Latest Blog Posts

<p>Gael Garcia Bernal, Bidzina Gujabidze and Hani Furstenberg in &quot;The Loneliest Planet.&quot;</p>

Gael Garcia Bernal, Bidzina Gujabidze and Hani Furstenberg in "The Loneliest Planet."

Credit: Sundance Selects

Rewinding to surprise Spirit nominee 'The Loneliest Planet'

Julia Loktev's fascinating microbudget indie also scored a top Gotham nod

Every year, the Independent Spirit Award nominations reveal American independent cinema to be a landscape where, to pinch Orwell's well-worn line, some are more equal than others. The awards may idealistically present themselves as a union of Davids standing tall against the hulking big-studio Goliaths, but the cosy we're-all-in-this-together front doesn't ring true when the nominees show up the gaping class chasms that exist merely within the so-called indie sphere.

No one's pretending a shoestring independent like "Middle of Nowhere" genuinely comes from the same stock as a starry mainstream entertainment like "Silver Linings Playbook"; these awards may ostensibly pitch them as fighting the same good fight, but they're doing so against very different obstacles. 

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<p>Skylar Grey</p>

Skylar Grey

Listen: Skylar Grey and Eminem's 'C'Mon Let Me Ride' is dumber than a bicycle

Daddy, what's a banana seat?: Satire in song form

Skylar Grey's collaboration with Eminem, "C'Mon Let Me Ride," contains filthy, unclever and thinly veiled euphemisms for screwing. It's got a playful verse structure and an equally childish lyric video, and a chorus that is as tooth-rotteningly sweet as a Capri Sun jingle. It takes the melodic and lyrical page from Queen's "Bicycle Race" and has it sung by Eminem doing his best Pee-Wee Herman imitation, while the term "banana seat" is beaten (eh? get it?) to it's maxim.

It's a joke.... no, really, it's meant as a joke.

It was written as a satire of “overly sexified music, media and the girls who try and imitate it.” Hence the tossed-off effect of the terms "slut," "bitch" and Em's dragging-d*ck rhymes.

"I've learned from Em I can have more fun," she told Rolling Stone in an interview published in October. "He's very sarcastic and makes me laugh all the time and there are parts of my attitude I have in person but I've never shown in a song. I feel like he showed me I don't have to be afraid to show that side."

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<p>Andre 3000</p>

Andre 3000

Andre 3000 joins T.I. to say 'Sorry' on new track: Listen

Is the former OutKast rapper apologizing to Big Boi?

Former OutKast member Andre 3000 makes a rare guest spot on the new T.I. track "Sorry," from T.I.'s upcoming "Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head." 

Over a sparse track featuring a number of keys and synths and some subtly funky bass from producer Jazze Pha, T.I. brags about his hustle, his money, his college grades and the fact that it's his time to shine. With a line like "Never mind what the blogs say/do what my mind and my heart say," T.I. doesn't sound like he feels the need to apologize for any of his success.

Then the relatively reclusive Andre 3000 arrives and blows the track wide open. The former OutKast rapper intones "I don't even like rapping fast," before slowing it down. In what is no doubt aimed at his former OutKast partner Big Boi, Dre offers this olive branch: "This the type shit that make you call your rap partner and say I'm sorry I'm awkward, my fault for fucking up the tours/ I hated all the attention so I ran from it."

In a strange twist, Big Boi just released the new track "In the A" which features guest spots from Ludacris....and T.I. 

Listen to "Sorry" here:



What do you think of "Sorry"?

 

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"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"

 "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"

Credit: TLC

Why 'Duck Dynasty' and Honey Boo Boo may be good for us

A growing interest in the lifestyles of the less-than-elite is a good sign

When I mention the A&E show "Duck Dynasty" to people, I usually get blank stares and rapid blinking, as if I've suggested a vigorous round of dwarf tossing or a moonshine-and-possum Thanksgiving. Of course, that's still better than the reaction I get to "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." Lips curl. Eyes roll. "Disgusting," one acquaintance muttered. "I'd never watch that garbage. It's just the lowest of the low."

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 158

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 158

Dan and Alan talk 'The Hour,' 'Treme,' 'Revolution' and more

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls!
 
After taking last week off for Thanksgiving, we're back with another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
In this week's podcast, Sepinwall and I review the new season of BBC America's "The Hour," talk about the finale of "Treme" and the midseason finale of "Revolution" and discuss two weeks of "Homeland." We also answered a few pieces of Listener Mail. Oh and Alan talks a little bit about a certain new book you might have heard of.
 
Next week's podcast could be light, so feel free to send more mail and we'll get to some of it!
 
Here's today's breakdown:
Alan's Book (00:00:50 - 00:07:10)
"The Hour" (00:07:15 - 00:16:05)
Listener Mail - "Last Resort" cancellation (00:17:05 - 00:26:35)
Listener Mail - female TV stars in movie ensembles (00:27:00 - 00:30:35)
Listener Mail - Skippable "Cheers" seasons (00:30:35 - 00:32:30)
"Revolution" (00:32:50 - 00:43:05)
"Treme" (00:43:10 - 53:30)
"Homeland" (00:53:35 - 01:16:22)
 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 158: 'The Hour,' 'Revolution,' 'Tremé' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 158: 'The Hour,' 'Revolution,' 'Tremé' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss the latest 'Homeland,' plug Alan's new book, and answer your mail

The

It's a bit of a "Revolution"-themed Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I both catch up on the NBC drama — and feel free to use these comments to discuss the midseason finale, as I didn't have a chance to write a separate post on it — as well as plug that book I wrote (which is now finally available for iBooks). We also talked about the return of "The Hour" (I'll have a written review of that tomorrow), the end of that great season of "Tremé," the latest "Homeland," and more.

The line-up: 

Alan's Book (00:00:50 - 00:07:10)
"The Hour" (00:07:15 - 00:16:05)
Listener Mail - "Last Resort" cancellation (00:17:05 - 00:26:35)
Listener Mail - female TV stars in movie ensembles (00:27:00 - 00:30:35)
Listener Mail - Skippable "Cheers" seasons (00:30:35 - 00:32:30)
"Revolution" (00:32:50 - 00:43:05)
"Treme" (00:43:10 - 53:30)
"Homeland" (00:53:35 - 01:16:22)
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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Watch: 50 Cent, Eminem and Adam Levine are running scared in 'My Life'

Watch: 50 Cent, Eminem and Adam Levine are running scared in 'My Life'

Single was presented on 'The Voice' last night, sans Slim Shady

It was only yesterday that 50 Cent presented one of his strongest mainstream hip-hop/pop tracks in years, "My Life." It's felt like an eternity, particularly since he was on "The Voice" only a few hours after. Today, we have the full music video featuring Eminem and Adam Lambert running around scared.

I've taken the term "My Life" as in "F*ck my life," a statement that Fif, Shady and the Maroon 5 frontman are all trying to express. This isn't the space to boast (entirely), this is their sad, dark creative corner of the house to flip off the shenanigans. None of this is made more clear than during Em's verse and appearance in the vid. If it wasn't readily apparent yesterday, please note: dude's on fire here.

What I remain unconvinced of is Levine's emotional presentation. He makes a terrible hobo.

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<p>Chris Brown</p>

Chris Brown

Credit: AP Photo

If We Managed Chris Brown...

Why does he bring a gun to every knife fight?

How many more chances does Chris Brown get and why do his fans continue to condone whatever he does?

If we managed Chris Brown, we would keep him off of Twitter for good, take away his Instagram account, and make him take a complete break from any public appearances for at least six months.

As you know, the boy who can’t keep his mouth shut was at it again on Sunday when he got in a Twitter fight with writer/comic Jenny Johnson. To be fair, Johnson, who we had never heard of before Sunday, provoked Brown when she responded to an innocuous tweet by Brown with an insulting reply.

instead of not taking the bait, Brown then immediately escalated the online feud by, as abusive men do, turning the fight into one suggesting sexual acts and calling Johnson a gardening tool (though we’re quite sure he meant “ho,” instead of “hoe”).  It went downhill from there and ended with Brown deleting his Twitter account. (We’ll see how long that lasts. For now, he’s taking his rants to Instagram. Same persecution complex, different venue).

Brown has gotten predictably boring in that if he is treated badly-- or perceives that he is-- he fires back with a response that is wildly inappropriate. He brings a gun to a knife fight every single time, such as  throwing a chair at a window at “Good Morning America” after he didn’t like being asking about beating up Rihanna.  He also has to keep apologizing for making gay slurs.

What Brown has never seemed to grasp is that as a public figure, he is going to be a lightning rod for criticism. That just comes with the territory. And yet he has never developed the ability to walk away.

This is where management comes in. Before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other social media where artists can communicate directly with fans, managers and publicists could serve as a buffer between an act and his or her fans. Now, however, there is no filter. Most acts don’t need one, but Brown is desperately and pathetically in need of someone who will sit him down and tell him to stop it.  That person’s next step will probably be packing up his or her things and finding a new job, but if Brown hears it enough, maybe it will sink in.

Additionally, and this is the part that really seems beyond the pale, is that it’s clear that Brown sees himself as a victim. If people would just, as his latest single addressed, not judge him,  everything would be just fine. It’s our fault that he keeps getting into rumbles.

We live in a time when bad behavior very rarely generates consequences.   For a short black-out period after he beat up Rihanna in 2009 where he was treated like a pariah in some quarters, virtually everyone was willing to forgive him, whether it was radio or the Grammys or even the Grammy voters, who awarded him with a Grammy this year.

Yet after a carefully-managed apology about Rihanna, all he has done the past three years is show that he does not have a handle on his anger issues and that he has zero impulse control...whether it’s on during a live interview or on Twitter. 

Brown needs a time-out, but given that his fans are willing to forgive him anything and, other than people in Guyana protesting his now-cancelled gig, there seems to be no downside to being an abusive, hot-tempered, threatening, ill-behaved star. So expect more of the same.

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<p>&quot;Beasts of the Southern Wild,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Magic Mike&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;Keep the Lights On&quot; all founds some love from the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards nominations.</p>

"Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Magic Mike" and "Keep the Lights On" all founds some love from the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards nominations.

2013 Independent Spirit Awards nominations winners and losers

"Beasts of the Southern Wild," Ezra Miller, Matthew McConaughey and more

As always, the Spirits are an intriguing beast. Originally a fly by the seat of your pants awards show meant to give exposure to indie films they couldn't find anywhere else the Spirits have morphed into a prestigious honor that people in the industry actually care about. This year it appears the nominating committees got it mostly right. Sure, there's that always sticky $20 million or less budget figure qualification no one wants to pay attention to (until they do) and some blatant omissions here and there.  But, at the end of the day the Spirits still provide an important platform for new filmmakers to make their mark with moviegoers and the larger movie industry.  Taking that into account, here are the winners and losers after the announcement of the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards nominees this morning.

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<p>I have that exact chessboard.</p>

I have that exact chessboard.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Bryan Singer confirms McKellen and Stewart returning for 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past'

Project shaping up as the ultimate 'X-Men' film so far

Well, imagine that.

Ever since they announced that the newest film in Fox's X-Men series would be called "Days Of Future Past," fans have been waiting to see how one of the most popular and enduring storylines from the comic would be adapted, and how it might unite the first three films in the series with "X-Men: First Class," and now Bryan Singer has revealed some casting news that is very exciting.

Earlier this morning, Singer posted the following to his Twitter account:

"I'd like to officially welcome back James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender & Nicholas Hoult to #XMEN for #DaysOfFuturePast"

Great.  Fassbender and Lawrence are on fire right now career-wise, so I'm glad they've worked out deals to make sure they play Magneto and Mystique again.  I think they were both vital parts of making "X-Men: First Class" work in the first place, and they are important parts of the story moving forward.

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<p>Can you believe this is still the only image we've seen from 'Star Trek Into Darkness'?</p>

Can you believe this is still the only image we've seen from 'Star Trek Into Darkness'?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

An official synopsis for 'Star Trek Into Darkness' offers more hints about the villain

And yet we still know almost nothing for sure

It is amazing to me that we are this close to the release of "Star Trek Into Darkness" and no one has been able to confirm the identity of the bad guy in the film so far.

There was a period of time where everyone was absolutely sure that Khan was going to be the villain again, and even when I got JJ Abrams to state on the record that he was not going to be the bad guy, people insisted that they were sure.  Benedict Cumberbatch, best known right now for his outstanding work in the BBC's "Sherlock," was eventually cast as the film's antagonist, which would seem like very strange casting for Khan.

We're about to start finally getting concrete information about the film, and I am eager to see the nine-minute opening sequence that will be screening in front of "The Hobbit" at every IMAX screening when the film opens next month.  I would imagine that opening will clearly establish the tone of the new film and give us some idea of where things are going to head in terms of story.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Moonrise Kingdom.&quot;</p>

A scene from "Moonrise Kingdom."

Credit: Focus Features

'Silver Linings Playbook,' 'Moonrise Kingdom' lead Indie Spirit noms

'Beasts,' 'Bernie,' and 'Keep the Lights On' round out top category

The season's first major precursor nominations (sorry, Gotham Awards) have landed and, as usual, the Independent Spirit Awards have given the biggest boost to the biggest indies, amplifying the Oscar buzz they already had. It's no surprise, then, to see the Weinsteins' "Silver Linings Playbook" and Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" leading the field with five nods apiece.

However, while the former's Best Picture Oscar nod was already a sure thing, the haul for "Moonrise," coming on the heels of its Gotham triumph last night, raises the question of whether Wes Anderson's nostalgic bauble, earmarked by most pundits chiefly as a screenplay contender, can crack the Academy's top field.

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