonderland"

Watch: Scott Weiland takes us to a 'Winter Wonderland'

Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver singer gets his croon on

Scott Weiland is getting his Bing Crosby croon on in this nostalgic video for “Winter Wonderland” from the Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver front man’s totally non-ironic take on one of the most popular holiday standards.

The tune is from Weiland’s “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” out now, which features Weiland warbling through a number of Christmas classics surrounded by lush orchestrations and a big band.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Tessa (Jane Levy)&nbsp;celebrates her sweet sixteen on &quot;Suburgatory.</p>

Tessa (Jane Levy) celebrates her sweet sixteen on "Suburgatory.

Credit: ABC

The Morning Round-Up: 'Up All Night,' 'Suburgatory' & 'Modern Family'

Reagan gets a new assistant, Tessa gets a fancy party and Phil gives Jay a massage

It's time for another morning round-up of reviews, with quick thoughts on, in order, "Up All Night," "Suburgatory" and "Modern Family," coming up just as soon as I send 25 women stricken with alopecia to Disney World...

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<p>Alex (Elisha Cuthbert)&nbsp;and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.)&nbsp;on &quot;Happy Endings.&quot;</p>

Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) on "Happy Endings."

Credit: ABC

'Happy Endings' - 'Code War': Not on your (work) wife

The return of Max's high school girlfriend has ripple effects through the group

I'll get to the rest of the Wednesday comedies I watched in a little bit, but I'm enjoying "Happy Endings" so much these days that I feel it deserves its own space when I have the time to do so. A review of last night's episode coming up just as soon as I demonstrate that I'm no stranger to the three-hole punch...

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<p>Viola Davis in &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Viola Davis in "The Help."

Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: 'The Help' is no laughing matter, says HFPA

Also: Ricky Gervais hosts the Globes and indie threats in the Best Actress race

Hey, has there been a more hilarious performance all year than Viola Davis's wackily oppressed, zanily bereaved maid in "The Help?" There has, you say? Whatever. Anyway, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is with you, as they've barred DreamWorks's planned strategy to campaign the film in the Musical/Comedy races at the Golden Globes. The Globes regularly make iffy calls in this department (particularly irksome is their insistence that biopics of musicians are in fact musicals), but this one isn't really up for debate, tonal shifts and amusing shit-pie hijinks notwithstanding. Not that this changes anything: the floor has always been clear for "The Artist" (which has its own darkly dramatic aspects, but comedy should never be simple) to triumph here. [Deadline]

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<p>Laura of &quot;America's Next Top Model&quot;</p>
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Laura of "America's Next Top Model"

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' - 'Exploring Greece'

Nigel Barker shoots the girls in a variety of Olympic poses
Dominique took the cheese in the Greek salad challenge, but it’s a whole new episode now, gurl. Angelea is ready to bring that fire she hasn’t seem to muster for the past three weeks. Laura knows that y’all caint have any doubt in y’alls mind, or y’all are gonna lose! And Lisa just wants Allison to go home already, because she looks, like, “dead.”
 
 Bring it on.
 
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