Four teams entered this leg. Four teams left. That's what happens when everyone likes each other and no one — from contestants on up to what seems like the entire production staff — is eager to send anyone home. This season is slated to end next week with a two-hour finale, but it's not unthinkable that it might continue straight through to forever, none of the remaining teams ever being eliminated. There are just too many good feelings going around, man.
BARCELONA was the site of this week's racing excitement, and from the drama club devils that greeted teams at the first clue to the chill bros strumming flamenco tunes in some cave, no biggie, the city offered an eclectic adventure. Tennis! Mock bullfighting! Don Quixote! There was something for everyone in a way you don't get in, say, Stalingrad, and the episode never bored because of it. Plus beach time! Any episode that even hints at the possibility of Speedos is already doing right by me.
Practically an entire race in, the Beekman Boys finally caught up with the three lead teams. It's a war of attrition, this thing, hardly a sprint, and that the guys have simply lasted to this point (aided little by injuries and generally less-than-strong challenge performance) is worthy of a slow clap. You did it! Exactly how far into next week's episode they'll get is almost beside the point. They're winners already.
So was everybody else this leg, if you didn't already pick up on it (or watch the episode). For the second time in the race, the last-place team was greeted to a non-elimination. Good news for Natalie and Nadiya, who, despite their shortcomings last night, didn't deserve to go home just yet. It was the driving more than anything that set them back. Natalie, at the wheel of a stick-shift, couldn't quite figure out the right procedure by which to operate the vehicle. And unless editing is blatantly lying to us (which I can't imagine it would!), they drove pretty much start and stop all the way from the center of Mallorca to the tennis center Roadblock.
Last night's Roadblock: Return 20 tennis balls. Didn't these challenges used to be more complicated? We'll say nothing of the difficulty here, as more than one team struggled to get through (even occasional tennis player/beefcake Trey needed a few rounds to complete the task), but on a description level… it's regularly "verb + noun" simple. Return tennis balls. Eat fish. Jump over creek (the "over" complicates the formula!). What happened to those labyrinthine challenges that required a masters degree in urban planning to complete? Sigh. Bottom line is, no one won it or lost it here. Though Brent's assessment of Josh's strained play ("he sounds like Monica Seles out there") may have won the whole night, and my heart.
From the tennis courts, everyone made their way to the Caves of Campanet. "I love caves," offered Lexi, which did not strike this recapper as a surprising revelation. Teams were tasked with "following their ears to the music," which led them to two dudes idly strumming their guitars. Detours: "Spin It," in which teams needed to repair a few windmill blades before grabbing their next clue from a Don Quixote impersonator; and "Bull It," where teams had two minutes to guide each other through a bullfighting obstacle course. Chippendales opted for the former, and based purely on the way Jaymes pronounced "Dahn Key-hoe-tay," I must say they made the right decision. Oh, and they knocked it out in about 30 seconds.
Trey and Lexi, meanwhile, tried to keep their emotions in check after their first bull roleplaying round didn't go as planned. Lexi managed to hurt her nail or something, which of course necessitated a very slow, very serious cut-to-commercial segue. But please don't worry about them — it all turned out fine.
The Beekmans and the Twins opted for "Spin It" when they landed at the Detour. And there, for the first time in the race, Josh felt his first stabs at competitive fervor before WRECKING HOUSE on the windmill project. They're finishers, what can we say! Nearby, Natalie and Nadiya just lacked that second gear, as well as a basic facility with tools and how they work. And that's what it boiled down to (on this admittedly non-elimination leg) — one team being better than another team at a task, and not screwing up the final drive to this leg's Pit Stop. It sucks sometimes — especially when a strong team does get eliminated, as has to happen sooner or later — but that's the nature of this Race and, of course, life in general. Ways to live, people. And you thought you were just getting a reality competition about returning tennis balls!
Next Sunday: The Finish, maybe
[Image Credit: CBS]
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In the span of a few months, Natalie Portman won an Oscar and had a kid. Since then, everyone's been dying to know when she'll come back to work. We were jazzed when the Black Swan actress was eying up Jupiter Ascending, another collaboration with the masters of Sci-fi Lana and Andy Wachowski, which sounded like an epic-in-the-making and the perfect curveball to avoid the dreaded post-Oscar slump. Now, news comes in she may have a different plan in store—but one that should satisfy fans nonetheless.
Portman has committed to starring in two back-to-back movies with heralded Tree of Life director Terrance Malick: Knight of the Cups, co-starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Isabel Lucas, and Lawless, which also sees Bale and Blanchett returning, along with Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Haley Bennett. Like Malick's previous films, there's little known about either project, but with an exceptional track record (and an Oscar nomination now under his belt for Tree of Life), there's a good chance Portman's decision will be one that works in the favor of her fans.
No word on when to expect either film in theaters—Malick is notorious for taking his time shooting and planning liberal post-produciton schedules—but with Portman on our radar, we'll be keeping close track of Knight of the Cups and Lawless all the way to completion.
More turmoil in Asgard: Patty Jenkins' recent departure from the Thor 2 director's chair has reportedly rankled its female lead. THR's Kim Masters reports that Thor star Natalie Portman, who played the earthly love interest to Chris Hemsworth's Norse superhero in the summer blockbuster and is slated to reprise her role in the sequel, is "deeply upset" over Marvel Studios' decision to relieve the Monster helmer of her duties. Portman had apparently lobbied hard for Jenkins to secure the high-profile gig and wasn't notified of the firing in advance. But, being the trooper that she is, Portman will reportedly remain in Thor 2 and abide by the terms of her Marvel contract, which no doubt spans a dozen or so lifetimes.
It's unlikely that Marvel execs, a famously cost-conscious lot who've shown little sympathy toward disgruntled actors in the past, will be swayed by Portman's alleged grumbling. The could just as easily pull a Cheadle and replace Portman, who is hardly an essential piece of the franchise, with another, more compliant actress who looks vaguely similar. Say, Keira Knightly, perhaps. If they really wanted to get cheeky, they could go with Mila Kunis.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
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Grab your magic Colts and wooden stakes, it’s crossover time! Buffy The Vampire Slayer alumni James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter, (who played Spike and Cordelia, respectively) are teaming up once more for guest spots on Supernatural. The duo will appear in the fifth episode of the new season, which begins filming next week. It's one small step closer to my Dean/Spike fanfiction becoming a reality.
The episode, titled “Shut Up, Dr. Phil”, tells the Bewitched-like story of a witch (Carpenter) with a human husband (Marsters) whose marital strife threatens the safety of an entire town. Maybe Cordelia’s still holding a grudge from that time that Spike kidnapped her boyfriend, and when she showed up to rescue him the staircase collapsed and she got skewered and dear God have I watched a ton of Buffy.
Carpenter is next set to appear in an episode of Burn Notice, and will have a role in action sequel The Expendables 2. Marsters has been sticking to TV roles since the unfortunate Dragonball: Evolution, with guest parts in Hawaii Five-0, Smallville, and Caprica.
In an interview with TV Line, Carpenter described her process of getting the role. “I asked the director, ‘Can I be totally unrecognizable, using make-up effects, or do I have to be a ‘hot’ librarian?’” Said Carpenter “And he was like, ‘Hot. Librarian.’ For once, I want to be something different!” Now all we need is for Anthony Head to make an appearance as Giles, and we can start a hot librarian collection!
Supernatural, which stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, starts airing its seventh season Friday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. Given Supernatural's track record with female guest stars, don't expect Carpenter to make a second appearance.
Source: TV Line
Much has changed in the world of finance since Oliver Stone first explored its grubby innards in 1987’s Wall Street a film that netted Michael Douglas a Best Actor Oscar for his iconic portrayal of scheming corporate raider Gordon Gekko. Technological advances regulatory changes a terrorist attack a global economic meltdown and the emergence of China as a dominant player have combined to transform the securities industry in the two-plus decades since Gekko paraphrasing Ivan Boesky first captured its more sinister aspects in those famous words “Greed is good.”
What hasn’t changed is Stone who remains every bit as hubristic and heavy-handed as ever. With his sprawling spotty follow-up Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps he has once again taken it upon himself to put forth the definitive portrait of the culture of money and the film suffers badly for it. Set in 2008 in those halcyon days just prior to the subprime mortgage crisis and its subsequent leveling of financial landscape the film is told through the wide eyes of young Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) the 21st-century heir to Bud Fox’s mantle. (Charlie Sheen who portrayed Fox in the first film resurfaces in a fun but ultimately pointless cameo in the sequel.)
Jake we are told is a successful proprietary trader but his countenance more closely resembles that of a venture capitalist. (The risky practices and alleged conflicts of interests of prop traders are widely believed to be among the causes of the financial collapse; the Obama administration has recently proposed their ban.) Though he’s as profit-driven as any other young Wall Street turk he also boasts something of an idealistic streak and hopes to use his position at the prestigious investment banking firm of Keller Zabel to further the cause of a cutting-edge green energy startup. No doubt it’s this noble trait that appeals to his girlfriend Winnie (Carey Mulligan) a progressive pixie who runs a muckraking leftist blog and who also happens to be Gekko’s estranged daughter.
Jake’s bright future takes a dark turn when rumors of over-exposure to “toxic assets” swallow up first his company Keller Zabel and then its founder Lou (Frank Langella) who opts to retire beneath a speeding subway train after the Federal Reserve denies his request for an emergency bailout. Devastated by the suicide of his boss and mentor Jake vows to exact revenge upon the slithery brute he believes to be the source of the poisonous rumors: Bretton James (Josh Brolin) a prominent partner at Churchill Schwartz (read: Goldman Sachs) Keller’s chief rival.
And where exactly does Gordon Gekko figure in all of this? After the opening sequence during which he emerges from a lengthy prison stay to find no one waiting to greet him Gekko doesn’t re-enter the story until about the 30th minute and lurks mainly on its periphery for much of his screen time. In the years since his incarceration for the various misdeeds chronicled in the first film he’s rebranded himself as a sort of populist crusader against speculator avarice hawking a book about the ills of the financial system entitled Is Greed Good? (“You’re all pretty much fucked ” he instructs a lecture audience.) Gekko’s got a grudge of his own against Bretton his one-time protege turned state’s witness in his securities fraud conviction and he agrees to supply Jake with crucial insider info in exchange for help in brokering a reconciliation with his daughter Winnie.
All of this is set against a backdrop of the collapses and bailouts of the 2008 financial tumult — a topic that could easily warrant its own film. (Indeed HBO is currently readying its adaptation of Aaron Ross Sorkin’s book about the crisis.) His ambition outstripping his ability Stone labors awkwardly to integrate the macro of the crisis with its many backroom deals and soap-opera intrigues and the micro of Jake’s increasingly complex relationship with Gekko. Mulligan’s character meant to serve as the film’s emotional anchor as well as its conscience is ultimately little more than a distraction diverting us from the story’s more compelling elements. The last third of the film which focuses on Gekko’s reemergence as a Wall Street player feels tacked-on as if driven by data from test audiences dissatisfied with his relatively minor presence in the early goings.
There are moments in Money Never Sleeps where Stone successfully invokes the heady verve of the 1987 film but for a story dealing with such titillating subject matter its pace too often drags to a near-halt as it wallows excessively in Gekko family melodrama. (The performances it should be noted are all terrific though LaBeouf is an exceedingly tough sell as a would-be BSD.) And a topic as sexy as money should never ever be boring.