Angelina Jolie has paid tribute to Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini, the inspiration for her forthcoming film Unbroken, following his death at the age of 97. Zamperini, an American long-distance runner who became a Japanese prisoner of war, passed away on Wednesday (02Jul14) after a battle with pneumonia.
His family confirmed the sad news in a statement, which reads, "Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has never broken down from a challenge. He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia... His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days."
Jolie grew close to Zamperini while she was working on the movie based on his life story, which is due for release later this year (14), and she offered an emotional tribute to her late friend, saying, "It is a loss impossible to describe. We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly."
A statement from Universal Pictures, the studio behind Unbroken, adds, "We are so profoundly sad at this moment and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Zamperini family. Louis was truly one of a kind. He lived the most remarkable life... We move forward to the release of Unbroken with a renewed sense of responsibility in bringing Louis' abundant life and indomitable spirit to the screen."
Zamperini competed in the 5,000 metres race at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Germany and impressed dictator Adolf Hitler with a remarkably fast final lap despite finishing eighth over all. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1941 after the outbreak of World War II, and his plane crash landed the Pacific Ocean in 1943. He spent 47 days at sea on a raft fending off shark attacks and battling adverse weather conditions before being captured by Japanese forces.
Zamperini was held in captivity until 1945, and returned to America to a hero's welcome.
Unbroken is due for release in the U.S. in December (14) and stars British actor Jack O'Connell as Zamperini.
Funnyman Eddie Izzard is planning to thank Russians for their part in helping the Allies win World War II by performing a show in their native tongue. The British comedian will play three gigs in English, French and German on Friday (06Jun14) as part of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when Allied forces stormed the beaches at Normandy to liberate occupied France.
He has now announced plans to follow up his trio of shows in Caen, France by learn Russian for an even more ambitious stunt in 2019, insisting the country does not get enough credit for its efforts to oust Adolf Hitler.
Izzard wants to perform four shows - in English, French, German and Russian - when the 75th anniversary of D-Day rolls around.
He tells Sky News, "On the 75th anniversary in five years' time I'm going to come back and do a Russian show as well, because Russians need to be included in that because they fought so hard."
Actor Anthony Mackie is set to develop and star in a film about Olympic gold medallist Jesse Owens. The Captain America: The Winter Soldier star has teamed up with his producing partner Jason Spire and screenwriter Jamie Linden and they are hoping to shoot the film in Germany later this year (14), according to Deadline.com.
The untitled movie will centre on the lead-up to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where the sprinter took home four gold medals, much to the disgust of Germany's Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Mackie's project is not the only movie about the American track and field star in the works - bosses at Disney are working on a film based on on the Jeremy Schaap book Triumph, while Stephan James has reportedly been cast as Owens in a film to be directed by Predator 2's Stephen Hopkins.
The Owens film might help explain why Mackie has dropped out of playing jazz musician Buddy Bolden in a biopic, due to scheduling issues.
He began filming Bolden in 2007, but in 2009 director Dan Pritzker ordered extensive re-shoots involving Mackie's scenes.
Pritzker is now planning to finish the movie by filming half of it over again and has cast Downton Abbey's Gary Carr to replace Mackie.
British rocker Bez is convinced humans are controlled by a secret society and Adolf Hitler was a "double agent" working for Britain. The Happy Mondays wildman stunned fans in March (14) by announcing he is moving in to politics and will be running as a Member of Parliament for his native Salford, England in next year's (15) election.
He has already called for a "revolution" in the U.K. and joined an anti-fracking protest, but now he has opened up about his belief in a range of bizarre conspiracy theories - including blaming the global banking system for the world's shortage of bees.
The dancer/percussionist praises controversial conspiracy theorist David Icke, supports the fear that an 'Illuminati' group of powerful figures secretly controls the world, and insists feared dictators Hitler and Joseph Stalin were really British agents.
Bez, real name Mark Berry, tells Q magazine, "It's the bankers' fault (that bees are dying out). The bankers and the big corporations are all raping and pillaging the world for their own profits. They control the world, not the politicians... It's a Freemason Illuminati plot to control the world. It's part of a banking system which goes back three hundred years. Hitler was a British double agent who was working for them. So was Stalin...
"I'm a great supporter of David Icke. He's an activist for the human race... (Critics are) just trying to discredit him. I can back up everything I say. I could say more, I know all their names... I've probably signed me own death warrant. I'm making people aware of what's really going on. It's not just Salford which needs saving, it's the whole world. And I intend to bring the whole Matrix down."
Megan Fox has put her feud with Michael Bay firmly behind her and is now closer than ever to the director. Bay launched Fox's career by casting her in his hugely successful Transformers film franchise, but she was replaced by lingerie model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for the third film. Fox's exit came after she compared the demanding director to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in a 2009 interview, and it fuelled long-lasting rumours of a nasty feud between the pair. However, Fox recently reunited with Bay after she was handed a role in his new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, and the actress has now explained their relationship is better than ever.
She tells Entertainment Weekly, "He was one of the most lovely people that I dealt with in making this movie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). I've always loved Michael. We've had our battles in the past but even when I've been really outspoken about difficulties we've had, I've always followed up by saying that I have a particular affinity to him. He can be very vulnerable, and he's very likeable and loveable. I've always been very vocal about that as well. But, sometimes we clash because we both have very wilful, powerful personalities." Fox's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, which is produced by Bay, is due for release later this year (14).
One of actress Emmy Rossum's nannies as a child was awarded a medal by Adolf Hitler for her singing skills. The Phantom of the Opera star admits the Austrian woman, named Gettie, was a great nanny with a dark past.
Rossum tells Complex magazine, "Hitler gave her a prize as a child for singing the best German national anthem. My mum is Jewish, so that was a little awkward.
"She would tell that story but she knew Hitler was a bad guy. There's no getting around that... Clearly if she was working for a Jewish family she had no prejudice herself."
Hollywood actor George Clooney has stepped up a war-of-words with London Mayor Boris Johnson over claims the politician compared him to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in a rant over the Elgin Marbles. Clooney became embroiled in the long-running dispute over the Greek artefacts, which were removed from Athens in the early 1800s and are now housed at a museum in London, while promoting his new movie The Monuments Men.
In the film, the actor plays an art expert tracking down treasures stolen by the Nazis in World War II, and he called on British leaders to end a centuries-old row with Greece by handing the sculptures back.
His comments drew the wrath of Johnson, who said of Clooney, "Someone urgently needs to restore George Clooney's marbles. Here he is plugging a film about looted Nazi art without realising that Goring (Nazi politician Hermann Goring) himself had plans to plunder the British Museum. And where were the Nazis going to send the Elgin marbles? To Athens!... This Clooney is advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London's cultural treasures. He should stuff the Hollywood script and stick to history."
The Oscar winner has now attacked Johnson in a scathing dismissal, saying, "I'm a great fan of the mayor, and I'm sure my right honourable friend had no real intention of comparing me to Hitler. I'd chalk it up to a little too much hyperbole washed down with a few whiskies... There are many pieces in nearly every country that this conversation should take place (in). The best place to start would be at the most obvious object. When polled the British people are overwhelmingly in favour of their return. The rest of the world follows suit. If you want to deal in facts. Those are the facts. But maybe it's just easier to compare me to Hitler."
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
There is a certain level of enjoyment you are guaranteed when signing on for a movie that boasts a cast of George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Bill Murray. And that's the precise level of enjoyment you'll get from The Monuments Men — that bare minimum smirk factor inherent the idea that your favorite stars are getting to play together. In FDR-era army helmets, no less. But what we also get from the film is an aura of smug self-confidence from project captain Clooney, who seems all too ready to take for granted that we're perfectly satisfied peering into his backyard clubhouse.
So assured is the director/co-writer that we're happy to be in on the game that there doesn't seem to be any effort taken to refine the product for the benefit of a viewing audience. An introductory speech from art historian Frank Stokes (Clooney) sets up the premise straight away: the Nazis are stealing and destroying all of Europe's paintings and sculptures, and by gum we need to stop them! The concept doesn't complicate from there, save for a batting back and forth of the throughline question about whether the preservation of these pieces is "really worth it." Stokes rallies his own Ocean's Seven on a fine arts rescue mission, instigating an old fashioned go-get-'em-boys montage where we learn everything we need to know about the band mates in question: Damon has a wife, Goodman has gumption, Murray doesn't smile, Bob Balaban is uppity, and Jean Dujardin is French.
The closest thing to a character in The Monuments Men comes in the form of Hugh Bonneville, a recovering alcoholic whose motivation to take on the dangerous mission is planted in a festering desire to absolve himself of a lifetime of f**king up. When we're away from Bonneville, the weight disspears, as does most of the joy. Without identifiable characters, even master funnymen like Goodman, Murray, and Balaban don't have much to offer... especially since the movie's jokes feel like first draft placeholders born on a tired night.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
But wait a minute, is this even supposed to be a comedy? After all, it's about World War II. And no matter what Alexandre Desplat's impossibly merry score would have you believe (coupled with The Lego Movie, this opening weekend might be responsible for more musical jubilance than any other since the days of "Make 'Em Laugh!"), warfare, genocide, and desecration of international culture all make for some pretty heavy material. But The Monuments Men's drama is just as fatigued as its humor, clumsily piecing together a collection of mini missions wherein the stakes, somehow, never seem to jump. We're dragged through military bases, battered towns, and salt mines by Clooney and the gang — occasionally jumping over to France to watch Damon work his least effective magic in years on an uptight Cate Blanchett, who holds the key to the scruffy American's mission but doesn't quite trust him... until, for no apparent reason, she suddenly does. We never feel like any of these people matter, not even to each other, so we never really feel like their adventures do.
The Monuments Men doesn't have much of a challenge ahead of it. Its heroes are movie stars, its bad guys are Nazis, and its message is one that nobody's going to refute: art is important — a maxim it pounds home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, through countless scenes of men staring in awe at the works of Michelangelo and Rembrandt. And in this easy endeavor, Clooney decides to coast. How could it possibly go wrong? Just grab hold of the fellas, toss 'em in the trenches, and let the laughs and danger write themselves. "This is what they came to see," Monuments Men insists. "Just us guys havin' a ball." But we never feel in on the game, and it isn't one that looks like that much fun anyhow.
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Russell Brand has launched a bitter attack on Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch by comparing him to Adolf Hilter in an controversial online rant. The British funnyman, who is dating socialite Jemima Khan, was left fuming after editors at one of Murdoch's British tabloids printed an interview with model Sophie Coady, who alleged she enjoyed a fling with Brand earlier this year (13).
Brand is adamant that suggestions he slept with Coady behind his girlfriend's back are untrue, and he has now published a lengthy rant on Theguardian.com in which he compares News International boss Rupert Murdoch to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
The Forgetting Sarah Marshall star writes, "In the general scheme of things... it might not seem like a big deal. That's because it isn't to anyone, except me or my girlfriend. The pain, disruption and distress... (this caused me) is a pale liver-spot on the back of Murdoch's glabrous claw... Rupert Murdoch, an animatronic al-Qaida recruitment poster... referred consistently to his pride in (his newspaper) the Sun as 'a trusted news source'. Trusted is the word he used, not trustworthy... He uses the word 'trusted' deliberately. Hitler was trusted, it transpired he was not trustworthy..."
He adds, "(Murdoch's newspaper) loves me when I'm a prattling, giggling, Essex boy 'Sh**ger of the Year', when I'm in my proper place, beneath vacuous headlines... But if I use my glistening podium, to talk to the people I grew up with, or signed on with or used drugs with, vulnerable, overlooked, undeserved, ordinary people, people that can't sue them as I am, then out come the fangs."
Child star Sophie Nelisse has urged Hollywood's studio bosses to keep making films about the Holocaust, because she is part of a generation who aren't taught about the horrors of the second world war. The 13 year old admits she knew nothing about the Nazi atrocities before she started researching her role in The Book Thief, in which her character befriends a Jewish man hiding from German troops, and she thinks youngsters should be aware of what happened.
Speaking at a recent screening of the film in Los Angeles, Nelisse said, "We don't learn about the Holocaust in my school, so when I did the movie I had to do a lot of research.
"Kids my age - our generation - don't know enough about what happened. Some people think it's annoying that we keep on making these (Holocaust) movies, but I don't think so because all of the (concentration) camp survivors are gonna die at some point... and I just hope that in 100 years, people remember what happened, first of all to not let it happen again and sort of for a way to remember the people that died and to remember the people that fought for them (sic). I just think it's really important that we keep on making these movies."
Her thoughts were echoed by her co-star Emily Watson, who recently told WENN, "We filmed in Berlin, which is a city that is very, very honest and it wears it's history on it's sleeve, and it's very brutal with itself what has happened there. It was pretty relentless because you're filming all day and then you'd go off on a sightseeing tour and everywhere you go there is an exhibit about what happened. It's gutting.
"But it's fascinating to me that Sophie has friends who don't know about the Holocaust. You sit in a room with seasoned hacks (journalists) and they've all seen Schindler's List and The Pianist and The Reader and they ask, 'Do we need another Holocaust movie?'
"Yeah, we b**ody well do. (Co-star) Geoffrey (Rush) was talking about a survey that was carried out in the United States, where teenagers were asked, 'Was Adolf Hitler a dictator or was he a football coach?' Most of them thought he was a football coach! So it's a story you have to keep telling."