Latest Blog Posts

<p>Barkhad Abdi leads his band of pirates in a scene from &quot;Captain&nbsp;Phillips&quot;</p>

Barkhad Abdi leads his band of pirates in a scene from "Captain Phillips"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Unlikely 'Captain Phillips' star Barkhad Abdi on learning from Tom Hanks and finding empathy for a pirate

The Somali actor answered a casting call and now he's in the Oscar race

Barkhad Abdi could easily have been a statistic. He might not have made it out of a harrowing childhood alive. He was born in Somalia and lived in the chaos of Mogadishu where he was surrounded by murder, rape, robbery and a lack of structure and government. He was lucky enough to have parents who got him out of there, to Yemen for Middle School and, eventually, a lottery to the United States.

He moved to Minneapolis, but he hated the snow. Every year he would ask himself, 'Why am I here?' He drove a limousine. He was just a mild-mannered immigrant living his life when he was at a friend's house one day and a commercial flashed on the screen: "Casting call. Tom Hanks. Local Somali actors." Well, why not, Abdi figured.

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<p>If nothing else, Cruella has the best theme song of any Disney villain ever.</p>

If nothing else, Cruella has the best theme song of any Disney villain ever.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Disney continues their push for live-action versions of animated classics with 'Cruella'

How many of their films do you think they'll do this way?

Considering how long they've been a studio and how strong a brand they've created in the global marketplace, Walt Disney Studios seems to constantly be reinventing themselves. Right now, they are in the middle of what seems to be a major shift in terms of identity, turning into a sort of brand-management superstore.

After all, they've got Pixar, Marvel, and "Star Wars" all under the broader Disney logo these days, and I hear there's another mega-brand that they're possibly going to purchase soon. Disney's production slate no longer offers up original material. Instead, you're going to see those brands and nothing else. Even when Pixar makes a non-sequel, it's all about the "Pixar" brand, and that's what Disney is selling over any of their individual titles.

Now it looks like we're seeing another emerging trend at the studio, live-action remakes of their fairy tale classics. "Maleficent" revealed some footage at this year's D23 Expo, and it's amazing how carefully they've worked to recreate the exact look of the "Sleeping Beauty" world and how much every member of the cast looks like the animated versions of the characters. The studio is also making "Cinderella" right now, with Kenneth Branagh directing what he promises will be a very faithful rendition of the story as Disney told it.

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NBC's Hillary Clinton miniseries is officially dead

NBC's Hillary Clinton miniseries is officially dead
Hours after CNN's Hillary Clinton documentary was scrapped, the Peacock has decided to drop its Clinton miniseries. "After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/mini-series development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton miniseries," the network said in a statement Monday.

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Paget Brewster will return for the 200th 'Criminal Minds' episode

Paget Brewster will return for the 200th "Criminal Minds" episode

"Our 200th episode is going to be a special show," says showrunner Erica Messer. "We can't imagine telling this story without Paget being present."

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<p>By far, this was one of the most emotional films I've watched with the boys so far, and not in the ways I expected.</p>

By far, this was one of the most emotional films I've watched with the boys so far, and not in the ways I expected.

Credit: Warner Bros

Film Nerd 2.0 turns a corner during an emotional viewing of 'Where The Wild Things Are'

This one hurt

When I was at the Toronto Film Festival recently, I had a chance to talk to Spike Jonze about his new film "Her" and several other subjects. In particular, I told him a story about sharing "Where The Wild Things Are" with my sons and how it represented a major turning point in the emotional life of my family. He seemed struck by what I said, and I told him that I was planning to write about the experience for my ongoing Film Nerd 2.0 column.

The truth is, I've been struggling to figure out how to write this one for a while now, ever since the screening, and it's been difficult to find the right way in. Even considering how personal much of this column has been, this one has been hard for me to grapple with because, unlike many of these columns, this one isn't all warm and fuzzy. I am well aware that I spend more time talking about my kids in print than some people might like. I have gotten e-mails and comments and direct messages from many people asking me to either scale it back or stop altogether. "I just want to read movie reviews," one guy e-mailed me, "and I don't give a shit what your kids think."

Fair enough.

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<p>Christian Bale and Casey&nbsp;Affleck in &quot;Out of the Furnace&quot;</p>

Christian Bale and Casey Affleck in "Out of the Furnace"

Credit: Relativity Media

'Nebraska,' 'Furnace' and 'Walter Mitty' set to screen as AFI Fest centerpieces

A tribute to Bruce Dern has also been lined up

It's nice to see more and more of the year's awards season players being evenly spread throughout the fall festival circuit. Venice got "Gravity" and "Philomena." Telluride got "12 Years a Slave" and "Prisoners." Toronto landed films like "August: Osage County," "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." New York, meanwhile, landed the trio of "Captain Phillips," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "Her." Even the London film fest got a nice first look at "Saving Mr. Banks" this year.

AFI Fest, as always, is utilized smartly by studios every year. In the middle of Oscar season, it's a great opportunity to make a big splash with a cheap Los Angeles premiere, and films like "Saving Mr. Banks" has already been announced for a US premiere there, though a scheduled world premiere of "Foxcatcher" was nixed last week when that film was moved off its Dec. 20 release date and scheduled for 2014.

Three more films have been set as centerpiece screenings for this year's AFI Fest. The first is a world premiere: Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace," which has mostly avoided the fall festival circuit save for a Dec. 6 Rome Film Festival berth (the day it releases domestically). The second is Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which will segue to the festival for its Los Angeles premiere after world premiering at NYFF on Oct. 5. And the third is Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," which will bring with it a tribute to actor Bruce Dern.

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'Breaking Bad' exits with a record 10.3 million viewers

"Breaking Bad" exits with a record 10.3 million viewers
That's more than triple the viewership of any of last year's episodes.

"Homeland" up from last year, "Masters of Sex" has solid debut
Despite going head to head with "Breaking Bad," "Homeland's" ratings were up 9% from last year's season premiere.

CNN renews "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown"
Eight new episodes will air next spring.

IFC orders "Garfunkel & Oates"

The musical comedy duo of Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel) and Kate Micucci (Oates) are getting their own comedy.

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<p>&quot;Oscar&quot;&nbsp;will premiere on Turner&nbsp;Classic&nbsp;Movies on Feb. 1</p>

"Oscar" will premiere on Turner Classic Movies on Feb. 1

Credit: AP Photo

TCM to premiere new documentary 'Oscar' in February

Academy Awards-centric film will be the kick-off to the annual 31 Days of Oscar showcase

Every year Turner Classic Movies gets home audiences in an Oscar state of mind with its annual "31 Days of Oscar" showcase. Held every February, it's a month-long celebration of Oscar-winning films leading up to the annual Academy Awards ceremony, and this year, the showcase will kick off with the premiere of a brand new documentary about the awards' 85 years of history. It's called, what else… "Oscar."

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<p>Miley performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival</p>

Miley performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

Credit: Al Powers/Powers Imagery/Invision /AP

Listen: Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears' leaked 'SMS (Bangerz)' duet

Is 'Bangerz' a bust?

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole on Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears’ highly anticipated “SMS (Bangerz),” which leaked today.

Sampling Salt N’ Pepa’s far superior “Push It,” the track, from Cyrus's forthcoming "Bangerz" album, is a very strange mixed bag.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 204 - 'Breaking Bad' Finale Edition

Dan and Alan discuss the series finale of 'Breaking Bad' and nothing else


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! Time for a special, limited-scope installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
There are lots of new shows premiering this week, including "Ironside" and "Welcome to the Family" and "Super Fun Night." But let's be honest: None of  this week's new premieres is especially good. 
So rather than trying to record an epic two-hour podcast and shoehorn in "Breaking Bad" finale discussion at the end when we're already exhausted, we decided to keep today's podcast nice and simple.
It's 40+ minutes on the "Breaking Bad" finale. PERIOD.
This is not the promised All-"Breaking Bad" podcast. That'll be a regular-length podcast and it'll be some future time in the fall. This is just a slightly expanded version of our normal end-of-podcast discussion of the show. And nothing else to spoil it or get in the way. 
We'll try to do another podcast in the next day or two with the other reviews. But whatever!
So today's breakdown is easy:
"Breaking Bad" finale (00:00:00 - 00:41:20)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.



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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 204: The 'Breaking Bad' finale

Dan and Alan discuss the AMC drama's conclusion


We could have done a very long Firewall & Iceberg Podcast today in which we discussed all the mediocre-to-terrible new network shows that are debuting this week, before finally getting to the "Breaking Bad" series finale. But as Dan and I talked about it, we decided that today, "Breaking Bad" was the only thing worth discussing, and that nobody should have to sit through our discussions of "Super Fun Night" and "The Millers" to get there. If we have time tomorrow or the next day, we'll do a second podcast reviewing all the new shows, but for today, here's an abbreviated but entirely "BB"-focused installment.

And please note that this is not the all-"Breaking Bad" retrospective podcast we've discussed, and that we'll be doing later this fall when we've gotten clear of all the premieres and have had more time to reflect on the finale. So if you have questions you'd like answered in such a show, hit us at the email link below.

The rundown:

"Breaking Bad" finale (00:00:00 - 00:41:20)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.


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<p>Julia Roberts in&nbsp;&quot;August:&nbsp;Osage&nbsp;County&quot;</p>

Julia Roberts in "August: Osage County"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Off the Carpet: Shapeshift

Contenders hope to take advantage of exiting players

What a difference a week makes...

This time seven days ago we were telling you about a delayed "Wolf of Wall Street" from Martin Scorsese (tipping off trades to sniff it out on their end and write a version without crediting the original story, natch). Within days, "Foxcatcher" would take its leave, joining "Grace of Monaco" on that score. The season, as it always does, is changing shape.

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