After last week's blow-out on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," this week's episode was positively cuddly by comparison. Kyle has a dinner party, Faye Resnick (whom I don't know beyond her involvement in the O.J. Simpson murder trial and decorating Kyle's dining room, and I'm really not sure which gig most offends my sensibilities) tells Brandi she was cruel to Adrienne, and Brandi leaves. The end. Adrienne never even shows up to said party, not wanting to be face-to-face with Brandi. I guess there's only so many screaming arguments a housewife is contractually required to dive into per season, and Brandi has probably already over delivered.
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As you'd expect from a city boasting one of the world's major film festivals, the Toronto Film Critics Association is one of the most discerning and unconventional groups on the block, and so they've again proved with their 2012 picks. Continuing its recent mini-run of critics' prizes, "The Master" takes another Best Picture prize, also nabbing Best Director, Screenplay and Supporting Actor for Philip Seymour Hoffman.
I'm not sure of Steve Pond's assertion that the adapted screenplay race is significantly "more crowded and competitive" than the original one this year, but I do like his point that judging adaptations can entail a different set of considerations than with originals (one reason I think the Academy gets it right, where many other awards don't, with separate categories). This year's crop, he suggests, "should be judged the same way diving competitions are: with one score for how artful the film is, the other for the degree of difficulty." With several films this year taking on source material once widely tagged with the "unfilmable" label, from "Cloud Atlas" to "On the Road" to "Lie of Pi," Pond talks to the screenwriters who gave the lie to that curious adjective. [The Wrap]
Christopher McQuarrie's sole film as writer/director is a jet-black little piece of neo-noir called "The Way Of The Gun." While it wasn't a hit when it came out, it certainly had its fans, and I was among them. I liked the uncompromising sensibility of it, the way it seemed unafraid to be horribly nasty, and the streamlined narrative style. McQuarrie was first established by his script for "The Usual Suspects," of course, and he's remained a frequent collaborator of Bryan Singer, working on both "Jack The Giant Slayer" and "Valkyrie."
Tom Cruise is also a fan of McQuarrie's work, with the writer contributing to "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," "All You Need Is Kill," and the most-likely-cancelled "Top Gun 2," and now McQuarrie has finally directed his second film, and he and Cruise have struck paydirt here. I will admit that I was incredibly skeptical of Cruise for the title role in "Jack Reacher," but I am won over by the film itself, and I feel like this is a really canny way of bringing the work of Lee Child to life.
For those unfamiliar with the seventeen novels featuring the character so far, he is a very calculated creation, a pulp hero that appeals to a sort of hyper-masculine ideal. In the books, Reacher is a 6'5" muscle-bound ape of a guy who happens to be incredibly intelligent, a keen investigator who retired from active duty in the Army to wander America. He stumbles into trouble and, like Travis McGee, a sort of "knight errant" chromosome forces him to right any wrongs he stumbles across. He can't help himself. He just isn't wired to allow the strong to victimize the weak as long as there's something he can do about it. He has no luggage, no home, no ties to anything. He has a bank account where his social security checks are deposited automatically, and he stays on the move constantly.
There are only four times in my life when I've been truly nervous to interview someone "famous." One of those moments actually happened last week.
As a journalist, it's your job not to be intimidated or starstruck by talent. Give the subject a hint that you don't have your wits about you and chances are you'll likely end up with a very crappy story. Thankfully, video interviews can be edited around fumbling questions and awkward moments. Even if they are all really all in your head.
I thought twice about posting this. After all, the non-stop media coverage of the mass murders in Newtown on Friday has made it clear that, despite many people yammering away on our television screens, few are saying anything of note. It's hard to fathom what anyone can say about this, a crime beyond reason, but every network has their pundits and reporters working overtime to find angles, offer advice, snag high-profile interviews. It is what we have come to expect during times like these.
Joseph Kosinski is a promising filmmaker, and it certainly appears that he'll have plenty of chances to prove himself in the coming years. His science-fiction thriller "Oblivion" opens in the spring, and the first trailer, featuring Tom Cruise, just made its appearance online last week.
That film was co-written by Michael Arndt, who also wrote "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Toy Story 3" and who quite notably was hired to write "Star Wars - Episode VII," so perhaps it was only natural that there would be some rumors about Kosinski being the likely candidate to direct that film. After all, pretty much anyone who's ever directed anything involving special effects is going to be rumored to be the director by the time Disney and Lucasfilm eventually make their official announcement, and Kosinski is already in Disney's good graces.
I posted my review of NBC's "1600 Penn" over the weekend. Now it's your turn. What did everybody else think of the new NBC sitcom? Were you happy to see Bill Pullman playing POTUS again? Is this a better vehicle for Jenna Elfman than that CBS sitcom whose title my brain is incapable of remembering, even after I've looked it up? Was Josh Gad's too much like Chris Farley, or did you like that about Skip? And will you watch more when it returns on January 10? (FWIW, I enjoyed the two later episodes more than the pilot.)
Have at it.
Alicia Keys has had enough of you telling her what to do.
In the video clip for “Brand New Me,” Keys, sporting a full, curly hair-do, as opposed to the sleek bob she’s been seen in recently, walks around a stage singing the song about finding herself and empowerment.
Her sense of self discovery is none too subtle. As she walks along some props, she sits down alongside a klieg light that turns on as she sings to it. Then she looks into a mirror at the Brand New Alicia. She pulls off the wig her handler has insisted she wear at the beginning of the video.
[More after the jump...]