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Smith, Robbie pour on the charm in sharp ‘Focus’

Warner Bros. photo by FRANK MASI -- Margot Robbie plays Jess and Will Smith is Nicky in the new heist film, 'Focus,' shot in New Orleans and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

If the mark of a good con artist is that he or she makes you think you know exactly what’s going on — when of course you haven’t a clue — that’s also the mark of a good con-artist movie, isn’t it? To make you feel like you totally get what’s about to happen — “Oh yeah,… Continue reading →

LPB encourages filmmakers to enter PBS Film Festival

Wanted: local short films. Louisiana Public Broadcasting is seeking the work of budding filmmakers for the 2015 PBS Online Film Festival. The national online festival encourages independent filmmakers to submit their unique, thought-provoking creations for possible entry to the festival. The only restrictions are that the films must be between… Continue reading →

’Birdman’ takes flight at an Oscars punctuated by politics

Associated Press photo by JOHN SHEARER -- Alexander Dinelaris, from left, Armando Bo, Alejandro G. Inarritu and Nicolas Giacobone accept the award for the best original screenplay for

LOS ANGELES — The long take of “Birdman” has stretched all the way to the Academy Awards, where the jazzy, surreal comedy about an actor fleeing his superhero past, took Hollywood’s top honor in a ceremony punctuated by passionate pleas for equality. On a stormy night in Hollywood, the 87th annual Academy Awards — which came… Continue reading →

‘McFarland, USA’ runs an inspirational race

Photo by RON PHILLIPS -- From left, David Diaz (Rafael Martinez), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts), Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Danny Diaz (Ramiro Rodriguez), Jose Cardenas (Johnny Ortiz) and Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran) are featured in a scene from 'McFarland USA.'

“McFarland, USA” tells a heartwarming story about underdogs who, to the surprise of everyone, including themselves, establish a sports dynasty. The all-Latino cross-country Cougar teammates at McFarland High School, residents of California’s farm-heavy Central Valley, aren’t the story’s only underdogs. Their coach, Jim White, a non-Latino newcomer to the McFarland community, is, in the… Continue reading →

‘Hot Tub’ recreates humor, chaos of original

Photo by STEVE DIETL -- From left, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson star in the New Orleans-filmed 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2.'

“Hot Tub Time Machine 1” turned up the comic crudeness and 1980s color palette to a glaring 10. In the 2010 farce, a trio of middle-aged losers time trip to the happiest weekend of their lives. Adam, Lou and Nick return to the Kodiak Valley ski resort during Winterfest 86. Their shocking second chance changes their… Continue reading →

Teen comedy ‘DUFF’ gives genre a social media spin

CBS Films photo by GUY D ALEMA -- Mae Whitman, left, and Bella Thorne star in 'The DUFF,' opening in theaters Friday.

All teen comedies owe some debt to John Hughes and Amy Heckerling. The milieu of suburban teenage life that they explored decades ago has defined the genre since. The social divisions, the boredom, the dances, the irrepressible awkwardness and the irrational dreaminess of high school students never before seemed so accessible, and so neatly packaged with… Continue reading →

‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ stars float back to Mardi Gras

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- From left, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke and Craig Robinson, the stars of 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2,' throw beads from The Chariot/Bacca-Vineyard float as it travels on St. Charles Avenue during the Krewe of Bacchus Parade in New Orleans Sunday.

If actor Rob Corddry is to be believed, the real purpose behind the making of “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” in New Orleans the during summer of 2013 was to get Corddry and his co-stars Craig Robinson and Clark Duke back on a Mardi Gras float. On Sunday during the Krewe of Bacchus parade,… Continue reading →

4 La. singers still in ‘Idol’ race

Rachael Hallack, a singer-songwriter from Baton Rouge, is competing on 'American Idol.'

The whittling away of “American Idol” Season 14 hopefuls moves to LA’s House of Blues Sunset tonight for the first of two “Showcase Week” episodes. Among the 48 young singers still hoping to make the top 24 of the Fox reality competition series are Baton Rouge singer-songwriter Rachael Hallack; Quentin Alexander and Anjelika Joseph, both… Continue reading →

WBXH, LPB2 feature Mardi Gras coverage

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Rex, King of Carnival, Christian T. Brown, addressed members of the press after his arrival by train at Spanish Plaza for Lundi Gras in New Orleans.

Think it’s too cold to go to Mardi Gras? Viewers can catch the Carnival action live from New Orleans until 3 p.m. today on WBXH, Channel 39 (cable Channel 16). Also, coverage of the annual meeting of the courts of Rex and Comus will air 9 p.m.-midnight tonight on LPB2 (cable Channel… Continue reading →

’Fifty Shades of Grey’ whips up stunning $81.7 million

In this image released by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, Dakota Johnson, left, and Jamie Dornan appear in a scene from the film,

LOS ANGELES — Audiences were more than curious to check out the big-screen adaptation of the racy phenomenon “Fifty Shades of Grey” this weekend. The erotic R-rated drama sizzled in its debut, earning an estimated $81.7 million from 3,646 theaters in its first three days, distributor Universal Pictures said on Sunday. In addition to destroying… Continue reading →

Film society will screen ‘Two Days, One Night’

Photo provided by Sony Pictures Classics -- Fabrizio Rongione and Marion Cotillard play a couple in financial peril in 'Two Days, One Night.'

The Louisiana Film Society and the Louisiana International Film Festival will present a free screening of “Two Days, One Night,” a French-language drama starring Oscar winning actress Marion Cotillard, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at Cinemark Perkins Rowe. Written and directed by Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, the film chronicles… Continue reading →

‘Fifty Shades’ of ‘trashy fairy tale’

Photo providedI by Universal Pictures and Focus Features -- Dakota Johnson, left, plays Anastasia Steele, and Jamie Dornan is Christian Grey in 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

Opening Friday, the film adaptation of E L James’ best-selling erotic love story, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” launches what likely is Hollywood’s next blockbuster film series. Like “The Twilight Saga” and its tale of a forbidden love shared by a human girl and vampire boy, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has its parallels with “Beauty and the… Continue reading →

‘Still Alice’ shows heartbreaking transformation of Alzheimer’s

Photo provided by Sony Pictures Classics -- Kristen Stewart, left, and Julianne Moore star in ‘Still Alice.’

As “Still Alice” begins, Alice Howland appears to have it all. She’s a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University in New York. She’s happily married to a fellow academic with whom she has three adult children. The film adaptation of “Still Alice,” based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 novel, opens during a 50th… Continue reading →

BR man gets a call on ‘Building Alaska’

Photo provided by Scripps Networks Interactive -- Baton Rouge builder Lafe Langford works on a fishing retreat in a remote area of Alaskan wilderness on an episode of DIY's 'Building Alaska.'

Baton Rouge resident Lafe Langford will demonstrate his construction skills in an episode called “Ninja Framer” on DIY’s “Building Alaska” Sunday night. The show, which recently opened its third season, follows three builders as they construct houses in the Alaska wilderness minus roads and building supply centers — totally off the grid. In the… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Jupiter Ascending’ a soupy cosmic fairy tale

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows, Mila Kunis , left, as Jupiter Jones, and Douglas Booth as Titus Abrasax, in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures'

Within the warped wardrobe of the Wachowskis latest sci-fi extravaganza, “Jupiter Ascending,” there are some fantastical feasts of intergalactic ridiculousness. Channing Tatum as a combination elf and speed skater. Space dinosaurs in leather jackets. A robed Eddie Redmayne as the universe’s overload, who so gravely whispers his lines that you fear he is, for the length of the… Continue reading →

Review: Deadly fantasy ‘Seventh Son’ wears out welcome

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Ben Barnes in a scene from

There’s a fine line between charm and cheese in fantasy epics, and movies as silly and overwrought as “Seventh Son” only help to illustrate just how hard it is to hit the right tone when balancing action, romance, (attempted) wit, and the creation of the world. For every “Princess Bride” or “Lord of the Rings,” there are… Continue reading →

‘Jupiter Ascending’ filmmakers unfazed by negativity

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by MURRAY CLOSE -- Channing Tatum portrays Caine Wise in 'Jupiter Ascending,' opening Friday.

It seems as though nothing can come between the Wachowskis. When the filmmaker siblings are asked what incites the biggest spats between the duo best known for writing and directing “The Matrix” trilogy, Andy and Lana Wachowski provide a non-verbal response: The brother and sister sweetly clasp each other’s hands and… Continue reading →

Lafayette native Mark St. Cyr to find out Super Bowl Sunday if his Doritos commercial contest entry is the big winner

Photo provided by MARK ST. CYR -- Lafayette native Mark St. Cyr is featured in the opening scene of the 'What Could Go Wrong?' Doritos commercial, one of 10 finalists in its 'Crash the Super Bowl' competition.

Mark St. Cyr will have to wait just like everyone else. It won’t be until today’s Super Bowl that the Lafayette native and actor learns if his “What Could Go Wrong?” entry in Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” commercial contest is a winner. Online voting among the 10 finalists ended Wednesday, and… Continue reading →

Review: Standoffs between Costner, Spencer are ‘Black or White's' strong suits

Photo by TRACEY BENNETT -- Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer star in 'Black or White.'

Star performances propel the made-in-New Orleans “Black or White.” A script that has an identity crisis, however, weighs the movie down, pulling it into messy dramedy. Kevin Costner stars as the well-meaning, well-to-do guardian of his biracial granddaughter, Eloise. Costner’s daughter, the girl’s teen mother, died in childbirth. Eloise’s absent father has… Continue reading →

Review: A tired gimmick weakens thriller ‘Project Almanac’

Paramount Pictures photo by GUY D'ALEMA -- From left, Sam Lerner as Quinn Goldberg, Jonny Weston as David Raskin, Allen Evangelista as Adam Le, and Virginia Gardner as Christina Raskin share a scene in 'Project Almanac,' opening Friday.

What have we done to deserve another found-footage movie? The tired hand-held technique that seemed so fresh in 1999 with “The Blair Witch Project” long ago wore out its welcome. The only thing noteworthy about its use in “Project Almanac,” which follows a group of high school misfits who invent a time travel apparatus,… Continue reading →

Suspense, action fuel ‘Most Violent Year’

Photo provided by A24 -- Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain play a New York couple struggling to keep their business afloat in 'A Most Violent Year.'

Two of the brightest screen thespians of our day lead the cast of the crime and corruption drama “A Most Violent Year.” Golden Globe winner Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Interstellar”) and Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) portray a threatened married couple. Chastain’s character, a Brooklyn-born gangster’s daughter, and… Continue reading →

Bayou Corne’s collapse among sinkholes examined by NOVA

Photo provided by WGBH -- The Bayou Corne sinkhole, seen here in October 2012, will be one of the suibjects of PBS' NOVA installment,, 'Sinkholes-Buried Alive.'

As Jeffrey Bush slept in his Florida home, a sinkhole opened beneath his bed one night in February 2013 and pulled him into the depths, never to be seen again. An entire community was abandoned in Pilatos, Spain, in the 1970s because of the continuing risk of sinkholes. And, in Bayou Corne, the slow deathContinue reading →

Baton Rouge couple will appear on ‘Steve Harvey’

NBC photo by -- GENIE LAVINE -- Steve Harvey, right, interviews Baton Rouge newlyweds Max and Bonnie Kate Zoghbi.

Baton Rouge newlyweds Bonnie Kate Pourciau Zoghbi and Max Zoghbi will tell their love story on “Steve Harvey” at 10 a.m. Tuesday on WAFB, Channel 9 (cable Channel 7). The couple will appear as part of a new, recurring segment on the show called “American Love Story.” The couple will explain how… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Whiplash’ is powerful and punishing

Sony Pictures Classics photo by Daniel McFadden -- Miles Teller, left, plays Andrew, and J.K. Simmons is Fletcher in the new drama 'Whiplash.'

J.K. Simmons won a Golden Globe for his performance in “Whiplash” as the music teacher from hell. The 59-year-old actor has appeared in more than 50 movies and many TV hits, but he’s best known as the matter-of-fact professor in comic Farmer’s Insurance commercials. In “Whiplash,” Simmons moves far beyond being to the point. And there’s nothing… Continue reading →

Review: Depp indulges inner clown in charmless ‘Mortdecai’

Lionsgate photo by DAVID APPLEBY -- Gywneth Paltrow, left, and Ewan McGregor star in 'Mortdecai,' opening Friday.

Any film credited with its own “mustache wrangler” really should have been much more fun than Johnny Depp’s latest misfiring action-comedy. Mostly set in contemporary England, but aiming for the zingy retro feel of a vintage Peter Sellers or Terry-Thomas feature from the Swinging Sixties, “Mortdecai” is an anachronistic mess that never succeeds in re-creating the breezy… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Boy Next Door’ way too predictable

This photo released by Universal Pictures shows, Ryan Guzman as Noah seducing Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson in a scene from the film,

No good adulterous affair goes unpunished in Hollywood movies. The latest proof is J.Lo starrer “The Boy Next Door,” a gender-reversing B-movie spin on “Fatal Attraction” that sets suburban family values against that one night of misguided, irresistible passion. An economically told popcorn pic built from horror-movie tropes, the film stars Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman as, respectively,… Continue reading →

EBR Main Library to host preview of ‘EARTH: A New Wild’

Photo provided by Ami Vitale -- Dr. M. Sanjayan, a leading conservation scientist, visits with baby pandas in 'EARTH: A New Wild.'

The new five-part PBS series, “EARTH: A New Wild,” will be previewed at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the library are hosts for the event. The series, premiering at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, on WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12), takes a… Continue reading →

Report: Tom Cruise in talks to play Baton Rouge's Adler 'Barry' Seal in new movie 'Mena'

Actor Tom Cruise poses with fans at the premiere of his new film

Tom Cruise may soon be playing drug informant Adler “Barry” Seal, who was gunned down outside a Baton Rouge halfway house in what prosecutors said was a hit ordered by the Medellin drug cartel, entertainment trade publication Variety reports. Screenwriter Gary Spinelli named the prospective film’s script “Mena,” after the Arkansas city where Seal… Continue reading →

An LSU student, retail manager, more: What to expect when you watch American Idol's New Orleans auditions Thursday night

Fox photo by MATTHIAS VRIENS-MCGRATH -- 'American Idol' judge Harry Connick Jr., third from left, is back in his hometown of New Orleans with host Ryan Seacrest and fellow judges Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban for Thursday's show.

Looking for talent for its 14th season, “American Idol” again headed to judge Harry Connick’s hometown, New Orleans, last summer. Continue reading →

‘Nightwatch’ takes over while New Orleans sleeps

A&E photo by RICHARD KNAPP -- EMTs Titus Tero, at back of gurney, and Dan Flynn, in front, are seen answering a call on A&Es new original series, 'Nightwatch.'

The debut episode of “Nightwatch” ends as it begins, with an unidentified woman’s chilling chant: “I have yet to see the rain fall on just one man’s house, and I will say a prayer for my city, because one day this rain will have to stop falling on New Orleans.” Her battle cry against the deadly… Continue reading →

USA Today box office report: Records fall during ‘American Sniper’s’ first weekend

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Kyle Gallner, left, and Bradley Cooper appear in a scene from

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper took off during the holiday weekend smashing January records as it reeled in $90 million in box office receipts in three days. The previous record had been James Cameron’s Avatar, which tallied $68 million during the same time period in 2010. Continue reading full story at USAToday.Com.Continue reading →

‘American Sniper’ a character-driven military drama

Photo by Keith Bernstein -- Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle in 'American Sniper.' The movie led the box office again last weekend, earning $30.7 million.

“American Sniper” joins the earlier “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker” as one of the most incisive military dramas of the post-9/11 era. Clint Eastwood, the 84-year-old Oscar-winning director of “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby,” helms the film, a tense, action-filled story of war abroad and trouble at home, with an unflinching hand.… Continue reading →

Kevin Hart rings wedding bells with ‘Wedding Ringer’

Screen Gems photo by MATT KENNEDY-- Kevin Hart, left, and Josh Gad star in 'The Wedding Ringer.'

Kevin Hart is a brand name. Employing his rapid-fire delivery and manic, irreverent presence, he’s in the driver’s seat again for his latest comedy romp, “The Wedding Ringer.” The standout star of such previous films as “Think Like a Man,” “Think Like a Man Too” and “About Last Night,” Hart largely sticks to what worked for… Continue reading →

‘Blackhat’ botches shot at great cyberdrama

Universal Pictures photo by Frank Connor -- Chris Hemsworth, left, and Chen Lien star in the cybercrime action movie ‘Blackhat.’

Following the recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures, months of attacks against major retailers and this week’s strike against the United States Central Command’s Twitter account, hacking and cybercrime are ripe for dramatization. But “Blackhat,” a shaky action flick directed by Michael Mann (“Heat,” “The Insider,” “Public Enemies”), botches its shot at being the of-the-moment… Continue reading →

Carell is unforgettable villain in ‘Foxcatcher’

Photo by SCOTT GARFIELD -- Steve Carell, left, is John du Pont and Channing Tatum plays Mark Schultz in 'Foxcatcher.'

“Foxcatcher” tells a strange, tragic, based-in-fact story about an eccentric multi-millionaire and the Olympic gold medal-winning brothers he tears apart. Steve Carell, who gained famed through comic TV and film work prior to his recent dramatic roles, solemnly assumes the part of John Eleuthère du Pont, a man of privilege and member of a powerful American… Continue reading →

‘Baggage On The Road’ to feature LSU students

Photo provided by Game Show Network -- Kourtney Outlaw, far left. must choose among potential dates, third from left, Anthony Ferguson, Kyle Ruhe and Francisco Garcia, on the dating show 'Baggage on the Road. Jerry Springer, second from left, is the host.

GSN’s new series “Baggage On The Road” hits the LSU campus in Wednesday’s episode at 8:30 p.m. (cable Channel 221 in Baton Rouge and Lafayette). Host Jerry Springer introduces viewers to the show and the campus, before the episode moves inside for the dating game featuring four LSU students. More campus and downtown Baton Rouge sites are… Continue reading →

Actor John Schneider to lead workshop in Holden

Photo by Talon Tarter -- John Schneider goews over a script while filming a movie at John Schneider Studios in Holden.

Actor, writer and director John Schneider will lead a weekend screenwriting workshop at John Schneider Studios in Holden. Schneider, star of OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” is most-known for his role as Bo Duke in the late ’70s/early ’80s TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard.” After shooting a few movies in Louisiana… Continue reading →

Film, TV actor Bruce Campbell among stars at this weekend’s Comic Con

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- A green alien from 'Star Trek' parades with the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, a science fiction themed Mardi Gras Krewe, at the Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con in New Orleans in 2014.

Bruce Campbell has 114 acting credits plus dozens of producer, director and writer credits. Despite his vast and varied film and TV work, Campbell’s starring role as Ashley J. “Ash” Williams in horror master Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” film trilogy dominates the many Comic Con appearances he makes throughout the country. “They’ve been relentless,” the actor… Continue reading →

Jewish Film Festival opens Wednesday

Photo provided by Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival -- 'The Sturgeon Queens'

The Baton Rouge Jewish Festival will present six films Wednesday through Sunday, Jan. 18, at the Manship Theatre. Offering feature-length films and documentaries, the ninth annual festival will highlight issues, traditions, challenges and characters. The festival will also feature special guests. 7 p.m. Wednesday Continue reading →

Review: Anderson masterfully brings ‘Inherent Vice’ to the screen

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures -- Joaquin Phoenix, left, and Josh Brolin star in 'Inherent Vice.'

The scene: Los Angeles, 1970. The characters: a hippie private eye; his imperiled ex-girlfriend; a Los Angeles police detective who longs for celebrity; a musician and snitch who’s supposed to be dead; a supposedly straight deputy D.A. who spends her evenings with the pot-smoking hippie private eye; and many more. In “Inherent Vice,”… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Selma’ a history lesson that throbs with the present

Photo by ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA -- From left, André Holland as Andrew Young, David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and New Orleans native Wendell Pierce as the Rev. Hosea Williams are featured in a scene from 'Selma.'

To say Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” feels relevant is a mammoth understatement. It’s altogether animated, propelled and enlivened by its contemporary urgency. “Selma” is a history lesson that throbs with today. DuVernay, a former publicist with two low-budget dramas to her name, dramatizes the events around the 1965 Civil Rights march through Alabama, from Selma to Montgomery,… Continue reading →

Runaway PBS hit to return Sunday

Photo provided by Louisiana Public Broadcasting --- Just as Simon Bricker, played by Richard E. Grant, and Lady Cora, played Elizabeth McGovern, dine in the formal dining room, so did Pat Alford and her sister, Judy LeBlanc.

If you’ve been missing the Crawley family, fret no more. “Downton Abbey,” the hit series from PBS, returns Sunday. And the word “hit” is an understatement. Debuting in January 2011, audiences for the early 20th century, England-set drama have continued to swell, with Season 4 drawing an average audience of 13.2 million viewers,… Continue reading →

Film society showing advance screening of 'Selma'

Photo by ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA -- Left to right, foreground: Colman Domingo plays Ralph Abernathy, David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., André Holland plays Andrew Young, and Stephan James plays John Lewis in 'Selma.'

The Louisiana Film Society will present the Louisiana premiere of the civil rights drama “Selma” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8, at Cinemak Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge. Presented in cooperation with Cinemark Theatres and Paramount Pictures, the screening is free of charge to moviegoers who register for admission at the film society’s Continue reading →

Series highlights Lafayette restaurant

Photo by Tim Arnold -- The cioppino stew at Jolie's Bistro is a garlicky tomato-based fish soup filled with large shrimp, mussels, fish and baby scallops.

Jolie’s Bistro in Lafayette will be featured on the National Geographic Channel series “Eric Greenspan is Hungry” at 6 p.m. Monday. Additional airings are at 1 p.m. Tuesday and 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 5. In the series, well-known Los Angeles chef and restaurateur Greenspan travels the country with his best friend and sidekick, Captain… Continue reading →