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Just hanging out with Benji Hughes

LOS ANGELES -- A good half-hour before the end of his concert Thursday night at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, Benji Hughes was already looking ahead to his next gig.

The North Carolina-based singer and his band would be in Los Angeles for a few days, he told the crowd, so anyone interested in having him play again -- "birthday, house ...Read more

'Spotlight,' 'The Revenant' and 'The Big Short' all aim to hook best pic voters

The Oscar best picture race fragmented further Saturday night with Alejandro G. Inarritu's Directors Guild award win for "The Revenant," a development that was perhaps inevitable in a year in which guild voters splintered their support among three movies.

Inarritu's DGA win for the bold, brutal western followed the Producers Guild tabbing "The ...Read more

Super Bowl is a platform for anyone's message

It may have started with puppies, but now everyone wants in on the big game.

Key and Peele, Alicia Florrick, Jason Bourne, Stephen Colbert, Mother Jones, President Barack Obama, Conan O'Brien, Tina Fey, James Corden -- they all showed up, in one way or the other, during Super Bowl 50, and not to root for their favorite team.

With diminishing ...Read more

'A Ballerina's Tale' follows Misty Copeland's incredible rise in the ballet world

If you think #OscarsSoWhite, consider the world of elite ballet. And if you want to understand why the current conversation over the lack of diversity among this year's film academy nominees is just one thread of a much larger tapestry, watch Nelson George's documentary "A Ballerina's Tale: The Incredible Rise of Misty Copeland" on PBS on Monday...Read more

HBO's 'Vinyl': Martin Scorsese had never heard of Ray Romano

PASADENA, Calif. -- Not everybody loves Raymond. In fact, not everybody has even heard of Ray Romano, though his popular sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond," ran for nine years and turned Romano into a comic star.

One person that had never heard of him was Martin Scorsese. The film director was casting HBO's explosive saga about the sex, drugs, ...Read more

Pixar's 'Inside Out' wins animated feature prize. Is an Oscar next for the box office hit?

"Inside Out," Pixar's acclaimed film about a young girl dealing with her unruly emotions, continues its triumphant march through awards season by winning the Annie Award for animated feature.

The award, given out Saturday night at UCLA's Royce Hall, was the latest honor for the box-office hit, which was one of the best reviewed films of 2015.

...Read more

Review: 'Animals' on HBO turns our furry friends into the obnoxious bro next-door

For years, I've wished animals could speak, but it took only four half-hour episodes of HBO's new animated series "Animals" for me to pray they'd shut up.

Seriously, who knew that urban rats, pigeons, dogs, cats, swans and geese were so weirdly insecure and blindly narcissistic? Awkward at parties, concerned about their virility, traumatized by...Read more

Cigarettes on screen leave us breathless

Like so many of our contemporaries, my brother and I grew up in a sea of harvest gold and avocado green, and the most interesting furniture in our Racine, Wis., house was a hi-fi that took an entire old-growth forest to manufacture. Above that sea of green and gold, with Burt Bacharach and the original cast album of "The Music Man" wafting out ...Read more

Time is tricky in '45 Years'

TORONTO -- For a couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary, time would seem to be on their side. But secrets may not be.

"45 Years" stars newly minted Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling and veteran actor Tom Courtenay as Kate and Geoff. They seem like an ideally matched English couple until a letter from Switzerland arrives with ...Read more

Review: Spike Lee's 'Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown to Off the Wall' really shakes it down

The title of Spike Lee's "Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown to Off the Wall," an exhilarating new documentary on Showtime, could not be any plainer or more accurate. It's the story of how a child prodigy and pre-teen idol became a world-conquering solo artist, from the Jackson 5, to the Jacksons, to the man who was Michael.

Every artist is ...Read more

Movie review: In 'Rams,' hardheaded Icelandic brothers clash with each other but love their animals

"Rams" is named not only in honor of the sheep that are central to its story but also because of two men, as hardheaded and rambunctious as they come, who are devoted to the sheep but can't stand each other.

Written and directed by Grimur Hakonarson and winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes, "Rams" is the latest in a series of ...Read more

Jason Sudeikis is an everyman for the early 21st century

When Jason Sudeikis was making the Farrelly brothers' 2011 comedy "Hall Pass," writer-director Peter Farrelly told the comic actor he reminded him of Jack Lemmon, the everyman Oscar winner who was equally adept at comedy and drama.

"I'm flattered by the comparison, especially given the breath of what I have done to this point," Sudeikis, 40, ...Read more

Academy Awards: #OscarsSoWhite joins a long line of Oscar controversies

The #OscarsSoWhite uproar over the lack of diversity in the Academy Award nominations the last two years and the subsequent call by some for a boycott of the ceremony played a role in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changing the rules regarding the organization's membership.

But boycotts are nothing new in academy history. The ...Read more

Movie review: 'Boy and the World' draws viewers in to animated story of a boy's world

Like silence, white space is a seriously undervalued tactic in animation. Think about it: Few things capture your eye more immediately than tiny bits of color or movement, swathed in a sea of bright nothingness.

The beguiling Brazilian feature "Boy and the World" proves this from its very first hand-drawn moments. Writer-director Ale Abreu's ...Read more

Movie review: A portrait of 1960s' 'Troublemakers' who changed the art world landscape in a big, big way

An involving and exciting inside look at some of the most middle-of-nowhere outdoors art ever made, "Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art" is a brief 72-minute documentary that covers a lot of territory, both literally and figuratively.

Though visitors to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be familiar with Michael Heizer's outdoor "...Read more

Movie review: 'Arabian Nights: Vol. 1 — The Restless One' is ambitious portrait of Europe in crisis

The subtitle tells the truth; here is a wonderfully restless movie. To the critic-turned-filmmaker Miguel Gomes, Portugal has become a socially unjust excuse for a "bread and water" existence. His feelings about the state of his nation inform every seemingly clashing element of his three-part, six-hour whirligig titled "Arabian Nights."

Gomes ...Read more

Samantha Bee finally gets shot at her own show

LOS ANGELES -- For the past 15 years, "The Daily Show" has surpassed "Saturday Night Live" as TV's sturdiest springboard to stardom. But while Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver were encouraged to take the plunge, the series' longest-serving correspondent remained in the kiddie pool.

Samantha Bee finally gets her turn on the high ...Read more

Q&A: Samantha Bee goes 'Full Frontal' after long 'Daily Show' run

NEW YORK -- Samantha Bee will bring a much-needed female perspective to the male-dominated world of late-night comedy when her weekly show, "Full Frontal," debuts Monday on TBS. She'll also bring the fearlessness that defined her 12 years as a correspondent on "The Daily Show," where she filed reliably hilarious reports on sometimes grim ...Read more

Beyonce announces 'Formation' world tour moments after Super Bowl halftime show

No one holds on to a secret like Beyonce does.

After a weekend that included her eagerly awaited return to the Super Bowl stage and the surprise release of a new single called "Formation," the pop diva announced Sunday she will hit the road this spring in a commercial that dropped right after her appearance alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars.

...Read more

'Kung Fu Panda 3' wins weekend box-office battle

LOS ANGELES -- Neither the Coen brothers nor zombies in Jane Austen's England could claw their way to the top of the box office as 20th Century Fox's "Kung Fu Panda 3" kept its hold on moviegoers.

The latest "Kung Fu Panda" installment grossed an estimated $21 million in the U.S. and Canada over the past weekend. After opening Jan. 29 with a ...Read more