Johnny Depp talked himself out of work at the 11th annual Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Awards on Saturday (15Feb14) when he joked about his onscreen talents. The Lone Ranger star was honoured with the Distinguished Artisan Award at the prizegiving in Los Angeles and took aim at his film work during his acceptance speech.
He said, "This is a great honour, but (as) I was occasionally glancing at the screen (during a career-spanning montage), I realised what a ridiculous thing I've done. I mean, seriously. Why are they still giving me jobs?"
Depp told guests he was a simple guitar player who needed money to fulfil his music dreams, when he signed up to star in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, and he became a big fan of makeup on the set.
The movie star added, "He (Craven) really took a chance on me, hooked me up with a guy named Dave Miller to take a mold of my face. I found, oddly enough, that I liked being encased in all that stuff.
"I like being isolated to that degree. So the idea of being shocked beyond recognition, it's kind of what I want. It's what I strive for. I think trying something different each time as an actor, with the luxury (of having) amazing makeup artists has made my, whatever you call it, career."
Other top winners included Dick Smith, who was honoured with the Makeup Artists Lifetime Achievement Award and Oscar winner Gail Ryan, who received the Hairstylists Lifetime Achievement Award.
Meanwhile, Dallas Buyers Club's Robin Mathews picked up the Best Period and/or Character Makeup award; American Hustle's Kathrine Gordon and Michelle Johnson were triumphant in the Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling category and Stephen Prouty and Tony Gardner claimed the night's Best Special Makeup Effects for their work on Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
“My dick is going to get so wet tonight ” declares Costa the foul-mouthed ringleader of a trio of sex-starved teens in the opening moments of Project X the new “found-footage” comedy from director Nima Nourizadeh and producer Todd Phillips (The Hangover). Believe it or not this qualifies as one of his more charming moments in the film. All of 17 but blessed with an obnoxiousness lesser men would take decades to cultivate Costa (Oliver Cooper) is the perfect mascot for a film that makes no bones of its mostly prurient intentions proffering what is essentially a succession of debaucherous montages intermingled with uneven attempts at comedy and held together by the slimmest pretense of a plot.
Caustic as he is Costa at least exhibits something of a recognizable personality; the same cannot be said of his two cohorts the tubby dweeb J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) and the earnest blank Thomas (Thomas Mann). None of them seem to enjoy much in the way of popularity at their high school located in the fictional suburb of North Pasadena but Costa has a plan to fix that. On the occasion of his 17th birthday Thomas whose parents have conveniently departed for the weekend reluctantly agrees to host a party that Costa promises will be a “game-changer” for their lowly social status.
Hardly a game-changer is Project X’s script co-written by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall which mostly treads a predictable teen-comedy path. At its outset the party appears to be a bust. Soon however hordes of eager revelers descend upon Thomas’ house and the event swiftly devolves into a festival of wanton hedonism that would impress Charlie Sheen. The orgy of booze drugs and sex is captured by Nourizadeh in one impressively slick sequence after another set to a vibrant soundtrack.
To maintain the guise of an actual movie – and to occupy us between shots of topless beauties downing tequila and frolicking in the pool – Project X tosses in a few familiar tropes to push its story along: an unstable drug-dealer bent on revenge a buzzkilling neighbor seeking to end the night’s festivities prematurely a budding but hesitant attraction between Thomas and his childhood friend Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton). But the scenes are so hollow and contrived that you get the sense even the filmmakers don’t buy them and only added them to the film in a transparent ploy to forestall allegations of complete and utter vapidity. The efforts serve only to add a dash of the banal to the proceedings.
Project X’s natural forebears – R-rated teen comedies Superbad and American Pie – tempered their crudity and outrageousness with a surprising degree of depth and sincerity. Moreover they were actually funny. Project X is a shallow affair to be sure but a dearth of laughs is what ultimately dooms it. A belligerent little person who goes on a crotch-kicking spree after being tossed in an oven amounts to the film’s most sophisticated attempt at humor. More often it relies on recycled gags from previous films (including Phillips’ own library from Road Trip to The Hangover Part II) and Jackass-inspired mishaps.
The found-footage approach has proven to be a potent (if overused) tool in horror films but its utility in the service of comedy at least in the hands of Nourizadeh is limited. It mostly comes across as a needless gimmick good for marketing purposes but little else. Perhaps acknowledging as much Project X’s backup plan calls for an incessant raising of the stakes. As the once-innocuous gathering metastasizes into a fully-fledged riot one so dangerous that even the police dare not intervene the specter of parental disapproval gives way to the threat of incarceration and finally to the potential incineration of the entire neighborhood. The scale of the destruction is impressive – especially for such a (presumably) low-budget film – but like much of what precedes it almost entirely pointless.
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Top Story: Stewart Indicted
It may be time to think about how to decorate that jail cell. Homemaking maven Martha Stewart was dealt a major blow Wednesday after she was charged with securities fraud and obstruction of justice stemming from the inside trading brouhaha over the sale of her shares of ImClone Systems, Inc. in 2001, Reuters reports. Charges were made after settlement talks between Stewart and federal prosecutors broke down. Stewart is also expected to step down as chairman and chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., Reuters reports.
Spike Suing Over Spike TV
Filmmaker Spike Lee is suing Viacom Inc. over its renaming the cable network TNN Spike TV, The Associated Press reports. The suit, which was filed Tuesday, claims it invokes the 25th Hour director's name, which he never gave consent to be used. "The media description of this change of name, as well as comments made to me and my wife, confirmed what was obvious--that Spike TV referred to Spike Lee," Lee said in court papers. Viacom bought TNN in 2000 and announced in April that it would change the channel's name to Spike TV on June 16, labeling it "the first network for men," in an attempt to further capture their already roughly two-thirds male audience. Viacom told AP on Tuesday that it was confident the court would reject Lee's claims to the popular name Spike.
Manilow Breaks Nose
Ouch! After waking disoriented in the middle of the night Tuesday, Barry Manilow accidentally ran into a wall, breaking his nose and knocking himself unconscious, Reuters reports. The 56-year-old entertainer had just returned home in Palm Springs, Calif. after spending two weeks in Malibu producing an album for Bette Midler. "I may have to have my nose fixed, and with this nose, it's going to require major surgery," Manilow quipped to Reuters, referring to his famously prominent proboscis.
Actor/Screenwriter Richard Cusack Dies
Richard Cusack--actor, screenwriter and patriarch of the famous acting family that includes stars John and Joan Cusack--died Monday of pancreatic cancer in Illinois, AP reports. He was 77. Cusack was best known for writing the 1999 HBO film The Jack Bull and appeared in films such as The Fugitive and Return to Me.
Clarkson Hits Gold--and Platinum
American Idol Kelly Clarkson is still feeling the love a year later. Her debut album Thankful has gone both gold and platinum after selling more than 1 million copies last month, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In figures released by the Recording Industry Association of America, the American Idol compilation album All-time Classic American Love Songs, which features the top 11 finalists from the second season of the Fox television hit, also soared high in sales with more than 500,000 copies sold.
Clay's Single Beating Ruben's in Sales
In more American Idol news, second season runner-up Clay Aiken's upcoming single "This is the Night"/ "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has steamed ahead of winner Ruben Studdard's single "Flying Without Wings"/ "Superstar" in advance sales on Amazon. com. Both singles are scheduled to be released June 10.
24 Producer Signs on for 24 Months More
Executive producer Howard Gordon, who heads up the hit Fox series 24, has inked a two-year deal with 20th Century Fox TV. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gordon will continue as a hands-on executive producer on 24, which has been picked up for a third season, as well as develop new projects for the studio.
Readers Eager for Harry
Amazon.com Inc. announced Wednesday their advance orders for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has reached 1 million. The highly anticipated fifth Potter book is to be released globally June 21.
Role Call: Jim Has Fun With Dick and Jane, More To Fly in Aviator
Hot off his new comedy Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey has signed with director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) and producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind) to remake the 1977 comedy Fun With Dick and Jane, Variety reports. The original film starred George Segal and Jane Fonda as a middle-class married couple who have to pull off heists to pay the bills…Meanwhile, stars are lining up alongside Leonardo DiCaprio for Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, a biopic about reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, and John C. Reilly are close to signing on to play Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner and Hughes' right-hand man Noah Dietrich, respectively, and No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani will make her screen debut as siren Jean Harlow.