Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh and members of Jls and The Saturdays joined British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne at a tea party for sick children at his official London residence on Tuesday (21May13). Osborne hosted the bash for seriously ill youngsters at his home at 11 Downing Street to mark the 10th anniversary of U.K. kids' charity Rays Of Sunshine.
Celebrity guests included JLS singers Aston Merrygold and J.B. Gill as well as The Saturdays' Mollie King, Vanessa White and Una Healy.
Merrygold, a longtime supporter of the organisation, tells U.K. TV show Daybreak, "It was an amazing day, really, really good. Big thanks goes out to the Chancellor for hosting the party.
"What makes Rays Of Sunshine so special is the fact that we've met so many kids over the years. You're always meeting new kids and it's amazing when they're recovering and getting better. You do hear some terrifying stories but we see them over and over again (at events and) you actually get to see their journey and see them recuperate."
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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The James Bond star has blasted former Prime Minister Tony Blair for starting the fad and insists he will never befriend a politician in case they later turn on him.
Craig tells Men's Journal, "Tony Blair started it much more than anybody's ever done. 'Go and have tea at (the Prime Minster's residence) 10 Downing Street'.
"You are immediately aligning yourself with a political party. Politicians are s**theads. That's how they become politicians, even the good ones. We're actors, we're artists, we're very nice to each other. They (politicians) will turn around and stab you in the back."
And Craig is adamant he'll never follow in the footsteps of other actors who have spoken out to support a political party, adding, "George (Clooney) has his finger on the political pulse. He's one of those guys who can get up and talk, and I don't have that.
"If someone shoves a microphone in your face and says, 'Explain yourself', you have to have a 100 per cent understanding of why you're doing it, and, unless you're 100 per cent, don't do it, let your work speak for itself."
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
S1:E5 Finally, Football Wives answers the question “Is Pilar Sanders human?” and the answer is a resounding “no.” While I’m not really defending the sanity of any of the other women, Pilar is by far the craziest because she thinks she’s above the drama. In reality, she’s usually the catalyst for it all. She’s also apparently a pathological liar and just plain bitchy to boot. It took some serious pain meds to kill the headache this episode gave me, but at least someone finally got in that woman’s face and proved that she's a liar.
At the beginning of the episode, Chanita is still in the hospital. Amanda shows her human side and leaves her fashion show flanked by the other ladies to follow Chanita to the hospital. Shortly after Chanita is rushed away, Pilar shows up and seems almost annoyed that everyone went to the hospital. She gets a text from Deion and leaves to tend to him because that’s more “important” to her life. Clearly, this woman is not human. I don’t care how much you dislike or even hate someone but she’s just plain heartless.
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The football wives weren’t allowed into the hospital room with Chanita, so they go home, but Amanda demands that they cancel the fashion show because their friend is more important than some silly event. I’m impressed by her maturity in this situation, especially considering how she deals with everything else.
The next morning, Chanita returns home. It turns out there’s nothing wrong with her, she was just suffering a severe migraine. I don’t know that it merited an emergency room visit, but I’m sure she was in some intense pain and for someone who doesn’t usually get migraines the first one’s got to be terrifying. Erin stops by first to see Chanita –funny, considering how she failed to stand up for Chanita when Pilar was passing judgment and rolling her eyes. The other wives (all except for Pilar) start to trickle in, bearing gifts and well wishes. Melani swears that Chanita is superwoman and that nothing ever gets to her, but I don’t know if this show has really given any evidence of that. (Remember how she couldn’t even finish a workout after claiming what an athlete she is? Not to mention the fact that she’s constantly complaining.) This event has reminded the ladies that they need to stick together, so they hold their wedding rings together like they’re on an episode of Captain Planet and swear to be the super football wives sisterhood. Ya ya, ladies.
Of course, now that she’s well, Chanita has the capacity to get right back to her greatest talent: bitching about those who’ve done her wrong. At least the theme is consistent; she’s still complaining about Pilar. George comes home from training camp to visit Chanita after her hospital visit. Things aren’t going so well for his teammate, Ryan (Dawn’s husband) because he sustained an injury during training camp. Chanita feels remorse for about five seconds before she turns the sad news into an occasion to complain about Pilar (but as much as I dislike Chanita, I’ll give it to her that any excuse to trash talk that fem-bot is a good one). At first, she makes jokes about Pilar’s no-guests-in-the-bathroom policy, but then we see why it really bothers her. She desperately wants Pilar to like her, but here’s some news for you Chanita: I don’t think it’s you. Pilar doesn’t seem to like anyone.
Despite the multitudes of drama from the first 10 minutes of the episode, the ladies all trot off to a boat party hosted by the football wife hopeful, Brittany and her Cowboy kicker. She invites everyone, including Pilar. A bunch of bitchy, over-privileged women stuck on a boat with their frenemy? This is going to get ugly. The women manage to stave off the drama for a bit, reveling in the luxury (sans class) of Brittany’s soiree and downing champagne and liquor while practicing their stripper skills on the boat’s built-in stripper pole. I’m surprised none of them slipped and fell into the lake with all that liquid courage flowing through their veins.
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Of course, Pilar will have nothing to do with the ladies (although, to be honest, I don’t know if I’d be partaking in the floating stripper Olympics either). The ladies aren’t having it and Amanda takes it upon herself to confront Pilar – it’s the best chance she’ll get. You know Pilar isn’t going to swim to shore just to escape their verbal attack; her clothes are too expensive, and there’s a good chance she’ll melt as soon as she touches the water. The big question is why Pilar wasn’t at the hospital to support Chanita, but she feigns ignorance. Not so fast –Erin was there and she tells everyone that she told Pilar what was up and Pilar still decided to do nothing. Wow, have you learned nothing from you little age lie, Pilar? If you’re going to lie, make sure the evidence of your non-truth isn’t readily available. Duh. Of course this starts a fight with Dawn, who’s drunk enough to yell at Pilar and throw a cookie in her general direction. Pilar warns her not to get “jazzy with the jazz-master” – seriously, Pilar? If you’re going to be queen bitch, at least get some better terminology. This isn’t exactly the playground, ladies.
Pilar smugly listens to the affront and affirms that she doesn’t feel like she’s friends with any of them – so then why did you come to this little boat trip where you knew you’d be trapped with these ladies for hours? Hmm, reality show? I think not. The situation soon unravels as Amanda tries to play ref between Chanita and Dawn as they whine and bitch to Pilar and eventually the screeching chatter reaches a decibel that I’m pretty sure only dogs can hear. By the end of the fight, the sky is dark – just a little context so you can tell just how long this screaming fight went on. Something tells me this is what the rest of the season is going to be like.
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S2: E6 I’m not even going to try to contain my excitement over this week’s episode of Community. It had everything I love: Halloween costumes, tacos, zombies, creepy music (ABBA), and Troy without a shirt. (Sorry dudes, we do spend a lot of these episodes talking about Annie’s boobs, so I figure it’s only fair that I get to lust after Donald Glover for a bit.) Oh, and did I mention it was narrated by George Takei? As in Sulu from the original Star Trek? Yeah, it was just that cool.
After a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque intro from George Takei, the scene opens on Greendale’s Halloween party. Pierce is dressed as the Shatner- variety James T. Kirk (maybe someone told him Takei would be narrating), Jeff is his handsome self as David Beckham (complete with $6,000 suit), and the dean is dressed as what I assume will this year’s most popular costume – Lady Gaga. After downing several “tacos” Jeff spills the beans (ha! Get it? Because they’re eating tacos? Like Mexican food? Okay, I’ll stop) and it turns out they’ve been eating military rations from an army surplus store. Yuck. Britta as a T-Rex/ Dragon-turtle points out that the dean’s endless loop of ABBA songs is occasionally interrupted by his personal voice memos (including one reminding him to check out Human Centipede.) Damn, he’s creepy. Shirley is once again in a “dangerously ambiguous” costume – Annie dressed as Little Red Riding hood hasn’t solved the mystery but she does warn them NOT to call Shirley Miss Piggy. (Of course, now that’s all they can see.) Troy and Abed have a joint costume from Alien, Troy as Ripley in a power loader and Abed as an alien (he really commits to the costume, it’s awesome), but when Troy fails to pick up girls in his yellow frame, he no longer wants to play Abed’s nerdy games. But the main problem is the dean’s tacos; Pierce and many others are starting to get ill after eating. Just when Annie’s friend the doctor (in a banana suit) is making a case for food poisoning, Pierce grabs Starburns and tried to eat his arm. Yep, definitely not food poisoning. Try zombies, glorious zombies.
Before everyone starts to notice that the school is being taken over by zombies (oh, it’s no big deal), Troy ditches his Alien-inspired costume for something a little more lady-friendly. He comes back from the bathroom wearing little more than a toilet seat cover with the word “Dracula” written on it, leaving Abed alone in his nerdiness. He’s a “sexy Dracula” – DUH. Meanwhile, the zombie virus is taking hold of the infected students and the dean elects to call the surplus store where he got the “taco meat” to complain. Apparently, it was not taco meat. Nope. It was some top secret toxic waste – how dumb is this guy? He’s patched in to an officer from the army who commands him to quarantine the zombies for 6 hours until the army can swoop in and fix everything. That’s one hell of a time window. Who do they think they are? The cable guy?
Meanwhile, shit’s starting to get crazy. Just as Annie suggests they evacuate calmly, all hell breaks loose, zombies attack, the dean locks everyone in the library, the study group fends off zombie attackers and barricades themselves in the study room as ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” plays jauntily in the background. God, I love this show.
Before they finally seal off the room, Doctor Banana wants to double check that everyone managed to escape the attack without getting bitten. (And he totally has a bite on his ankle that he’s hiding. Bastard.) He also explains that the infected people will develop high fevers and that in a matter of hours, the zombified students’ brains will overheat and turn to mush. No longer the undead, they’ll just be plain ol’ dead. They figure out a plan: if they can get to the thermostat and turn up the AC, they can break the fever and kill the virus. But nope, too late. Doctor Banana’s speech goes all drunken undead dude and Britta’s not far behind. The remaining group tries to escape the newest zombies, but Annie gets taken. Chang and Shirley get separated from Jeff, Abed, and Troy and barricade themselves in the bathroom. As they hold the door shut, Chang notices that Shirley’s not Miss Piggy, she’s Glenda the Good Witch. In turn, Shirley notes that she loves Chang’s Peggy Fleming costume and he’s happy to hear that she’s not racist (because everyone else assumed he was an Asian figure skater like Michelle Kwan). BOOM. The unthinkable happens – a Shirley-Chang hook up. Give me a second while I pick my jaw up off of the ground.
Troy, Abed, and Jeff find themselves in the basement under siege from a crazy cat that’s inexplicably being launched (or flying on its own?) across the room. Once they get past the crazy cat, Troy and Abed notice a window for their escape. Unwilling to mess up his precious suit, Jeff insists they use the door. Dammit Jeff, have you never seen a zombie movie? Of course, he opens the door, zombies flood in overtaking him and stretching out his super swanky clothes as Troy and Abed run towards the window. With nothing to climb on, to reach the opening, Abed elects to hoist Troy up so he can make Abed proud and be the first black man to survive a zombie attack. (Abed would know, he is a film nerd after all.) Troy doesn’t want to leave his bestie, and as he’s about to escape yells back at Abed ,“I love you.” And as any movie nerd should, Abed responds like Han Solo did to Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, saying “I know” as he’s overtaken by a pile of undead students. (Hold on while my nerdy side does a mini fist pump.)
Now Troy’s the only uninfected guy left. He returns to his power loader costume, bursting into the library and punching out zombies to reach the thermostat and save the day as ABBA's "Mamma Mia" plays. Gotta love that juxtaposition. As he trudges through the library, he takes out all the zombie versions of his friends until he reaches Abed. He hesitates, and in a final ironic blow his zombified best friend is the one who finally bites him. He manages to crawl to the thermostat and push the button (stopping for a second to take note of Jeff who’s still poking at his blackberry and “still cool as a zombie”) before finally taking full zombie form and joining the rest his groaning, grey friends. Damnit. It’s over, right? Everyone’s a zombie.
But no, as ABBA’s “Fernando” starts to swell, the AC starts to flow and the zombies start to sense a slow return to normalcy – Jeff goes from slapping at his phone to getting right back to sending texts and emails. Just then, the army arrives, ready to “dose these suckers.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means. The two army officers show up wearing black suits and sunglasses at night, but thank God that one of the underlings interrupts them before they can follow through on what was sure to be a Men In Black reference.
After they dosed the suckers, everyone wakes up in the library, bandaged and confused. No one remembers anything that happened, and the army officers tell everyone that the party was mass-roofied. (Chang is disappointed that he wasn’t the mastermind behind it all. He would. Creep.) George Takei closes it out with narration that has nothing to do with the episode, but might benefit you if your name is Kevin.
It’s hard to imagine that the tag could even come close to the Halloween episode that I can only describe as 22 minutes of pure zombie awesomeness, but Troy finding a voicemail that was left during the zombie attack after the army’s erased his memory. Watch and enjoy.
Celebrities including Elton John, George Clooney and Mick Jagger have urged world leaders to step up their efforts to remedy the situation in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.
The stars released the statement yesterday to coincide with the Global Day for Darfur Sunday, marking the fourth anniversary of the conflict and organized by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Endorsed by Bob Geldof, Hugh Grant and Mia Farrow, the statement said, "The international community must end its stalling and take decisive action. The perpetrators who carry out these atrocities must be challenged and stopped."
Protests will occur in London today, including a demonstration at Downing Street and outside the Sudanese embassy.
Fighting in Darfur has so far resulted in 200,000 deaths and two million displacements.
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