Exclusive: Watch Phoenix perform 'Rome' for Austin City Limits, as new season launches

Exclusive: Watch Phoenix perform 'Rome' for Austin City Limits, as new season launches

Video of the dance-pop band for the famed television concert series

Famed televised concert series "Austin City Limits" is preparing to launch into its 39th season, and Phoenix fits the bill for this new year of music performances.

The French dance-rock band Phoenix has its ACL premiere during the Oct. 12 episode to air of "ACL," and we got dibs on an early look at the performance, including this video of "Rome."

Staged at the ACL Live theater in Texas' capital, the Phoenix concert was packed into an hour-long show, which will be the second episode of the season. The first airing, on Oct. 5 on PBS, will feature Juanes and Mexican troupe Jesse & Joy. Vampire Weekend, fun., Emeli Sandé, Grizzly Bear, The Lumineers, Emmylou Harris with Rodney Crowell and others are also on tap for this first half of the new season, with the second half to be announced at a later date. Tune in to ACL's live-stream of fun.'s taping on Sept. 13.

After you listen to "Rome" -- culled from the band's 2010 breakout album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" -- give "Entertainment" a spin, too. Not a coincidence: Phoenix is co-headlining the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October.

A full airing schedule of "ACL" is below the videos. According to a release, Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in American television history.

Austin City Limits Web Exclusive: Phoenix "Rome" from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.


Phoenix on Austin City Limits "Entertainment" from Austin City Limits on Vimeo.


October 5 Juanes | Jesse & Joy
October 12 Phoenix
October 19 The Lumineers | Shovels & Rope
October 26 Vampire Weekend | Grizzly Bear
November 2 Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
November 9  Emeli Sandé | Michael Kiwanuka
November 16  fun. | Dawes
November 23 ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2013

<p>Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman in &quot;Prisoners&quot;</p>

Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman in "Prisoners"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Set visit: 'Prisoners' actors Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal spar

Terrence Howard, Viola Davis and Maria Bello speak on unspeakable abduction drama

When Terrence Howard walked up, he was already crying.

This particular day of shooting for “Prisoners” was set in a hospital in Atlanta. Real and pretend cops walked past real and pretend doctors and nurses up and down its hallways, a tight space for Howard, Viola Davis, Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello to exorcise the most heightened of emotions.
Howard with Davis and Jackman with Bello play working class parents two families, each with daughters who have been kidnapped. Each actor, in real life, is a parent. It shows, said Howard, who has spent the latest scene in yet another state of what he calls “messy moments.”
“I hope I don’t get in trouble saying, but it feels like ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ in a sense because you have this whole couple with this horror,” he said. “It's like this anxiety on steroids.”
Watch the trailer for the film – which made its debut at TIFF this week – and you can understand how this “horror” is rooted in reality. One minute, there are two little girls and the next moment, they’re missing. The biggest lead comes from a suspect (Paul Dano) who one could typically qualify as looking like a pervert. Search teams scan the woods, the statistics of missing persons reports becomes grounded in actual faces and names in the Dover and Birch families.
For the scenes shot at the hospital in Atlanta, Howard, Davis, Jackman and Bello look like the walking dead. In the plot at that moment, there had been some developments in the short days that have followed the kidnappings. Far from the glamor that each actors’ more recent roles have allowed, their makeup is in shades of purple, their lines deepened, their real tears falling between frizzy and unwashed locks and unkempt facial hair.
“Normally you want to look your best, and every day is them making you look your worst,” Howard laughed after he wiped his eyes again. “And you feel like that 'cause everybody that looks like you, they have the same makeup. And it's like ‘Man, we are f*cked up.’”
Director Denis Villeneuves, who helmed Oscar-nominated “Incendies,” pushed each of his characters in the film react to the abduction in different ways, similar and contrasting ends to the reactive equation of “What if it were your kid?”.
Jackman’s character Keller, who is “religious,” has a survivalist streak, and “believes in being ready, ready for anything. One of the first scenes in the movie where he has that chat with his son, where he says ‘Basically don't rely on anybody in life,’” Jackman said, looking like a sack of potatoes in a hospital waiting room chair. Like the other actors, the story hurts him as it hit close to home. “I’m a parent. It's even difficult to even vaguely go there.”
“Trauma is the main characteristic [in ‘Prisoners’], if you could imagine losing your own child. But we all deal with it in such different ways,” Bello said “My character [Grace] deals with it with putting her head under the covers and taking a lot of medication and not being able to really to get out of bed hoping her daughter's just going to show up.”
“…But the thought that they're suffering and waiting and crying and hoping on you, that's the thing that doesn't allow you to rest,” Howard said separately.
“I gravitate towards it because I felt like it had something very interesting to say about the human psychology of vigilantism,” Davis hinted. “We all have smokescreens that we kind of put to on ourselves to give us the stamp of good or bad or evil or good. And then when we're questioned and we have to step up to the plate of morality, then you don't know what's gonna come out of you.”
The unpredictable elements to the very real human drama of missing children are the authorities working the case. And in this case, it’s Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki, who looks upon all parties suspiciously, acting as the “audience’s eyes,” as he explained it.
“I do skepticism relatively well. We're in the perfect environment for it right now,” he smiled, fresh from a scene where he further questioned the Dover and Birch parents (and a newly hospitalized key to the puzzle). “When everyone is a mystery of some sort, you get to be the audience's eyes. Therefore, it'll be a more interesting film to watch 'cause you see in a way the case unfolds through Loki’s eyes… in that way I think there's a relative amount of paranoia and skepticism that every audience member kind of walks into when they're being [told] a story, when they're being entertained that I weirdly revel in.”
Gyllenhaal was described as being upbeat between scenes, and a good, stoic sparring partner for the other actors. He could be seen laughing and smiling between scenes as Jackman’s Keller skulks in his muted colors in a livid nightmare.
“It's been a dream really to have this cast. And Jake, who's so silly in between, and then he gets so serious because all of us are suspects,” Howard said. In missing persons reports, “parents are the first suspects. So Jake, not-shooting-Jake is the funniest thing. And then he turns into this cop, and he doesn’t give you anything.”
Loki plays his part as an objective policeman; Keller’s moral compass disorients into a sleep deprived psychopathy. Both did their research and homework into these circumstances. Both have to lead their characters down into appropriately dark roads.
Seven days after children go missing, the statistics of finding them are “pretty horrific. And it's clear to all the players in our film, y’know. So every day that goes by, every minute that goes by, statistically things are just getting more and more dire and more and more desperate,” Jackman said.
So why go through with a script like this, a story that effects the actors in such a visceral way?
“It's an incredibly rich and beautiful drama character piece. You really experience this episode through the eyes and feelings and the emotions of these characters. There's something much more important than story, than acting, than anything really,” Bello said. “We tend to constantly talk about our children, and that's a priority for us.”


Listen to Arcade Fire's new single 'Reflektor': Watch two very different videos

Listen to Arcade Fire's new single 'Reflektor': Watch two very different videos

Anton Corbijn directs one, and you help direct the other

Arcade Fire have finally lifted the veil on their new single "Reflektor" which -- if you're any fan of their more dance-happy, disco-laden songs like "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" and "Half Light II (No Celebration)" from their last album "The Suburbs" -- will make you pretty happy.

It's more than seven minutes of what most definitely sounds like one of their collaborations with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, who co-produced the new album. This title track additionally gets the enhancement of two new music videos, one standard directed by Anton Corbijn and one interactive through some geniuses at Google Chrome with director Vincent Morisset.

For the Chrome version of the video, some of the technology may interfere with your actual ability to view (browser, mobile tech and video cards), but you will get a good idea of what you're in store for by watching this featurette and exploring some of the images. In this version of the video, the user follows the protagonist/dancer Axelle "Ebony" Munezero through the streets in Haiti. Arcade Fire have spent recent years supporting non-profits and causes from the troubled country, where co-founder Régine Chassagne was born.

Visit justareflektor.com to see the interactive video in Chrome.

Corbijn's black-and-white version of the "Reflektor" experience has its own quirks, too, as the band dons oversized papier mache heads like puppet versions of themselves, hunting down the Disco Ball Man and putting the doll versions of themselves in a shiny coffin. As you do. It's actually a really lighthearted look, at times, at the Montreal-based band, who have made a mystery of themselves in promoting "Reflektor" up until this point. Win Butler and Chassgne put on a good show for this epic-length tune, which plays with the ideas of disillusion, self-reflection and reality, much like "The Suburbs" did.

Interestingling, those cartoony heads were a highlight from the "dance-activated" vid for "Sprawl II," which Morisset directed. There's a continuing theme here, if it's just that the band likes a challenge when playing their instruments.

"Reflektor" as a song just goes and goes, with multiple climaxes, points of entry, and would kill as a instrumental-only. Based on the dance moves in the Corbijn clip, they're having a good time playing it, too.

"Reflektor," the album, is out on Oct. 29. Happy Halloween, we know what you're dressing as.

<p>Eminem and Rick Rubin in &quot;Berzerk&quot;</p>

Eminem and Rick Rubin in "Berzerk"

Eminem's 'Berzerk' video gets Rick Rubin, Kendrick Lamar cameos: Watch

Old school song, old school music video

Fish eye lens, backtracking, fake VHS stripes, hyper-contrast, oh my! Eminem's music video is kicking it old-school, and the rapper's brought a few friends along in the time machine.

Rick Rubin, Yelawolf, Kendrick Lamar, Em's Bad Meets Evil cohort Royce Da 5'9″ and Kid Rock all make cameos for the new-old clip, which Eminem previewed last night during one of the most awkward live television appearances ever.

If you weren't embracing the boombox retro style of the single before, Eminem is practically begging you too, now. All it's missing is Mike D and Ad-Rock hugging it out with Billy Squier. With this big love-in of contemporaries and protégés, I say "stroke it" indeed.

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Of course Miley Cyrus got naked for her new music video 'Wrecking Ball'

Of course Miley Cyrus got naked for her new music video 'Wrecking Ball'

Emotional single bares her soul or something

Let me start by saying I actually very much like "Wrecking Ball" as a Miley Cyrus single. It's got that "I Knew You Were Trouble" vibe while also allowing a pristine vocal comp to make the former Disney star sound like an honest-to-God grownup. It hints the tabloid trubs from her engagement to Liam Hemsworth, exposing 100 million times more emotions than her dark comedy/summer hit "We Can't Stop."

There are some problems with this video. Allow me to explain.

1. In the Crying While Singing genre, you do not start with the crying. This quickly reminded me of Duncan Sheik's 1990s chart-topping single "Barely Breathing," what with the kissing away of saline tears. These may very well be genuine eye leakage, but it's faking your way to emotional orgasm as a video piece.

See Bieber, Justin: "As Long As You Love Me"
See Monae, Janelle: "Cold War"

2. Sexual intimacy with filthy, dirty, destructive objects... I see what you did there. Metaphors! But it's around the first time Cyrus' naked nethers make contact with a literal wrecking ball that remind me of girls who ride the New York subway in skirts and no undies in summer: basic human sexuality takes a turn for the yeccch. While the sight of anybody naked would unfurl many's flags, this just makes me squirm like a bare back on a mound of rubble. Oh wait.

Miley Cyrus licks a sledgehammer for Wrecking Ball

Peter Gabriel, have you anything to say for the example you've set? This is stupid.

3. This video was likely shot before Cyrus' scattershot MTV VMAs performance, which only continued the crescendo cries of "Hannah Montana All Growed Up." Personally, I didn't have a problem with the racy nature of that televised performance, but I did with her use of black women as her personal line of cred(it).

Here, she is subsisting purely on the carnal, erasing whatever good feelings I had for the song by displacing genuine emotional value with a ball-and-chain stripper pole, an image so desperately mixed, she probably had to go method to justify the inanity.

Dotting the soft porn with emotional lip-syncing does not make up for this, nor does it surprise me, the most shocking element being the volume at which I said "DUH" in learning that Terry Richardson directed this pile.

4. Cyrus' handlers are well aware of Billboard's recent rule additions to the Hot 100 now include YouTube views. Yes, Psy and Baauer benefited from this. So did Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," as did Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors," both of which feature naked women.

Don't pretend there aren't at a zillion people on the planet who are Googling the query "Miley Cyrus naked," and guess what will pop up as the top entry? (I mean aside from this blog post. You knew what this was.) See you at the top of the charts?

"Wrecking Ball" is off of Miley Cyrus' "Bangerz," due on Oct. 4.

<p>Nine Inch Nails' &quot;Hesitation Marks&quot;</p>

Nine Inch Nails' "Hesitation Marks"

Credit: Columbia

Album Review: Nine Inch Nails, 'Hesitation Marks'

Trent Reznor rounds up some killer singles and disappointing gray matter

Nine Inch Nails have had plenty of time and space to regroup. New "Hesitation Marks" is the industrial rockers' first in five years, and first since taking time off from touring in as many moons. It's a fresh lineup and, in the time in-between, Trent Reznor has won and Oscar, launched How To Destroy Angels with his wife and longtime collaborator Atticus Ross and, apparently, made amends with a major labels in time to launch a proper campaign to push a significant and solid radio single.

The result from that pause is a mellower Reznor with big standalone songs, rare rays of sunshine and a run of quixotically forgettable tracks toward “Hesitation Marks’” end.
“Hesitation Marks,” NIN’s eighth full-length, eagerly rushes in with the Reznor we’ve known and loved, minus all the yelling. Perfectly dystopic “Copy of A” and single “Came Back Haunted” are quite the pair, kicking off this 14-track set after murmuring intro “The Eater of Dreams.” Reznor intimately croons on piano-dripping “Find My Way” and red-lit “All Time Low,” his chilling voice allowing in a few “baby” fillers along the way.
But talk about “Disappointed,” which is the title to a meandering glitch-dirge segueing into a sequence of songs that will try the patience of the average Nine Inch Nails fan. The glittering pop-punk sounds of “Everything” completely disorients the dark-dweller with all that light; “Satellite” has all the soul of a car commercial, with follow-up “Various Methods of Escape” providing no obvious means of escaping this HTDA outtake until three-quarters in.
“Running” and closer “While I’m Still Here”/”Black Noise” at least provide some inspired beats, invoking the good ol’ days of trip-hop without gagging on sickly sweet melodies, as on the aforementioned. It’s not that Reznor can’t carry these oddballs; his voice is as strong as ever but is, again, without as much untethered aggression to match all the white noise and his typically fatalistic lyrics. The set could use a good trim or some stronger tent-poles in its latter half. There’s a little too much control.


Ranking the Songs of Summer 2013: Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Daft Punk

Ranking the Songs of Summer 2013: Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Daft Punk

Take our poll: Who had the No. 1 jam?

Call this season the Summer of Soul: the summer of 2013 produced some clear-cut, all-out jams that will be remembered years from now, and several of them have a soulful bent to them.

It's very telling that Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" featuring T.I. And Pharrell Williams lived and thrived under the threat of a lawsuit from the Marvin Gaye estate: the throwback vibe of that cowbell and the singer's grooving falsetto rang some, erm, bells. (Thicke, if you'll remember, preemptively sued the Gaye estate to bar the action. So maybe "Blurred Lines" keeps its Grammy chances...)

Daft Punk's return with album "Random Access Memories" was marked by its retro action, and mega-single "Get Lucky" with Pharrell (and chops from Chic's Nile Rodgers) was the essence of the soul behind their robot masks. Avicii's "Wake Me Up" would be nothing without Aloe Blacc's stellar pipes on top of that stomp-clap. Mary Lambert's chorus on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love" still sends sparkles up the spine, despite the song having been around for more than a year.

Justin Timberlake... oh, Justin, who is having such a big year with his "20/20 Experience." No songs from that album made our solstice review, but his meandering turn on Jay-Z's "Holy Grail" has a "preach" to it. And just blinking at Bruno Mars' "Treasure," it looks like it was culled straight out of "Soul Train."

Breaking up the old-school boogie were a few of bursts of dance-pop, coincidentally (or not!) from two former child actress. Selena Gomez's "Come & Get It" and Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" were both invitations to what promised to be a pair of slightly sleazy parties. Ellie Goulding's melody on Calvin Harris' "I Need Your Love" provided a pristine combo from the EDM sector.

Like the MTV VMAs, rock wasn't repping very hard during the hottest months: tracks like Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" started roaring months beforehand. The closest our top 10 lists got to rockin' out were to country act Florida Georgia Line's ode to ogling "Cruise," Capital Cities' Passion Pit-esque "Safe and Sound" and that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" rip in "Holy Grail." (One Direction's "Best Song Ever" made a stab at the top tier, but aside from excitement from Directioners, limped toward the end of the end of its tenure in our memories.)

Below, HitFixers Melinda Newman, Dave Lewis, Chris Eggertsen and myself explain away our top 10 jams of 2013's Songs of the Summer, and ranked which ones were most representative. What made the songs work? Did we get burned out on them? Will we remember them in 10 years? Who is our No. 1 Song of the Summer?

<p>Santigold in &quot;NTSF:SD:SUV&quot;</p>

Santigold in "NTSF:SD:SUV"

Credit: Adult Swim/Cartoon Network

Watch: Exclusive clip from 'NTSF:SD:SUV::', plus interview with Santigold on new music

Adult Swim show gets an ‘accidental prostitute’: fans will get 'ambitious' new album in 2014

Santigold is dipping further into the acting world with a new role on Adult Swim’s comedy “NTSF:SD:SUV::,” in the episode that airs tonight. 

In “Great Train Stoppery,” Santigold, aka Santi White, plays Millie, one of the trio of Time Angels who fly back into history to protect the past: in this case, Dash (Eliza Dushku), Clock (Jayma Mays) and Millie are trying to nab the robber who removed the golden spike that completed the railroad in the Old West.
In the process, Millie becomes an “accidental prostitute.” Y’know, as you do.
In the clip above, you see Millie “after I’ve done my duties, and I’m in need of a whiskey,” she told HitFix in our interview today. “It was awesome, it was a fun part and I got a great dress and stuff.”
The songwriter and performer hopes to turn acting into a more regular gig. She previously appeared as herself on “The Office” and has been taking acting lessons. This opportunity “just snuck up on me. I’ve been really looking into it, it’s really nice to have a new thing to focus on and challenge myself,” she continued. “Having been on [tour] for two years straight, I was like being a kid again, or learning a new sport. I’m full of wonder.”
While Santigold reveals she has another acting gig lined up – “a project in the works” – she’s in no way abandoning music. She released “Master of My Own Make-Believe” in the spring of 2012, and is hard at work on another “ambitious” effort for 2014.
“It is the most ambitious thing that I’ve ever done, musically,” she said of the forthcoming project. “For me it’s taking things one step further than what I thought I was creating on stage this last time.” She said she’s working from a very specific thematic direction, though wouldn’t hint what it is that’s inspiring her.
With her growing interest in the TV/film world, she did mention she adores the works of directors like Wes Anderson, and enjoyed Oscar-nominated flicks like “Django Unchained” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild”  because of their devotion to specific, stage-like aesthetics. Coincidentally, the bar in which she shot her scene for “NTSF:SD:SUV::” was also used in “Django Unchained.”
“That part where [Django] gets to pick whatever he wants, and goes for the blue velvet suit? Oh my,” she gushed, laughing. Riffing on clothes, the stylish singer said, “I’m always inspired by fashion, it’s just another form of art, like painting or listening to music or or home décor or having the most beautiful view of the ocean. It all works in the same way for me.”
On the future of her elaborate stage shows, singles and the way she thinks of presenting her music, Santigold elaborated her feelings on how records are released nowadays. At times, there is less emphasis on albums as a whole and more emphasis on lead singles, or major music videos trumping the final branded work of art.
“I’ve been thinking about the idea of the album a lot. I think its unfortunate -- it’s become such a singles market. I grew up in an era of albums. Even before my time, when I was 15 and just getting into the internet, I still bought albums later. I have a problem with the fact that everyone who puts out an album, usually there’s 1 or 2 songs that you wanna hear more than once on there and that’s it. I grew up during a time when you not only make yourself listen to the whole abum, but the albums were good all the way through. It was a treat, like every song was a whole new collection of great material.
“I do buy albums still, really! I buy them, and maybe I’ll put one song from them on a playlist… I’m not going to start making albums that aren’t working as albums. I love how an album is somehow unified as a body of work. I do know that in order to do that, you have to be a little more creative, and take risks. I’m trying to come up with concepts that work with that.”

"NTSF:SD:SUV::" airs late-night on Thursdays at 12:15 a.m.

<p>Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in &quot;Ender's Game&quot;</p>

Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in "Ender's Game"

Credit: Summit

Set Visit: 'Ender's Game' with Asa Butterfield walks the line of high-tech fun and violence

Why Ender Wiggin doesn't get a girlfriend

Even for a film that stars mostly children, “Ender’s Game” has some different conceptions on what qualifies as “fun.” 

In a lofty, enormous warehouse space in New Orleans, there are plots of sets daisy-chained together in overwhelming greys and blacks and muted lights, literally littered with pieces from a “NASA junkyard.” Childrens’ school desks are outfitted with what could be described as 20th generation iPads, seats squatting close to the ground like a 2nd grade classroom. Lockers and bunks are uniformly monochrome, with few personal effects poking out from the grates. These are also small, the doorframes like those for a Hobbit. The proximity of small set to small set make each space as claustrophobic as the next. Also, these are all to live in outer space, mind you: in the future, in space, the floors have an otherworldy curvature.
It’s a coldly military setup for a soldier academy, where Ender Wiggin, his alleys and enemies will learn to battle the enemy – Formics, aka Buggers, who have engaged with Earth in galactic wars before, each side having won an era. The humans are gearing up for their next war, and are using actual children – starting when they’re 6 years old – as their army and commanders, to think outside of the box in battle so that this conflict will be their last. Winner-take all in a species-on-species contest, with pre-adolescents leading the way.
Fun, right?
“There’s a device… a bone saw, it’s an actual, a real prototype from a university, it’s just a really crazy thing that they use to perform surgery...”
“I’d take the flashgun. That just sounds super gnarly! That’d be way better than paintballing or something…”
“It’s like a flight simulator where it’s all the switches, it’s a joystick and a screen, and they said it’s the closest you can get to an actual fighter plane…"
“The wires… look super fun, but taking the whole ‘I have to do multiple things at the same time,’ having to be in zero gravity, and if I’m in pain I have to look like I’m not in pain…”
Aramis Knight, Nonso Anozie, Suraj Partha and, of course, our Ender (Asa Butterfield) are talking about the props and weaponry in Battle School. As part of their characters’ education, they’re thrust into a zero gravity chamber called the Battle Room with practice guns that can paralyze the members of their various teams. In these scenes in Orson Scott Card’s book, it’s also the breeding ground for serious beefs between students, the wick before a bang.
“It’s sort of like ‘Lord of the Flies’ in space, “ says “Ender’s Game” director Gavin Hood matter-of-factly.
For him and producers like Bob Orci, Linda McDonough and Lynn Hendee, this movie has arrive after 15 years of getting the option, the making-of a beloved sci-fi adaptation with very mature themes and every opportunity to screw it up. For those 15 years, studios have proposed making a very different film than the book: Ender has a love interest, Ender flies actual fighter planes, the ant-like Buggers are presented as “clearly evil” and humans are always good. There are scenes of violence and psychological abuse in “Ender's Game” that would rival some rated R films (thought this will be a PG-13).
“I was in the military, I was drafted when I was 17 years old, and it had a profound affect on me, and when I read Ender’s Game [there was the] feeling that you were very much a number in an organization with strong authority figures that you were not supposed to question, and yet feeling that you wanted to rebel against it,” Hood said.
Some of these authority figures will come from the gruff forms of Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff, Viola Davis as Major Anderson and Ben Kingsley as the mysterious war hero Mazer Rackham. Their physical challenges are few compared to the children’s cast – which also includes “True Grit” star Hailee Steinfeld as Petra – who in addition to going to NASA space camp, they learned judo, akido, sparring, wire work, took military training and learned cadences, were “punished” with pushups and sit-ups. But, hey, they also get to fly down a zip line.
“So often, there are many films and they’re fantastic and they’re fun and they’re wonderful, but it’s like ‘That was great, do you want to get pizza?’ As opposed to a story like ‘Ender’s Game,‘ where kids really talk about it, [questions like] ‘Is that right?,’ ‘Is he too violent?’ and these are important conversations for young people to engage in, in an exciting way,” Hood said. “And if you can deliver that kind of debate and conversation in an exciting, visually powerful way, then I think you’re getting a little more than just spectacle. If we can combine spectacle with a good old-fashioned argument afterwards, then that’s kind of fun.”
That word again.
That’s one you could use for Asa Butterfield’s breakout, in “Hugo,” in which he builds a fantastical, cinematic plot around Ben Kingsley’s Georges Méliès. The two will have another master-and-protégé relationship in “Ender’s Game,” though each disposition will be far from the meek, gentle characters from Scorsese’s 2011 3-D film.
Butterfield’s delicate features are situated in such a way on his crystalline skin that his age is hard to pin down. He’s like anime. Ender’s journey in the book begins around age 6; Butterfield’s going to be playing a solder roughly twice that age and then some, with his tenure taking place over an unspecified time. The Brit learned an American accent for the part, though at time he’ll be a “man” of few words.
“Ender is pretty up there in terms of ideal characters for any 14-, 15 year-old boy. Of course it would still be pretty cool to be James Bond, but this is definitely up there,” Butterfield said on set. He had just finished explaining the tight flash suits, and his training regimen. Perhaps a “Bond” role wouldn’t be so unimaginable. “I wanted to appeal to the massive cult that already follows ‘Ender's Game.”
The cult of “Ender” has developed, in part, because of the realistic scenes depicting empirialism, bullying and fear, being the smallest kid in a group of young boys who want to be grown men, physically and metaphorically. There are scenes of violence that Butterfield’s Ender endures that would easily break your average child.
In terms of adults getting kids to do their violence for them, McDonough saw some similarities to the “Hunger Games” franchise.

“It was exciting for us just in terms of seeing [‘Hunger Games’] marketed so successfully and widely when it deals with issues of violence and younger people because that, historically, has been one of the big challenges, [one of the] reasons why this film hasn't gotten made,” she said. “It's not a family film in the way that an animated DreamWorks movie is. And if we tried to do that, which some people would argue has better box office presence, I think we would betray, fundamentally, the themes of the movie.”
Butterfield’s physical elegance and intelligence will be further revealed in the Mind Games, the virtual reality game the children play in order to learn problem solving skills. Those motion-captured scenes promise some of the most brilliant, more colorful and adventurous visual imagery of the movie, but is also an expression of the more disturbing scenery. Ender plays his Mind Game in from of classmate Alai, and executes an assault in the game so graphic, his comrade is practically forced to ask, “Why did you do that??”
“In the movie, that’s a pretty visceral experience… given that this is PG-13. It’s that moment when that awkwardness from that little act tells you volumes in an unspoken way: [Ender] says ‘That’s what they want from us here. Choose violence, you win. I’m just like my brother Peter,’” Hood explained.
“You probably experience [violence] even more [from] watching the actor, the emotional anguish that he has over those moments of regret and pain and struggling with those two sides of his nature represented by Peter and [his sister] Valentine… violence with a compassion and always torn by which choice he's going to make,” McDonough said.
“In the book, when you read, it's one thing. But when you audition the kids and you hear those little tiny kid voices, it affects how you look at the whole film, the credibility,” Hendee said. “It’s kind of funny.”
"Ender's Game" is in theaters on Nov. 1.
<p>Eminem at the Reading Festival on Aug. 24, 2013</p>

Eminem at the Reading Festival on Aug. 24, 2013

Credit: AP Photo

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