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<p>&quot;The Voices&quot;</p>

"The Voices"

Credit: Sundance

Review: Surprising 'The Voices' offers Ryan Reynolds and a Scottish talking cat

Marjane Satrapi's Sundance premiere is a disturbingly funny treat
Some movies stumble into cult status by accident, aiming for mainstream approval, but landing wide of that mark. 
 
Other movies just shrug and steer self-consciously into a cult-friendly niche with every fiber of their being.
 
It isn't easy to do the former, but it's probably easier than the latter. Weirdness-for-the-sake-of-weirdness often just ends up trying too hard. It's almost like you need a certain earnestness to make a cult film seem genuine, rather than over-calculated.
 
"The Voices," which is premiering out-of-competition at the Sundance Film Festival, is designed pretty purely as a cult movie. It probably should never play in 3000 theaters and it's certainly not going to make $100 million. From the first frame to the last, it's begging audiences to raise a collective eyebrow and go along for the ride, knowing that if you're in from the beginning, you'll probably be in for the duration, but that if you don't crack an immediate smile within 30 seconds, it probably won't get better. 
 
"The Voices" is trying to be a cult film with a capital "C" and you can feel its effort in that direction... But it mostly works.
 
Carried to no small degree by wildly and successfully against-expectations direction from "Persepolis" veteran Marjane Satrapi, "The Voices" is "Psycho" by way of "Wonderfalls" by way of Francois Ozon. 
 
Perhaps a little more successful when winking at genre expectations than when playing things straight, "The Voices" is funny, disturbing and whimsical, anchored by an "Oh right, he can act" performance by Ryan Reynolds, an "Oh duh, she's effortlessly appealing" performance by Anna Kendrick and an "Oh wow, that's what it takes to make her interesting" performance by Gemma Arterton. 
 
More after the break…
 
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<p>We know Quentin loves Westerns, but 'Django' felt like he was just warming up.</p>

We know Quentin loves Westerns, but 'Django' felt like he was just warming up.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Quentin Tarantino has pulled the plug on 'The Hateful Eight' after a script leak

What makes this particular leak different?

At this point, there are several familiar stages in the life-cycle of a new film by Quentin Tarantino. There's the part the general public is part of, involving the trailers, the press screenings, and the eventual release. But well before that, another cycle has become somewhat set in stone, starting with the moment that each screenplay leaks.

It happened on "Kill Bill." It happened on "Inglorious Basterds." And it happened on "Django Unchained" at a speed that seemed to shock even Tarantino.

Now word has broken that the cycle was accelerated to a point that has infuriated the filmmaker, and as a result, it appears that "The Hateful Eight" will no longer be his next film. Right now, fingers are being pointed, and I can't wait to see how this story unfolds because someone is going to end up being blamed for this film going down in flames before it even set a cast in stone.

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'Dear White People' cast consider: Could Tyler Perry present our movie?

'Dear White People' cast consider: Could Tyler Perry present our movie?

Oh, and about this talented new director Justin Simien...

PARK CITY - I'm not entirely sure when I first met Justin Simien. Actually, correct that.  It was four and a half years ago ( found the E-mail introducing him as the new online publicist for Paramount Pictures from 2009). Having worked for the venerable studio one time myself, we immediately had a number of similar acquaintances both socially and professionally.  And in my position I ended up talking to him about work related items usually once  week.  But, as we chatted about more interesting topics than say the latest publicity opportunities for "The Last Airbender" (you poor child) I quickly realized something about this young twentysomething: He was way too smart for the room and he wouldn't be there long. And within two years, he'd moved on to bigger and better things. 

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'Murder, She Wrote' reboot is dead at NBC


"Murder, She Wrote" reboot is dead at NBC
The remake starring Octavia Spencer is currently dead, though therer's a chance it could revived again.

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<p>Joelle Carter and Walton Goggins in &quot;Justified.&quot;</p>

Joelle Carter and Walton Goggins in "Justified."

Credit: FX

Review: 'Justified' - 'Good Intentions'

Raylan's new home gets unwanted visitors, while Boyd shows off his tattoos

A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I have curb appeal...

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<p>&quot;Happy Valley&quot;</p>

"Happy Valley"

Credit: A&E Films

Review: 'Happy Valley' is a confounding look at Penn State post-scandal

Amir Bar-Lev's Sundance doc should spark post-screening debate
Amir Bar-Lev's "Happy Valley," a documentary premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, is not a film about the sex scandal that rocked Penn State University in late 2011, 
 
Make no mistake, you won't come away with any ambiguity regarding the allegations against Jerry Sandusky or the crimes for which he was convicted and sentenced to what amounts to a life sentence.
 
But this is not a documentary about interviewing witnesses, investigating timelines or attempting to get to the root of Sandusky's criminal behavior.  The accepted supposition is that Sandusky did what he was accused of doing and, with one major exception, the victims probably aren't ready for extended feature-length interviews (plus, it's all on the record anyway).
 
As its title might indicate if you happen to have any awareness of Penn State and Penn State football, Happy Valley is about a place and about a state of mind, both of which were crushed and vilified by the Sandusky case and its repulsive and saddening revelations.
 
And that's going to prove an immediate barrier-to-entry for many potential viewers who really won't be incorrect if they say, "Yes, it's unfortunate that many innocent people associated with Penn State saw their university's good name spoiled by this and it's probably disappointing to some fans of a powerhouse sports program that innocent athletes are being punished for the actions of a reprehensible assistant coach and it's arguably unfair to blame an entire community for this ugly mess, but... Sexual abuse. Children. Let's concentrate on the actual victims here and maybe down the road we can get around to restoring the joy of the tailgating experience for bushy-tailed coeds."
 
It's not that "Happy Valley" cheapens what happened to the victims in any way, but there are definitely people within the documentary whose sense of perspective is a wee bit askew and they're given ample platform. And there will certainly be viewers who think that any focus that looks away from Sandusky's actions is invariably a focus in the wrong place.
 
That's why "Happy Valley" is probably going to leave many viewers, possibly most viewers, angry. The question is just at the direction of the anger. Many people will just have a generalized anger because if the Jerry Sandusky scandal doesn't piss you off, you're not paying attention. But I know some people with Penn State sympathies or affiliations who are going to feel like "Happy Valley" is too hard on the show and I'm certain that many people outside of the bubble are going to feel it's too lenient.
 
Probably that's what director Amir Bar-Lev wants, though he continues to be a director who sells himself short by rushing to cover big stories.
 
[More after the break...]
 
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<p>Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn in &quot;Sound One.&quot;</p>

Anne Hathaway and Johnny Flynn in "Sound One."

Review: 'Song One' with Anne Hathaway won't strike a chord with everyone

So, you like white guys with guitars?

PARK CITY - No matter what the original intent, some movies inherently are made for a specific audience. And it's not the genre we're talking about, either. A horror movie can have broad appeal just as a comedy may only make a select few laugh. Instead, some films will just touch a nerve with a very small, specific audience. Kate Barker-Froyland's directorial debut, "Song One," is one of those films. And it's probably an audience of white-guy-with-a-guitar fans.

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Matt Damon predicts big things for 'Interstellar' and praises co-star McConaughey's hot streak

Matt Damon predicts big things for 'Interstellar' and praises co-star McConaughey's hot streak

The 'Monuments Men' star had a blast collaborating with Christopher Nolan

I sat down with the "Monuments Men" crew last week (more on that film in due time) and, like most bozos, figured a softball "Interstellar" question lobbed Matt Damon's way might produce something interesting. Christopher Nolan always keeps his cast and crew on lockdown when it comes to his projects so it's almost like you have to preface it with "I know you're sworn to secrecy," but you can get interesting nuggets early in the process sometimes. Matthew McConaughey, for instance, had some engrossing things to say about his trepidations going into the project.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP

2014 Grammy Predictions: Album of the Year

Will a rap album finally snag the biggest prize?

As we get closer to the Sunday’s Grammy Awards, we’re making our predictions in the Big Four categories: Record, album, song of the year and best new artist.

Yesterday, we tackled Record of the Year. Today, we look at the award artists covet the most: Album of the Year.

This year’s nominees are:

“The Blessed Unrest,” Sara Bareilles
“Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk
“Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” Kendrick Lamar
“The Heist,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“Red,” Taylor Swift


It’s a weird grab bag competing in this category this year. No one, and I mean no one, predicted that Bareilles’ “The Blessed Unrest” would grab one of the 5 spots, and albums that seemed like good bets, such as Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” Kanye West’s “Yeezus” and Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox,” were left by the wayside. No rap album has ever won in this category, but if one were to grab the brass ring this year, I’d give the nod to “The Heist” over “Good Kid,” simply because of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ broader audience. Bareilles could come in and grab the award, especially if folks like the idea of voting for a total underdog, a talented one, but an underdog none the less. Daft Punk won’t win on the basis of one song, “Get Lucky.” Swift won before in 2010 for “Fearless.”  Given that she will draw from both pop and country voters, I think she’ll win again.

Should Win: “The Heist”
Will Win: Taylor Swift


Who do you think will take home Album of the Year?

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<p>Justin&nbsp;Timberlake</p>

Justin Timberlake

Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP

Justin Timberlake delivers a TKO at The Forum despite horrible sound

He proves again why he's the ultimate entertainer

LOS ANGELES—To all the performers who justify lip-syncing because they are so breathless from dancing, we have one name for you: Justin Timberlake.

For nearly 3 hours last night at the re-opened Forum here, he proved he is a true song-and-dance man, as the agile entertainer was a perpetual man in motion for the entire show.  While ably assisted by four strong back-up singers who did some of the heavy lifting during certain songs and some judiciously placed backing vocals, for the most part, Timberlake sang live throughout the evening. What a concept…

Dressed in a white tux, he spanned his entire post- ’N Sync career, but focused, as one would imagine, the bulk of the show on songs from both volumes of  “The 20/20 Experience,” last year’s top selling release.

The issue with many of the songs on the two albums—the lack of identifiable hooky choruses —was amplified in concert as many of the songs indistinguishably segued from one into one another. Timberlake clearly designed a show to shift effortlessly between songs, but the absence of clearly defined melodies in some cases just meant masses of music that were no different from the song coming before it or after, unified by a repetitive throbbing beat.

Timberlake was also plagued by atrocious sound, especially for the first half of the concert. The Forum reopened last week after a $100 million renovation. The Eagles, who are playing six shows here as part of the rebranding, showed that for clear voices, harmonies, and acoustic instrumentation (with some electric guitar and bass thrown in), the acoustics are great. But the sound system was not prepared for what Timberlake’s band of 15, JT and the Tennessee Kids, threw at it and the bass-heavy beats echoed off the low ceiling throughout the evening in ways that were both earsplittingly painful and distracting. But worst of all, they often so overshadowed Timberlake’s vocals as to drown him out almost entirely.  Even on songs that were meant to be softer and toned down, such as the excellent “Drink You Away,” which he performed surrounded in a semi-circle by his band, suffered from over amplification.

When he was audible, such as on “My Love” or a pumped-up “Cry Me A River,” he sounded great, ably shifting from his normal voice to his instantly-recognizable falsetto effortlessly.

The production values were state-of-the art. A huge white honeycomb-patterned screen filled the entire back of the stage, leaving no room for the jumbotrons that usually flank the stage). Throughout the night different images were projected on the screen, including close ups and video pieces for a constant barrage. About a third of the way into the second half, Timberlake and his four backup singers rose high above the audience on a plank from the stage that transported them to the back the arena. While artists flying over the crowds in buckets or bridges is almost commonplace in big arena shows now, the lighted up plank, with stairs reaching out on the sides, was far more elaborate than usual. Timberlake  and the singers spent more than half an house on the plank dancing and singing before coming down to a stage in the back of the house where he performed a choice cover of “Heartbreak Hotel,” by fellow Memphis son Elvis Presley, and “Human Nature,” by his hero, Michael Jackson.

There’s nothing Timberlake doesn’t do well and to watch him sing full out after dancing a complicated routine time and time again was a tribute to his professionalism, talent, and hard work. And he seemingly did it all without ever breaking a sweat…and in a cummerbund.

By the time he closed the show with a gorgeous version of “Mirrors,” he still had enough gas in the tank to deliver a heart-felt energetic take on the best song from “The 20/20 Experience Vol 1.”

While all the bells and whistles may play to the back row, Timberlake is an artist who truly doesn’t need any of that, which is what makes him such an exceptional entertainer. It’s a shame that a muddy sound mix prevented him from being heard at his best.
 

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Rashida Jones to star in 'Tribeca,' a TBS cop comedy pilot from Steve Carell


Rashida Jones to star in "Tribeca," a TBS cop comedy pilot from Steve Carell
Carell and wife Nancy are co-writing and producing the police procedural in which Jones plays Angie Tribeca, the 10-year veteran of the LAPD's RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit).

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Amazon mulls launching an online pay TV service


Amazon mulls launching an online pay TV service
The service would offer many of the cable channels currently available.


Jesse L. Martin joins "The Flash"
The "Law & Order" alum will play a detective on the CW superhero series.


Fox moves "Enlisted"
The freshman comedy will air after "Bones" at 9 pm, swapping timeslots with "Raising Hope."


"24: Live Another Day" adds Tate Donovan
He'll play the White House chief of staff who is married to Kim Raver's character.

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