Author

Aly Semigran
Staff editor Aly Semigran is a New York City native who grew up in Philadelphia and spent the better part of her youth trying to figure out what the Philly Phanatic was (an anteater?), quoting 'The Simpsons,' and learning all about movies from her dad. After graduating from Temple University, where she studied journalism, she moved back to NYC and began her career as a freelance entertainment journalist. Her work has been published in Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia City Paper, MTV.com, and iVillage.com. She is thrilled to be a part of the Hollywood.com team and she is still quoting 'The Simpsons.' ('I'm Idaho!')
  • SXSW: 'I Give It A Year' Is A Rom-Com That Tests Your Patience
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 13, 2013
    "It was like something out of a Hugh Grant movie." That's something one of the array of insufferable, mean-spirited characters in Dan Mazer's romantic comedy I Give It a Year utters while describing a wedding, but the sentiment certainly echoes the very movie they're appearing in. But don't go thinking this is a quality Hugh Grant romance set in London like Bridget Jones' Diary About a Boy or Love Actually. No, we're talking about a movie more along the lines of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason or Nine Months or Did You Hear About the Morgans? I Give It a Year is a bad Hugh Grant movie that doesn't even give us the courtesy of giving us Hugh Grant.  Much like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, I Give It a Year is a mainstream comedy that worked its way into the indie-friendly SXSW festival and made its presence unwelcome. That's not to say broad appeal comedy can't play well at SXSW (Drinking Buddies, a smart, funny comedy has been a prime example of that), it's that if you're a flick with distribution on your side and marquee names, you better earn your keep here in Austin.  RELATED: SXSW Review: 'Drinking Buddies' is a Good Time, With Less Filler I Give It a Year, which debuted on over the weekend at SXSW, revolves around Natalie (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall), a couple who rushes into marriage, and to the surprise of no one, things turn sour fast. How fast, I have no idea, because the timeline in this movie jumps so frantically it might take me a year to figure it out.  It certainly doesn't help matters that Josh is an unmotivated writer (poor Spall is essentially just re-visiting his role as the goofy sap in One Day here) and that Natalie is a shrill, nasty career woman, or if we're supposed to give a s**t about either of these one-dimensional people and their horror show of a relationship.  Conveniently, Josh is still close with his ex, the down-to-Earth and cool Chloe (Anna Faris, who I officially fear may never leave rom-com hell). We know Chloe is down-to-Earth and cool because she doesn't wear makeup and works in non-profit. Additionally, Natalie meets a handsome, driven client at work named — wait for it — Guy (Simon Baker) and their sexual attraction simply cannot be denied. So much so that she takes off her wedding ring whenever she sees him. Are you in stitches yet? Couldn't you just positively die?  RELATED: SXSW: Michelle Monaghan On Her Female-Driven Comedy 'Gus'  I Give It a Year, at its core, is actually a really ugly movie packaged as a frothy romantic comedy. It tries desperately to be edgy by having raunchy humor, but it just comes off as crass and out of place. It is jam-packed with a variety of characters that are either despicable or downright unbelievable, or in the case of Stephen Merchant's Danny, Josh's lame, rude best friend that no one in their right mind would invite to get a cup of tea, let alone make their best man. Incidentally, Minnie Driver plays Natalie's bitchy sister Naomi, but at least her marriage gives her a reason to be cranky. Danny is just a pointless d**khead whose main object is provide comic relief, but only earns uncomfortable groans, on and off screen. (Terribly disappointing, considering what a tremendous talent Merchant is).  All of these characters are so terrible (even Farris' overtly likable character is too much of a sad pushover to admire or root for) you won't care who they wind up with, a veritable kiss of death for a romantic comedy. While Mazer's direction is sleek, the writing is too predictable and too dreadful to make up for it. I Give It a Year might not be the worst rom-com you'll ever see, but it's probably one of the worst ones you would see at SXSW.  RELATED: 'Short Term 12' Wins Grand Jury Prize at SXSW 2013 Film Awards [Photo credit: Working Title Films]
  • 'Admission' Star Tina Fey On Paul Rudd and What She and Amy Poehler Will Host Next
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 13, 2013
    Sorry, Astronaut Mike Dexter, but it seems like Tina Fey might not be orbiting into outer space with you anytime soon. The actress/writer/Golden Globes co-host extraordinaire — who is back on the big screen again now that her Emmy-winning comedy cult darling 30 Rock is off the air — has some qualifications when it comes to picking her movie roles, including her latest as Princeton admissions officer named Portia Nathan in the new comedy Admission.  "I look [at a script] and go, 'Am I believable as an admissions person? Yes," Fey said during an interview with Hollywood.com. "Am I believable as an astronaut? Perhaps not...we don't know."  RELATED: 'Admission' Pairs Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, Pop Culture Explodes  While Fey hasn't gotten on board for an all-female remake of  The Right Stuff... yet, she certainly knows a thing or two about the often arduous process of considering and, sometimes, rejecting submissions. "It was actually something I related to a lot, specifically because of SNL," Fey said of being able to relate to her character in Admission. "As one of the head writers of the show, I used to have to always read hundreds of writers submissions of people who wanted writing jobs. I remember how stressful it was. When you got a really bad one, you were almost relieved because it was a clear no." Fey noted that it was toughest when there were more than a few viable candidates and was forced to ask herself, "What one person's life are we gonna change? It's a really daunting position to be in."  Fey found herself in another familiar territory in Admission: being in an ultimately doomed with relationship with Michael Sheen, who played Wesley Snipes on 30 Rock, the man Liz Lemon didn't settle for, after all.  ("It's meant to not be," as Fey put it). Lucky for Fey — and her character Portia, who is unceremoniously dumped by Sheen's snobby character Mark for another woman —  Paul Rudd's charming character John Pressman, the headmaster of an alternative high school, comes into the picture.  RELATED: Tina Fey is 'Struggling' Now That '30 Rock is Done  Despite having similar friends and a similar Hollywood sensibility, Rudd and Fey had surprisingly never worked together until Admission. So what was the experience like for Fey? "He's the worst. He's awful. To be around. To look at. F**king not cool. Not funny," Fey joked, adding, "I cursed a little bit there, so you should bleep that."(Sorry Tina!)  Alright, so we had to ask her: what are her and her BFF Amy Poehler — who knocked their Golden Globes hosting gig out of the park — going to emcee next? "We are available for auto shows and boat shows." We're so there. RELATED: Tina Fey Responds to Taylor Swift: 'It Was Just a Joke' Check out the full interview with Tina Fey below, in which she also talks about her own application process to the University of Virginia, her thoughts on a new generation enjoying 30 Rock ("I would love that if there's a generation of nerds growing up watching 30 Rock the way that I watched Monty Python or SNL or SCTV"), and her advice for young, aspiring comedy stars and writers.  Admission opens in theaters nationwide on March 22.  [Photo credit: Focus Features] 
  • SXSW 2013 Film Award Winners Announced: 'Short Term 12' Wins Grand Jury Prize
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 12, 2013
    Short Term 12, Destin Cretton's bittersweet drama about a group of troubled adolescents and the adults who look after them at a short term housing facility, walked away with the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 SXSW Film Awards on Tuesday night.  RELATED: SXSW: 'Short Term 12' is a Small Movie with a Big Impact The film, which features brilliant, star-making turns from its young, talented cast (including Kaitlyn Dever, John Gallagher Jr., and a breakout performance from Brie Larson), seemed to touch a nerve with SXSW audiences. Short Term 12, which is based loosely off of Cretton's own experiences working in that sort of environment, was nothing short of a heartbreaking crowd-pleaser in Austin, where it made its world debut.  RELATED: SXSW: Anna Camp and Ashley Williams Skewer Reality TV in 'Sequin Raze'  Other big winners at the film awards included Burma, a drama about family secrets coming to the surface, won Special Jury Recognition for Ensemble Cast. Burma's impressive ensemble includes the likes of Gaby Hoffman, Dan Bittner, and Girls star Christopher Abbott.  RELATED: SXSW: Michelle Monaghan On Her Female-Driven Film 'Gus'  Check out the full list of SXSW 2013 Film Award winners here, and stay tuned to Hollywood.com throughout the week for even more movie reviews, interviews with the stars, and our own picks for the best (and worst) flicks of SXSW.  [Photo credit: SXSW] You Might Also Like:8 Mind-Blowing Actress MakeoversStars Who Have Lost Roles For Being Too Hot (Celebuzz)
  • 'SXSW': Michelle Monaghan On How Her Female-Driven Film 'Gus' Turned the Tables On On-Screen Fellatio
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 12, 2013
    There's a very simple trick to getting 25-year-old guys to enjoy your smart, sensitive, indie comedy about female friendship: have a very funny, borderline-explicit BJ scene in it. Okay, so that's not the only reason they should like a movie like Gus, but star Michelle Monaghan acknowledged that might be why some dudes who attended the SXSW premiere of her new film liked it. Then again, Monaghan got a kick out of the scene herself.  RELATED: SXSW 2013: Our 5 Films to See at the Fest Monaghan plays Andie, a single, free-spirited woman who unexpectedly finds herself pregnant and offers to give the baby to her married best friend Lizzie (Radha Mitchell), who has struggled to start a family of her own. The scene in question finds Andie in an ill-advised hook-up with Lizzie's brother-in-law, Casey (Michael Weston). While she, well, fellates him, he tries to, well, guide her — much to her annoyance — so she gives him a piece of her mind. "When I read the script I was like, 'Please honey, we've all been there'," Monaghan said during a chat with Hollywood.com at SXSW. "I think it's just such a funny scene from a female perspective, and it's never been touched on before…so to speak. I just welcomed it." The scene doesn't only go for a big laugh (though it got one with audiences here); it also turns the table on your typical sex scene, putting the guy in the vulnerable position and having her take control, something for which Monaghan praised her co-star. "Michael Weston is genius. His reaction to that scene, I thought, was much bolder than me actually having to go through the motions. He actually had to verbalize what he was going through. I think he did it in like one or two takes," Monaghan said, adding, "..because I'm that good. I'm sorry, I had to go there!" It should be noted that at this point in the conversation, the room — which also included Mitchell and Gus' director Jessie McCormack — erupted with laughter at Monaghan's response. It's clear the women who worked together on screen bonded off screen, too. It was that very female-dominated set — in addition to the director, and the two leading ladies, Monaghan pointed out that the DP, editor, and producer were also women — that made the actress so happy to be part of the project.  RELATED: Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson, and Ron Livingston Riff on 'Drinking Buddies' at SXSW Monaghan, who has been paired on-screen as the significant other to the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Casey Affleck, and Robert Downey Jr., said she was thrilled to have a different kind of on-screen partnership for Gus. "It was so nice to have chemistry with another woman for a change," Monaghan said. "I'd never met Radha before but we hit it off like a house on fire."  She continued: "It was so amazing to be surrounded by all these talented and creative women. It just solidified the fact that I want to continue to work with more and more women. I just finished a film a couple of months ago with another female director and it was so great. It's just a different kind of approach, its not better, necessarily, or worse, just a different way to approach things through the storytelling or the way that you talk about the characters. It's nice to have that balance." Monaghan said she's encouraged by the shift in Hollywood toward more strong female characters like Andie — "She's unlike any character I've ever played. She's incredibly loose and she's overtly comedic. So that was a real welcome for me." — and more movies about and for women. "I think that weird rumor or idea in Hollywood that people don't want to see female-driven movies couldn't be further from the truth. Women buy tickets to movies," Monaghan said. "I think one of the reasons Jessie really wanted to make [Gus] was because she was like, 'I can't remember the last time that I saw [a movie with] two female leads that was really exploring women's friendship.' I thought she explored it really, really honestly and beautifully."  RELATED: SXSW Review: 'Short Term 12' is a Small Movie with a Big Impact The actress, who said she has no immediate plans to direct herself, added that she hopes films like Gus will inspire young, female filmmakers. "I think that's why it's important with film festivals like SXSW... for people in the audience to be part of these screenings and to see other young filmmakers, female filmmakers, at the screenings, in the audience, at the Q&As, and be encouraged by it. To see there's a reality out there that is in the zeitgeist, that it is something you can do: It is a possibility."  [Photo credit: Erica Parise]  Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran You Might Also Like:Topanga's Revealing Lingerie Shoot: Hello '90s! Stars Who Have Lost Roles For Being Too Hot (Celebuzz)
  • SXSW: 'Graceland' Star Aaron Tveit On Jumping to TV and (Eventually) Returning to the Stage — EXCLUSIVE
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 12, 2013
    When you think of SXSW, the image of indie bands, movie premieres, tech talks where the word "innovative" is used a lot, and of course, those famous Austin breakfast tacos immediately springs to mind. But television has also become one of the key components of the festival, with panels and screenings becoming a one of the must-experience destinations of the event. It's no surprise really, considering the quality level of television out there right now.  RELATED: SXSW: 'Bates Motel Isn't Your Mother's 'Psycho' Just ask Aaron Tveit, the bona fide Broadway star who had his big screen breakout as Enjolras in the Oscar-winning adaptation of Les Misérables. The 29-year-old actor who has Hollywood knocking, went with a small screen project, the upcoming USA procedural Graceland, which had its world premiere at the Austin Museum of Art at SXSW on Monday night.  Hollywood.com caught up with Tveit at the roof party that followed the Graceland premiere (which featured, among other highlights, a digital paint display) and cast Q&A explained his reasoning for choosing to do television after the success of Les Mis was simple: "I think the best writing right now is in television." He continued, "I'm a huge television watcher, I'm a fan of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Those shows I think, but obviously starting with The Sopranos and The Wire, are why you're seeing film actors who would have never done TV before, all of a sudden want a series. The stigma [about TV] is gone."  While Tveit is by no means a stranger to television (he'd had minor roles on Gossip Girl and Law & Order: SVU), it's his first lead in a series. In Graceland — which seemed to play well to the SXSW audience who laughed along with all the quippy, USA-brand of dialogue in the pilot — Tveit plays a rookie FBI agent named Mike Warren who lives in a dream-like beachfront home with other FBI officials, like hotshot agent Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata). RELATED: SXSW: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston Riff on 'Drinking Buddies'  "Other television work that I've done has been a lot of guest star stuff, so you're kind of the not-important person on the schedule when you're shooting as a guest star, but with this I'm working all the time. I love being at work everyday," Tveit said. The actor said that he was up for the "six month grind of non-stop" television shooting, thanks largely in part to his Broadway background. "Being on stage all the time I know you have to keep yourself in shape, so I just treated it the same way."  Tveit not only credited the USA network for making his transition to TV leading man an easy one ("When I found it was USA, I could instantly picture how they were gonna do it and it was going to look like and fully supported. They give their shows every opportunity to succeed," he said), but his castmates, including Sunjata, Vanessa Ferlito, Serinda Swan, Manny Montana, and Brandon Jay McLaren, who were all on hand for the SXSW premiere.   "It's a group of actors that, from day one, everyone was just ready to play ball with each other," Tveit said. "Telling this story is a very collaborative effort, our writers encourage us to bring our ideas and we have a lot of influence over our characters and the story that we're telling. In that same regard, there's a lot of improvisation and stuff is very free-flowing. It lifts the material off the page, because we all do really get along. I think the material can crackle when you have that kind of rapport."  But Broadway fanatics who want to see Tveit back on stage singing again (and there were quite a few in the crowd at SXSW, as the actor received the most questions from giddy audience members during the post-screening session), don't worry, so does he. During the Q&A, the actor said there'd be "no scripted singing in the season" on Graceland, but when Hollywood.com chatted with him, he said he'd still find an outlet for it.  RELATED: Marvel Debuts 'Earth's Mightiest Show' at SXSW "I really, really wanna get back on stage. It's like an addiction you can't get anywhere else. That energy you have on stage, you can't find it anywhere else. I miss it, I miss singing," Tveit admitted. "[I'm] in the early stages of putting a concert to do in New York. I'll hopefully be diving in to that [when I get back], so hopefully that will satisfy my desire to sing, even if it's just for myself." Unlikely case.  Graceland premieres this summer on USA.  [Photo credit: USA] You Might Also Like:Topanga's Revealing Lingerie Shoot: Hello '90s! Stars Who Have Lost Roles For Being Too Hot (Celebuzz)
  • SXSW: Paul Walker On Cutting Through The Bulls**t to Make 'Hours'
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 12, 2013
    Paul Walker has traded his usual multi-million franchise blockbusters for a shoestring budget indie — and sorry Hollywood standards — but he couldn't be happier about it. Walker appears in Hours, a drama about a new father who struggles to keep his newborn daughter alive as Hurricane Katrina unleashes down on New Orleans and leaves him stranded with no power for days in an abandoned hospital.  Hollywood.com spoke to the actor, alongside Hours writer/director Eric Heisserer, before the film had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival over the weekend. Walker described the experience of working on something with no car explosions or chases, but instead a small, labor of love project as "a breath of fresh air....It was stripped down and more honest... it's nice being able to step away and just tell the truth and work with people that are there because they want to be there."  RELATED: Josh Duhamel at SXSW: What Fergie Thought of His 'Scenic Route Mohawk "[Working] in an industry where there's a ton of money to be made, it's so hard navigating through the nonsense and finding people that have any substance." Walker continued, "This wasn't one of those movies because they wanted me because they know they're gonna get the financing, I liked that. I met up with [Eric] and I see a genuine guy and what he sees in it. I walked away and I was like, 'Oh f**k man, I liked him, I hope he liked me' and then I get the phone call, 'He really wants you to make the movie, he thinks you're the guy. Immediately it's a huge compliment and then I'm like, 'S**t, I can't screw this up'." Because while working with Heisserer on Hours (who calls the film "a love letter to parents") was a no-brainer for Walker, the actor said he did feel pressure with the film when it came to his performance, as he spends a majority of his running time of the film acting alone, and it's more intimate than anything we've ever seen him do before. I'm used to being just one of the guys on set and f**king around and having fun, but now I've gotta be vulnerable."  But Walker said that Heisserer's research on the project ("I've never sat down with anybody who was more over- prepared than him") and "the fact that I have a daughter" erased his fears of taking on such a stripped-down performance. Walker added, "I did the best I could and if people don't like my performance... they just don't like me. That's the fact."  RELATED: SXSW: Adam Brody Talks About the Divisive Neil LaBute and His Work in 'Some Girl(s)' Both Walker and Heisserer both cited each other's hard work on the film for the end product, but both men gave the highest regard to the New Orleans crew and extras they had on set. Filmed in New Orleans over the course of just 18 days, everyone wanted to make sure the story of Walker's character and his daughter struggling to stay alive through Hurricane Katrina (Heisserer described the film as a "mitosis of a whole bunch of true stories" from Katrina), rang as truthfully as possible.  "We had that extra measure of accountability, the bulls**t police were there," Walker said of the New Orleans crew who worked on the film and consulted them about how things really were. "You can feel they all had a real investment in it, you can tell they weren't just there to show up...it felt like a genuine collective, effort. I think that's why it came out the way it did."  RELATED: SXSW 2013: Our 5 Must-See Films In fact, the tight-knit cast and crew have still stayed bonded since the experience. Both Heisserer (who said that filmmakers who have made movies about Katrina have all "had that same feeling of wanting to give back" to the community) and Walker said they keep in touch with people who worked on and dedicated themselves to the film. In fact, Walker said he received one from a crew member that simply read: "We're at SXSW!" [Photo credit:  SXSW] You Might Also Like:Topanga's Revealing Lingerie Shoot: Hello '90s! Stars Who Have Lost Roles For Being Too Hot (Celebuzz)
  • Josh Duhamel at SXSW: What Fergie Thought of His 'Scenic Route' Mohawk
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 12, 2013
    Josh Duhamel looks a little different. The last time I saw him, he was a bloodied, broken, and mohawk-ed mess of a man in the middle of the desert on the road trip from hell. In person he looks like the very clean-cut, very tall, very handsome guy you've seen on soap operas and as a charming romantic lead in comedies. However, in the batsh**t crazy Scenic Route, one of the best movies at this year's SXSW festival, Duhamel morphs into a Travis Bickle-lookalike who beats his best friend (played by Dan Fogler) to a bloody pulp after they both begin to mentally and physically disintegrate in the desert. We're not in Safe Haven anymore, Toto.  RELATED: 'Scenic Route' is the Ultimate Road Trip Gone Awry at SXSW It's an unexpected change of pace for Duhamel, one that the actor was equal parts thrilled and scared to dive into. Scenic Route is a dialogue-heavy character study that keeps its stranded characters in one harsh location for ninety percent of the film. "One of the reasons I wanted to tackle it was because it was scary as hell and was more heavy lifting than I've ever had to do in my life," Duhamel told Hollywood.com of taking on the part in the mind-bending drama. "My whole thing is, if it scares me, I wanna try to do it. Once you started getting into it, there's nothing more gratifying than tackling something as big as that," Duhamel continued. "You're putting yourself out there with all this dialogue, the two people. It's on you, there's no robots to save you, there's no explosions, there's no CGI, it's literally like a play."  RELATED: SXSW 2013: Our 5 Must-See Movies But it wasn't just an emotional and career-oriented challenge that he had to deal with. Filmed on a shoestring budget over the course of just 16 days in the appropriately titled Death Valley, Duhamel, like his continually unraveling character, had to deal with the unforgiving desert elements during the shoot. Duhamel said, "There were days that were pretty miserable, I gotta say." But huge temperature dips and brutal winds actually helped, in the end, with the tone of the film. "We were lucky in a sense, the mood... the wind blowing and the dark skies that came over, we were doing stuff that needed to feel like that."  While most of us — hopefully — won't find ourselves lost in the torturous desert embroiled in an epic meltdown with our best friend ("It's a teeter totter of power between these two," as Duhamel succinctly put it) the universal human themes are what really drives the film. "People can really relate to the idea of friends drifting," Duhamel said. "As you get older, people that you were close to, that you shared these ideals with, and for whatever reason time passes and you look back and you're like, 'What happened?' I think we can all relate to that."  RELATED: SXSW Review: 'You're Next' is a Horror Fiend's Dream Come True Of course, the one thing people will be talking about other than Duhamel's performance is that mohawk. Some particularly daring SXSW festival-goers admired the actor's insane 'do so much they let him give them mohawks at the premiere, but what did his pop star wife Fergie think of the punk rock look? "She loved it. My wife is a little bit twisted in that way, she loves anything outside of what people expect. As soon as it was done I let it grow back out, but it takes a while. I had fun with it, I loved every second of it. I miss it."  [Photo credit: SXSW] Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran
  • SXSW: 'Bates Motel' Isn't Your Mother's 'Psycho'
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 11, 2013
    First thing's first: "This is a Bates Motel panel, not a Lost panel." Executive producer Carlton Cuse wanted to make that very clear at the Vimeo Theater inside the Austin Convention Center, for the viewing and subsequent panel for his new A&E series. The comment was, as it turned out, in jest (Lost questions inevitably came up). But Cuse, who is an executive producer on the upcoming show, was serious when he explained that Bates Motel wasn't a send-off origins story of Alfred Hitchcock's horror classic Psycho.  RELATED: 'Bates Motel' at TCA: It's Not an Homage to 'Psycho' Instead, Bates Motel uses the imagery (the iconic house) and names from Psycho, but they are detached from Hitchcock's story. Instead, Bates Motel  — which takes place in the present — follows a shy young man named Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his seemingly distant mother Norma (Vera Farmiga), who buy a motel and move into the house next door. "A contemporary piece really unshackled us. We wanted it to be our story," Cuse told the crowd.  Cuse likened their approach on Bates Motel to how Christopher Nolan made Batman his own: the Batmobile and the characters were all there, but it was a new story. "We created our own mythology," Cuse revealed. "[Norma] is not a shrill hateful mother...how Norman becomes who he is gets answered in the first 10 episodes." While he said that the ending of Bates Motel "will be some version of what happened in the movie," it won't be "a literal reenactment." RELATED: 'You're Next' is a Horror Fan's Dream Come True at SXSW So how did the crowd, who were the first to see Bates Motel before it airs on A&E on Sunday, feel about the show? While one audience member told Cuse during the Q&A portion that she wanted to watch all ten ordered episodes right there and then, a few seemed bored — and in one case, someone was clearly offended. During one particularly graphic scene, Farmiga's character is raped and a woman in the crowd, visibly upset, left her seat never to return.  It's not terribly surprising. For a show that's so deeply rooted in horror iconography, there's nothing particularly scary about something loosely based off of one of the creepiest films in history. The pilot has a few violent moments that should satisfy those looking for action, but for Psycho purists this will disappoint. (That said, the first murdered person in the episode does wind up in a bathtub, though that's not where they were killed). It's not just the look of Pyscho that makes it endure as a classic, but it's the unshakable mood, and that's all but vacant in surprisingly bland Bates Motel.  RELATED: 'Evil Dead' Takes SXSW on a Gory, Grisly Ride [Photo credit: A&E] You Might Also Like:8 Male Stars With Tramp Stamps15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • SXSW: 'You're Next' Is Your Nightmare and a Horror Buff's Dream Come True
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 11, 2013
    You're Next, the home invasion horror flick from Adam Wingard, played to an eager SXSW audience at a midnight screening (well, about twenty after midnight, actually) on Sunday. The movie, which was on the festival circuit in 2011 before being captured by Lionsgate, has gained a reputation as an off-the-wall, genuinely spooky, and original horror flick. So does it live up to the hype from the horror community?  RELATED: 'Evil Dead' Takes SXSW on a Gory, Grisly Ride You're Next, which feels like the fun house mirror version of the bleak The Strangers (that flick had no levity whatsoever, while this one often lets its audience laugh... hard), has more plot twists than it knows what to do with and killer(s) motives that doesn't quite match the absolutely horrendous crimes committed. But that doesn't mean you won't scream while you're watching it or check under the bed when you get home.  The film revolves around a wealthy family who have a get-together at their picturesque, albeit isolated (of course) rural home. The family bickers and catches up like any clan, but their otherwise nice dinner turns to bloody, chaotic mayhem when a band of masked villains (they wear animal masks, like lambs, in case you were wondering what the next couple years of your nightmares will look like) begin hunting them. Quite literally. With arrows.  The thing that upset me most about You're Next, watching family members scream and cry for their loved ones, was also the thing that made me appreciate it in the horror realm. Too often in horror movies, characters see their friends and family slaughtered, give a shriek, and move on like nothing happened. You're Next does the exact opposite, which only makes it all the more unbearable to watch. What makes a horror movie "fun" in so many cases is its utter detachment. Watching a mourning mother wail for her daughter whose neck has been cut by a trap wire is not fun. F**king scary, though? You bet.  RELATED: SXSW 2013: Our 5 Must-See Movies One by one, the family is getting picked off, with bloodier and bloodier results, but as the numbers begin to dwindle, Erin (a breakout performance from Sharni Vinson), a girlfriend of one of the sons begins to fight back. See, little did these invaders realize she grew up on a survivalist compound. By the time the identity and motives of the mysterious killers are figured out and Erin has shifted into full-blown kick-ass horror heroine, the film shifts gears from grim massacre to a fun 80s slasher flick.  That's not to say the scares dwindle (there's some truly unnerving imagery and a particularly disturbing exchange that happens over the body of a family member) but cheers and laughter take over in the latter half of the film. In the end, the tonally challenged You're Next sort of feels like a Frankenstein of horror movies (except, maybe, Frankenstein). All of the elements of the horror classics are there, so if you're looking for something totally innovative from your horror movie, this isn't it. (Cabin in the Woods has set the bar far too high). If you're looking for familiar bump-in-the-night scares with a big finale payoff, then You're Next will have been worth the wait.  [Photo credit: Taylor Glascock]  
  • SXSW: Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson, and Ron Livingston Riff on 'Drinking Buddies'
    By: Aly Semigran Mar 11, 2013
    Within moments of meeting the cast and director of the new movie Drinking Buddies, you can see exactly why the end product turned out as funny, loose, and honest as it did. Their rapport in real-life is just as fast and loose and funny is it played out on screen. Case in point: while discussing blurring the lines of male-female friendships, the conversation bouncing between director Joe Swanberg, and stars Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston, sounded like something, well, straight out of a comedy.  Joe: " I feel like when people who have had that kind of chemistry, through whatever means have gotten past it, and you've sort of gotten close to the flame and figured out how to stay close and create a boundary, those can become great friendships and you kind of have to push them past the breaking point and let them break a little bit and then you know where that is and then you both just agree to stay on your side of the line from there on out." Ron:  "Or you f**k the whole thing up and move to a different city." Jake: "Again." Drinking Buddies, which opened to raves and boisterous laughs at the Paramount Theater at SXSW this weekend, is a sexy, smart will-they-won't-they romantic comedy about two friends Luke and Katie —played by Johnson and co-star/producer Olivia Wilde — who toy with the boundaries of friendship, flirting and their relationships — both to each other, and their significant others Jill and Chris, played by Anna Kendrick and Livingston, respectively.  RELATED: SXSW Review: 'Drinking Buddies' is a Good Time, With Less Filler But what sets Drinking Buddies apart from all the movies that ask the age old question "Can men and women really be friends?", aside from their refreshingly new take on it, is that this one was heavily improvised. Instead, Swanberg let his tremendously gifted ensemble take an outline and flesh out their characters into fully realized, fully flawed, but relatable people. Swanberg, Johnson, Kendrick, and Livingston all talked to Hollywood.com about the art improv, breaking rom-com stereotypes, and "the magic of four" in comedy.  Swanberg explained why he's a fan of improv, and why it worked so well with Drinking Buddies. "It's so weird that the way that we make movies is that we have these scripts and these characters in our head and then you have to go find people who then either match your pre-conceived idea of the character or can create that character through the performance. But you're plugging real humans into fantasy constructs and it's always seemed bizarre to me."  "When I meet with somebody to talk about doing a movie, it seems crazy to me to not incorporate the things that I like about that person into the movie," Swanberg continued, "Because, isn't that the reason why I hired them, because we had a great conversation or we liked each other? When I watch Drinking Buddies, it's so great for me because it's like all the things I enjoyed being around these four people are there in the movie. They can't not be, because of the way that we work, because we're actually engaging in conversations with each other, making the same kinds of jokes we would make. It's just such a nice little record of that moment of these four people interacting in a way where they're exactly the four people that I was like 'Oh yeah, these guys, they're great!'"  So what real-life things wound up manifesting in the movie? "Jake does this funny voice sometimes that makes me laugh, [and] there's the funny voice in the movie. It's really allowing the things that are charming, or annoying, all of that full spectrum of somebody... it's just creating a stage for those things to be captured, versus that person becoming a character on pre-written stuff."  For Livingston, the improv aspect was "scary and freeing." He explained, "There's that night before you start a film where it's like, 'This is awesome, I don't have to learn any of my lines,' and then you realize, 'But I am gonna have to shoot a scene!'"  But it's that very nature of improv that allowed the cast to create characters that live well outside the confines of most romantic comedy stereotypes. Take, for example, the overused trope of the shrill girlfriend or jerk boyfriend, simply used to lessen an audiences guilt about cheating or as a prop to push the would-be couple together. (Johnson jokingly altered his voice to sound like what that annoying character would have sounded like in their movie, "You're not allowed to hang out with your friends and drink beer! But I love you!") In Drinking Buddies, however, Kendrick's character Jill is anything but. In fact, you find yourself rooting for her, then against.  It was something that was important to Kendrick, creating a character that was not only likable, but walking the fine line of not being the villain. "That was something that, because there was no script per se, I was worried the audience would anticipate her to be that. And that that was something we would have to actively fight against. I didn't feel that Joe was going to push me in that direction, but I was concerned that would be the assumption." RELATED: 5 Movies to See at SXSW Kendrick made sure that nailing down what might seem like minor details, would actually be a major influence for how viewers percieve the character. The actress recalled, "I remember my first day [shooting] during the wardrobe fitting, every time I put on something that was a little too school marm-y, I was like, the first time we see her it can't be like, 'So here's the thing about Jill: she sucks'."  But for any comedy to work, improv or otherwise, at the end of the day it really depends on the actors and how they work with the material and each other.  In Drinking Buddies, the foursome of Johnson, Wilde, Kendrick, and Livingston, all bounce off of each other in a way that only four could.  "I think it's like a team," Johnson said. "When you have a two-person thing, then you guys have to fill the voids with each other. With four, something like this, everyone in this cast is very good, so you don't need a star on this team, a Michael Jordan per se...you can win with the group. You either go hard for the laugh, or go hard for the moment or go hard to support a laugh or support a moment. With four, if everybody's good, it's fun."  Livingston said he likes how the dynamic of four "can shift to be really balanced or or really unbalanced and all it takes is one person walking away to go from unbalanced back to balanced again", while Kendrick cited "chamber plays, like Dinner with Friends and Closer and Through A Glass Darkly. I think there is something magic about four, for exactly that reason. Things get messy."  RELATED: SXSW Review: 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone' Should Have Disappeared From SXSW Of course, for every unplanned, on-the-fly moment of Drinking Buddies, there was one that Swanberg planned: to have a character named Gene Dentler. In Drinking Buddies, Wilde's real-life beau Jason Sudeikis plays her and Johnson's boss Gene Dentler. "That's a cool story that I'm happy to tell," Swanberg said, "My friend David Lowry, he had a movie at Sundance this year called Ain't Them Bodies Saints. They started shooting the same day we started shooting Drinking Buddies and for both of us it was bigger projects than either of us had ever done before. We were texting and we were like, 'We should have the same character in both movies just as a little hat tip. There's a cop named Gene Dentler in his movie and Sudeikis plays Gene Dentler in ours. The name plate on Sudeikis' desk [in Drinking Buddies] that says Gene Dentler, we sent down to Shreveport and he shot it in his movie, too."  In a fittingly off-the-cuff moment, Kendrick marveled at the anecdote, "That's amazing, I had no idea!"  [Photo credit: Ben Richardson]  Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran From Our Partners:Kim Kardashian's Maternity Style: So Wrong? (Vh1)60 Celebrity Bikini Bodies: Guess Who! (Celebuzz)