"For me it's headphones in, gloves on, work out... I have 20 playlists or more that have everything from Corelli violin sonatas to Anthony Hamilton, Alicia Keys, The Supremes, Marilyn Manson, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland. I'm crazy about Nelly, and I love Jack White's new album." Sharon Stone on the music she likes to listen to at the gym.
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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The nominees for the 2013 Grammy Awards will be announced tonight for the first time in a flashy, live concert at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena hosted by Taylor Swift and LL Cool J that will feature performances by fun., The Band Perry, Maroon 5, Janelle Monae, The Who and others.
While previous years' Grammys have been dominated by a single powerhouse artist or album (I'm lookin' at you, Adele), this year it could be anyone's game. Will Billboard sensations Justin Bieber and Rihanna get nods, or will indie darlings like Frank Ocean, Mumford and Sons, and The Black Keys rule the night? I guess we just have to wait and see!
Check back at 10:00 PM ET as we reveal the nominees along with CBS' broadcast.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
Florence and The Machine, Ceremonials
fun., Some Nights
Maroon 5, Overexposed
Pink, The Truth About Love
Record of the Year
"Lonely Boy," The Black Keys
"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," Kelly Clarkson
"We are Young," fun. featuring Janelle Monae
"Somebody That I Used to Know," Gotye featuring Kimbra
"Thinkin Bout You," Frank Ocean
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Taylor Swift Best New Artist Alabama Shakes fun. Hunter Hayes The Lumineers Frank Ocean Country Solo Performance "Home," Dierks Bently "Springsteen," Eric Church "Cost of Livin," Ronnie Dunn "Wanted," Hunter Hayes "Over," Blake Shelton "Blown Away," Carrie Underwood Album of the Year El Camino, Black Keys Some Nights, fun. Babel, Mumford and Sons Channel Orange, Frank Ocean Blunderbuss, Jack White Song of the Year "The A Team" Ed Sheeran (songwriter: Ed Sheeran) "Call Me Maybe" Carly Rae Jepsen (songwriters: Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen & Josh Ramsay) "Adorn" Miguel (songwriter: Miguel Pimentel) "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" Kelly Clarkson (songwriters: Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi) "We Are Young" fun. featuring Janelle Monáe (songwriters: Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost & Nate Ruess) Best Pop Duo/Group Performance "Shake It Out" by Florence + The Machine "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monáe "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra "Sexy And I Know It" by LMFAO "Payphone" by Maroon 5 & Wiz Khalifa Best Pop Solo Performance Adele, "Set Fire to the Rain (Live)" Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe" Katy Perry, "Wide Awake" Rihanna - "Where Have You Been" Best Dance Recording Avicii, "Levels" Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo,"Let's Go" Skrillex feat. Sirah, "Bangarang" Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin, "Don't You Worry Child" Al Walser, "I Can't Live Without You" Best Dance/Electronic Album Steve Aoki, Wonderland The Chemical Brothers, Don't Think deadmau5 Kaskade, Fire & Ice Skrillex, Bangarang Best Rock Performance Alabama Shakes,"Hold On" The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy" Coldplay, "Charlie Brown" Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait" Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care of Our Own" Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Anthrax, "I'm Alive" Halestorm, "Love Bites (So Do I)" Iron Maiden, "Blood Brothers" Lamb of God,"Ghost Walking" Marilyn Manson ,"No Reflection" Megadeth, "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)" Best Rock Song Jack White, "Freedom at 21" Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait" The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy" Muse, "Madness" Bruce Springsteen, "We Take Care of Our Own" Best Rock Album The Black Keys, El Camino Muse, The 2nd Law Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball Jack White, Blunderbuss Best Alternative Music Album Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do Bjork, Biophilia Gotye, Making Mirrors M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming Tom Waits, Bad As Me Best R&B Performance Estelle, "Thank You" Robert Glasper Experiment feat. Ledisi, "Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.) Luke James, "I Want You" Miguel, "Adorn" Usher, "Climax" Best Traditional R&B Performance Anita Baker, "Lately" Beyonce, "Love on Top" Melanie Fiona, "Wrong Side of a Love Song" Gregory Porter, "Real Good Hands" SWV, "If Only You Knew" Best Urban Contemporary Album Chris Brown, Fortune Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream Frank Ocean, Channel Orange Best R&B Album Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio Anthony Hamilton, Back To Love R. Kelly, Write Me Back Tamia, Beautiful Surprise Tyrese, Open Invitation Best Rap Performance Drake feat. Lil' Wayne, "HYFR (Hell Ya F---ing Right)" Jay-Z & Kanye West, "N---as In Paris" Nas,"Daughters" Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz, "Mercy" Young Geezy feat. Jay-Z & Andre 3000, "I Do" Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Flo Rida feat. Sia, "Wild Ones" Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean & The-Dream, "No Church in the Wild" John Legend feat. Ludacris, "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)" Nas feat. Amy Whinehouse, "Cherry Wine" Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, "Talk That Talk" Best Rap Song Nas, "Daughters" Wale feat. Miguel, "Lotus Flower Bomb" Kanye West Featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz, "Mercy" Drake feat. Lil' Wayne, "The Motto" Jay-Z & Kanye West, "N---as In Paris" Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Featuring Bruno Mars, "Young, Wild & Free" Best Rap Album Drake, Take Care Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 The Roots, Undun Nas, Life Is Good Rick Ross, God Forgives, I Don't 2 Chainz, Based on a T.R.U. Story Best Country Song Carrie Underwood, "Blown Away" Ronnie Dunn, "Cost of Livin' " Eli Young Band, "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" Alan Jackson, "So You Don't Have to Love Me Anymore" Eric Church, "Springsteen" Best Americana Album The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter John Fullbright, From the Ground Up The Lumineers, The Lumineers Mumford & Sons, Babel Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream Best Blues Album Shemekia Copeland, 33 1/3 Dr. John, Locked Down Ruthie Foster, Let It Burn Heritage Blues Orchestra, And I Still Rise Joan Osborne, Bring It on Home Head to Grammy.comfor the nominees in all 81 categories! Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone [Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images] More: Wait, Really? 12 Grammy Winners You Won't Believe American Music Awards Winners' List: Did Justin Bieber Best Rihanna For Top Honors? The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards Winners Are...
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There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
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.
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
Shock-rocker Marilyn Manson pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges of disorderly conduct and assault and battery, The Associated Press reports. Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, was charged with sexual misconduct for allegedly gyrating against a security guard during a July 2001 concert at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Michigan. Manson was ordered to pay fines totaling $4,000.
Manson's litigation nightmares are far from over. He is also being sued by security guards who accuse him of similar behavior during an October 2000 concert in Minneapolis, and an August 2001 show in Long Island, N.Y. In a separate case, the mother of a woman who died when she drove her car into some parked cars is also suing him for wrongful death, claiming Manson gave her daughter drugs and sent her home.
The manager of the theater where Madonna is making her London stage debut has apparently quit over what he says is the star's never-ending demands and quest for total control. According to the London Evening Standard, William Ingrey, who has spent nearly 30 years at the theater, had become exasperated by all the fuss surrounding Madonna and told colleagues he was "unable to cope with constraints put upon him to satisfy the needs of the present productions."
It's a girl for singer Brandy and her producer husband, Robert Smith, the AP reports. Brandy's first child, named Sy'rai, was born on Father's Day, two days before an MTV series on her pregnancy debuted. Diary Presents: Brandy--Special Delivery, will run for about four or five episodes.
Vanna White, Wheel of Fortune's famed letter turner, has filed for divorce from her husband of 11 years, restaurateur George Santo Pietro. A spokeswoman for the show told Reuters that the two are not bitter and remain good friends. The couple has two children--a daughter, 5, and a son, 8.
Actress Liv Tyler is in negotiations to join the cast of Miramax Films' Jersey Girl, which is scheduled to begin production Aug. 12 in Philadelphia, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The role would reunite Tyler with her Armageddon co-star Ben Affleck. The film, directed by Kevin Smith, also stars Jennifer Lopez.
Robert Luketic, who directed last year's sleeper hit Legally Blonde, is in talks to helm the DreamWorks comedy Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, reports Variety. The film follows a young grocery clerk who leaves West Virginia for the West Coast after winning a date with Hollywood's most eligible bachelor.
Actor/comedian Damon Wayans is outraged over Fox's decision to move The Bernie Mac Show from its original 9 p.m. time slot to 8 p.m., when it will air opposite Wayans' My Wife and Kids on ABC on Wednesdays. Wayans told The Los Angeles Times, "The networks should not be playing checkers with two shows about African-American families that are working....It's divide and conquer." My Wife and Kids earned Wayans a People's Choice Award for favorite male performer on a TV series, while The Bernie Mac Show recently took home a Peabody Award.
Nickelodeon's special on gay parenting, My Family Is Different, pulled in strong ratings despite protests from conservative groups accusing the network of "homosexual advocacy." According to Variety, the program brought in 976,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demographic, a record for the kids' cable channel's news specials. In kids 12-17, 145,000 teens tuned in.