TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
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In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
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American Idol delivered one hell of a blow April 5. In fact, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it actually happened: despite Hollie Cavanagh's disaster of a performance, the swiftly rising DeAndre Brackensick was stripped of his Idol dreams. I may or may not have run outside and screamed "DeAndre!" like a horrible desecration of the classic A Streetcar Named Desire scene on my New York City block last night, because more than anything, this shocking elimination is just a crying shame. But, as upsetting as DeAndre winding up in eighth place might be (at least for some of us), it could actually be for the best.
Looking back at Idol's past eight place finalists, most have slipped back into relative obscurity, but a few notable people have come out of that spot. Paul McDonald was Season 10's fifth elimination, but he's managed to keep us mildly chattering about his life and potential projects. It might help that he married Twilight star Nikki Reed and then recorded a schmaltzy duet about how much they love each other, but he's still on our radar. Of course, light years beyond McDonald is Oscar-winner and Jenny Craig spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson. She was ejected from the series long before she deserved to be, and yet she went on to take our breath away in Dreamgirls, play best friend/assistant to the one and only Carrie Bradshaw, and then there was her tribute to Whitney Houston at the 2012 Grammys. To say the very least, our girl's doing alright.
So while 17-year-old DeAndre probably isn't going to be cast in a Sex and The City movie or get married to any teen movie sensations in the near future, he's not necessarily S.O.L. The benefit of having his remarkable voice and immense talent (and then there's his youth), is that those who recognize it are beyond riled at this moment. If there wasn't so much great television on Thursday nights, I'd bet Randy Jackson's bowtie collection there would have been DeAndre riots in the streets post-elimination. Okay, maybe just a mild riot consisting of me and two friends in my living room, but still, folks were upset.
And DeAndre, while immensely talented, was certainly not poised to win this competition. He's up against unstoppable forces like mini-powerhouse Jessica Sanchez, the continual religious experience that is Joshua Ledet, and the down-home bluesy charm of the swoon-worthy Phillip Phillips. There's no room for DeAndre in the competition, and while he deserved to stay on a little longer, it would only delay the inevitable. His early elimination could actually be the best thing that ever happened to him because it heightens his fans' interest; they were hopeful before, but now they're downright angry. And an angry fan is an invested fan. Something tells me, with or without the Idol seal of approval, young DeAndre will be just fine. Were you surprised by DeAndre's elimination? How was Hollie not eliminated? Who should have gone home?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
American Idol Eliminations: Hollie Scrapes By In a Surprise Elimination
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Idol Top Nine: The Problem With DeAndre
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
Harvard's theater department is simultaneously celebrating and sighing.
The Hasty Pudding Club--the oldest undergraduate theater organization in the country--hailed Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker as its woman of the year Thursday at Harvard, hot on the heels of an embarrassing grand larceny charge brought against two of its members on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
Pudding members were ready for both, though, as their president Greg Padgett said--referring to the larceny charges, "If anything, it's brought us closer together. We're going to move ahead and have a great time today [with Parker]."
So they had a party.
Parker's award ceremony kicked off with a rowdy parade featuring the star riding comfortably in a red convertible Corvette, waving to students who lined the streets to take a peek at her.
As the parade came to a close in front of the Pudding Building, the group moved inside and onstage. There club members began a grueling roast, making Parker dance to songs from her previous movies ("Footloose" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun") and sing "Tomorrow" from Annie (the play that started her career).
Eventually, Harvard's The Crimson reports, the 36-year-old actress claimed her "pudding pot" (the award she came for), pronouncing, "This is the highest honor in the land."
When Parker spoke to reporters after the event, a Harvard Public Affairs official was there to prevent questioning about the two Harvard seniors--Suzanne Pomey and Randy Gomes, both 21--who were charged with grand larceny Tuesday and released without bail.
People reports that both of the accused admitted to using club credit cards to transfer close to $100,000 to their personal bank accounts, despite pleading not guilty of the charges.