“Fringe” positioned tonight’s ninth episode “Black Blotter” as its final edition of “the nineteenth episode”. That’s been the slot for past episodes such as “Brown Betty”, “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”, and “Letters of Transit”. I don’t like the idea of arbitrarily assigning a slot in each season as “the completely off-the-wall trippy installment,” since that goes against what should be the organic process of telling a long-form narrative on the small screen. But that quibble isn’t a particularly big one, especially since I tend to like when the show gets even weirder than usual. “Black Botter” wasn’t particularly strange by the show’s standards (except for the Monty Python sequence, which made ME feel like I’d just taken a whole buncha drugs), and it wasn’t up to the standards of the three episodes just mentioned. But it was a solid, if wildly inconsistent, hour of television that gave us both the best AND worst of “Fringe” in sixty minutes.
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Peter Jackson's franchise-christening "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" arrives under no small amount of pressure: not only does the shadow of the impressively executed "Lord of the Rings" trilogy loom large over it, but the new film faces widespread cynicism over Jackson's decision to stretch J.R.R. Tolkien's slender children's yarn into three gargantuan films.
Sad to say, I'm not the only one to think it buckles rather catastrophically. Unexpected or otherwise, this is one dourly overextended journey, sorely missing the jaunty dramatic propulsion of the source material -- and that's before I factor in my concerns about the deadening, daytime-drama effect of the sleek but texture-draining 48fps technology. Still, the film has some ardent advocates, and not necessarily among the Tolkienite crowd, while our colleague Drew McWeeny deemed it a qualified success. So I'm very curious to know what you make of it -- in any frame rate. Do share your thoughts in the comments.
When the Killers have Tim Burton on hand to direct their new music video, you have to expect at least a little star power (and some black and white stripes). "Here With Me" has both, with Winona Ryder starring as the companion and obsession of Craig Roberts, who you may recognize as the lead of "Submarine."
You didn't see "Submarine?" Well, watch it right after watching this.
The Killers are house band to Roberts' character's waltz with a wax figure-slash-mannequin, as he imagines that a very famous woman is his sweetheart. It's a beautiful short, in addition to being kind of funny and disturbed.
If you've been reading me a long time, you know I'm a complete wimp when it comes to making lists. Tell me to pick 10 shows, and I'll pick at least 11 — or, if I can, just do multiple lists. (I'm the guy who had to come up with seven different lists to break down the best of the '00s.)
For my list of the best TV shows of 2012, I actually stuck to 10 — and you can see and hear about all my choices in the video embedded at the top of this post — but only because I knew that I would be doing a longer written list next week, featuring my top 20 shows of the year. Like I said, wimp.
It's officially revealed that more than just the surviving members of Nirvana and Paul McCartney will be on the forthcoming soundtrack to Dave Grohl's documentary "Sound City." Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme and more will be on "Sound City - Real to Reel," due on March 12.
iTunes posted the tracklist to the album, which includes songs performed in the documentary and those "inspired" by the gatherings therein. I'm personally looking forward to hearing that final track, with just Grohl, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Homme and Reznor, a track called "Mantra." The rhythm section for Rage Against the Machine -- Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford -- is also in the house, on top of the reunion of Pat Smear, Grohl and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) with Paul McCartney for the now-released "Cut Me Some Slack." The latter tune was performed at the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief earlier this week.
Looking for something to make you smile today? Well, Sony Classics released a teaser for Pedro Almodovar's new comedy "I'm So Excited" and thanks to the Pointer Sisters the minor subtitles at the beginning really aren't necessary.
It really feels petty and pointless in light of this morning's events to forge ahead with stuff like this. Anne Thompson and I dropped our top 10 lists to start the day and, quite clearly, more important things are dominating our hearts and minds at the moment. Nevertheless, diversion and the distraction has always been the identity of the magic of the movies, so Film Comment's announcement of the year's best comes at as appreciated a time as any.
Stephen Colbert spread a lot of Christmas cheer last night as Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, and John Lennon/Yoko Ono’s son Sean Lennon performed Lennon/Ono’s holiday staple, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” on “The Colbert Report” final new show of the season.
[More after the jump...]
Most of us think watching "Walking Dead" or any of the many zombie-themed TV shows and movies out there is just pure, escapist fun. After all, zombies as a concept don't even make much sense. What could possibly happen to turn otherwise normal people into drooling, possibly brain dead, people-eating machines? It's a question asked on Discovery Channel's "Zombie Apocalypse" (Tues. Dec. 18 at 10:00 p.m.), which features real people preparing for the worst and scientists mulling over what could actually happen. The bad news? A zombie pandemic may not be likely or even probable, but impossible? Not exactly.
It may have struggled to gain a foothold this week with groups like SAG and the HFPA, but "The Master" remains a pet of the critical community that has championed it since the fall. Right after The Guardian team named it the top film of 2012, Paul Thomas Anderson's thorny character study received further good news today from the Chicago Film Critics' Association, as it led their nominations list with a whopping 10 mentions.
My largely improvised book tour for "The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever" made its first stop on television this morning, as I was a guest for a segment on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien." A good time was had by all (one of the panelists even wanted to continue the discussion during the commercial break), and it also provided me with an excuse to finally learn how to tie a half-Windsor knot. (My dad taught me the four-in-hand, and that's more or less where my tie education stopped.) If you want to see me in moving picture form, here I am:
Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.