Oscar D'leon, Juan Formell, Roberto Menescal and Toto La Momposina are among the stars who will be honoured with lifetime achievement accolades at the upcoming 14th annual Latin Grammy Awards. Palito Ortega, Miguel Rios and Eddie Palmieri will also be feted, while Mario Kreutzberger, aka Don Francisco, and Pedro Ramirez Velazquez have been named the recipients of Latin Recording Academy Trustees Awards. The Latin Grammys gala will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas on 20 November (13).
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie might be the world's most gorgeous couple, but their looks have earned them the dishonor of landing at the top of a new list of bad-skinned celebrities.
The Mr. and Mrs. Smith stars have been named the Dermatology Duo by top skin doctor Vail Reese at his annual Skinnies Awards.
Reese claims the couple isn’t quite as clean-cut as they seem. He says, "Brad has acne and acne scars, while Angelina also suffers from acne and she also has moles and a scar on her face.
"She's also covered in tattoos, of course, so that always tops my list."
Dr. Reese announces his Skinnies on his website Skinema.com, and every year he finds photos of the stars to back up his blemish boasts.
Others dishonored on his new list include Golden Globe Awards winners Joaquin Phoenix (Most Striking Scar) and Reese Witherspoon (Boldest Botox Abstinence) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Pale and Proud Award).
The San Francisco, California, doctor also pokes fun at Katie Holmes (Worst Timing Award) for sporting a cold sore on her top lip as her relationship with Tom Cruise went public.
And he has special praise for the special effects department on the last Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for keeping the adolescent stars in the film pimple-free.
He says, "They must have used a computer blemish eraser to conceal the cast's pimples. A tremendous job."
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New Oscar rules ban negative ad campaigns
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued some new rules yesterday aimed at curtailing negative Oscar campaigning, including a formal ban on ads by studios trashing the competition. According to The Associated Press, the move is a response to DreamWorks' full-page ad in Daily Variety last season pushing House of Sand and Fog's Shohreh Aghdashloo for best supporting actress in a way that was perceived as a slap at fellow nominee Renee Zellweger from Cold Mountain. The Academy denounced the ad, which included clips from newspaper and TV critics saying that Aghdashloo deserved to win the Oscar but that Zellweger was more likely to get it, as an attack. DreamWorks apologized and later bought a special ad congratulating Zellweger on her win. Another rule addressed complaints from Oscar voters outside of Los Angeles and New York who say they have trouble seeing all the films necessary for an informed ballot. AMPAS has now authorized studios to send voters free passes or coupons, which members will be able to redeem at commercial theaters. The issue was part of last season's debate over whether studios should discontinue sending voters screeners, or tapes and DVDs of current movies.
CSI stars let go from show
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation stars George Eads and Jorja Fox were fired from the show amid a salary dispute with the show's producers. Sources told Reuters Eads and Fox, who have been on the show since its debut four years ago, had approached CBS about a salary increase for the 2004-2005 season. CBS reportedly offered a modest take-it-or-leave-it raise, and asked the cast to send in a formal letter assuring the network they would report to work as scheduled for the start of production on the show's fifth season. It is unclear whether Eads and Fox had sent the letters, but both actors were sent a termination letter soon afterward. Sources said CBS brass stood their ground because of the growing number of cases where actors with contractual obligations to a show refuse to return to work until their salaries are renegotiated. Eads and Fox reportedly had two more seasons to go on their existing contracts.
Fox network denies ripping off rival network shows
Fox is denying allegations from rival networks NBC and ABC that it is copying their ideas for new reality shows, calling the accusations baseless and unacceptable. Fox came under fire after it unveiled a boxing reality series with Oscar de la Hoya after NBC announced its boxing series featuring Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone. Fox also announced a mate-swapping show after ABC said it would have a spouse-trading series. But Fox programming chief Gail Berman defended the network. "Just like scripted programming, the unscripted world has reached a point where multiple projects with similar themes are being pitched simultaneously," she said. "This is the way television works. There's nothing new about this. This is a competitive business."
Thought you were too old for American Idol? Think again
Fox TV announced Thursday the age limit for American Idol contenders has been raised from 26 to 28. The network said they were prompted to raise the maximum age after seeing too many impressive older people turned away during the audition process, the AP repprts. The minimum remains at 16. Auditions for the fourth season of American Idol begin Aug. 4 in Cleveland. Other tryouts, which will continue through Oct. 5, will be held in Washington, D.C.; Orlando, Fla.; St. Louis, Mo.; New Orleans, Las Vegas, Anchorage and San Francisco.
Media's appeal in Jackson case delayed
An appeal by 11 news media organizations requesting access to court information in the Michael Jackson child molestation case went unheard for a week because a clerk refused to place it on the court docket, the AP reports. Attorney Dominic Lanza said it took until Thursday to get the matter resolved. Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has been keeping most evidence and documents in the case sealed, including a motion Wednesday in which Jackson's lawyers are asking to postpone the trial. Theodore Boutrous Jr., who is leading the legal team, asked that the concealment issues be resolved before hearings begin Aug. 16. "The public's First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings and documents is one that is exceedingly time-sensitive," he explained in a brief filed yesterday.
Critics say Nielsen meters undercount minorities
Critics of the way local TV audiences are measured told Congress Thursday that minorities are being undercounted, which could lead to the elimination of shows popular with blacks and Hispanics, the AP reports. Nielsen Media Research, an independent company based in New York, counts viewership on a national level by choosing a sample of homes and supplying "people meters" that record viewing habits. Nielsen chief executive Susan Whiting said the real problem is that some media companies fear the company's new counting method, which replaces handwritten diaries kept by "Nielsen families," will produce lower ratings for their shows, and in turn, less advertising money.
U2 tracks go missing in France
A CD of recordings from rock band U2's upcoming album has gone missing in France, raising concerns it will be pirated on the Internet ahead of the release date, Reuters reports. According to U2's official Web site, the CD disappeared from a recording studio in Nice, where the band was doing a photo shoot. "A large slice of two years' work lifted via a piece of round plastic. It doesn't seem credible but that's what's just happened to us," lead guitarist The Edge wrote on their Web site. French police have launched a major investigation to find the CD. Band manager Paul McGuinness told Reuters the band is excited about the album's release, but added: "It would be a shame if unfinished work fell into the wrong hands."
Prince's new lyrics to be less sexual
The artist currently known as Prince says he has turned a new leaf--one that doesn't contain sexually explicit lyrics. The 46-year-old singer/songwriter, whose songs include "Gett Off" and "Erotic City," says he's moving away from the erotic lyrics of the past. "I have a responsibility to (young fans) to perform in a manner that I would like my children to be performed in front of," he said in an interview to air Tuesday on CBS News' The Early Show. "I just want to be the best human being I can be ... on stage and off." Ironically, Prince is listed as the No. 1 "greatest rock frontman" of all time in the August issue of Spin magazine and, in a vote of editors, earned a 10 out of 10 for sex appeal and for singing like an "oversexed elf."
David Bowie tops mid-year touring grosses
David Bowie's North American A Reality tour was the top-grossing outfit for the first half of 2004, Reuters reports. According to numbers reported to Billboard Boxscore, Bowie took in $45.4 million from 82 shows that drew 722,158 fans. The veteran rock star was recently forced to cancel the final 10 dates on the European leg of his tour after receiving emergency heart surgery for a blocked artery. Other top tours between Nov. 19, 2003, and May 18, 2004, include Bette Midler ($40 million), Simon & Garfunkel ($36 million), Shania Twain ($34 million), Prince ($26 million), Rod Stewart ($25 million), Metallica ($22 million), Beyonce/Alicia Keys/Missy Elliott ($19 million), Britney Spears ($19 million) and George Strait ($16 million).