<p>Malcolm D. Lee</p>

Malcolm D. Lee

Credit: HitFix

Malcolm D. Lee talks 'the Black Pack' in 'Best Man Holiday'

What has changed in African-American cinema since the director's initial film?

Malcolm D. Lee is fairly comfortable calling his first film "The Best Man" a "classic" African-American-centered film. The 1999 flick was "one of the movies that started it all, so to speak, with African-American movies, African-American as just being American, just being human beings and not always causing mayhem and what-have-you." 

That doesn't mean "The Best Man Holiday," that film's sequel, doesn't have its fair share of what-have-you, which is stoked by its returning cast like Terrence Howard, Melissa De Sousa and Taye Diggs. In the 15 years that it's taken to arrive at the next chapter of the "Best Man" story, Lee said he wanted to arrive at a story that was more "complex, sophisticated and worthy" of the talents from what he calls his Black Pack.

But the holidays will bring out the crazy out of anyone, and Lee said that choosing to work with a Christmas-themed story helped "illustrate" and push along his plot. Family holidays don't hurt a color palate, either, with lush decor and stage-like scenery for brawls, breakups, perils, absurdities, music and celebrations of the couples from the film.

Watch our full interview above on how Lee knew his timing was right for a sequel more than a dozen years on, and how to portray deep topics like faith in a non-cheesy way. Stay tuned for more interviews from the cast.

"The Best Man Holiday" is out on Friday (Nov. 15).

 

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<p>Rachel McAdams</p>

Rachel McAdams

Credit: HitFix

'Rom-com' a dirty word? Rachel McAdams keeps 'About Time' out of it

Watch our interview with the actress: Is more time travel in her future with 'Passenger?'

It seems odd to have to declare a spoiler alert for a romantic comedy, but here's an **"About Time" spoiler alert:***

The couple, Mary and Tim stays together throughout.

I know, I know, shocking, right? That's how co-lead Rachel McAdams feels about the film, which hit theaters over the weekend. Promoting the film, the actress discussed whether "rom-com" or romantic comedies are a dirty word -- which can partially be attributed to some predictable elements that otherwise split up or threaten romantic leads.

McAdams said she loved Richard Curtis' script because of the "surprises," that the "love story doesn't fall apart. That's not where the drama is," she said. "We get to watch this couple stay together."

Her co-star Domhnall Gleeson shares in the many intimate scenes, and not just the sexual ones: "About Time" follows almost a whole adult life, including births and deaths and illness. McAdams said that, too, is Curtis' gift, "He's the best at not glossing over the really heartfelt stuff, and undercutting it with humor too.

Check out the rest of our interview above, on fun costumes and filming intimacy in front of dozens of people.

Also watch my chat with Curtis, on "About Time" being his last film and on the flick's musical moments.

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<p>Diane Coffee's Shaun Fleming</p>

Diane Coffee's Shaun Fleming

Exclusive Song Of The Day: Diane Coffee's 'Never Lonely'

Foxygen drummer sets out solo

I've talked about Foxygen on here before, but the psych-rock band's drummer Shaun Fleming has stepped out solo under the name Diane Coffee and now I'm kinda smitten with it, too.

Had HitFix been born under different auspices, we would have already written about Fleming on his own. He used to be a voice actor for family shows and TV movies like "Kim Possible," "The Legend of Tarzan" and "Lilo and Stitch." And now he's spread out into this glam-rock meeting green, bratty pop amalgam for Diane Coffee's debut "My Friend Fish," out Oct. 29.

"Never Lonely" is my favorite of the 10-track album, though "Eat Your Love (With Sriracha)" owns the best song title. Good catch, Western Vinyl.

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<p>Peaches</p>

Peaches

Credit: HitFix

Leafing through a celebrity magazine with Peaches: 'Does Herself' heads to theaters

Watch our interview with the queer music icon on fashion, rappers and exploding genitals

LOS ANGELES - Peaches hit Cinefamily in L.A. last night to promote her movie "Peaches Does Herself," which is "an electro rock opera stage show that recounts a mythical history of Peaches and follows her journey from bedroom musician-wannabe to rock star." The film features a 65-year-old stripper, a body suit with breast and penis prosthesis, spandex orgies, gore and full-frontal transsexual porn star and performer Danni Daniels.

"...The most beautiful human being possible," as Peaches said of the latter during our interview.

It's easy to remember the visuals of the musical film, along with its choreography, and that's part of the reason why it's hard to forget Peaches herself. An icon in the queer community, Peaches uses sexuality, fashion and lyricism as an affront, in "Does Herself" as much as she has in concerts since the late-'90s.

"Peaches Does Herself" is as provocative (and funny) a title as some of her best-known songs, including "Boys Want to Be Her," "Fatherf*cker," "Impeach My Bush," "F*ck the Pain Away," "Shake Yer Dix." However, the film, appropriately, ends with a salute to herself, the song "The Teaches of Peaches," as she flees from a theater onto a customized bicycle, covered in fake blood with her privates having "exploded." It sounds like a genre film -- and it is, though it defies such a convention.

And now it's years behind her (the film, that is). The ambitious "Peaches Does Herself" was made over a year that ultimately led up to its premiere at the Toronto Film Fest in 2012, and it's only now making more rounds in theaters and at various venues.

The gender-bending performer said she's moved on, mentally, from the musical and is now heading into her next album. When we spoke in the middle of last month, she had two ideas for songs, and plans on having something new for 2014.

"It's just one day you're not working on music, then suddenly you are," she said. "So here I am." She said she wants to lean away from more "messaging" music (like "Impeach..." very much was) and "getting to have fun again."

As you'll see in the video above, Peaches has some "teaches" left for style too, as she always has. I thought it'd be fun to give her a celebrity magazine to leaf through, to talk about celebrities and fashions that she loves (FYI, she chose "People" over "In Touch"). While she said she didn't feel "up" on American pop culture much due her years living as an American transplant in Berlin, the 46-year-old did have quite a few nice things to say about Janelle Monae, Tilda Swinton, Diane Keaton, plus had some notes on "acting your age" and how she views her own look.

We talked about contemporary hip-hop artists are using "electro music" in their songs more than ever. Peaches said she loves Nicki Minaj's rise in the rap world, and -- despite some misogyny and LGBT-unfriendly lyricism -- she adores rhymers like Tiga.

"Oh, isn't that terrible?" she joked, as we discussed "Rack City." "Maybe he could use a tip."

 

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<p>Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake in &quot;Inside Llewyn Davis&quot;</p>

Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake in "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Listen to all of the 'Inside Llewyn Davis' soundtrack: Can it stand up to 'O Brother...?'

Does it have a 'Man of Constant Sorrow?'

Weeks out from theatrical release on Dec. 6, the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" has launched with the subtle noise of its soundtrack.

NPR is streaming the 14-song set in its entirety; making up half the songs are traditional folk tunes, and all featuring a diverse contributors, from the movie's principals Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, to the vocals of Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons), producer T Bone Burnett and the Punch Brothers.

The connection to the Coens' "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is obvious. Music drives both stories, and the songs stem from traditional origins. Acoustic instrumentation dominate both. And this one could possibly strike a chord with listeners like that 2000 set.

"OBWAT" was a sleeper hit on the charts, taking a whole year to reach No. 1 on The Billboard 200 -- an astounding feat for an album, let alone one cut with mostly bluegrass and country music from penned mostly out of the Great Depression. It aided the careers of those like Alison Krauss and mainstays like the Stanley Brothers, in shades of morose, mystical and jubilant; it's gone on to sell about 4.5 millions copies and yielded a re-release with an additional album of songs.

Timberlake, Mumford, the Punch Brothers' Chris Thile, Chris Eldridge and Gabe Witcher made the rounds this weekend with a stunning take on old tune "The Auld Triangle" by English-Irish poet Brendan Behan. In its language and it's close-to-the-mouth recording, it certainly hearkens the feelings of experiencing "O Brother" as a soundscape rather than as a mere movie.

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<p>Arcade Fire&nbsp;</p>

Arcade Fire 

Credit: Nastylittleman.com

Review: Arcade Fire goes good and long for new 'Reflektor'

HitFix
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Readers
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The young-art-student vibe gets a big dose of disco

Arcade Fire is still preaching, it's just from a more brightly lit mount. It's intentional to say that the Montreal-based band has allowed itself to make much for colorful, dance-embracing songs on new album "Reflektor," in that they've shown so much restraint to keep their personalities closely tied to their comfortable rock sound on their previous three sets.

On last album "The Suburbs," its standout "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" succeeded in its lively retro sound, combining Regine Chassagne and Win Butler's strengths as vocalists and manic, holy messengers. On "Reflektor" -- both the first single and the album on the whole -- they took some of the same neon colors (no, not a Neon Bible) and flashing lights and applied it liberally, like an energy... and let LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy produce some, and David Bowie sing some.

Below is a track-by-track look at what makes "Reflektor" a solid, long and cerebral set, shy of the strings that was a signifier of the band before and bursting with a rejuvenated (if not downright young-artist) vibe of their future.

 
Opener "Reflektor" is such a bold statement to reform listeners' expectations of this album, it also just happens to sound like commerce. That super low bass, the piano tinkling like it did for "Neighborhoods #2 (Lies)," the “reflective age” in Regine Chassagne’s French lilting over the disco... it's instantly loveable, as well as a sign post pointing toward the rest of this long haul. 
 
We Exist” bears the Bowie influence in bassy gravitas plus the meandering space-age instrumental tail (and maybe the Thin White Duke’s own backup vocals?). The left-right faders give this late-night groover a third dimension and mid-tempo elegance.
 
The band truly stretches out here, marching through a dancehall and leaving the chamber pop outside. Win Butler’s whinny has echo and reverb for days. The sample-sounding horns try to tear through marimba and electric guitar loops, fading out into the sounds of a market or carnivale…
 
… which is what “Here Comes the Night Time” turns into. Sub-bass and rara-flavorings don’t drown out what is ultimately kind of a lamentation of wrong-headed foreigners and missionaries, a story Butler and his band have visited before, most strongly on “Neon Bible.” It plays into the longer love letter to Haiti that “Reflektor” is, holding an air of knowing and accusation (and mild pretension) that never makes their use of ethnic musics a neutral proposition.
 
 I find myself looking forward to the 2:30 mark, where in the post-chorus, an upright piano bleats like a slot machine meeting a bar-floor vaudeville show.
 
Normal Person”: “Do you like rock ‘n’ roll music? I don’t know if I do” Butler sneers into his mic, which – were it to have an odor – would be beer and sarcasm. I immediately think of the garbled ramblings that open “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and this is among the first of many times I return to thinking about the White Album when I go over this set. And like that pop cut, the guitar lick here will either wither your soul or you’ll fall in love.
 
At the end, he waves thank you to an invisible crowd in a tiny club it seems, a fantasy for anybody who’s familiar with the expanse and influence of the sextet these days. (AF themselves, though, have tried to set up many a small rock club show in the run-up to promoting this album.)
 
Already Know”: Since the Smiths are never getting back together, there’s always this.
 
Joan of Arc” sounds like song that’s been incubated and nurtured, with lots of fine-tuned details, like the maxed-out gain on the opening vocals, the Gary Glitter ‘floor invitation amplified with Moog, the incantations in the backup vocals. It’s a treat by itself, and an excellent mid-point demarcation of this lofty album.
 
The band spookily hums back into “Here Comes The Night Time II,” strings whimpering and warning that this “feels like it never ends.” The lack of drums is very present in a drum-heavy album such as this, a quiet set-up to more noise to come.
 
And “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” is that noise, as the mythical Greek nymph plays a passive role in this dream-like dystopia. The story is less important that the atmosphere, the claustrophobia of stacked synths bursting into three-part harmonies and a tinge of hope. 
 
But, really, this is all just a waiting period for “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus),” another song with James Murphy’s fingerprints all over it. They let up on any restraint to dance, the falsetto vocals soulfully responding to a turntable-worthy beat, using its title on repeat in both a threatening and promising fashion. Chassagne’s aggressive presence really lightens the mix up, too, making “Orpheus” really sticky but not at all messy.
 
Porno”: Taken as title-only, is sort of trolling. Here, Butler blames “little boys with their porno” for the hurt his subject’s endured. It’s that judgmental tone again. The offending specter is defined only by the lush keys and the rapping tappings of a rhythm section as Butler again sounds eagerly disappointed in something.
 
Afterlife” is such a crowd-pleaser, a combo of older material and this newer, disco-balling era. In the wake of first single “Reflektor,” you think nothing here can compare, but “Afterlife” nips at its heels, gloriously reveling in baritone sax.
 
Supersymmetry” sprawls -- instrumentally and in length, going for 11+ minutes. Congas tap, voices “la la la,” high notes flutter, the bass brrrrs, the ocean roars, babies are born, leaves change color, you see yourself when you're old and the universe is revealed in its utter worth. Sound exaggerated? That’s all this song is, and it’s bliss before the gentle “Revolution No. 9.”

 

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<p>Eminem and Rihanna</p>

Eminem and Rihanna

Credit: Shady Records / AP Photo

Listen to Eminem's 'Monster' new song with Rihanna

Can this single conjure the same charting magic of 'Love the Way You Lie?"

Eminem and Rihanna have conjured "The Monster" together on a new single, which feels neither monsterous nor -- as Marshall Mather contends -- crazy.

But that doesn't make it forgettable. The repeating chorus is pretty catchy, trying to play in the same sonic game as Em and Rihanna's mega-hit "Love the Way You Lie," which dealt with similar personality extremes. Fans have heard the rapper waxing on his Jekyll and Hyde halves before, but here he's claiming to be "friends" with his uglier, "monster" self, shooting shady at detractors who think he's "crazy." Why? "'Well that's not fair."

A few seconds later on the electronic-backed track: "I'm think I'm getting so huge I need a shrink... / going cuckoo and kooky as Kool Keith." So we'll just hang with cuckoo?

This "crazy" title follows another, the first "Marshall Mathers LP 2" single "Berzerk," which had a lot more fun than this. "Monster" has a better shot at regular top 40 airplay with Rihanna's continuing star power, even with lackluster lyrics. These singles are bundled with other recent releases "Survival" and "Rap God" on the new album, which is due Nov. 5.

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<p>Katy Perry and Lady Gaga</p>

Katy Perry and Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photos

Music showdown: The hit singles of Lady Gaga vs. Katy Perry

Best wedding themes, best retro power-pop, best first top 40 hits...

Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have more in common than you might think. 

Both solo female pop stars scored their first Top 40 hits in April of 2008. Since then, they’ve each issued three albums with Perry’s “Prism” out tomorrow and Gaga’s “ARTPOP” on the way, scoring multiple No. 1 and top 10 hits in their wake. They’ve been dominant forces in the Grammys pop races year after year, each with distinctive fashions and style-driven dances, from meat dresses to lollipop bras, from candy-colored wigs to claws (or paws, as it were).
 
Perry, who is about to turn 29, has found success in combining her big pipes with power-pop anthems and beach-bound summer songs. At 27, Lady Gaga has found her audience using overt sexuality and left-of-center, artistic performances with big, dark dance-pop sounds.
 
There’s no need to pit any one artist against each other with malice. Some musicians court beef, and others are just trying to do their own thing. For two women who have publicly shown each other support in their forthcoming endeavors, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry certainly don't see the need for fans to "choose" only one current pop icon. Though, it’s in our nature to see who comes out on top of the charts, who takes home the most or the biggest awards, who among the stars radiates the most. And Perry and Gaga – intended or not – have been competitors in the marketplace for about five years now, as thriving touring artists, recording artists, performers, personalities, activists and hit-makers.
 
With each preparing their new albums and with, still, long careers ahead of them, we’ve decided to take a fun look at the loose themes running through Katy Perry and Lady Gaga’s singles. As a lover of pop music, I think there’s obviously room for them both (haters, I ban thee). Meanwhile, vote for your favorite song in each category below: which crucial Lady and Katy songs make your final favorites tally?

Once you're done with that, go have fun with another recent HitFix feature: the movies of Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Sylvester Stallone!

Read our review of Katy Perry's "Prism" here.

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Exclusive Song of the Day: Masha's acoustic 'Ugly'

Exclusive Song of the Day: Masha's acoustic 'Ugly'

Taylor Swift's producer Nathan Chapman brings rock EP to life

Masha's new 4-song EP "Stupid, Stupid Dreams" packs a dark-tinged rock 'n' roll punch and raw emotion. In HitFix's exclusive premiere of Masha's acoustic performance of set opener "Ugly," however, those vulnerabilities and top talents are laid even more bare in an impressive open-air performance.

This Song of the Day selection is brought to you a day away from the release of "Stupid, Stupid Dreams," co-produced by Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift) and songwriter/producer Claude Kelly (Britney Spears, Bruno Mars).

Masha's seen further success as a performer after her cover of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" landed over top of a "Witches of East End" TV promo this fall season.

Check out the clip below, and get ready for "Stupid, Stupid Dreams." Let us know if you get some classic Alanis vibes, too.

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Listen to Lady Gaga's R&B-inflected new single 'Do What U Want' with R. Kelly

Listen to Lady Gaga's R&B-inflected new single 'Do What U Want' with R. Kelly

HitFix
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Readers
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Lady Gaga heads into new genre frontiers with sorta-sexy-time jam

Since thongs are having a moment now, we should let you know what's up with Lady Gaga's for "Do What U Want." On the cover to the newly unveiled single, the pop star's derriere, long hair and colorful lingerie are part of her new iteration, a turn at club R&B featuring R. Kelly.

Kicking off with some traditional ad-libbing over what could be the "Drive" soundtrack, Mother Monster tries to combine her signature defiance into a certain pop radio formula. "You can't have my heart," check, "You can't stop my voice / 'cause you don't own my life," OK, "... but do what you want with my body."

It's a schlock shock to hear lines like these, and, "I would fall apart if you break my heart / so just take my body and don't stop the party," not because of its expression of fear or trepidation, but because this is the same artist who brought us the Disco Stick: where is the joy in this sexual summons? Why is it so plain? Where is the half-insane art preambles, since she actually seems a little sad?

And why is she growling?

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