'Not Afraid' Real Eminem is his new single

“American Idol” wrapped up its eighth season Wednesday night with its lowest-rated finale ever.

Last night’s two-hour results show averaged a 10.0 rating among adults 18-49 from 8-10:07 p.m., according to time-zone-adjusted Fast National numbers from Nielsen Media Research. The show drew 28.8 million viewers, beating only the audience from season one.

“Idol’s” finale, in which Kris Allen upset favorite Adam Lambert to take the crown, posted a 13% decrease from its live-plus-same-day performance in the demo last year, along with a 9% drop in total viewers.

This year’s results portion of the finale climbed 16% over its Tuesday night performance show, a similar difference to last year’s night-to-night climb leading to the finale (+14%).

The year-to-year drops are not a surprise, given the overall declines in primetime ratings and the show’s age. “American Idol,” however, has outperformed TV’s No. 2 show, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” by a 72% margin, its widest difference ever.

“Idol” also helped Fox claim its fifth consecutive season as the No. 1 network among adults 18-49.

Shrek Forever After, the fourth and final Shrek movie, finds our ogre hero living in 3-D but frustrated with his mundane existence as husband, father of three and living legend. Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) longs to be a real ogre again. He wants to see villagers fleeing before him in genuine terror, instead of treating his home like a tourist attraction. In one of the movie's better gags, a plump little boy keeps insisting, in a helium-inflected growl, that Shrek "do the roar." Shrek wants not to "do" the roar, but to really feel the roar. He wants his old life back, if only for a day.

This being a fairy tale, albeit a modern one, there is a way to make that happen — involving a magical contract proffered by that master of fairyland deceit, Rumpelstiltskin. And this being aShrek film, the resulting adventure is once again lively and clever, although its creative underpinnings — a sort of flea-market pastiche of antique fairy tales, vintage vaudeville and contemporary pop culture — seem rather more shabby than chic. When the first Shrek came out, in 2001, DreamWorks' use of that same triptych of source materials, liberally sprinkled with jabs at Disney, seemed in and of itself original. Nine years later, it's hard not to notice how everything in the movie comes from somewhere else — nicely rearranged, but far from fresh.

That said, sitting down to a fourth Shrek feels no more objectionable than sitting down to the second, or the third — neither of which I recalled in any detail as I sat down to watch this one, despite having seen them in the theater and then multiple times in the living room. This movie doesn't attempt, as the other three did, to advance Shrek's life story, such as it is. It appears to be driven more by capitalism than any storytelling urge, and steers away from a linear narrative in order to circle back to the first movie for a sort of It's a Wonderful Life diversion in which Shrek sees what things in the kingdom of Far Far Away would be like without him.

We learn in prologue that, in the days before Shrek rescued his beloved Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a dragon-guarded tower, Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohm) was this close to convincing her parents to sign away their kingdom to free her. Shrek foiled the plot by saving her. Years later, though, Rumpelstiltskin still wants that kingdom — and at a crucial moment in Shrek's midlife crisis, he shows up with a sympathetic shoulder, too many eyeball martinis and a contract that offers Shrek a day to be an ogre again — in exchange for a day from Shrek's past. Shrek is too far into his cups to realize that it could be the day he was born.

He is soon trapped in an alternate reality — in this week of theLost finale, let's call it a sideways world — in which Fiona has sprung herself from the dragon's keep and blossomed into the ferocious leader of an ogre rebellion — Joan of Arc meets Lara Croft. Donkey (Eddie Murphy, still funny) is a slave to a crew of ogre-hunting wicked witches. And Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is so fat, he can't fit into his boots anymore. And everything hinges — again — on true love's kiss. Whatever: my motivation for seeing Shrek Forever After rested squarely on the shoulders of that fat cat. He was the cream I was looking for, and Banderas delivers, as usual.

But something did interfere with the simple pleasures of a corpulent cat. The Shrek sequels have always served as handy time capsules of the pop culture zeitgeist. Just as Shrek the Thirdhad Justin Timberlake guest-star after he brought sexy back,Shrek Forever After features two recent breakthrough stars, Mad Men's Jon Hamm and Glee's Jane Lynch, playing respectively right-hand man to warrior Fiona and a prominent wicked witch. This kind of timeliness amuses adults but rarely does anything for kids.

Sending Shrek into George Bailey territory does even less for them. "I have some confusions," my child kept saying after attending a screening with me. Me too. I kept thinking, so, in sideways world, Donkey's a slave, Sawyer's a cop, Ben's a school teacher and Kate claims she's innocent — hey, wait a minute, this isn't Lost!

The timing is not the fault of Shrek Forever After; DreamWorks couldn't have known when the year's most talked-about TV show would go into its final season. But that only serves to highlight one of the difficulties with the franchise — at the end of the fourth go-round, this Shrek seems so intent on being in touch with the times that it feels out of touch with itself. Can an ogre jump a shark? I think so.

Forest Whitaker and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis announce the nominations for the 2009 Academy Awards held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Wednesday (January 22) in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttonpicked up the most honors, racking up 13 noms including best pic. Slumdog Millionaire followed with 10 nods.

Brad Pitt earned a Best Actor nomination (Benjamin Button) andAngelina Jolie picked up a nod for Best Actress (Changeling). Heath Ledger was nominated for Supporting Actor on the one-year anniversary of his death for The Dark Knight.

The Oscar ceremony will be hosted by Hugh Jackman on February 22 at LA’s Kodak Theater.

Changeling is a 2008 American period thriller directed by Clint Eastwood and written by J. Michael Straczynski. The film begins in 1928 Los Angeles and tells the true story of a woman who recognizes that the boy returned after her son's disappearance is an impostor. After confronting the city authorities, she is vilified as an unfit mother and branded delusional. The events were related to the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, a kidnapping and murder case that was uncovered in 1928. Changeling explores themes such as disempowerment of women and corruption in political hierarchies. The film was made by Imagine Entertainment and Malpaso Productions for Universal Pictures. Ron Howard was to direct, but scheduling conflicts led to his replacement by Eastwood. Howard and Imagine partner Brian Grazer produced, alongside Malpaso's Robert Lorenz and Eastwood.

Straczynski was told of the case by a contact at Los Angeles City Hall. He spent a year researching it through archived city records before writing the script, most of which was taken from the historical record. The shooting script was not changed from Straczynski's first draft and was his first produced film screenplay. Principal photography began on October 15, 2007 and was completed in November 2007. Filming took place in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. Visual effects were used to supplement shots with skylines, backdrops and digital extras. Eastwood's noted economical directing style extended to Changeling's shoot; actors and members of the crew remarked upon the calmness of the set and the short working days.

Angelina Jolie was cast in the lead partly because Eastwood felt her face fit the period setting. Several actors had campaigned for the part. Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich, Jason Butler Harner, Amy Ryan, Michael Kelly, Colm Feore and Peter Gerety are also featured. Most of the characters were based on their real life counterparts, while some were composites. Changeling premiered at the 61st Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2008, where it was met with critical acclaim. It had its North American premiere on October 4, 2008 at the 46th New York Film Festival, and was released wide in North American theaters on October 31, 2008 after a limited release that began on October 24, 2008. It was released in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2008, and will open in Australia on February 5, 2009. Changeling's wide release was met with a more mixed response than at Cannes. The acting and story were largely praised, with criticism focusing on its conventional presentation and lack of nuance.


Alexandra Cahill of Billboard.com gave the song a reasonably satisfactory review by stating that "vocalist Hayley Williams captures the tension and urgency between undead protagonist Edward and mortal love interest Bella with an impassioned, yet restrained performance". They also described the song as "expertly crafted follow-up Decode promises to stake a claim at modern rock and top 40 radio". [3]

Entertainment Weekly said of Decode being a step away from Paramore's "bouncier punk-pop sound for a more sprawling, Evanescence-like romanticism".

Back when Christina Aguilera released "Genie in a Bottle" and "What A Girl Wants", amidst the wave of teen pop that was so successful at the time, the more astute music critics among us talked about what a great talent she could become. When she began wailing like Mariah Carey (check My Kind of Christmas for the very definition of over-singing), we began to write about how she was misusing the great talent she had. When she threw herself whole-heartedly into the knicker-flashing, Redman-featuring, downright filthy Xtina personality, the easily shocked quarters of the tabloid press began talking about 'a great talent wasted'.

Are you noticing a theme yet?

In her own way, Christina Aguilera has maneuvered to a point where she is an artist in the same tradition as pop music's greatest auteurs - David Bowie, Madonna, and Kate Bush all act as precedents for the way she allows her charisma and ability to guide her through a series of different personalities and genres, all while remaining essentially Christina. By this point, she's done swing, she's done stark, skyscraping ballads, she's done hip-hop, she's done teen pop, she's done hard rock, she's been sexually aggressive, she's been empowering, she's been defiant, she's been tender, and she's almost always managed to maintain quality control. And she only really has three major albums under her belt. It's time we started recognizing and respecting that, and started realizing that, for all the times she's been compared to the likes of Britney Spears and Mariah Carey, there is simply nobody in music right now that you could seriously place alongside her.

Which makes it quite handy that her first greatest hits album has arrived right now. Obviously, this album has arrived at this point largely because Aguilera's career is currently on sabbatical, to allow her to enjoy motherhood and spend quality time with her new-born son; one suspects that somebody like Aguilera, who is so ambitious and obviously wants to be a long-term concern, ideally wouldn't have wanted this to come out now. Still, in defence of Keeps Getting Better, one thing it isn't is rushed - there are two new tracks, and her two biggest hits have been re-made for this album. Not re-recorded, re-made; "You Are What You Are (Beautiful)" is practically unrecognizable from the original, its robotic vocal and pristine electronic production calling to mind The Knife. It would be baffling to attempt to choose one over the other, so radically different are the two versions. "Genie 2.0" is given a similar electronic makeover, placing it in a similar territory to The Eurythmic's "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)", but in this instance, the qualitative comparison is easy - this new version is awesome. Place these two songs next to the two new tracks - the retro-futurism of "Dynamite" and the Xenomania-esque "Keeps Gettin' Better" - and you realize that Keeps Getting Better: A Decade of Hits actually tells two very different stories at once - Christina the pop singer is dead, long live Electro Christina. She couldn't signpost her new direction any more clearly if she announced the title of the next album as 'HAI GUYS KRAFTWERK WERE PRETTY COOL LOL I KNOW RITE?'. At any rate, these four tracks are more than enough to build anticipation for what could be a very, very good album.

Which leaves the retrospective part of the album. Like most greatest hits records, it's essentially a lap of honour, which the amusing sub-plot that the title Keeps Getting Better is a perfect summary of how the album plays, chronologically. While the early pure pop stuff still sounds okay - even if the shine is taken off the original "Genie In A Bottle" by the remake - and there are a couple of mis-steps immediately following them (why in God's name is Ricky Martin anywhere near this compilation when she did a far better duet with Nelly?), the quality steadily increases from that point on, as it moves from the good ("Dirrty"), to the great ("Fighter"), to the excellent ("Ain't No Other Man", "Candyman"), to the breathtaking ("Hurt"). There are two notable absentee I can think of, in "Can't Hold Us Down" and the aforementioned Nelly duet, "Tilt Ya Head Back"; one assumes both are missing because of licensing difficulties involving the featured artists. "The Spirit Within" isn't included on the US version either, but seeing as it's her most boring single, it's not exactly a big loss. Otherwise it's as expected, and that means it's very good.

Another Christina Aguilera greatest hits album will no doubt arrive in the future that does a better job of summarizing her career and defining her as an artist. Surely, she has a lot more in her that we haven't seen yet, and it might take a two-disc monolith like Best of Bowie to capture for future generations just who she was. For now this is just about as good a stop-gap as you could imagine; more than that, it's the best thing to bear the Aguilera name so far.

Say what you will about Tom Cruise’s acting in other movies; in "Valkyrie," which opened yesterday, he is awful. Amid British and European actors, Cruise stands out like a sore thumb. He doesn’t even attempt a German accent, his mannerisms are all from his "Jerry Maguire" era, and his earnestness suggests at best some kind of fictional American soldier trying to infiltrate the Luftwaffe. You knew it would be bad, and it is.

I’m more concerned that “Valkyrie” could represent a new trend in filmmaking: Nazi apologia. We know already what Valkyrie is about: a group of German soldiers who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944 and failed. Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg—referred to in this film constantly as “Stauffenberg”—as if to make him sound less German or something.

On top of that, there is the matter of the uniforms and the set design. Suddenly, we have German officers in World War II who are not wearing arm bands. Their swastikas are now small tokens on chests of medals. They look more like airline pilots than Nazi soldiers. When they meet, it looks like they’re at a lovely retreat in the Adirondacks. Director Bryan Singer is so sparing with his Nazi flags, swastikas, etc that you’d think the Nazis hardly existed. What’s everyone so upset about anyway?

Because in “Valkyrie” Singer opens the door to a dangerous new thought: that the Holocaust and all the other atrocities could be of secondary important to the cause of German patriotism. Not once in “Valkyrie” do any of there “heroes” mention what’s happening around them, that any of them is appalled by or against what they know is happening or has happened: Hitler has systemically killed millions in the most barbaric ways possible to imagine.

It’s kind of galling to allow now, in 2008, that von Stauffenberg et al were either totally unaware of this, or that they felt their mission superceded it. In “Valkyrie,” at the expense of making a joke, they are almost like Franz Liebkin, author of Mel Brooks’s fictitious “Springtime for Hitler.” His famous line in “The Producers” is: “War? What war? We vas in the back. We didn’t see a thing!”

Seriously, if, as it’s suggested even by a writer like William Shirer (back in 1960, and a bit naively), that von Stauffenberg was put off by “anti-Jewish pogroms” that “first cast doubts in his mind about Hitler,” why did it take him roughly six years to do so something about it? The damage, as history bears it, was grievously done.

But Shirer also notes in “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”: “…when the war came, he threw himself into it with characteristic energy, making name for himself as a staff officer…in the campaigns in Poland and France.” What do we think he was doing then: organizing bake sales or helping to direct millions to the ovens?

This may not be so surprising coming from Singer, who counts among his films the onerous “Apt Pupil,” which fictionalizes the Holocaust and concentration camps. Maybe it’s because he’s relatively young in perspective to the Holocaust, but with these two movies Singer seems to be taking the subject matter in a strange direction post-"Schindler’s List," "Shoah," "The Last Days," and countless other works that brought the truth of the Holocaust into focus at last on film.

Singer has said in interviews: “I think it's very important for us and for history to know that not all Germans were Nazis and that some paid with their lives for opposing Hitler.” Frankly, this is a mistake. Is he really suggesting that the extermination of 6 million people was carried out without the complicity of these so-called non-Nazi Germans? Because that opens the door to a lot of other questions. I can only think of the Holocaust survivor in James Moll’s amazing documentary, “The Last Days,” who confronts her Hungarian neighbors 50 years later. “Didn’t you wonder what happened to us?” she asks.

“Valkyrie” is frustratingly stupid in this regard. Hitler is not frightening anymore. He reminded me of Leo G. Carroll in “The Man from UNCLE,’ a doddering fool with a British accent and a nice suit. He actually addresses his German radio audience in English. Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie make the rest of the Nazis just so out upon and sympathetic. The purpose of all this de-Nazification of course is to trick us into thinking ‘These are the good guys’ when there weren’t any good guys at all. The real story of “Valkyrie” is that is infighting among the enemy.

That much is completely forgotten in Singer’s film. It’s quite unlike another film out right now, Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader.” In this one, no one gets off the hook. Kate Winslet’s unsparing portrayal of a concentration camp guard never asks for sympathy. In “Valkyrie,” Singer works overtime trying to get us to feel something for the Nazis played by Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, all nice guys and friendly faces we know from other movies. But you know what? The characters they played were German army just as brutal as Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler. If they’d succeeded in killing Hitler, there was no guarantee anything would have changed. And that wasn’t their point anyway.

As far as “Valkyrie” itself goes, Singer soft pedals the Nazi aspects as much as possible. Then he turns it into a “Mission: Impossible” movie, complete with a version of “M” who shows von Stauffenberg’s gang different kinds of weapons and gadgets. As the group carries out its mission, Singer does build suspense. But frankly, when the assassination attempt fails, the movie simply conks out. There’s no place for it to go. Cruise, et al proceed thinking they’ve succeeded. But the audience knows they haven’t, we know what’s coming, and the insurgents seem kind of deluded and na├»ve.

Cruise can’t decide how often to wear von Stauffenberg’s eye patch, so sometimes he pretends to have a glass eye. Sometimes he uses the glass eye a calling card—a rather unexplored and loony subplot. His American accent gets very bad, to the point where he’s dropping g’s—as in “What are you gonna do?” He is completely miscast. Also, for some reason they’ve teased his hair. At his diminutive size, he more resembles Charlie Chaplin from “The Great Dictator.”

It’s a tribute to Nighy and some of the other actors that I could follow or care about their characters. But frankly, when the violins come out at the end of the film, and Singer flashes their written fates on the screen, I felt nothing for them and anger for him. The idea that you’re supposed to feel anything but revulsion for all these people is astonishing to me.

Recently I re-watched one of my most favorite movies ever, My Fair Lady. It is the first musical that I absolutely, truly loved. I fell in love with Audrey Hepburn's character. I wanted to BE Audrey Hepburn. Over the years I've watched the film again and again and I still love it. It's a classic.
Then I stumbled upon a months old story and I wondered why I hadn't read about it sooner. Why the heck is Keira Knightley acting in a remake of it?!?
I usually look at remakes with a wary eye. OK, I look at remakes with a disdainful eye, especially if the film is a classic. Look what they did to another Audrey Hepburn classic, Charade. They got Mark Wahlberg to play Cary Grant's role (what were they thinking?!) and Thandie Newton as Audrey. That was a box-office and critical disaster. Psycho redux didn't do all that well either. Honestly, no matter what film directors of today are thinking--homage, attempting to redo a classic for modern times--whatever! DON'T DO IT. They're classics for a reason. If you want to 'show' these old movies in a new way so kids can get into them...don't. I was 12 when I first watched My Fair Lady and Roman Holiday. My parents got me to watch them and in the end, I became a bigger classic film nut than my parents ever were. No one needs an update on these films--they're good as they are. Hell, My Fair Lady is better than good. It's a beautifully made film with a top-notch cast. It's funny, heart-warming and romantic--more than many movies of today contain, if you ask me.
And honestly, Keira Knightley? WHY? No one can match Audrey's Eliza Doolittle in class, beauty and charm. No one. No one can match Audrey, really. Honestly, I feel like no one can match any of the actors from the 1964 version in any remake of the film. God, I don't even want to image who Henry Higgins is going to be.
Knowing me, I will go watch the remake so I can make all sorts of comparisons and spiteful remarks after watching it. It'll be even worse if it's a modern take on the film. It just can't be remade!
UPDATE: Just read that apparently, Brad Pitt and George Clooney aren't friends anymore because both wanted to be Henry Higgins. AND Brad wanted Angelina as Eliza Doolittle. ICK. And possibly, Daniel Day-Lewis might be Higgins. As amazing an actor Lewis is, him as Henry Higgins? Oh Hollywood, you kill me. Literally.
Are there any remakes of classic films that have irritated you? Any classic films you'd like to see remade? Leave us a comment!