Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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It is scientifically impossible to get upset with Tom Hanks. No, really. Even after you plunked down good money to see Larry Crowne or when he got that terrible Da Vinci Code haircut or even that time America had to shield its precious ears from the dreaded f-word on an early Friday morning, the man is a national treasure. And even when he's done something "wrong," you just can't be mad at the guy.
Hanks made a blunder, albeit a completely endearing one, when he accidentally dropped the f-bomb during a visit to Good Morning America. The actor was promoting his latest film, the visually stunning early Oscar contender Cloud Atlas, when co-host Elizabeth Vargas asked the Oscar-winner to do his bumbling British gangster voice from the film. While Hanks warned Vargas that the accent "mostly..swear words," the GMA anchor insisted and when the actor slipped back into character he accidentally let the f-word slip, too.
America's Dad was visibly embarrassed and remorseful about the slip-up (Woody himself made sure to "apologize to the kids of America who are watching right now") and joked that the next time he visits the show he'll be on a seven second delay. "I have never done that before," a sincere Hanks told Vargas and GMA viewers. Hey, as far as morning show blunders go, this is one of the least offensive ones. Watch the moment below and see if you agree that the f-bomb accident actually makes you like Hanks more. If that's even scientifically possible.
See? Harmless. And if you ever wanted to know the power of Tom Hanks' likability/forgivability, the Parents Television Council, who don't like or forgive anybody because they just want everyone to please think of the children directed their dismay at ABC, not the actor, for the live television mishap. PTC Director of Public Policy Dan Isett said in a statement on Friday, "Once again, a morning news show has allowed the harshest profanity to be broadcast into every living room and breakfast table in the country. This is just another in a long, sad string of similar instances where all of the major network morning shows have permitted this inappropriate and offensive content. These cannot and must not be dismissed as ‘mistakes,’ and it’s time for the networks to step up, take responsibility for what they broadcast, and ensure that this never happens again."
You know who doesn't ruin your breakfast? Tom F**king Hanks, that's who.
[Photo credit: ABC]
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The Matrix director lived as a man called Larry until 2002 and she only publicly confirmed her gender reassignment in July (12) while promoting new Tom Hanks film Cloud Atlas.
Wachowski, who divorced college sweetheart Thea Bloom in 2002 and went on to marry a second wife, has now revealed she suffered many sleepless nights as she contemplated telling her relatives about her sex change plans.
She tells the New Yorker magazine, "For years, I couldn't even say the words transgendered or transsexual. When I began to admit it to myself, I knew I would eventually have to tell my parents and my brother and my sisters. This fact would inject such terror into me that I would not sleep for days."
Wachowski insists she was overwhelmed by support from family members and now feels happy in her new life, adding, "I chose to change my exterior to bring it closer into alignment with my interior... My biggest fears were all about losing my family. Once they accepted me, everything else has been a piece of cake."
However, Wachowski is determined to keep some details of her sex change private: "I know that many people are dying to know if I have a surgically constructed vagina or not, but I prefer to keep this information between my wife and me."
The 47-year-old moviemaker has undergone a sex change operation and now goes by the name Lana.
With her hair in pink dreadlocks, Wachowski introduced herself for the first time as a woman in a behind-the-scenes trailer for the new drama, saying, "Hi, I'm Lana."
The Matrix director was previously married to Thea Bloom. They divorced in 2002 after nine years of marriage.
Wachowski is not the first celebrity to come out as transgender in recent months - Cher's daughter Chastity is now known as Chaz Bono, Against Me! singer Tom Gabel recently became Laura Jane Grace, and Warren Beatty and Annette Bening's eldest child, daughter Kathleen, is formally called Steven Ira.
The Wachowskis clearly have a thing for malleable reality. The upcoming adaptation of Cloud Atlas will not stray far from their grand, philosophical fantasy tastes that brought us The Matrix.
What's almost as impressive as the artistic ambition being imbued into this film is its cast: stars include Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving (reteaming with the Wachowskis after V for Vendetta), Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent and Ben Whishaw.
The movie will connect six stories from separate time periods and locations (including 1930s Belgium, 1970s California and post-apocalyptic Hawaii) in some way that all non-Wachowskis have yet to completely understand. In fact, the novel by David Mitchell has, up until this point, been considered an implausible film adaptation. But these are The Matrix siblings. By definition, their abilities are boundless. Additionally, actors will play multiple roles (just to further muddle the confines of reality).
The Wachowskis will share the directorial role with Tom Tykwer, most famous for The International and Run, Lola, Run, which is legitimately one of the greatest movies ever made. So, if anyone is going to film the unfilmable, this is a pretty good team to attempt it.
Mid-September will see the shooting begin -- although, the more one invests in this film, the less attached to the normative concept of time one gradually becomes. So, it should start shooting anywhere in the Victorian Era/Renaissance/2950s/Bronze Age/summer 1991.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Up until now, Andy and Lana Wachowski seemed pretty satisfied basking in the glory of having changed every stoner’s worldview in 1999. Since The Matrix trilogy, they've been involved with very few projects—they wrote V for Vendetta, which was good, and made Speed Racer, which was exactly how it looked. But it looks as if they’re back in the game.
After this significant hiatus, the Wachowskis seem to be overcompensating with several new projects in the works. One of which is called Jupiter Rising; it's surrounded with an air of mystery that is stirring a considerable amount of intrigue. Warner Brothers, which is producing Jupiter Rising, expressed a great deal of optimism about the project, but they've yet to release any details. Until we find out more about this film, we can focus on the more immediate Wachowski installment: Cloud Atlas, on which the pair collaborated with the ingenious Tom Tykwer. Cloud Atlas, set to go into production this fall, will star Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving (reuniting with the Wachowskis after V for Vendetta), and will cover six separate stories that inevitably interlock with one another.
But, there’s more on the horizon for the duo. They’re also planning to stick Will Smith in a modern-day Robin Hood story and they're developing Cobalt Neutral 9, which is described as a “gay war movie.” So, after a long post-Matrix hibernation, the Wachowskis are coming at us from all angles—this time, we’ll be prepared…I hope. I really don’t want to start freaking out whenever I have déjà vu again.
Source: Cinema Blend
Tom Hanks is so widely acclaimed as Hollywood’s head of the A-List, that he was actually depicted literally as such in 30 Rock’s one hundredth episode. But lately, he’s been far busier behind the scenes. Hanks’ production company, Playtone Productions, is currently developing a thematically diverse but universally high-power trio of projects.
The first is a promising adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Nebula Award-winning novel, American Gods: a widely acclaimed epic characterization of the very ideas of gods and faith, borrowing from a vast resume of mythologies. The series promises a dense representation of the author’s vision via what we can expect to be some of the most impressive visual effects on modern television.
The second project reunites Hanks with Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis to breathe life into the classic Mattel toy Major Matt Mason, in a film named after the character. Hanks will play the lead: an astronaut whose work forces him to live perpetually on the moon. As to be expected from a contemporary action figure-based space film, it is to be shot in 3D and will foster a budget over $100 million. Major Matt Mason will remind viewers of an earlier Hanks, circa Big, as it marks the actor’s return to live-action films directed at children and parents alike. This 3D space film suggests a pattern in Playtone Productions’ tastes. In 2005, the company teamed up with IMAX to produce the documentary Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, in which Hanks participated as co-writer, co-producer and narrator.
The third project on Playtone's plate is a screen adaptation of Green Day’s American Idiot Broadway musical (itself adapted from the band’s 2004 album).
Of course, all of these projects will follow July's Larry Crowne, a romantic comedy reuniting Hanks with Julia Roberts, in a student-teacher relationship at a community college, highlighting overtones of the present state of America’s economy and society. Hanks himself co-wrote the script with Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame: the pair’s teaming suggests nuanced characters making poignantly funny even the most dire of situations.