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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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<p>Anton Yelchin and Kate Mara in &quot;After the Disco&quot;</p>

Anton Yelchin and Kate Mara in "After the Disco"

Credit: PopFilms/Columbia/The Creators Project

Anton Yelchin talks 'Star Trek,' 'Burying the Ex,' 'Terminator' and astronaut work

Is the Russian-American actor on for another round of 'Terminator?'

The long-form music video/short film for Broken Bells' "After the Disco" wielded a lot of star power, including fun sci-fi work from Jacob Gentry, Kate Mara in a pink uniform and the gifted melancholy of Anton Yelchin.

I had the chance to catch up with Yelchin as the two-part project premiered, to talk about the space-bound video plus a few other projects he's on, including the next "Star Trek," the possibility of another round of "Terminator," his starring roe in Joe Dante's "Burying the Ex" and making music in his spare time.
 
I think between the Broken Bells project and "Star Trek," you may have a future as an astronaut.
 
I just always feel like I’m floating around in space.
 
Such is the life of the actor…
 
I actually just think that’s just me.
 
In part 2 of “After the Disco,” I was half expecting a dance sequence. Can you dance?
 
No. Not at all. I’m like the anti-Baryshnikov. I can’t dance for shit.
 
You said this was your first music video. Think you want to do something like it again?
 
I’d love to do something like that again. It just depends on what music is, what the idea is, I was really fortunate that this was my first music video. I thought it was really fun.
 
You’re a musician too, aren’t you?
 
I’d really hesitate to say I’m a musician. I really think that I really respect real musicians, and it’d be an insult to call myself one. I make weird noise on my guitar.
 
I’m into making feedbacky, drone stuff on my guitar with pedals, with lots of feedback and onto tape.
 
Do you have any favorite guitars and amps?
 
I usually play through my Deluxe… it sounds great without any pedals, it’s a beast so you really can’t even go past “1.” I’m not a techy person I just like to figure out how to make sounds.
 
Are there any artists or songs you listen to to get pumped up, to go to work?
 
I don’t want to sound pretentious, I just like listening to the city. I find in a way its sounds are very interesting. I don’t know if there’s any real difference between music and sound anyway, it’s all just sounds.
 
But I’m really listening to the Misfits every day driving work. I’m working on a film with Joe Dante right now, and I feel like horror punk in this character I’m playing… I’ve loved the Misfits for a long time.
 
"Burying the Ex" – does it qualify as a zombie film?
 
There’s a zombie element to it, but the genre blend of horror and comedy. I like to just think of it as a Joe Dante film.
 
Are there any favorite fun horror films you’ve been watching lately?
 
I watched “White Zombie” with Bela Lugosi. “I Walked With a Zombie,” “The Unknown” is really macabre…. Tod Browning is so fucking weird. Lots of Vincent Price. Vincent Price is the man.
 
Are any of those creeping into your character in “Ex?”
 
I’m trying to put them in, but who knows.
 
Are you on for the next “Terminator?”
 
I don’t know, no one’s said anything to me. I have no idea. I literally know nothing about it.
 
For the “Star Trek” films, in approaching you for the next film in the series, do they ever give you a heads up about how much your character is going to be in the film? What kind of insights do you get as they start?
 
I get no insights. They call, they say, “We're going to make the film, we’re going to make it at this time.” And then they say, “Come read the script.” And then I read it and then I see how much work I have.
 
Do you have any idea how much of you we’ll have in the next film? I know I could have used more Chekov in the last film.
 
I really actually know nothing about it. I thought maybe I’d know more by now. I wasn’t around much this summer while I was working, I wasn’t in the loop.
 
When you’re on set for “Star Trek,” who’s the biggest clown?
 
We’re all pretty weird. When we get together.

 

 

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Sad Sailors Your Mouth: The National sings the 'Bob's Burgers' Thanksgiving song

Sad Sailors Your Mouth: The National sings the 'Bob's Burgers' Thanksgiving song

It's the gravy boat

If you spent the week singing the words "Sailors in your mouth" like I did, then you may be pleased to know there is a proper indie rock version of the new cult classic.

The "Bob's Burger's" newest Thanksgiving episode yielded another inspired Linda moment, as she and sister Gayle plunged deep into the topic of gravy for a new turkey day anthem. Brooklyn rockers The National showed back up for the holiday this year, in the animated form of your favorite pan-made condiment, for the "Bob's Buskers" series, only to slide down Bob's gullet.

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<p>'Britney Jean'</p>

'Britney Jean'

Credit: RCA Records

Britney Spears is the muse, not the master on 'Britney Jean': Album review

The beats are the star on her latest effort

For months now, Britney Spears and her manager, Larry Rudolph, have been touting “Britney Jean” as Spears’ most personal album, even naming it after her first and middle name to connote a sense of intimacy.  While there are certainly nods to what could be private statements about her life, such as on  “Perfume,” “Passenger” (which features Katy Perry as one of the co-writers), and “Don’t Cry,” for the most part, Spears sounds more like she’s the muse, not the master here.

If Spears’ vision is on here -and she’s listed as co-writer on all 10 tracks-it often gets overshadowed by the dominant beats and production from the album’s executive producer Will.i.am and such DJ/producers as David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso and Anthony Preston.

Executive produced by Will.i.am, the 10 tracks, spread out over 36 minutes, are lean and trim, with little bloat, which keeps the album moving nicely from one song to the next, even if some of the beats sound dated. You can’t blame a girl for wanting to move on, but the absence of past collaborators like Max Martin and Dr. Luke is felt.

The album’s release comes one day after Britney Jean turns 32 and a few weeks before she starts a residency in Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood and in many ways, it has a maturity that some of her past albums have not, including featuring her singing in her shaky alto for much of the set instead of speak/singing such as on “Work Bitch.” “Britney Jean” won’t go down as a Spears’ classic, although it does capture a moment in time — in her life and in pop’s continued fascination with beats.

Below is a track-by-track review:

“Alien”: The album opener, co-produced by William Orbit, has an inviting galloping feel as the latest entry into the folktronica genre. After years of feeling like an alien, Spears sings that she no longer feels alone as the stars guide her home as a mesmerizing backwards loop draws the listener in. It’s one of many tracks on the set that feature Spears signing as opposed to her more familiar speak singing. GRADE: B+

“Work Bitch”: Polarizing single is a deep dance cut with Spears bringing the trouble as she advises how to get that Maserati, hot body, look hot in a bikini, or living in a big mansion: Work bitch. Sounding more like a commercial for 24-Hour Fitness than a classic Spears’ song--or at least until the interesting break in the final third-- she nevertheless brings the attitude and heat that a certain faction of Spears’ fans love about her. GRADE: C

“Perfume”: The current single from “Britney Jean,” the Sia co-write is Spears as we haven’t heard her—or at least not for a long while: singing a straight-ahead ballad with no talking and no heavy beat behind her as on past semi-ballads like “Unusual You” or even all the way back to “Sometimes.” Though still slickly produced, on “Perfume” the focus is on her vocal and the emotional weight of the lyrics as Spears hopes that the next woman to touch her man can smell her perfume on him. The album’s best track. GRADE: A

“It Should Be Easy” featuring. Will.i.am:
Heavily auto-tuned Spears is back after “Perfume’s” respite. Spears and her “Scream & Shout” partner reunite or this dance/electro-clash track. “If there was a scale from one to 10 on my love for you, it’s a million billion/I love you until the day I’m dead,” Spears sings as she and Will.i.am wonder why love has to be so complicated. There’s an interesting song in here, especially given the juxtaposition of the deeper thoughts and the dance beats, but they can’t seem to excavate it. GRADE: C

“Tik Tik Boom” featuring T.I.: Spears positively moans and coos during this dance track about getting horizontal and if you haven’t gotten that point, you will when T.I. lays down a rap about making your toes curl.  GRADE: B-

“Body Ache”: Produced by David Guetta and Will.i.am, it’s almost possible to pick out each part the two DJ/producers contributed, from the staccato, layered beats to the crescendos. Sex is on the menu as she wants to show us how she wants us. One of the more accessible tracks, but it’s missing Guetta’s knack for throwing in a irresistibly catchy hook among the beats. GRADE: B-

“Til It’s Gone”: Throbbing disco beats and space-age synths weave in and out of Spears’ stuttering vocals as she’s a slave to the rhythm. “All the memories I’m saving so your love is never fading,” she sings in this tune about, well, “You never know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” It’s hardly an original sentiment, but she makes the cliche sound good, in one of the album’s most diverse vocal performances. GRADE: B

“Passenger”: Co-written by Katy Perry, “Passenger” is a straight-ahead love song lyrically about finding happiness after being willing to cede control. Diplo’s production includes a synthesized, Who-like intro.  “It’s hard to jump with no net, but I jumped in and got no regret,” she sings, as the pounding, synthetic melody takes off. “This is living,” she proclaims over and over as her liberation is complete. GRADE: B

“Chillin’ With You” featuring Jamie Lynn: Spears and her little sister go from sweet country to rap in this ballad that goes from bad to worse, whether it’s the rap of the constant repeating of “Chillin’ wich you.” That’s sweet that Spears wants to help lil sis get her career restarted, but this won’t be the song to do it.  GRADE: D

“Don’t Cry”: Spears delivers her finest vocal performance on the mid-tempo album closer about moving on. “Adios, I’m out the door,” as she admonishes her ex to not cry in a nice twist. Fun whistled intro and outro with a heavy beat complementing her kiss off. GRADE: B



 

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<p>Ravens' QB Joe Flacco</p>

Ravens' QB Joe Flacco

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: NBC's football dominates Thanksgiving, while ABC's 'Lady Gaga & The Muppets' tanks

FOX wastes episodes of 'Glee' and 'X Factor'
Fast National ratings for Thursday, November 28, 2013.
 
A field goal-heavy NFL showdown between the Steelers and Ravens helped NBC dominate Thanksgiving primetime in all measures, while NFL overrun and comedy repeats pushed CBS to second for Thursday night.
 
Meanwhile, FOX wasted new episodes of "The X Factor" and "Glee" on the holiday evening, while ABC's "Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular" will not become an annual tradition.
 
On to the numbers...
 
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<p>Wendell Pierce in &quot;Trem&eacute;.&quot;</p>

Wendell Pierce in "Tremé."

Credit: HBO

Review: HBO's 'Treme' returns for fourth and final season

With a shortened episode order, the New Orleans drama focuses more on the characters than the city

When it was announced that HBO had commissioned a fourth and final season of the New Orleans musical drama "Tremé" for a lump sum representing a fraction of previous seasons' budgets, co-creator David Simon said he appreciated HBO allowing he and partner Eric Overmyer to bring their nichiest of niche shows to its conclusion.

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<p>Ken Loach</p>

Ken Loach

Credit: AP Photo

Roundup: Ken Loach to be honored at Berlinale

Also: Disney's image war, and Streep's harsh image in 'August'

After a year years away, Ken Loach -- king of British social realism, though he'd probably resent the royal analogy -- returned to the Berlin Film Festival last year to premiere his documentary "Spirit of '45." He'll be back next year too, this time as an honoree: he will receive the festival's Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime  achievement, while the programme will feature a retrospective of 10 of his films. Declaring him "one of Europe's great directors," Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick praised him showing "an extraordinary degree of continuity, while remaining innovative at all times. His profound interest in people and their individual fates, as well as his critical commitment to society have found expression in a variety of cinematic approaches."  [Berlinale]  

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SAG Awards 2014 Contenders and Pretenders: Who's really a player?

SAG Awards 2014 Contenders and Pretenders: Who's really a player?

And who isn't?

It may be the traditional Thanksgiving break, but awards season doesn't take a holiday.  December is full of key events that will make or break the hopes of numerous contenders.  Along with key critics' groups honors one of the most important indicators for Oscar's acting races (and slightly for best picture) are the Screen Actors Guild Awards.  Nominations for January's ceremony will be announced in less than two weeks on Dec. 11.  While reading SAG nominating committee members is arguably more difficult than any other guild, the HFPA or Academy members (SAG members seem to love almost everything) reactions do mean something. Oh, and history does too.  

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<p>Robert&nbsp;Redford in &quot;All is Lost&quot;</p>

Robert Redford in "All is Lost"

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Tech Support: Space, music and the high seas clash in the race for Best Sound Mixing

Also: Could Disney's 'Frozen' be an unexpected contender?

Welcome to Best Sound Mixing. This Oscar category loves blockbusters and war films, particularly (albeit by no means necessarily) of the prestigious variety. Like many categories, being a Best Picture contender also helps here, and there is one particular sort of film – the musical – that does disproportionately well here, as the work done on a musical’s soundtrack is obviously incredibly important to the film’s success.

Most individuals recognized in this category tend to be previous nominees, and there are many sound artists who have received well in excess of five or 10 nominations over their careers. These talented individuals frequently anchor the list.

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Grammy Album of the Year contenders: Who will nab a nom on Dec. 6?

Grammy Album of the Year contenders: Who will nab a nom on Dec. 6?

Is anyone besides Justin Timberlake a sure bet?

The holy grail of music awards for most artists is the Grammy Award for album of the year. The contenders for this year will be announced Dec. 6, with the trophy handed out Jan. 26. While Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” is pretty close to a sure bet,  HitFix’s music writers highlight many other worthy contenders vying for the five spots. The eligibility period runs Oct. 1, 2012-Sept. 30, 2013, which means strong albums like Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” or Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” won’t be up until next year.

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