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Philip Baker Hall

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  • TV Picks: 'What Not To Wear,' 'Breaking Bad ' Larry David twice

    TV Picks: 'What Not To Wear,' 'Breaking Bad ' Larry David twice
    "What Not To Wear" (TLC, Fridays). One of the greatest series on television begins its final season this week. I speak of course of the decade-old "What Not To Wear," based on an earlier British model, in which friendly yet acerbic, gentle but firm hosts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly help the sartorially challenged see themselves as they are and as they could be, and should be. The best of all makeover shows because it's the least judgmental on one hand and the least sentimental on the other, it is not immune to passages of artificially heightened drama -- variations on "She'll never cooperate!" from the hosts' side and "I'll never cooperate!" from the guest's. And yet it is also authentically, deeply and reliably moving: Each episode begins with an intervention and ends as a celebration, as caterpillars become butterflies and cygnets the swans they always were, beneath shapeless sweatshirts or age-inappropriate hot pants. By freeing their subjects from bad habits of dressing, through such cruel-to-be-kind devices as the 360-degree mirror and helpful discussion of silhouettes and such, London and Kelly also help them toward more basic sorts of self-knowledge. Although both hosts have the sort of bodies that clothes line up to be worn by, they have no prejudice about yours; they only want you to love it for what it is and dress it better: "The clothes are symbolic, in the sense that it is about taking control of one's image, and when a lot of these contributors leave the show, they take control of other aspects of their life," London told me in 2010. "The minute you can get over the idea that you are going to dress in a way that makes you look like another person and accept the person that you are, then you become your own frame of reference and standard of beauty, and that's when you start to get great personal style." There will be tears, and some of them will be mine.
  • Review: Larry David's 'Clear History' showcases some 'Curb' control

     Review: Larry David's 'Clear History' showcases some 'Curb' control
    Larry David, who is on a break from his series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" — permanent or not, he will let you know — returns to HBO on Saturday with a full-on movie-type movie, "Clear History," in which he plays not his usual fictionalized self...

    Cedering Fox knows the power of speaking the written word

    Cedering Fox knows the power of speaking the written word
    Cedering Fox knows good actors, and isn't afraid to ask a favor. Her query is simple, and the actors almost always say yes. It's not like she wants them to be part of a hot new cable drama or a comedy Web series gone viral. Instead, she's asking them to...

    REVIEW: 'Bad Words' ★★★

    REVIEW: 'Bad Words' ★★&#9733
    Sarcastic, sanctimonious, salacious, sly, slight and surprisingly sweet, the black comedy of "Bad Words," starring and directed by Jason Bateman, is high-minded, foul-mouthed good nonsense. I had wondered where Bateman's angry itch would take him next....

    Jason Bateman uses 'Bad Words' to make good things happen

    Jason Bateman uses 'Bad Words' to make good things happen
    Jason Bateman is used to transitions. In a career that stretches back nearly 35 years, he has pulled off tricky moves from child actor to adult star and from television to movies. Now, with the opening Friday of "Bad Words," his debut film as director,...