Latest Blog Posts

<p>A scene from Nadine Labaki's Lebanese Oscar hopeful, &quot;Where Do We Go Now?&quot;</p>

A scene from Nadine Labaki's Lebanese Oscar hopeful, "Where Do We Go Now?"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: Toronto winner 'Where Do We Go Now?' needs directions

Lebanon's well-intentioned Oscar hopeful as uncertain as its title

LONDON - The Lebanese feminist anti-sectarian musical comedy has hitherto been a surprisingly under-explored niche in the rich spectrum of world cinema, so it’s to the considerable credit of writer-director-actress Nadine Labaki that she spotted this yawning gap and filled it so studiously. In the wake of her chaotic if pure-hearted sophomore feature “Where Do We Go Now?,” however, it’s probably safe to consider the door on this particular sub-genre swiftly closed. The trouble with Lebanese feminist anti-sectarian musical comedies, as it turns out, is a certain inconsistency of tone, and a hard-working Labaki hasn’t quite found a way around it.

Or perhaps she has. Following a mildly received springtime debut at Cannes, “Where Do We Go Now?” has emerged as the uninvited but ultimately ingratiating party guest of the autumn festival circuit – catching everyone off-guard by taking the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, recently reserved for big-league awards bait of “King’s Speech” proportions, before being adopted by Sony Pictures Classics with a steely eye to the foreign-language Oscar. (Lebanon announced it as their official submission to the Academy shortly after its Toronto triumph.) It’s an unexpected turnaround under any circumstances, made only more surprising by a viewing of the film itself.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;A Better Life&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;Take Shelter&quot;&nbsp;arrive in Academy members mailboxes.</p>

"A Better Life" and "Take Shelter" arrive in Academy members mailboxes.

And the first Academy Awards screeners are...

Plus: Some other screeners soon to hit Academy member mailboxes

If you're hoping Michael Shannon lands a best actor nomination for "Take Shelter," one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, you might be worried.  

Read Full Post
<p>Paula Abdul and Pharrell of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Paula Abdul and Pharrell of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' - 'Judges' House #3' Live-Blog

The judges cut the field down to the Top 16

"The X Factor," FOX's favorite Wednesday, Thursday, sometimes Sunday and sometimes Tuesday drama is back. On tonight's episode, we're going to see lots and lots and lots of clips from earlier episodes, but we may also learn the identity of the season's Top 16.

Click through for all of the live-blogging excitement!

Read Full Post
Look: Lady Gaga's explosive single cover for 'Marry the Night'

Look: Lady Gaga's explosive single cover for 'Marry the Night'

Momma Monster promises a revealing video


Lady Gaga is ready to set the night afire on the cover art of her forthcoming single, “Marry the Night,” the fifth single from “Born This Way,” and she’s promising quite the music video to accompany the song.

Momma Monster tweeted the cover, which features her on top of a car in leather within firehose distance of a burning car. (Maybe the album should have been titled "Burn This Way."). In her tweet with the photo, she wrote, "New York is not just a tan you'll never lose."

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>The Ting Tings in &quot;Hang It Up&quot;</p>

The Ting Tings in "Hang It Up"

Watch: The Ting Tings tell you to 'Hang It Up' in a skate park

British duo back with sophomore set yet?

"Everybody loves somebody to hate."

It's just too easy.

So I'll say that "Hang It Up" is very much the Ting Tings. Particularly with the squirrelly guitars and rap-singing, this track in particular sounds like Weezer with a cheerleader at the front.

Read Full Post
<p>You don't want to defy the rules around here, do you?</p>

You don't want to defy the rules around here, do you?

Six simple rules for commenting on my blog: the sequel

A few guidelines for keeping things civil here at What's Alan Watching?

When I first got the offer to join HitFix, I made sure that I would have the authority to keep enforcing the commenting rules from my old blog, which had gone a long way to making this a very smart, very civil community without a lot of the abuses you tend to see on most internet forums. And for the most part, everyone in the new community has played along.

As I said back in the Blogspot days, most of you are wonderful, smart, funny, and add so much to the discussion that other critics frequently express their envy about the quality of the comments here. It's not an understatement to say you guys are just as important as I am to what makes this place special, and often times more. And I want to continue keeping it that way.

Lately, though, things have been getting testy, and I've had to delete a fair number of comments that have crossed the line in one way or another. And it occurs to me that while I frequently refer to the rules when I punt a comment, I've never actually published a full version of them on this site. And given that I've been at HitFix for almost a year and a half, that's long overdue. So after the jump, here are the six rules you've got to obey in order to keep playing in this particular sandbox, mostly copied over from the original blog, but with a few tweaks to acknowledge some recent offenses.  They're not hard - most of them, in fact, can be loosely translated as "Don't be an asshole" - but the anonymity of the Internet makes it easy to forget to do them.

Read Full Post
<p>The Stone Roses</p>

The Stone Roses

Credit: Pennie Smith

Watch: Stone Roses confirm reunion, schedule two shows

Ian Brown and the boys are back together and making new music

The Stone Roses only had two albums, but the quartet are intact and all back together for the first time since 1995, ready to perform those songs plus some new material.

At a press conference in London today, frontman Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Mani and drummer Reni confirmed they have gotten back together, and are creating new songs. They have slated just two homecoming shows, for Heaton Park on June 29 and 30 in 2012. Tickets for those go up for sale on Friday (Oct. 21) at 9:30 a.m. GMT.

The British troupe has posted video of the press conference at their newly launched website,, which includes the news that the band is plotting a world tour.

Now, the Stone Roses released their mostly perfect self-titled debut album in 1989. "The Second Coming" from 1994 paled in comparison. Fans of Brown's dreamy vocals have endured years of solo albums since then, with just a couple highlights like 2001's "Music of the Spheres" and "Stellify" from 2009's "My Way."

So in conclusion, I'm excited, but not that excited.

Read Full Post
<p>Yoda's duel with Count Dooku was only one of the highlights of the first viewing of 'Attack Of&nbsp;The Clones' by the boys</p>

Yoda's duel with Count Dooku was only one of the highlights of the first viewing of 'Attack Of The Clones' by the boys

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Film Nerd 2.0: Yoda seals the deal for 'Attack Of The Clones' on Blu-ray

The boys fall further in love with the saga as the end is finally in sight

"Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is."  - Yoda

It's hard to believe there are only two more "Star Wars" movies left to watch with the boys.  When that Blu-ray box arrived at the house, setting off the Occupy Dad's Office movement, it seemed like it would take forever to make it through all of the films.  Now we're coming down to the biggest moments in the series, and the boys are already getting ready to start over.

"Dad, in the 'Revenge On The Sith' and the 'Return On The Jedi' movies, we're gonna learn about the truth about Darth Vader, right?"


"So we're going to know if Old Obi-Wan or Darth Vader was telling the truth, right?"


"Okay.  Good."

Read Full Post
<p>Natalie Portman gave a stunning debut performance in Luc Besson's &quot;The Professional.&quot;</p>

Natalie Portman gave a stunning debut performance in Luc Besson's "The Professional."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 debut performances of all time

Hunter McCracken and Elizabeth Olsen inspire a look at best-ever first-timers

With "The Tree of Life" on DVD and Blu-ray and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" opening in limited release on Friday, it seemed a good time to take stock of the best debut performances the cinema has to offer. Hunter McCracken in the former and Elizabeth Olsen in the latter offer up award-worthy work, stunning in their capacity to inhabit their characters and seek out the truth therein.

The research on this one was taxing, and I don't mind telling you, this list might be different on another day. It's tough to settle on 10 when there are so many sterling debuts to choose from. And believe me, if your favorite isn't on here, I'm sure I considered him or her.

It was heartbreaking to leave off the likes of Eva Marie Saint, Kate Winslet, William Hurt and Melanie Lynskey, as it was to ultimately eschew more recent stunners like Keisha Castle-Hughes, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Anna Paquin and the duo who sparked the idea to assemble the list.

Read Full Post
<p>Britney Spears in &quot;Criminal&quot;</p>

Britney Spears in "Criminal"

Watch: Britney Spears gets steamed up in NSFW 'Criminal' video

Want to see her and her boyfriend go at it? Here's your chance

You know who should be upset about Britney Spears’ steamy new  “Criminal” video? Not anyone who may hate the sight of crappy, abusive boyfriends or blatant product endorsements or  the thought of their little kids watching their idol naked in the shower. No, who should really be upset are the British police. Talk about the gang who can’t shoot straight.  More about that later.

In the clip, which was shot in London last month, Spears lives out the ultimate bad boy fantasy. After being knocked around by her seemingly upscale boyfriend, she gets rescued by a passer by, who just happens to be her real-life boyfriend,  Jason Trawick. He’s a criminal with lots of guns and some really big tattoos, but hey, he’s good in bed (which they discover after knowing each other for two minutes) and he brings her coffee the next morning. What's not to love?  (Let's not even get into the fact that her boyfriend abusing her isn't enough to make her leave, it's her catching him flirting with another woman.... ).

[More after the jump...]

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


Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

UPDATED: Adele, Sting, Ke$ha (!!!) contribute to Bob Dylan tribute album

Set benefits Amnesty international

Adele, Sting, Dave Matthews Band and, wait for it, Ke$ha will all cover tunes by Bob Dylan on “Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.”

The set, out Nov. 22, according to Rolling Stone,  also features Patti Smith and My Morning Jacket.  Some of the artists’ contributions we’re already familiar with, such as Adele’s beautiful cover of “To Make You Feel My Love.” 

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Lucas Pittaway (left) and Daniel Henshall in &quot;Snowtown&quot;</p>

Lucas Pittaway (left) and Daniel Henshall in "Snowtown"

Credit: IFC Midnight

Review: The shaking, waking nightmare of 'Snowtown'

Blood and ice in veins of remarkable Australian crime drama

LONDON - Running a close second to “Dogtooth” for the title of Unlikeliest Oscar Nominee Of 2010 was “Animal Kingdom,” a modest, star-challenged Australian crime saga with Greek-tragedy overtones that an enterprising Sony Picture Classics, prioritizing strong reviews over invisible box office, rode all the way to an acting nod for late-blooming breakout Jacki Weaver. Pithy, bleak and shot through with nasty wit, it no doubt flummoxed many a pastel-hearted Academy voter checking it out post-nominations.

Alas, one can only imagine what they’d make of “Snowtown,” a blinding debut feature from Justin Kurzel that similarly negotiates the criminal exploits of a bungalow-dwelling family Down Under – only to make “Animal Kingdom” look positively “Neighbours”-like in comparison. That they’re unlikely to cross paths is probably better for all concerned: Kurzel’s film, tellingly and adventurously adopted in the US by IFC’s Midnight arm, is ingeniously passive-aggressive cinema that places great stock in its own thorniness without ever resorting to idle shock-broking. Less keen on being liked than being felt, it unsparingly lays out the ugly details of its true-crime story for the audience to assimilate themselves; some have found its approach heartless, but I was struck by its subject-countering grace.

Read Full Post