A big family dinner — there's no scenario quite as dramatic.
In the new film Nobody Walks, directed by Ry Russo-Young and written by the Emmy-nominated Lena Dunham, a nice family meal barely gets going before the elephant in the room comes trampling across the table. Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt) and her boyfriend Peter (John Krasinski) have invited Julie's ex-husband and rock band burnout Leroy (Dylan McDermott) over for dinner. The couple also plays host to another guest: Martine (Olivia Thirlby), a family friend and young filmmaker whose aimless pursuits and flirtatious nature grate on Julie. With a mix of personalities, it's not too long before tension bubbles over.
Check out this exclusive clip from the family drama, one of the many 2012 Sundance hits that have rolled out since their debut in January. Nobody Walks is currently on VOD/iTunes and opens in theaters October 12.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Nicholas Trikonis/Magnolia Pictures]
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S1E16: The theme this week on The X Factor was all about giving thanks in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. So each act had to decide who they wanted to dedicate their performance to as a way to show just how grateful they are to have those particular people in their life. This was nice because it gave viewers the opportunity to really connect with each contestant and see them for who they really are, which could end up being quite beneficial to them during this week’s elimination process. And since two acts will be going home this week, they could use all the extra help they can get. So who were the best performances of the night? Did Astro redeem himself after last week’s debacle? Find out below!
First up was Rachel Crow who decided to dedicate tonight’s song to her family, thanking them for adopting her and bringing so much love into her life. Her performance was exactly how we all expected it to be – fantastic. She sang the song I Believe by Yolanda Adams, which was a perfect way to demonstrate just how strong her vocals really are. But not only that, she’s really grown as a performer, who can definitely make the crowd (and television viewers) fall in love with her during every performance. L.A. loved it and Paula called her an angel on earth. So, as usual, she rocked it!
The second performer was Marcus Canty and he dedicated the night’s performance to his number one fan – his mother, who has always worked hard to make sure he got a better life than the one she had. So tonight he fittingly sang A Song For Mama by Boyz II Men, which turned out to be an extremely moving performance since she actually right there in the audience. His voice was a little pitchy at times, but it was nice to see him sing without all the backup dancers and other theatrics that usually comes with his performances. It was a really touching performance and, not surprising, all of the judges concurred.
Up next was Melanie Amaro who dedicated her performance to God for all that he’s done for her and for never letting her down. She sang R. Kelly’s The World’s Greatest and there’s only one word to describe it – beautiful. The aesthetics provided by the stage coupled with her amazing voice was enough to make even non-believers want to check out a church if it meant getting to see her perform. All of it was just stunning and there wasn’t a dry seat in the house, even from the judges’ panel (well, except for Simon of course).
Then came Chris Rene who performed tonight in honor of his rehab counselor, Tim, who helped him get clean and sober. He sang a rap rendition of Let It Be, by The Beatles and it was alright, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the performance. Maybe it’s me and I just can’t handle such a classic being turned into a rap song, but this was one of my least favorite performances of the night. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s an inspiration after everything he’s gone through, but we’re getting down to the top picks at this point and I’m just not sure how much longer he’ll be in the competition.
Lakoda Rayne came next and since they’re a group and it’s harder to choose one specific person, they each got to be thankful for someone. Two of the girls were thankful for their dads, another was thankful for her boyfriend, and the other was thankful for her grandmother. They decided to sing Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me and it was a pretty decent performance. They’re doing much better at harmonizing with each other and actually did a great job of working the crowd throughout the entire performance. Plus they seemed to actually be having a really great time up there, which is important too – definitely their best performance so far. But will the final group be able to survive another week? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Up next was Leroy Bell and he dedicated the night’s performance to his mother because she always encouraged him to follow his dream of being a singer and truly believed in him. He chose to sing In The Arms of An Angel by Sara McLachlan and he did a really great job. Recently Leroy's received a lot of negative criticism from the judges, but tonight he proved he is in it to win it. The vocals were strong, the words were powerful, and he really delivered a solid performance. And while L.A. thought it was heartfelt, but not his very best, the rest of the judges disagreed and felt that they emotionally connected with him during the song.
Astro was next and his reel went into a big explanation as to why he acted like a stuck up teenager (because he is one) on the show. So as an apology, he dedicated his performance to his fans and sang Jay-Z’s Show Me What You Got. His attitude was certainly a lot better this week and afterward he even apologized for last week’s antics and promised his fans that he’d never let them down again. That’s definitely commendable, but I’m still having a hard time fully forgiving him for his childish antics. I know he is a child and so he should be given a break, but I don’t like the kind of person he becomes when he doesn’t get his way. I’ll be curious to find out what will happen if he makes it into the bottom slot yet again this week. Will he be able to maintain his positive attitude? Because then I’ll be impressed.
Drew decided to dedicate her performance to her best friend, Shelby, since she’s always supported her and encouraged her to be herself. Her song choice was Skyscraper by Demi Lovato and as always, she really made it her own, putting a completely different spin on the song and it sounded great. Of course, L.A. seems to have a problem with each of her performances since they apparently all tend to sound the same, which is funny since I could say the same thing about Astro (when does he not rap during a song?) But Simon came to Drew’s defense and snapped at L.A. for giving her ridiculous and unhelpful criticism, which I thought was appropriate. There’s no denying her natural talent and I’m fully confident she’s going to go all the way in this competition.
Josh Krajcik was the last performer of the night and he dedicated his performance to his daughter since she's the best thing in his life and has always inspired him to keep on singing. His rendition of Rolling Stone’s Wild Horses was both powerful and moving. Not only did he rock the same, scratchy vocals that we know and love, but he also gave a beautiful performance on the piano as well. He’s the real deal and all the judges know it (even Simon had nothing but positive things to say). There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be in this competition til the very end.
Find out which two acts will be sent home Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on Fox!
S1E14: Let me open this week’s The X Factor recap by admitting that this is the very first episode of the series that I have seen, and that I picked a great week to tune in: Rock Week. I was only marginally familiar with how the show works as a whole—contestants, judges, voting—and was primarily unaware of the involvement of the judges with their respective contestants.
Going by this week’s episode alone, I find this to be a fatal flaw in the show, logistically (although not necessarily from an entertainment standpoint): no judge offers anything below decorated praise for a performer that he or she is sponsoring. What’s worse, it seems as though the judge bench rivalries (i.e., Simon Cowell versus L.A. Reid—I’m not sure if this is a persistent theme throughout the series, but the two really don’t get along this week) heavily affect the way the contestants are judged.
Another qualm I have comes attached to the host, Steve Jones, who seems to just be there to exacerbate discomfort, bicker cattily with Simon Cowell, and read a couple of phone numbers. Ryan Seacrest at least smiles. But this commentary is likely far from any fresh review of the show, so I digress.
One aspect of the show I actually have almost nothing bad to say about is, in fact, the performers. Aside from the rampant misinterpretation of this week’s theme, rock and roll (which is really the fault of the judges, not the contestants), I’d have to register very few negative criticisms with any of the contestants or their songs. Some outshine others, of course, but even the very worst are still pretty damn good…although, I guess that’s why they’re on a show.
The first to sing this week was Leroy Bell, who sang “We’ve Got Tonight,” by Bob Seger (admittedly, one of my favorite love songs). It was a terrific way to open up the show. Although Bell gave a pretty straight performance of the song—not too much original spin on it—he delivered it well, and to the probable liking of any traditionalist or Seger fan.
The second performer: Rachel Crow. Young Crow gave a stylized performance of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” which really won over the judges and the audience. Crow’s “Satisfaction” might have been a little too “experimental” in tone for my tastes, but this isn’t to say that it wasn’t a very lively and engaging performance.
Chris Rene is the first to deviate from the rock theme, with Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.” Despite the fact that the song is not rock but reggae (I agree with Simon here), Chris created a pretty fun rendition of the song, working in what was expressed to be his hip hop style with the classic song, with which he really seemed to have a personal connection.
Next, Stacy Francis performed Meat Loaf’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me.” I disagree with the judges’ conclusion that this was a poor and flavorless choice of song—Meat Loaf is the tops. But Stacy did not particularly excel at this song. It seems to me that her voice isn’t tuned for this style of music, although that is not to discount her obvious talent. I’d like to see what she can do with something closer to her genre (that’s my cue to keep tuning in…).
Melanie Amaro sang a strong rendition of “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M., and this was among the best performances of the night. Although it didn’t warrant as much “showmanship” as some of the other songs did, Amaro’s time on stage was soulful and flavorful—she is clearly an unstoppable voice talent, and the song was a terrific choice.
All of the judges were huge fans of the next performance: Josh Krajcik and the Foo Fighters song “The Pretender.” Admittedly, “Pretender” is one of my least favorite Foo Fighters hits. Furthermore, aside from breaking a mild sweat forcing his voice into the microphone, Krajcik didn’t seem to put as much creativity or soul into his performance as the amount of praise he received should have dictated. He did do a good job with the song, but I think he could have done a better one.
I barely know who Astro is, but I am already on his bandwagon. The young artist sang back-when-he-was-Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Watching You.” Now, this is only a rock song by proxy, but I might dare to say that Astro’s performance was my absolute favorite of the night…so, I can forgive a slight genre confusion. There is little to say: Astro has style to spare and energy in spades; he loves music and music loves him. Wonderful stuff.
As an X Factor newbie, I was confused by Lakoda Rayne. First and foremost, they’re more than one person. Secondly, if I’m not mistaken, they are the only performance to do a mash-up: Lakoda Rayne sang “Your Love” by The Outfield and “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac in one amalgamated song. Quite honestly, it worked pretty well. The song was relatively seamless, and snappy. The band didn’t have the same outstanding pop as some of the other singers, but they definitely did a fair job with their song(s).
I really, really loved the next performer and her song choice: Drew and U2’s “With or Without You.” This girl is pure, unadulterated talent. She knocked the song out of the park, both by channeling the things that make its traditional incarnation great and instilling her performance with her own style. The combination worked perfectly, and I’d like to see her go as far as this contest can take her.
Finally, another of my favorite performances of the night (although that might very well be because of my deep love for the artist of the performer’s song choice): Marcus Canty sang “Another Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin. While the judges were a bit critical of his take on the song, I actually think he did more than justice to the late Janis’ classic soulful ballad. His choreography was anything but reserved…but it’s good to have a little fun, especially with such an energetic number.
S1E11: Tonight The X Factor’s top 12 contestants took the stage to sing for your votes. That’s right America, we’ve finally hit the interactive part of the show where you can help determine which contestants stay and which ones are sent home. Tomorrow night will be the first round of audience-chosen eliminations, but it’s not going to be an easy decision. These final contestants are really putting the X in X Factor (at least that’s what it feels like) because the performances were insanely professional and well executed from all four groups. Personally, I’ve never felt so torn about who I want to see end up winning this competition because they all have so much potential.
The judges of course favored their assigned categories, but you can tell they’re just as nervous to see any of these superstars go (I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Paula’s waterworks). So the pressure was really on tonight for the judges since their reputations are on the line as well. The results no longer lie in their hands, which makes our votes extremely crucial. So in case you missed last’s night show, here’s a look at what the contestants had to offer:
The Stereo Hogzz were the first to perform and kicked off the night with their own rendition of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation. These guys have definitely got some great vocal skills and thanks to Paula’s grueling rehearsals, they had the dance routine down flat. L.A. Reid said that they definitely have what it takes to be a star and Simon went as far to say that there isn’t a band in the world as good as them. He even gave Paula praise in calling the performance a “master class of choreography.”
Next up was Chris Rene who sang Long Ago and Oh So Far Away by The Carpenters. This week he seemed a lot more comfortable on the big stage and more emotionally connected to the lyrics (plus he lost the hat, which I thought was a huge improvement). The judges gave him nothing but praise. Paula told him that he owned the song and Simon thought it was a big improvement from last week, so hopefully it will be enough to put him through to the next round.
Then Leroy Bell sang a beautiful version of I’m Already There by Lonestar that was so touching it moved audience members to tears and only further won over America’s heart, but not necessarily the judges. L.A. wasn’t thrilled with the song choice, but thought he did a good job with it. Paula told him that she admires how he wraps his life experiences around every song he sings and thinks he’s a great talent. Simon, however, thought he was lacking in the confidence department and felt like he needed to be more connected with the song. The crowd seemed to disagree and gave him an encouraging applause.
Up next was Rachel Crow in an upbeat rendition of Walking On Sunshine. It was a really esthetically pleasing performance, but all the backup dancing and flashy backgrounds seemed to drown out her natural talent. It almost felt like Simon was trying to overwhelm us with the “wow” factor just in case her vocals did cut it. But her talent is more than enough to get her through, so she really doesn’t need any flashy distractions to help her out. L.A. commented that she’s just so lovable, while Nicole called her “America’s sunshine. Paula was very pleased as well and wisely (yep, I said wisely) suggested that Simon give her a song that shows more of her vocal range because she’s just got so much talent (I agree). Basically they love her, we love her. She should just win the whole show.
Then came Lakoda Rayne (aka three blondes and one brunette) who sang Fleetwood Mac’s song, Landslide. During the performance, each girl was supposed to represent a different season, which I didn’t really understand, but vocally they did a pretty good. L.A. said he thought they finally blended together really well. Nicole thought they sounded like one voice and commented that if she was a season, she’d want to look just like them. Simon loved the song, but hated the seasonal theme, which wasn’t’ all that shocking. Paula retaliated by saying that Simon just doesn’t understand because England only gets one season (sorry Paula, but they get all four seasons as well). It’s good to have the old Paula back.
Josh Krajcik was next to take the stage and sang Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts, which I wouldn’t normally consider to be his type of song, but man did he knock it out of the park (or the theater) yet again. Seriously, is there any song this guy can’t sing? Paula told him that he nailed it and Simon thought it was so good that it felt like he actually wrote the song. Nicole commented that she felt his music in her veins, which sounds creepy, but she just meant that he has an uncanny ability to making any song moving. And for that, I cannot argue.
Next was Melanie Amaro who sang Desperado by The Eagles, which was predictably amazing. This performance only further proved what a big mistake Simon made about initially sending her home because she belongs in this competition. The audience loves her and the judges concur. L.A. said that one thing Simon did right was bringing her back onto this show, while Paula compared her voice to “fine China,” (whatever that means). Simon was even surprised as just how good she was and stated that she’s the one to beat.
Brian Bradley belted out his own his compilation of raps which included Naughty By Nature’s Hip Hop Horray, Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On and some of his own personal lyrics that he created himself. This kid really knows how to work a crowd and never fails to get the audience out of their seats and swaying to his music. Simon said “I think you’re a real, little star,” while L.A. remarked that every week he just keeps getting better and better. No show has ever had a hip hop contestant come this far on a singing competition before, but does America like him enough to put him through? We’ll have to wait and see!
The biggest group in the competition, InTENsity, did a song mix-up of Kids in America and LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem. The judges labeled the group as fun, fun, fun. Simon said that he shouldn’t like them, but he really does and he likes how they’re changing up their musical styles with each performance to fit everyone’s personality. They did a decent job and I can see them getting popularity votes since they are similar to the Glee group, but there’s just so many of them that I don’t really see them going all the way. It just doesn’t seem like they’re strong enough to get the votes.
Up next was Drew who sang a unique rendition of Nelly’s song, Just A Dream. She seems to just have a natural talent of making original songs sound like a completely new and different song entirely. If I didn’t like her version more than Nelly’s, then I definitely liked it just as much. She’s an incredible artist and the fact that she’s only 14-years-old makes her even more unbelievable. L.A. said she has the “spirit of a superstar” but jokingly added that she has the wrong mentor since he should be the one working with her. Nicole commented on how she loves how relevant Drew is and Simon added that he’s no longer her mentor, she’s his. I believe that’s called the cheese factor.
Marcus Canty was next to perform and sang Bobby Brown’s song, Every Little Step. It was definitely entertaining, but I didn’t think it featured his talented vocal range. Like Rachel’s performance, I felt like there was just too much going on around him to really be able to focus on how much he can bring to the show. What I did hear, of course, was incredible, but I just wish I could’ve heard more of it. His performance swept the board with the judges though. Nicole said she felt like she was at a concert rather than a singing competition, while Simon said Marcus has come alive and thinks that he’s on his way to reaching his full potential.
The last performance of the night went to Stacy Francis who sang Up To The Mountain by Patty Griffin. I know she doesn’t want to be considered a gospel singer, but Simon’s right when he said it’s the best way to showcase her talent because man did she have a set of pipes during her performance. It was moving, it was classy, it was impressive! L.A. said that her singing “stirs their souls” and Paula added that she was the “shining moment tonight.” Simon didn’t disappoint and was very smug about being right about what kinds of songs she should be singing. He labeled it one of the best performances of the night.
So who will be the first to be voted of The X Factor and lose their shot at a $5 million recording contract? Find out Thursday night at 8 p.m. on Fox!