Latest Blog Posts

<p>Mark Strong, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth in &quot;Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.&quot;</p>

Mark Strong, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Lunch with Oldman, Firth, Strong, Alfredson as 'Tinker' takes LA

The critically acclaimed thriller finally hits the U.S.

"I love this lunch set up," Mark Strong says to me. "It actually allows you to talk [to the press] about the little things."

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<p>Emily Blunt and Jason Segel co-star in the new romantic comedy 'The Five-Year Engagement'</p>

Emily Blunt and Jason Segel co-star in the new romantic comedy 'The Five-Year Engagement'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Watch: Jason Segel and Emily Blunt take it slow in charming '5 Year Engagement' trailer

The new film from the team behind 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' looks great

I've got some great coverage of "The Five-Year Engagement" coming for you in early 2012, and I am really looking forward to the film.  Now, thanks to what I feel is a strong first trailer, you can get a look at what I've been waiting to talk about for a while now.

Jason Segel's got to be feeling good these days about the reception to "The Muppets," which he co-wrote with Nicholas Stoller.  This, though, is much closer to "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," their first film together, and it's a film that was Stoller's passion project just as much as the Muppets represented a personal passion for Segel.  I spent a day in San Francisco watching them work, right at the end of the shoot, and you'll see a glimpse of the scene I was there for, the actual proposal that kicks off the movie.  I saw a ton of footage from the film as well, and even in rough form, there were some great moments I saw.

Here, though, we've finally got our first polished look at material from the film, and I think this trailer does a lovely job of selling both the underlying idea about a young couple who experience a string of delays that prevent them from actually having their wedding, and I think it sells the tone as well as some of the more outrageous humor that punctuates their journey.

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Listen: Spiritualized announce 'Sweet' new album, preview tracks

Plus: Fat Possum's Unknown Mortal Orchestra has a fresh video

It was back in March this year that we warned you of the imminent return of Spiritualized. This March, in 2012, the Jason Pierce-fronted band will make its presence known again. The English rock act has announced its new album "Sweet Heart Sweet Light," to drop some time in that thawing month.

The band performed at the Other Voices festival in Ireland last weekend, the set streamed for audiences who couldn't make it. Leftover are two new songs, now available via The Guardian: "So Long Pretty Things" and "Hey Jane."On the latter, I closed my eyes and heard Brendan Benson. On the former, I hear a little soul between the pure rock-pop, mostly with a chorus I can remember.

On neither did I hear a good mix, particularly with those backing vocals. I look forward to the actual song releases.

“When you make a record, it has to be the single most important thing in your world. This time around, I wanted to do something that encompassed all I love in rock ‘n’ roll music. It’s got everything from Brötzmann and Berry right through to Dennis and Brian Wilson," said Pierce, aka J. Spaceman in a release. "I’m obsessed with music and the way you put it together and I don’t believe there are any rules.”

Yeah, OK, but are you actually going to shoot me in a rocket to space with this one again, maaaaan? That's what Spiritualized's "Songs in A&E" partially did for me in 2008.

Fat Possum (Andrew Bird's former roost) will be putting out "Swee Heart Sweet Light": That label already had a pair of amazing releases this year, with Yuck's self-titled set and A.A. Bondy's "Believer." On top of that, I've finally spent some time with Unknown Mortal Orchestra during my top 10 pursuits this month, and can recommend "Bicycle." Lucky for all of us, the high-octane music video for that track dropped today. If Spiritualized doesn't pysch-rock us proper, UMO most certainly will.

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Rihanna makes it 6 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, LMFAO isn't laughing

Kayne West and Jay-Z score their first top 10 from 'Watch the Throne'

It’s a very familiar picture by now. For the sixth week in a row, Rihanna’s “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris tops the Billboard Hot 100 and leaves LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It” in the runner-up slot for the fifth week.

That means “Sexy” has been a bridesmaid for the longest time frame since Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” got stuck at No. 2 for seven weeks in 2009-2010, according to Billboard.

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Suze Orman
Suze Orman
Credit: OWN

OWN continues its quest to teach us stuff with 'America's Money Class with Suze Orman'

Oprah just wants to help, so why is it so annoying?

OWN has announced that it will be launching a new series, 'America's Money Class with Suze Orman' on Jan. 9. (9:00 p.m. ET). In the six-episode "class," Orman will be answering financial questions and giving viewers tools and tips on how to survive this sluggish economy. To sweeten the deal, viewers will also get a chance to win up to $50,000 when they take her final exam during the last episode. 

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<p>Sleigh Bells and friend</p>

Sleigh Bells and friend

Credit: Patrick O’Dell

Watch: Sleigh Bells announce a 'Reign of Terror' in time for Christmas

New York duo readying a February beat-down

Indie rock crew and Immaculate Noise favorite Sleigh Bells have a band name that could jingle, but they'd rather issue a "Reign of Terror" for the holidays.

The New York duo are prepared to release their sophomore set, on the heels of their excellent 2010 debut "Treats," on Feb. 14 through Mom + Pop (who we've mentioned this week as being totally on fire).

"Terror" has a terrific teaser in advance, posted below. I feel like I'm about to go to a football game now.

It was produced by band guitarist Derek Miller and co-written by Miller and singer/wild-woman Alexis Krauss, who figures prominently into the video.

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Make your Best Picture case for "Rango" and win!
Make your Best Picture case for "Rango" and win!
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Contest: Win a 'Rango' DVD

Make your case for the film's Oscar worthiness

Thanks everyone who participated in the "Super 8" contest on Monday. The winners were "ASCHU" and "GRUBI," so if you're reading, drop me a line so I can get you your prizes.

The giveaways keep on truckin' today as we have two DVDs of Gore Verbinski's "Rango" to dish out. I think we'll do something similar to the last contest. With an expanded field of Best Picture nominees, the odds are slightly better for animated films to make it into contention. While Pixar has had the stranglehold on that kind of consideration the last two years, this year, they clearly do not. And some might consider "Rango" the heir apparent to Best Picture potential in the medium.

So, if you agree, give me 100 words or less telling me why you think it deserves a fair shake and should play with the big boys in the Best Picture field.

Deadline is noon on Friday. Now... Go!

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<p>Jon Favreau talks movie making and cow sex.</p>

Jon Favreau talks movie making and cow sex.

Watch: Jon Favreau on the making of 'Cowboys and Aliens'

The genre mash-up hits stores this week on DVD and Blu-ray

"Cowboys and Aliens comes out on disc this week, so I thought I'd dig out a previously unpublished video interview I did with director Jon Favreau.

The movie didn't do as well as he and the rest of the cast would have liked, but still, it was an interesting experiment in genre mixing, and an all out love letter to westerns on Favreau's part.


Although I wouldn't consider myself a rabid fan of all his movies, I have come to appreciate the man for the obvious passion and love for his craft. He shows an obvious interest in every part of the filmmaking process, and can get into the nitty gritty of all the little technicalities of a production. Sadly, this is a rare trait among the directors that I've met.


I really enjoyed talking to him over the course of the "Cowboys and Aliens" production, and I think you can tell from this interview. 


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<p>Sean Bean of &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;</p>
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Sean Bean of "Game of Thrones"

Credit: HBO

'Game of Thrones,' 'Parks & Recreation' crash stale 2012 Producers Guild TV nominations

Finally, an award 'Mad Men' is still eligible for
The Producers Guild of America continues to stick by its antiquated practice of honoring television roughly seven months behind the curve, announcing its stale TV nominations on Wednesday (December 7) morning.
What to know why this is posted in my blog, rather than as a news story? Because in a news story, I'd be hesitant to express confusion at the PGA for the seemingly absurd decision to exist in a time warp for the TV awards and only the TV awards. At least in a blog post, I can register confusion.
[This year's Producers Guild nominees, plus the official PGA explanation for the eligibility window, after the break...]
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<p>Afghan Whigs</p>

Afghan Whigs

Afghan Whigs reform for ATP's 'I'll Be Your Mirror,' Guided By Voices out

Band will headline London and Asbury Park events

The Afghan Whigs will play their first show in 13 years when the Greg Dulli-led band reunites for All Tomorrow’s Parties “I’ll Be Your Mirror” festival  at London’s Alexandra Palace  on May 27.

The revered Cincinnati band  are taking the slot that had been held by Guided By Voices, who cancelled because they broke up and have cancelled all 2012 (and we presume beyond that) bookings.

Other performers during the May 25-27 festival, curated by Mogwai and ATP, include Slayer, Sleep, Mudhoney, Yuck, the Melvins, and a reunited Codeine.  Newly added are The Archers of Loaf and Chavez, who reformed last year.

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<p>This may be one of the few moments in the entire film where Tom Cruise is not onscreen for 'Mission:&nbsp;Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' as Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner plan the IMF team's next move</p>

This may be one of the few moments in the entire film where Tom Cruise is not onscreen for 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' as Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner plan the IMF team's next move

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Tom Cruise leads the best team yet in sensational 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol'

Brad Bird nails it in his live-action debut

The "Mission: Impossible" franchise is a strange one.

For one thing, I think people often misuse the word "franchise."  Just because they make a few sequels to a movie, that doesn't automatically qualify that thing as a franchise.  I think of that more as a description of a film property (or book property or game property… whatever sort of IP you want to substitute) that features a basic idea or premise that can be endlessly refigured to fit new casts, new creative teams, and new storytelling styles, with little real regard for continuity.  "Mission: Impossible," from the moment it first aired as a television show, has offered up a near-perfect franchise engine, a premise so simple, so feather-light, that you can do anything with it, and as long as you strike those same few notes, it's recognizably "Mission: Impossible."

Over the weekend, I rewatched the first three "Mission: Impossible" films on Blu-ray.  I've always been fond of the first one, and looking at it now, it's one of those early CGI-era movies that reaches for some groundbreaking stuff in how action is staged and shot that doesn't totally work on a technical level, but that deserves respect for pushing the envelope as much as it did.  More than that, though, it's a fun piece of pop culture subversion that was designed to acknowledge the old school, then annihilate the old school, then introduce Tom Cruise as the new school.  Brian De Palma made each set piece feel like he was having fun, and it was big and complex and sleek and absolutely proved that it would work on the big screen.

The second film is so bad that it feels like someone who was very angry at John Woo decided to make a MAD-magazine-style parody of John Woo films and then release it with his name attached as director.  Awful.

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<p>Could Madonna have a big year with both an Oscar nod and the Super Bowl halftime show?</p>

Could Madonna have a big year with both an Oscar nod and the Super Bowl halftime show?

Credit: AP Photo/Srdjan Ilic

Listen to Madonna's Best Original Song contender, 'Masterpiece,' from 'W.E.'

The Material Girl plants a flag in the race

I'll finally get around to running down the Best Original Song category in tomorrow's Tech Support column, but how about one last contender spotlight?

Madonna's "W.E." has took a critical thrashing when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September. Having finally caught the film last night, I'm sorry to report that the pans were on point. What a delirious mess of a film. A Vogue photo shoot brought to life. Which, it should be noted, the film is indeed gorgeous. The costume design, production design and cinematography would all find room on my ballot, I bet.

I had heard there was an original song for the film from the Material Girl herself, but didn't really think about it until I noted the FYC section of the screener packaging. Indeed, "Masterpiece" -- which leaked recently and is expected to also be on Madonna's next album -- is being pitched for awards.

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