Latest Blog Posts

<p>Mandy Patinkin, Claire Danes and Rupert Friend in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Mandy Patinkin, Claire Danes and Rupert Friend in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

Review: 'Homeland' - 'Good Night'

Carrie and Saul watch as Brody tries to get into Iran

A quick review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I offer you a stick of my lucky gum...

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"Once Upon A Time"

 "Once Upon A Time"

Credit: ABC

'Once Upon A Time' recap: Can Henry be saved?

The race is on to stop Pan from gaining his full powers

It's back to Neverland, and we seem close to wrapping up and heading back to Storybrooke. It can't be soon enough, if you ask me, as Neverland has been a dark and depressing place where story lines became clunky, Pan's motivations bent awkwardly in the service of forwarding Emma, Regina, Snow and Charming's stories and it all felt a little more claustrophobic than I imagined it would. But I'm not giving up hope yet, mind you. Anything is possible in Neverland, right?

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio goes wild in &quot;The Wolf of Wall&nbsp;Street&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio goes wild in "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Is 'The Wolf of Wall Street' just what the doctor ordered this Oscar season?

Martin Scorsese's dark comedy finally screens and it could take the edge off

It's been quite the somber season in some ways: slavery and racial tension, piracy and health care, dementia-addled fathers and embittered folk crooners. Even the year's biggest spectacle achievement, Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity," ultimately takes its weightless heroine to weighty moments of emotion and catharsis (not that we're complaining). It almost feels like what the 2013 film awards season needs is a nice prestige-level dose of the outrageous, something bonkers, something to take the edge off. And Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is here to answer the call.

The film isn't set to screen for the press at large for another week, but this weekend it began making its way through guild screenings, where plus ones and crossover memberships with critics and the film commentariat are just unavoidable. So it was Saturday afternoon that I made my way to the first of two SAG screenings of this absolutely unrepentant entry (hopefully that caveat saves the studio some disgruntled phone calls — over 100 people were turned away from the two screenings, which were filled to the brim). Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Rob Reiner, Cristina Milioti, Jon Favreau, P.J. Byrne and Kenneth Choi were on hand to discuss working with a master filmmaker and the life and times of a man, Jordan Belfort, who by anyone's measure should probably be dead by now.

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<p>I sincerely hope his extended family of colleagues and friends feel blessed to have known him in what must be an awful moment for them all.</p>

I sincerely hope his extended family of colleagues and friends feel blessed to have known him in what must be an awful moment for them all.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Thoughts on Paul Walker's passing and the way we deal with celebrity death

Sometimes, all you need to do is be decent when others are in pain

The worst thing about dying young is the hole you leave in so many lives. Paul Walker's car accident tonight must have shocked and devastated the people he's worked with over the years, and I can't imagine how this feels for the people who are part of the "Fast and Furious" franchise. No one could have predicted that they would be shooting a seventh film right now when the first one opened a mere 12 years ago, and they certainly couldn't have predicted the way the franchise became a family affair over time, both onscreen and off. I can't think of any other action series that is so explicitly focused on the notion of the way we build our families, and I suspect that's a big part of the completely unironic appeal of the films.

More than anything tonight, I am haunted by the idea of someone having to tell his daughter about his passing. Meadow Rain is only 14 years old, and while there is no good age for lose a father, the pain of losing one right as you're entering one of the most confusing, difficult, emotionally turbulent times of life seems profoundly upsetting to me. Whatever reaction I'm having to Walker's passing tonight isn't about the movies he made or the movies he might have made or how I did or didn't feel about his work. It doesn't have to be. More than anything, it's that simple sharp pang of empathy at the thought of how his passing affects the community around him, both personal and professional.

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<p>Ally, Ashley and an elephant on &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Ally, Ashley and an elephant on "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Ally & Ashley talk 'The Amazing Race'

Ice Queens discuss their alliance with the Afghanimals and more
The "Amazing Race" friends are all gone. 
 
Earlier this "Amazing Race" season, we went through a four-week streak of eliminations for the various all-male teams. After the "Amazing Race" eliminations for Nicky & Kim and, this past week, Ally & Ashley, the season is now left with a married couple, a dating couple, a pair of cousins and whatever the heck Tim and Marie are.
 
From the outside, Ally & Ashley weren't necessarily the most likely candidates to finish as the season's top team of friends, but the LA Kings Ice Crew girls greeted every task with enthusiasm, made a smart alliance with Leo & Jamal and stayed competitive throughout. 
 
And for a brief period in last Sunday's "Amazing Race" episode, Ally & Ashley were in the lead, until everything went haywire on a Detour in Indonesia. They went to feed elephants at a zoo without going to the market to get the food for the elephants. They had to make two trips between the market and the zoo due to difficulties transporting bulky sugar cane. And then just when it seemed like Nicole's problems at the Indonesian Roadblock might doom the powerful ER Docs, Amy guided her friend through the musical task, leaving the Ice Queens unable to catch up.
 
In this week's "Amazing Race" exit interview, Ally & Ashley discuss outlasting the other teams of friends, describe their alliance with the Afghanimals and talk about their big, brief blow-up.
 
Click through for the full Q&A...
 
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"The Act of Killing"
"The Act of Killing"
Credit: Drafthouse Films

'The Act of Killing' and 'Gravity' top Sight & Sound's 2013 critics' poll

But '12 Years a Slave' surprisingly fails to make the Top 10

Less eccentric than the Cahiers du Cinema list, and more representative than the awards of individual critics’ groups, the annual Sight & Sound poll is about the best monitor of international critical consensus at the year’s end – recent winners include David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master." But if those choices were easily seen coming, the 100-odd critics surveyed this year have thrown a collective curveball: Sight & Sound’s top film of 2013 is “The Act of Killing.”

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<p>&quot;Garth Brooks: Live From Las Vegas&quot;</p>

"Garth Brooks: Live From Las Vegas"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Garth Brooks: Live From Las Vegas' dominates Friday for CBS

'Raising Hope' is down, 'Dracula' is flat
Fast National ratings for Friday, November 29, 2013.
 
Lady Gaga may have failed on Thanksgiving, but Garth Brooks delivered strong ratings for CBS on the night after Thanksgiving, leading the network to Friday victories in all measures.
 
"Garth Brooks: Live From Las Vegas" had to lift CBS after an unimpressive hour for a pair of animated holiday anchors, which got crushed by two holiday cartoons on ABC.
 
Meanwhile, NBC's "Grimm" was down a little from its last airing and "Dracula" was basically flat.
 
On to the numbers...
 
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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio in &quot;Wolf of Wall Street.&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio in "Wolf of Wall Street."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Contender Countdown: A December to remember for Oscar's Best Picture race?

Only seven weeks until dreams are shattered

We've reached a critical phase of the season, Oscar watchers. We're not talking about the shortened shopping season or families reuniting across the country for the holidays. No, Hollywood is heading into the high season.  A time when we stop talking about who's going to get a nomination and who's going to actually win.

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Fifth Harmony talks 2013 jams, a Christmas album: Video
Credit: HitFix

Fifth Harmony talks 2013 jams, a Christmas album: Video

Check out the HAIM name-drop

How cute are Fifth Harmony? So very cute. I caught up with "The X Factor" fivesome on the red carpet at the American Music Awards earlier this week, fresh off of singing "Better Together" in the AMAs pre-show.

Each took time out to say what their No. 1 jam of 2013 would be, with Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors," HAIM's "If I Could Change Your Mind," a Rihanna single and more.

Considering it was cold (at least for L.A.), I also asked if they'd be into ever recording a Christmas album. And just guess their answer.

Get your coffee ready, 'cause here's some sugar. Check out the vid. Fifth Harmony's EP "Better Together" was released in October.

 

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<p>Peter Parker and Harry Osborne seem as baffled by the new spoiler-laden banner for 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' as I am.</p>

Peter Parker and Harry Osborne seem as baffled by the new spoiler-laden banner for 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' as I am.

Credit: Sony Pictures

New 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' poster reveals major character spoilers

Wait... wasn't this supposed to be a secret?

Secrets are a funny thing in this business. When you work in a scoop-based economy, secrets are counter-intuitive. You don't keep a secret; you print it, right?

This summer, when we interviewed Andrew Garfield about his return for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," there was a spoiler that we discussed off-camera, and it was obvious that he believed it to be the film's biggest surprise. He really wanted me to keep the secret, and I was happy to oblige. I've erred plenty of times on the side of "Wait, you didn't want people to know that?" and I find it's a balancing act that I'm constantly trying to strike. I recently got called to the carpet by a filmmaker I've known since the early '90s who may well be done talking to me because of how angry he was at me for revealing details about his film before he was ready for them to be revealed, and especially because of the way I handled it.

Imagine my surprise this morning then when I logged on and saw a new triptych poster for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" that quite literally takes that spoiler and makes it the center of the image.

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<p>Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake singing &quot;Please Mr. Kennedy&quot;&nbsp;in the Coen Bros' &quot;Inside Llewyn Davis.&quot;</p>

Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake singing "Please Mr. Kennedy" in the Coen Bros' "Inside Llewyn Davis."

Credit: CBS Films

Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver sing 'Please Mr. Kennedy' for 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

Oh, and Oscar Isaac too

It's hard to believe that the Coen Bros.' "Inside Llewyn Davis" debuted at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival over six months ago. Now, after numerous festival screenings and events, its theatrical release is finally around the corner. Sure, it won't be anywhere near nationwide yet, but Coens fans will take it.

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<p>Idris lba and Naomie Harris in &quot;Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.&quot;</p>

Idris lba and Naomie Harris in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Idris Elba is a miscast Mandela in steady but stodgy 'Long Walk to Freedom'

But Naomie Harris is a fiery standout as Winnie

It is a cruel rule of thumb that extraordinary lives rarely make for extraordinary films. The more densely storied the personal narrative of its subject, the harder it is for dutiful screenwriters to resist tackling it whole, checking off every compelling accomplishment in thorough, linear fashion, even if such orderly diligence comes at the expense of more time-consuming character nuance. Critics have taken to calling this approach – not inaccurately – the “Wikipedia biopic,” though of course it dates back to the dustiest days of 1930s studio prestige drama, while Richard Attenborough effectively rebranded the genre in his own name decades later with the nobly dreary likes of “Young Winston” and “Gandhi.”

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