<p>There's no faking it... Nora Ephron, screenwriter of 'When Harry Met Sally,' will be deeply missed.</p>

There's no faking it... Nora Ephron, screenwriter of 'When Harry Met Sally,' will be deeply missed.

Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Video

'When Harry Met Sally' screenwriter Nora Ephron remembered

From 'Silkwood' to 'Julia and Julia,' we look at the impact of one of Hollywood's most loved writers

Nora Ephron followed an unusual career trajectory in Hollywood, and the single greatest compliment I can pay to her on the occasion of her passing is that you can clearly identify what makes something a Nora Ephron movie.  Her voice was strong and distinct, and from the start of her Hollywood career to the end of it, she did personal work that somehow also managed to fit comfortably into the ever-changing modern studio system.  That is no easy feat, no matter what the gender of the artist, and when you praise Ephron, it should be as a writer and not just a woman writer.

She came from Hollywood stock, of course, with parents who were part of the old Hollywood studio system, and I have no doubt she learned all you would ever need to know about navigating the political system growing up that way.  She was around for the production of films like "Desk Set" and "Carousel" and "There's No Business Like Show Business," and her parents worked on TV variety shows as well.  She couldn't have been any more ground zero for a career in film, but for a while, she worked more as an essayist.  She was part of the world of politics and journalism, married for a time to Carl Bernstein, and her first theatrical feature, "Silkwood," was a very smart and angry portrait of famed nuclear industry whistle-blower Karen Silkwood.  She was working with Mike Nichols, with Meryl Streep.  Talk about hitting the ground running.  Her journalist's background made her an inspired choice for "Silkwood," and it's a really good script.

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<p>There's a whoooooole lot of this in 'The Amazing Spider-Man,' but if you're looking for more than a pose, brace yourself for a letdown.</p>

There's a whoooooole lot of this in 'The Amazing Spider-Man,' but if you're looking for more than a pose, brace yourself for a letdown.

Credit: Sony/Columbia

Review: 'The Amazing Spider-Man' is neither amazing nor new

HitFix
C+
Readers
B
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone work well together, but it's just not enough

There is one moment of pure visual magic in "The Amazing Spider-Man," perfectly staged and realized, and when the Stan Lee cameo is the best thing in your movie, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

One of the biggest questions you're going to hear in the days and weeks ahead as people finally get a chance to see this series reboot is going to be "Why?"  Sony's answer to that question is "Because we had to."  From a business perspective, they had no choice but to make another movie, and since they couldn't afford to stay in the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire business, they made a decision to go back to the start and kick things off with a new creative team…

… only they didn't.  The producers are still the same producers, and sure enough, Alvin Sargent's got a shared screenplay credit on the film, making him the most consistent creative player in the series so far.  While there's one advantage to restarting the entire series, allowing them to layer in Gwen Stacy from the very start and then, somewhere down the road, play out her most infamous story line, what you gain by doing that, you lose in narrative momentum.  This film's got one major issue that nothing can overcome, and that is a profound feeling of "been there, done that."

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<p>You do not want to know what one of those ladies just did on the floor in 'Ted,' Seth MacFarlane's new comedy</p>

You do not want to know what one of those ladies just did on the floor in 'Ted,' Seth MacFarlane's new comedy

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Seth MacFarlane's 'Ted' has a foul mouth but a sweet heart

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
Seamless character animation and great performances sell a big idea

If you had told me at the start of this summer that I would prefer both the Seth MacFarlane film and the Katy Perry film to "Prometheus," I would have laughed in your face.

Seth MacFarlane has become enormously wealthy thanks to his animation empire, the foundation of which is "Family Guy," a show that tends to be very divisive.  I've written before about my problems with it, and I think by now, you know whether or not you're a fan of the show's shotgun-style sensibility and the near-constant pop culture randomness.  The thing that always surprises me about the show is how MacFarlane's able to get some of the material by Fox's standards and practices, because "Family Guy" is frequently dirty in a way that is startling.  Looking at "American Dad" or "The Cleveland Show," one could be forgiven for thinking that he's basically a one-trick pony.  A successful one-trick pony, certainly, but limited nonetheless.

Walking into "Ted," all I'd seen was the first red-band trailer, and it looked to me like exactly what I would expect from a Seth MacFarlane film.  However, what the trailers haven't really sold yet is the emotional core of the movie which works incredibly well, and while the movie has a dirty mouth, it's got a sweet heart, and it suggests to me that MacFarlane's signature interests are tempered by a new maturity to his work.

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<p>Even Captain Kirk looks stumped about the identity of the villain in the sequel to 2009's 'Star Trek' reboot</p>

Even Captain Kirk looks stumped about the identity of the villain in the sequel to 2009's 'Star Trek' reboot

Credit: Paramount/Bad Robot

Which four characters will NOT appear in the next 'Star Trek' movie?

Roberto Orci drops some bread crumbs during an appearance on a talk show

At this point, the "Star Trek" crew has got to be enjoying the way people are going berserk over any tidbit of information that leaks out of the production, because so far, almost nothing solid is known about the film.

We know for sure that Klingons are involved, but only because of the game that Paramount and JJ Abrams played during the MTV Movie Awards.

We know that Benedict Cumberbatch is in the film, but we don't know who he's playing, and no matter how many times people insist that he's the new Khan, until we actually hear that confirmed, I'm not buying it.

Tracing back the story that has popped up everywhere online this evening, it appears that it all began with Roberto Orci during an appearance on "Ask Mr. Kern" this weekend.  Little wonder it was a good interview, since Hercules The Strong, one of the co-hosts of the show and an associate and friend from Ain't It Cool going back many years, has had an ongoing journalistic relationship with Orci since at least the days of "Alias."

Orci ended up agreeing to name four characters from the original series of "Star Trek" that would not appear in the sequel that is due out next summer.  Obviously, it would be big news if he or Abrams or Lindelof or Kurtzman said outright, "Khan is not in this movie," but that would be making it easy, and I get the feeling right now that the "Star Trek" team is perfectly happy to let people think it's Khan, whether it is or isn't.  If it's not, then I salute them for the fake-out that they've been waging simply by being quiet.

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As 'Ted' arrives in theaters, we pick our 25 favorite R-rated comedies

As 'Ted' arrives in theaters, we pick our 25 favorite R-rated comedies

From Mel Brooks to Judd Apatow, there's something special about the R-rated comedy

The R-rated comedy.  Even now, in 2012, it is something we notice.  It is hard fought, and when it works, it is transcendent.  There is something liberating about the R when you're talking about a comedy, something even more dangerous than with a drama, because in comedy, we can cut right to the darkest, weakest, sickest, saddest places and parts of ourselves, and we can make ourselves ridiculous.

In doing so, we would argue there is something healing, something that brings people together.  There is a reason for the #1 pick we made here,  the top of the list, the film we collectively picked as the best R-rated comedy of all time, and there is a story to go with it.

Although the film was made in 1975, it retains an urgent, contemporary feel because of just how gleefully it shattered taboo.  We haven't really gotten any more collectively sane about race or race language in this country, but we like to think we have.  Those moments when we are forced to admit that we're still not really doing it right are the hardest ones for us, and in Los Angeles, that was most of the early 90s.  There were any number of incidents that took place here that underlined the way race was still a potent and combustible force in our culture.  Rodney King in particular was a name that was a hot button flash card in Los Angeles culture.  If you lived here, you had the Rodney King conversation.  Not just once, either, but constantly for weeks or months.  It was ongoing.  And when the riots happened, I lived here in LA.  It was a scary time.  Things never felt more strained.  The OJ trial, the ongoing Michael Jackson tragedy/freak show, the Rampart scandal… on and on and on, different things that posed different difficult situational questions about how we felt about ourselves and each other.  It felt like it was impossible to get away from it.

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<p>Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and John Travolta co-star in Oliver Stone's new film 'Savages'</p>

Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and John Travolta co-star in Oliver Stone's new film 'Savages'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Our exclusive look at Oliver Stone in action on the set of 'Savages'

What does his cast have to say about working with this behind-the-scenes wild man?

It's nice timing that a Blu-ray of "Born On The Fourth Of July" would show up at my house this morning, since Oliver Stone is on my mind right now.

There was a time when I would have named Oliver Stone on my very short list of the world's most exciting filmmakers every single year, but it's been a while since that was true, and that has seemed mainly to be a matter of him not connecting with the right piece of material, or him not making the most of the material he's had.  Even so, I've always been interested in what he's up to, and the films of his that I love, I love with an almost unreserved intensity.

One of the films we discussed when I recently sat down with Stone was "Scarface," which he wrote for director Brian De Palma.  The film is notorious for its excesses, of course, and Al Pacino's performance has become the stuff of legend.  It is a perfect example of a sort of manic coke aesthetic that was developing throughout the '80s.  By the time Stone started directing his own films instead of writing for other directors, he was running hot, cranking out these amazing overheated pieces of underworld pulp, exploring the ugly dirty parts of being a soldier, exposing the soft white underbelly of our financial world or war journalism.  He turned out a series of big movies about big ideas, movies that were expensive studio films but wildly political, defiantly opinionated.

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<p>Jill St. John was a great-looking addition to the Bond series, and the first American Bond girl, but her character was much better in the book and seems like a missed opportunity as written.</p>

Jill St. John was a great-looking addition to the Bond series, and the first American Bond girl, but her character was much better in the book and seems like a missed opportunity as written.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

James Bond Declassified: File #7 - 'Diamonds Are Forever' is Connery's last shot

HitFix
C+
Readers
n/a
Is Crispin Glover's dad one of Bond's freakiest enemies?

JAMES BOND 007 DECLASSIFIED
FILE #7: "Diamonds Are Forever"

This series will trace the cinema history of James Bond, while also examining Ian Fleming's original novels as source material and examining how faithful (or not) the films have been to his work.

Directed by Guy Hamilton
Screenplay by Richard Maibuam and Tom Makiewicz
Produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli

CHARACTERS / CAST

James Bond / Sean Connery
Tiffany Case / Jill St. John
Ernst Stavro Blofeld / Charles Gray
Plenty O'Toole / Lana Wood
Willard Whyte / Jimmy Dean
Saxby / Bruce Cabot
Mr. Kidd / Putter Smith
Mr. Wint / Bruce Glover
Felix Leiter / Norman Burton
Dr. Metz / Joseph Furst
"M" / Bernard Lee
"Q" / Desmond Llewelyn
Shady Tree / Leonard Barr
Moneypenny / Lois Maxwell
Mrs. Whistler / Margaret Lacey
Peter Franks / Joe Robinson
Sir Donald Munger / Laurence Naismith
Mr. Slumber / David Bauer

CREDITS SEQUENCE

Connery's return to the series starts with a great, casual gun barrel turn, and then launches directly into a brutal fight as Bond beats the holy hell out of a guy looking for information about the location of Blofeld.  That leads him to Cairo, where he beats the crap out of another guy in a casino, and that leads him to Maui, where he strangles a woman with her own bikini top to get more information about Blofeld out of her.  It's a series of quick cuts, and it creates a sense that Bond isn't playing around.  He's driven to find Blofeld so he can get his revenge.

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<p>Katy Perry and her feline mascot Kitty Purry prepare for a meet-and-greet with fans in the new music documentary, 'Katy Perry - Part Of Me 3D'</p>

Katy Perry and her feline mascot Kitty Purry prepare for a meet-and-greet with fans in the new music documentary, 'Katy Perry - Part Of Me 3D'

Credit: HitFix

Review: 'Katy Perry: Part Of Me 3D' packs emotional punch and paints intimate portrait

HitFix
B+
Readers
A-
Further proof that 3D concert footage can be absolutely amazing

I do not write often about music, and I think that's because my feelings about music are even more personal than my feelings about movies.  I love movies in general, and I am happy to discuss good films, bad films, what I love, what I hate, and all of it seems to me to be part of one great big larger conversation about film as art.  With music, I have very little patience for the things I don't like, and I can honestly say there's no way I could face a lifetime of writing about music I don't like and artists whose work means nothing to me.  I will sit through almost any movie and give it a chance, but ten seconds of a song I dislike is enough to get me to change a radio station or turn something off.

The music I love comes to me mainly from friends I trust because I listen to so little radio at this point.  I don't spend any real time listening to mainstream pop because it just doesn't speak to me. It's not for me. I don't begrudge anyone else the things they like, but I have no interest in 90% of it.  I am aware of pop stars because of their omnipresence in the media, but knowing who someone is doesn't mean I have any real idea about what it is they do.  For example, I am aware of Katy Perry because she has had such a high media profile and because she's an attractive woman.  I know she had a brief marriage to Russell Brand.  I know filmmakers seem to like to use her music, and her song "Firework" is used to truly moving effect in this year's "Rust and Bone."  But I can't honestly say I've ever spent any time tracking her work down or listening to it beyond casual exposure.

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<p>Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page both seem excited about their collaboration with Woody Allen on 'To Rome With Love'</p>

Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page both seem excited about their collaboration with Woody Allen on 'To Rome With Love'

Credit: HitFix

'To Rome With Love' stars Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page on working for Woody Allen

What happens when an interviewer's interpretation of a film doesn't match the actor's?

Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page together in one interview is a whole lot of smart and attractive to deal with at one time, and it almost didn't happen.

When there are multiple press days happening at the same time, studios frequently coordinate so that they can be in the same location and they can work out schedules, knowing that reporters are juggling several obligations at the same time.  Last week, I had a bit of juggling of my own to do, since I was covering Oliver Stone's new film "Savages," and then I was also set to talk to some of the cast from "To Rome With Love," but in a different location.

The Four Seasons, which is frequently the location of these press days, was positively swamped that afternoon, and in addition to "Savages" and several other press days, they were dealing with a wedding and some other events, and it was positively insane.  When I wrapped up the "Savages" interviews, I ran to get my car so I could drive the six minutes to the second hotel, the Beverly Wilshire, where the "To Rome With Love" team was entrenched.  I was cutting things close, but I figured I could make it.

Then it took the valets 45 minutes to get my car.

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<p>'Four score and seven years ago, I stuck an axe in your head. GET&nbsp;IT?!'</p>

'Four score and seven years ago, I stuck an axe in your head. GET IT?!'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' is the year's weirdest kick

HitFix
C
Readers
B-
It's hard to believe it exists, or that it could be done any better

Steven Spielberg… Daniel Day-Lewis… you gentlemen have your work cut out for you.  Fair warning.

Common sense may tell you otherwise, but the rumors are true.  There is indeed a movie called "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter."  It is a real thing that really exists.  I have seen it.  And even now, almost two days later, I find it hard to believe that really happened.  Timur Bekmambetov has made a fever dream that plays like the supercharged imagination of a 21st Century XBOX junkie raised on 20th Century pop culture, jacked up on Mountain Dew and ADD medications, asleep during a lecture about Abe Lincoln in history class, dreaming this crazy alternate history and getting some real biography mixed up with the most hilariously insane gore and action you'll see in any studio effort this summer.  It is deranged.  And I am here to testify that I laughed from beginning to end and had more fun than should be allowed in public.

It's the sort of film that I want to own because there are about five scenes I want to slow down and take apart just to figure out what Bekmambetov actually did.  He is a madman.  He has a remarkable sense of how to destroy time so he can capture some hyperexaggerated burst of violence.  He has a great knack for geography and composition that has never been better indulged than it is here, and all the technical acumen he's been picking up on his last few films, including "Wanted," pay off here with a liquid reality that he is in complete control of, start to finish, in a way that is truly impressive.

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