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Snow White, this ain't

What's coming up in the week ahead

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"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop culture is just what we need. With that in mind, here is what's on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.


Big release: Seven Psychopaths (Oct. 12)

Big picture: Hollywood has surprised me. This film's not another revamp of Snow White -- even though this version could have been far more entertaining. (Behind the smile, I've always thought Dopey, at the very least, had psychopath written all over him.) Colin Farrell reunites with his In Bruges director, Martin McDonagh, for another comedic caper flick -- and this time they bring in a couple of master clowns: Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken co-star and neither ever misses a comedic beat. The film follows a struggling screenwriter (Farrell) who gets caught up in the criminal underworld after his eccentric friends kidnap a gangster's treasured dog. It's like Snatch meets The Big Lebowski (only replace Tara Reid with a Shih Tzu).

Forecast: These Seven Psychopaths were heavily praised when the film premièred at TIFF. The eclectic cast is rounded out by Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish and Tom Waits (who is always fun to watch when he chooses to leave the studio for the screen). Given that McDonagh brings out the best in Farrell, this one looks like a winner.

Honourable mention: Argo (Oct. 12). Another TIFF première with wide release, this Oscar contender is directed by Ben Affleck. It tells the true story of secret mission to rescue six American hostages during the Iran hostage crisis. The group found secret refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador until they were smuggled out by a CIA specialist pretending to be a Hollywood director. (On an unrelated note, I believe the latter half of that scheme is how M. Night Shyamalan got his first gig behind the camera).


Big events: Nashville (Oct. 10, ABC, 9 p.m.); Beauty and the Beast (Oct. 11, Showcase, 8 p.m.; CW, 8 p.m.)

Big picture: Nashville could have been called Beauty and the Beautiful Beast. The most promising new drama on TV plays out a head-to-head confrontation between a fading country superstar (Connie Britton of Friday Night Lights and American Horror Story) and a callous, ruthless and promiscuous (the three secrets of music industry success?) young diva (played by Hayden Panettiere of Heroes). This sudsy series about the country music business is everything Smash should be: deftly written, superbly acted, perfectly scored (by T-Bone Burnett no less) -- and an undeniable guilty pleasure. Panettiere's sexy, amoral young starlet makes the Christina Aguileras and Britneys of the world look like Mother Teresa. Meanwhile, the modern take on Beauty and the Beast stars Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) as Detective "Cat" Chandler. Luckily for her, the handsome new Beast (Jay Ryan) is a brilliant doctor who only shows his ugly, animal side when he's angry (he and The Hulk could sponsor each other at Rageaholics Anonymous).

Forecast: Nashville isn't just home to country music, it's home to the best new show on fall TV. Meanwhile, a Beauty and the Beast revamp just feels unnecessary -- and may not live happily ever after. (Maybe it's just missing a singing teacup?)

Honourable mention: Arrow (Oct. 10, CW, 7 p.m.). He's a millionaire playboy by day and violent vigilante -- with deep-seated anger issues -- by night. The catch? His name isn't Batman. Based on another D.C. Character, Green Arrow, this archer is no Cupid. The new series grounds its hero in a gritty, authentic world (you can thank Christopher Nolan for taking the comic out of the comic-book adaptation). Comic-based TV series do not have a heroic track record, which makes it all the more surprising that Arrow hits the mark. Toronto's Stephen Amell dons the green cloak, and could soon find himself a household name.


Big release on Tuesday: The Wallflowers (Glad all Over)

Big picture: Yes, the album title does sound like the world's worst pickup line: "Hi, my name's Jacob, and you make me glad all over." But it's good to see the younger Dylan riding shotgun again with The Wallflowers -- over 15 years since the band drove One Headlight to the top of the charts. Meanwhile, KISS delivers its 20th studio album. Gene Simmons told UGO that the album aimed for consistency "You know it's going to be like Santa Claus... he's not going to change his outfit and you know what you're going to get: gifts." Speaking of bad pickup lines, I'm sure Simmons has used "it's going to be like Santa" before. But unlike Santa, you don't want the gifts Simmons is delivering -- unless they are of the musical variety.

Forecast: The first KISS album since 2009 is bound to be a monster. For Wallflower fans in withdrawal, this comeback album is a surefire cure for 6th Avenue Heartache.

The Clash-inspired track Reboot the Mission features Mick Jones, and Jacob even seems to be following in Bob's footsteps with song titles such as The Devil's Waltz and Constellation Blues. But The Wallflowers can only dream of creating the kind of media tempest that surrounds their singer's old man.

Honourable mentions: John Fogerty (Wrote a Song For Everyone); Barbara Streisand (Release Me). If the legendary Fogerty's album lives up to its title, I wouldn't plan on listening to it in one sitting; Meanwhile, if the Babs album lives up to its title, we might finally be free of her evil spell -- the only way I can account for the 70-year-old's enduring popularity. For fans, Streisand offers 11 previously unreleased tracks out of her ... cauldron? . . . err, archives? Yes. That's the word I was looking for. Archives.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 7, 2012 ??65525

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