<p>Johnny Depp at the Paris premiere of &quot;The&nbsp;Rum&nbsp;Diary&quot;</p>

Johnny Depp at the Paris premiere of "The Rum Diary"

Credit: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

Johnny Depp causes a stir in the Wichita film community

A casual comment on the 'Rum Diary' press tour raises larger questions

The people of Wichita, Kansas have taken issue with Johnny Depp. Or, more accurately, certain members of the film community in the city have responded to a comment the actor made that seemed to disparage the intelligence level of the citizens of Wichita at large.

In a recent interview with The Guardian to promote the UK release of “The Rum Diary,” the actor appeared to theorize that the reason the adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel is not performing well in the states is that the American appetite for thought-provoking films is limited. "I believe that this film, regardless of what it makes in, you know, Wichita, Kansas, this week – which is probably about $13 – it doesn't make any difference,” he said. “I think it's an intelligent film…And a lot of times, outside the big cities in the States, they don't want that."

The implication is, of course, threefold. One, that there is some categorical and static standard that defines an “intelligent film”; two, that Depp’s “The Rum Diary” meets said standard; and three, that the citizens of the United States (outside of the larger urban areas) are simply not interested in cerebral nutritious cinematic fare.

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<p>A scene from Lars von Trier's &quot;Melancholia.&quot;</p>

A scene from Lars von Trier's "Melancholia."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

US theaters finally succumb to 'Melancholia'

Lars von Trier's latest a hit with American critics

Magnolia, the US distributor of Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” has employed something of a soft-shoe strategy in releasing the arthouse blockbuster – first there was that week-long, Oscar-qualifying L.A. release a few months ago, which enabled a video-on-demand release over a month ago. Today, it finally gets a theatrical release in a few key cities, with a wider limited release to follow next week.

It’s probably prudent to trickle the film out like this. Making a big splash of the release would inevitably prompt more of a media blitz on eternal troublemaker von Trier than the movie itself: the inflated Nazi-related controversy from Cannes has not only been discussed to death, but it has no bearing on the film itself, a thoughtful, subdued existential discussion that would likely disappoint provocation-seeking viewers. It’s been a fine line to walk, with a high risk of the film slipping through the cracks entirely – this despite boisterous box office in Europe and the UK, where it ranks as the highest grosser of von Trier’s career. And yet, surely enough, the film appears to be finding its feet, particularly where US critics are concerned.

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<p>Charlize Theron in &quot;The Devil's Adocate.&quot;</p>

Charlize Theron in "The Devil's Adocate."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Looking back on pre-'Monster' Charlize Theron

Does the actress get enough credit for 'The Devil's Advocate?'

In advance of her reportedly strong performance in “Young Adult” (which I haven’t seen yet, but Kris recently enthused over), I’ve been on something of a Charlize Theron kick lately. I’ve always liked the actress – she has about as much spiky, couldn’t-give-a-shit character as it’s possible for someone who appears to be made of fine bone china to have – and the last few years have been dispiriting ones for her fans.

Her cameo in “The Road” was a frustrating tease of her firepower, she was committed but oddly constrained in “The Burning Plain” (where Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Basinger vied for best-in-show honors), and was defeated by the most cursory of characters in the muddled “In the Valley of Elah.” She had more to offer in “Sleepwalking,” but no one was there to see it; meanwhile, let us not even speak of “Hancock,” a feeble third-wheel girlfriend role for which she could hardly have been more overqualified.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 69 -- Ratner, Murphy, Grazer, Crystal, Freeman, 'Hugo,' BUSY WEEK!

Oscar Talk: Ep. 69 -- Ratner, Murphy, Grazer, Crystal, Freeman, 'Hugo,' BUSY WEEK!

Also: 'The Flowers of War' qualifies and is 'The Artist' really a Best Picture threat?

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.

Are you ready for the most unorganized podcast of all time? This was perhaps the busiest Oscar week of the season. I forgot to ask for reader questions (sorry) and didn't even get around to an actual rundown before recorded due to a big news item dropping right before we recorded. But hey, we can fly by the seat of our pants. Let's see what's on the docket today...

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<p>Leonardo&nbsp;DiCaprio in &quot;J. Edgar&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio in "J. Edgar"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'J. Edgar'

The film hits theaters this weekend

Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" opened in a few select theaters on Wednesday, but today's it's expanding to a wider audience and it's about that time to get your thoughts. I've already rifled off my schizophrenic take from the film's AFI Fest world premiere (and I like it less the further I spin away from it). Meanwhile, we offered up a list of the best performances from Clint Eastwood films to mark the occasion earlier this week. Now, though, it's time to put the question out to the audience. If you get around to the film this weekend, do come back and give us your take.

<p>Gil Cates, longtime Oscar telecast producer, passed away less than two weeks ago.</p>

Gil Cates, longtime Oscar telecast producer, passed away less than two weeks ago.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Oscarweb Round-up: End of an Oscar era?

Also: Bill Nighy on 'Arthur Christmas' and Ricky Gervais's 2 for 1 offer

Well. What a week, huh? If there's a perspective the events of the last few days can be put into, I'm not completely sure what it is, but I think Steve Pond makes a valiant attempt in a lengthy take on the exit of Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy from this year's Oscarcast. He marks it as a signal -- along with a few other recent events -- of the end of an era. The list of Oscar emcees since Billy Crystal last hosted (which was itself a bit of a return after an uncharacteristically lengthy absence of three years) is interesting: Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, Hugh Jackman, tandems. They were all attempts to shake it up. And everything else has been boiling down to a craven desire to appeal to a broader, younger audience. Maybe it's time to re-center. [The Odds]

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<p>Jamie Bell at the 2011 AFI&nbsp;Fest and the North American premiere of &quot;The Adventures of Tintin&quot;</p>

Jamie Bell at the 2011 AFI Fest and the North American premiere of "The Adventures of Tintin"

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Steven Spielberg's 'The Adventures of Tintin' is handily one of the year's best films

The performance capture adventure puts a bow on the 25th annual AFI Fest

Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" closed out AFI Fest this evening, a real coup for the festival and for Paramount Pictures (who are still well over a month away from release stateside). And the film is a dazzling experience, full of Spielberg's trademark cinematic energy. It's his best film in nearly a decade (since "Minority Report," at least).

The film was reviewed in this space by Guy upon its UK release (being one of precious few Hollywood films that manage to hit the marketplace outside the US first), and I agree with his assessment. (I'm also happy he didn't fall in with some other UK critics who seemed to have their knives out for the film overseas; I expect it to land more comfortably on these shores.)

For me, this film put a smile on my face and kept it there. It's Spielberg invigorated, the performance-capture and animation process allowing him to do things with the camera that he had only dreamed of, conjuring angles and set-pieces that surely have existed only in his head for decades but now have the freedom to run wild on the screen.

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<p>A scene from Belgian foreign-language Oscar entry &quot;Bullhead.&quot;</p>

A scene from Belgian foreign-language Oscar entry "Bullhead."

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Belgian Oscar entry 'Bullhead' among AFI Fest award winners

Fellow foreign-language hopeful 'Attenberg' also takes a prize

The AFI Fest may chiefly get press for its starry gala premieres of Hollywood heavyweights like "J. Edgar" and "The Adventures of Tintin," but it's no less invested in showcasing far smaller works from the fringe and foreign sectors that could use the festival exposure -- and it's this aspect of the event that is reflected in their jury and audience awards, which shine a light on up-and-coming talents that could use the exposure.

Still, glancing down the list of winners announced earlier today, a few titles are familiar -- particularly to those who have been following the submissions process for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Indeed, the one multiple prizewinner at AFI is Belgium's candidate for the award, Michaël R. Roskam's "Bullhead." A reputedly tough-minded study of masculinity in the unlikely context of illegal cattle breeding (I haven't seen it, but Drew McWeeny wrote a glowing review recently), the film took the audience award in the New Auteurs section, seeing off formidable competition including widely-admired Cannes titles "Snowtown," "Michael" and "Oslo, August 31st." 

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<p>&quot;Everybody chill out. I&nbsp;got this.&quot;</p>

"Everybody chill out. I got this."

Credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

AMPAS president Tom Sherak has his say on Oscargate

The catch phrase at the Academy is (as Ford Prefect would say): “Don’t panic.”

It was a whirlwind week for Oscar. Between Brett Ratner’s hasty resignation as the Oscarcast producer followed immediately by Eddie Murphy bowing out of his hosting duties and Brian Grazer stepping in to join forces with Don Mischer to rescue the show, the Academy has barely had time to catch its breath, much less take proper notice of the @MuppetOscars campaign on Twitter. This afternoon’s announcement that Billy Crystal will host the 2012 Academy Awards effectively dashed any remaining “Rainbow Connection” Oscar remix dreams.

In the wake of Oscargate, Academy president Tom Sherak has stepped forward to assure Hollywood (and the Oscar viewing audience at large) that everything is thoroughly under control. “If this happened in January, I would be hiding under my desk,” he told Deadline in one of a number of interviews today. “Look what has happened. We are actually two and a half weeks ahead of where we were last year, in terms of naming a host.”

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Old friends
Old friends
Credit: AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Billy Crystal steps in for Eddie Murphy to host this year's Oscar telecast

The 84th annual ceremony will be his ninth stab at the emcee gig

Okay, so like I said, I imagine it went something like this: "Let's make this easy on everyone. Let's get Billy Crystal in here and let's forget this whole mess ever happened." Sorry, Muppets.

Billy Crystal has been tapped as the host of this year's Oscar telecast. I'm fine with it. What was the last one he did? 2003? And he's been itching to get back into that seat. So I'm happy for him. And I'm happy this whole thing was settled so quickly. I wish the show the best moving forward and I have no doubt it'll be a fun and classy event.

It all started with a Tweet (which could have easily been a joke, but that doesn't stop the desperate world of online journalists from single-sourcing and running with it). But that news was eventually confirmed by the Academy to numerous sources, including HitFix. So Billy's our guy.

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