Whatever side of the Underwood debate you fall on, we think everyone can agree that the highlight of NBC's The Sound of Music, Live! were the Broadway veterans in supporting roles. Audra McDonald's "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" provoked the only emotion we saw on Carrie's face all night — other than "Meow, meow, meow, meow...," of course. Christian Borle made Max so likeable we kept forgetting about that Nazi sympathizer thing. And as Elsa, Laura Benanti changed the plot of the show to "Fabulous Baroness loses imagination-free whistle-fetishist to robot nanny in Sandra Bullock's costume from the Miss Congeniality talent competition scene." She. Was. Everything. In no particular order, her finest moments.
When she was the best-dressed woman in Austria.
Clearly, everyone but Laura did something to piss off the costume designer. While the rest of the cast was clothed in K-Mart's Heidi-meets-High School Musical collection, Elsa was devastating us in a black evening gown and a perfectly fitted and flowing pink and red pantsuit. Work.
When she single-handedly filled up our "Reaction Gif" folders.
We were already questioning the Captain and Maria's whirlwind "love" affair when they shared as much chemistry as I do with my Metrocard. But it was Benanti's eyerolls and raised eyebrows that really drove home the silliness of the situation. Go find yourself a nice Baron, Elsa.
Oh right — when she sang.
Laura has played Gypsy Rose Lee, Claudia in Nine, Cinderella in Into the Woods, and yes, Maria the novice on Broadway. So she hardly broke a sweat when she slayed her meager two songs on the live broadcast.
When she loved us for loving her.
"Hey all my gays and bitches out there," Laura tweeted. "Thanks for being #TeamElsa."
Much like the somber melodies that float throughout its 105-minute runtime, Inside Llewyn Davis will remain lodged in your head weeks after you and the film first meet. With Oscar Isaac's "Fare thee we-e-ell..." ringing daintily in your ears, you'll shuffle out from the grasp of the Coen Brothers' wonderland of gray, but you won't soon be able to relieve yourself of what is arguable the pair's best film yet. Llewyn's is a story so outstandingly simple — he's a man who's s**t out of luck, and not especially deserving of any. He wakes up, loses his friend's cat, plays some music, and wishes things were better. And yet his is the Coens' most invigorating and deftly human tale yet.
Llewyn Davis makes the bold, but practical, choice of never insisting that we love its hero. He's effectively a jackass, justifying all the waste he has incurred with the rudeness he showers on the majority of those in his acquaintance. But Llewyn Davis isn't the villain here, either. The villain is the industry, and all the uphill battles inherent to its machinations. The villain isn't Llewyn's substantially more successful contacts — an old pal Jim (Justin Timberlake) and new fellow couch-surfer Troy (Stark Sands), but the listening public that prefers their saccharine pop to his dreary drips of misery. The villain isn't Llewyn's resentful old flame Jean (Carey Mulligan), no matter how many volatile admonitions she might shoot his way, but the act of God surrounding their unwitting adherence to one another. And it's not even the cantankerous and foul Roland Turner (a delightfully hammy John Goodman), but the endless, frigid open road of which each man is a prisoner (if the film has one flaw, it's that this segment carries on just a bit too long, but that might very well be the point). The villain is the cold.
Call it all a raw deal. But the real dynamism isn't in the challenges that happen outside Llewyn Davis, but in the determined toxicity brewing inside as he meets each and every one.
But this isn't the Coen Brothers' Murphy's Law comedy A Serious Man — we don't watch a chaotic pileup of every imaginable trick that the devil can manage to pull. Llewyn is steady throughout, not burying Llewyn deeper but keeping him on the ground, with the fruit-bearing branches forever out of his reach. In its narrative, Llewyn Davis is as close to natural life as any of the filmmakers' works to date. Perfectly exhibited in a late scene involving a trip to Akron, Llewyn isn't a cinematic construct, but the sort of person we know, so painfully, that we are very likely to be... on our bad days.
Still, working in such a terrific harmony with the grounded feel of Llewyn himself, we have that Coen whimsy in their delivery of 1960s New York City — rather, a magic kingdom painted in the stellar form of a 1960s New York City. And not the New York City we're given by the likes of Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen. Closer, maybe, to Spike Lee or Sydney Lumet, but still a terrain unique to moviegoers. A New York that's always recovering from a hostile rain, and always promising another 'round the bend. One that flickers like a dying bulb, with its million odd beleaguered moths buzzing around it against the pull of logic. There is something so incredibly alive about the Coens' crying city; this hazy dream world's partnership with half-dead, anchored-to-earth portrait like Llewyn is the product of such sophisticated imagination at play.
And to cap this review of one of the best features 2013 has given us, it's only appropriate to return to the element in which its identity is really cemented: the music. Without the tunes bobbing through the story, we'd still likely find something terrific in Llewyn Davis. But the music, as beautiful as it is, is the reason for the story. As we watch Isaac's hopeless sad sack drag himself through Manhattan's winter, past the helping hands of friends and into the grimaces of strangers, as we struggle with our own handfuls of nihilistic skepticism that any of this yarn is worth the agony (or that our attention to its meandering nature is worth the price of a ticket), we are given the rare treat of an answer. Of course it's all for something. Of course it's all about something. It's about that beautiful, beautiful music.
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Miley Cyrus has gone native American after erecting a massive teepee on the grounds of her Studio City, Los Angeles home. Insiders claim the large tent, which stands on grass adjacent to the singer's swimming pool, was a 21st birthday gift to herself.
Miley's manor was at the centre of a burglary drama on Friday (22Nov13) as the pop star was making plans to celebrate her birthday - thieves broke into her home and made off with a haul of jewellery and personal items reportedly worth over $100,000 (£66,700)
The Wrecking Ball hitmaker turned 21 on Saturday (23Nov13) and celebrated with pals like Kelly Osbourne and Amber Rose on Sunday night (24Nov13) after her show-stopping performance at the American Music Awards.
Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his family were rescued by coastguards after their catamaran ran aground close to the Canary Islands on Sunday (24Nov13), according to a U.K. report. The Australian actor was reportedly travelling with his pregnant wife, Elsa Pataky, and 18-month-old daughter India Rose when the vessel ran into trouble off the coast of Spanish territory La Gomera, off the west coast of Africa.
Two rescue boats and a helicopter were sent to help the eight passengers and take them to shore. No one was hurt in the incident.
A source tells Britain's Daily Mail, "Nobody was hurt but any kind of rescue at sea is a scary event, especially for a pregnant woman with a young child."
Hemsworth is in the region to film new Ron Howard movie Heart of the Sea, and his family flew out to join him on set.
The catamaran was reportedly hired by the film's production company to transport the group to Playa de Santiago.
Heart of the Sea tells the story of a whaling ship which sinks in the Pacific Ocean in 1820, which is said to have inspired the tale of Moby Dick.
British singer Bob Allison has died at the age of 72. The star, real name Bernard Colin Day, passed away after a long battle with ill health, reports the BBC.
He and bandmate John Allison rose to fame in the 1960s and represented the U.K. at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1961, placing second with the track Are You Sure?
The Allisons split not long after their Eurovision success, although John Allison, born Brian Henry Alford, continued to tour under the band name with various other partners throughout the 1970s and '80s.
Reunited British rockers The Babys are serving up a holiday treat for fans with the release of their first new music in over three decades. The group rose to fame in the late 1970s with hits like Isn't It Time and Every Time I Think of You, before parting ways in 1981.
However, original members Tony Brock and Wally Stocker have since reconnected and hired two new members from the U.S. - singer and bassist John Bisaha and guitarist Joey Sykes.
The quartet, which is currently on a comeback tour, will unveil new track Not Ready to Say Goodbye online this week (begs25Nov13), with plans to drop an album full of new material in early 2014 - the stars' first studio release since On the Edge in 1980.
Stocker says, "When releasing our first single we discussed that it had to have the flavour of what we were known for some thirty-odd years ago", while Brock adds, "It was just magical putting the new song together. By the time I finished putting brass and strings on it, I knew we had the goods."
French moviemaker Georges Lautner has died, aged 87. The director passed away on 22 November (13) in Paris, France but no more details about his death were available as WENN went to press.
Lautner rose to fame in the 1960s with the release of his popular 1963 crime comedy Les Tontons Flingeurs (Monsieur Gangster).
His most famous films included 1981's The Professional with Jean-Pierre Belmondo, 1968's Le Pacha and 1964's Les Barbouzes (The Great Spy Chase). He often worked with actress Mireille Darc, directing her in more than 10 pictures.
France's President Francois Hollande paid tribute to Lautner after hearing of his death, calling his movies "great popular comedies that became cult films of our cinematic heritage."
One Direction star Harry Styles is brushing off comparisons of his band to The Beatles, insisting they would be "total fools" to think they are in the same league as the music legends. The fivesome rose to fame after they placed third on Britain's The X Factor in 2010, and soon became superstars all over the world.
Their popularity has been compared to another all-male band to come out of the U.K., legendary rock group, The Beatles, whose catchy songs and good looks attracted crowds of screaming teenagers all around the globe.
In an interview with Britain's Event magazine, Styles admits that while his band's rise to fame is similar to that of the Fab Four, he insists their music is completely different.
He says, "We all sat and watched the film of them arriving in America. And to be honest, that really was like us. Stepping off the plane, the girls, the madness. It was exactly the same as when we got there - just 50 years earlier.
"But none of us think we're in the same league as them music-wise. We'd be total fools if we did. Fame-wise, it's probably even bigger, but we don't stand anywhere near them in terms of music."
More than 100 artists including Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Kid Rock, Megadeth and Brad Paisley took to the stage in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday night (22Nov13) to honour late country legend George Jones. The date at the city's Bridgestone Arena had originally been booked by Jones to host his final show before retirement, but the gig was transformed into a memorial concert following his death in April (13) at the age of 81.
The cream of country music turned out to honour Jones at the event, billed as Playin' Possum: The Final No Show, which was opened by Big & Rich, who sang 1965 hit Love Bug while riding lawn mowers on stage. The duo's act was a reference to the late singer's infamous drunken ride to a liquor store on a lawn mower after his wife took away his car keys.
The sold-out show featured 112 artists over four hours, including George Strait, Martina McBride, Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, Thompson Square, Vince Gill and duets by married stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
Jamey Johnson also paired with heavy metal band Megadeth to play 1998 single Wild Irish Rose, with Dave Mustaine saying of the band's inclusion in the line-up, "Heavy metal is all about rebellion, and George was definitely a rebel."
The show was closed by Alan Jackson, who performed Jones' hit He Stopped Loving Her Today and branded him "the greatest country singer that ever was".
Country veteran Reba McEntire had been due to take part in the event, but had to withdraw due to illness, and she posted an apology to Jones' widow, Nancy, on her Twitter.com page, writing, "Lost my voice tonight at the George Jones tribute. So sorry Nancy. Sure wanted to be a part of country music history."
U2 rocker Bono has teamed up with acclaimed designers Sir Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson to curate a unique collection of innovative masterpieces to auction off for charity. Ive, who created the iPod for Apple, and industrial designer Newson have helped the philanthropic musician pick out items for Saturday's (23Nov13) (RED) sale at Sotheby's New York, and they have even collaborated on two new products just for the auction - an aluminium desk produced by California's Neal Feay Studios, and a Leica Digital Rangefinder Camera, worth an estimated $500,000 (£333,330).
They have also customised a Steinway & Sons Parlor Grand Piano, a 2012 Range Rover and a Fiat car.
Other products due to go under the hammer include a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon champagne from 1966, a pair of classic Apple earphones in solid rose gold, and a bespoke pair of Christian Louboutin boots in patent red leather, which are priced between $20,000 (£13,330) and $30,000 (£20,000).
Ive tells Britain's The Telegraph newspaper, "Each piece represents the value of thoughtful design. What we create for each other is not only a comment on our culture but of course in many ways defines it."
Proceeds from the sale, organised by officials at Bono's (RED) organisation, will be donated to The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the rocker is confident his continued focus on the battle against HIV and AIDS will result in a cure in the near future.
He tells U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America: "It's a political tool, (RED) is a tool, not just to raise money, as it will, but to raise awareness, which helps keep the fight against HIV/AIDS a political priority. This disease has cost 34 million lives and there's a chance, in the next few years, if we stay concentrated, that we could see the beginning of the end of AIDS. Who'd have thought?"