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<p>The chemistry between Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto is in full effect in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'</p>

The chemistry between Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto is in full effect in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Abrams pushes archetypes and cranks up the impact for 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Are the film's big secrets worth all the obfuscation?

If you consider "Star Trek Into Darkness" to be part thirteen of a larger franchise, you may walk away frustrated and tied in knots if the reactions I saw after a screening were any indication. Conversely, if this is part two of a new franchise in your mind, chances are you're going to have a great time with the continuation of what JJ Abrams and his collaborators began in 2009's "Star Trek." I find myself somewhere in the middle of those two camps, ultimately coming down on the side of the film as a pretty relentless piece of summer entertainment, anchored by what I consider one of the most exciting movie star performances in recent memory. I think they make some missteps in trying to service every "Trek" fan equally, but not insurmountably.

I feel badly for the hardcore "Star Trek" fans who don't like this new version, because I know what it's been like for them in the years where there were no new "Trek" movies in the works, and I know what it's been like for them loving something that was always considered somewhat left of center, always in danger of going away forever. While "Trek" has managed to survive for nearly 50 years at this point, there have definitely been lean times where Paramount didn't see much upside in continuing to throw money at something that just couldn't cross over to be a full-fledged mainstream sensation. And now that it's finally become part of the Nerd World Order in this new age of the Geek, the most devoted of the "Trek" fans seem irritated by the whole thing.

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"Today"

 "Today"

Credit: NBC

Listen: CulturePop No. 12 - 'Today,' 'Iron Man 3,' 'America's Got Talent'

We explain why we're really not fans of Miley Cyrus' sexy pictorial, too

We're back! Melinda and I had a lot to discuss this week, since we got a chance to see "Iron Man 3" a while ago and, now that the embargo is lifted, we can actually talk about it. We also have some strong opinions about Miley Cyrus' new photo spread and "Today." Here's a rundown:

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AMPAS names finalists for Student Academy Awards

AMPAS names finalists for Student Academy Awards

43 short films will compete across six categories

In March, we talked about some of the rule changes the Academy is making to the short film categories -- one of which is that Student Academy Award winners will qualify for Oscar consideration. So it's worth keeping an eye on this year's Student Academy Award competition; some of the films selected could pop up at the big show next year. 

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<p>Michael Shannon is just as intense when discussing his work as he is on the big screen.</p>

Michael Shannon is just as intense when discussing his work as he is on the big screen.

Credit: HitFix

Michael Shannon talks about playing cold-blooded for 'The Iceman'

We also touch briefly on his work as General Zod

At this point in my career, I like to think that I'm a pretty good interviewer. The more time you give me with someone, the better the conversation will be, and the deeper we'll get into certain ideas.

The real frustration of on-camera interviews is that they are, by their very nature, short. If you get five full minutes with someone, it's a luxury. And those aren't what I would call conversations. They are rapid-fire exchanges where you're trying to get one great answer out of it, and that's if you're lucky.

It becomes even more complicated in a case like my recent conversation with Michael Shannon for the new film "The Iceman," where he stars as Richard Kuklinski, a real-life Mafia hitman. It's a solid film and a great performance, and I wanted to talk to him about the work he did in the film and the research he did on the real guy.

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Robert Downey Jr.'s 10 greatest performances to whet your 'Iron Man 3' appetite

Robert Downey Jr.'s 10 greatest performances to whet your 'Iron Man 3' appetite

Where does your favorite rank?

Tomorrow Robert Downey Jr. suits up once again as Marvel's keystone in Shane Black's "Iron Man 3." It's expected to be the end of a trilogy, though we'll surely see Tony Stark again (as the film's closing credits promise). It's also a bit of a door closed on the actor's rebirth which began, in no uncertain terms, with his return to insurability in the 2008 original. What better time, then, than to look back on his finest work over the last three decades?

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<p>Justin Timberlake at the Grammys in February</p>

Justin Timberlake at the Grammys in February

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Timberlake and 'Dreamgirls' producer team for music biopic 'Spinning Gold'

Soundtrack will feature hits of the era re-imagined by today's artists

There was a moment in a Saturday Night Live sketch a few years back, around the time of "The Social Network," between Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg. Samberg jokingly said to his buddy, "Why can't you just make more music?" Timberlake stood and, as he turned to leave, exclaimed, "I'm trying to take this seriously, okay?!"

Indeed, the Mouseketeer-turned-boy-band-member-turned-solo-artist-turned-actor (whew) has been making a strong go of the silver screen over the last decade. In my opinion, he's found fertile ground. I know it was a little difficult to take at first for a lot of people, but I've been a fan of his work since "Alpha Dog."

Timberlake has worked with filmmakers like David Fincher, Clint Eastwood and the Coens as of late, making all the right movies. And now he's poised to take on a big leading role in a biopic of 1970s record icon Neil Bogart.

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<p>He's been knighted, he's won an Oscar, and even so, he was as down-to-earth and friendly as anyone I've encountered in the junket world in a while.</p>

He's been knighted, he's won an Oscar, and even so, he was as down-to-earth and friendly as anyone I've encountered in the junket world in a while.

Credit: HitFix

Sir Ben Kingsley gets positively giddy talking about being bad in 'Iron Man 3'

Plus he talks about what Shane Black brought to the table

When I sat down to talk to Sir Ben Kingsley, the first thing I told him was that I would hold the interview until after the release of the film if we ventured too far into spoiler territory. It's one of the first times I've ever said anything like that to an actor, but then again, not everyone plays a role like the one that Sir Kingsley plays in "Iron Man 3."

In the end, I think we were careful enough that you can watch and we don't give the game away. If you've seen the film, though, I think you'll appreciate how we talked about the film and his role in it. He doesn't dodge the questions, and he's not playing coy. He's just very careful about how he says things.

By far, the most controversial part of "Iron Man 3" fans is going to end up being The Mandarin and the choices that Shane Black made about how to depict the character. One of the reasons I think the movie works so well is because Shane Black and Drew Pearce took some chances in the script and they made some big choices about how to portray certain events and certain characters.

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"Orphan Black"

 "Orphan Black"

Credit: BBC America

BBC America renews 'Orphan Black' for season two

The show will return for 10 episodes as part of Supernatural Saturday

It looks like "Orphan Black" is getting cloned for a second season. BBC America has renewed the series to return as part of Supernatural Saturday in 2014. The conspiracy clone thriller starring Tatiana Maslany has been re-commissioned with a 10-episode order from Temple Street Productions, ahead of its season one finale on Saturday, June 1.

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<p>William Friedkin with &quot;Killer Joe&quot; star Matthew McConaughey.</p>

William Friedkin with "Killer Joe" star Matthew McConaughey.

Credit: AP Photo

William Friedkin to receive Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at Venice Film Festival

Fest will also present a restoration of the Oscar-winning director's 'Sorcerer'

The collective mind of the film world may be squarely on Cannes right now, but the Venice Film Festival -- which runs this year from August 28 to 7 September -- has taken this moment to remind us of its existence by announcing the winner of its annual Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement: Oscar-winning director William Friedkin.

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<p>Marc Maron behind the mic on &quot;Maron.&quot;</p>

Marc Maron behind the mic on "Maron."

Credit: IFC

Review: Marc Maron heads to IFC with 'Maron'

Autobiographical sitcom from 'WTF' podcast host has strong echoes of 'Louie'

"Louie" didn't invent the idea of building a TV show around a comedian, nor sitcom-as-autobiography. ("The Dick Van Dyke Show" was drawn from Carl Reiner's experiences writing for Sid Caesar, for instance, while the Huxtable kids were modeled after Bill Cosby's own children.) What the FX series has done is to expand the limits of what that kind of show can be (it's simultaneously more expansive and more intimate than anything to precede it) and made comparisons inevitably unflattering to any show that tries to enter the same territory.

With "Maron," the new IFC series that debuts Friday night at 10, comparisons become even harder to avoid. Not only is it another confessional sitcom built around a self-loathing middle-aged comic, but the comic in question is Marc Maron, who's had a long, complicated, up-and-down friendship with Louis C.K., as dramatized briefly on a season 3 episode of "Louie" and as discussed in greater depth on a sprawling installment of Maron's essential interview podcast "WTF."

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<p>Tahar Rahim and B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo in &quot;The Past.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Tahar Rahim and Bérénice Bejo in "The Past." 

Credit: Memento Films

Cannes Check 2013: Asghar Farhadi's 'The Past'

Continuing our cheat sheet for the Cannes Competition

(Welcome to Cannes Check, your annual guide through the 20 films in Competition at next month's Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on May 15. Taking on a different selection every day, we'll be examining what they're about, who's involved and what their chances are of snagging an award from Steven Spielberg's jury. We're going through the list by director and in alphabetical order -- next up, Asghar Farhadi with "The Past.")

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"Nashville"

 "Nashville"

Credit: ABC

Review: Love, lies, and a guy-on-guy kiss on 'Nashville'

Rayna flip-flops, Dante betrays Juliette, and Gunnar gets a surprise

Although I guess it could be said (or at least the promos could infer, which they most certainly did) that tonight's "Nashville" was a night of high drama and big surprises, it was more like a very long episode of "told-ya-so." A few characters revealed themselves to be exactly what we thought they were, while others did exactly what we were pretty sure they'd been wanting to do for a while anyway. In some cases, this was satisfying albeit predictable; in others, it was just predictable.

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