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We don't live in a post-racism society, folks.
I mean, come on – yesterday, a homeless woman very pointedly told me not to eat my dog! Granted, she was probably nuts, but this is happening on much larger scale than crazy ladies and my evening walk with my dog. Last week, it was announced that Joe Wright – the director behind critical hits like Atonement and Pride and Prejudice (as well as critical misses, like Anna Karenina) – had cast Rooney Mara as Native American character Tiger Lily. Now, that's just plain wrong.
Many fans are petitioning for a recast, yet some don't seem to mind – and even go so far as to liken the situation to Michael B. Jordan's upcoming turn as the Human Torch. Luckily, Whedonverse actress Felicia Day is setting people straight; she has some wise and cogent words on why Tiger Lily and the Human Torch are not even remotely the same situation:
Most lead characters and lead actors of movies are white ... Across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters were Black, 4.2% were Hispanic, 5% were Asian, and 3.6% were from other (or mixed race) ethnicities. Just over three-quarters of all speaking characters are White (76.3%) ... Bottom line, actors of ethnicity don’t get a lot of work to begin with. And that very fact creates a scarcity in the number of actors of different ethnicities to choose from when casting ... In what instance can you point out a role where a Native American actress has a chance to be a lead in any movie? Almost none ... The opportunity to give a leading role that could be a Native American, a possible protagonist role that the audience could relate to and live the story through, to a white actor, is kind of s**tty and backwards to me.
But you know what the worst part of this whole debacle is? We're not moving forward: whitewashing is not something we left back in the days of ultra-racist filmmakers like D.W. Griffiths and grossly distorted stereotypes like Mr. Yunioshi. No, it's still a pervasive problem that continues to flood all avenues of pop culture – films, music, television – even celebrities. Remember when former DWTS star Julianne Hough thought it was okay to don a little blackface to portray her favorite Orange Is the New Black character?
Just last summer, J.J. Abrams cast whiter-than-white actor Benedict Cumberbatch (he and Rooney Mara could probably go head-to-head in a Caucasian-quotient contest) to play Khan Noonien Singh, a role originally played by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban. How telling is it, that in some ways, 1960's Gene Roddenberry was more progressive than present-day Abrams? And a little more than month ago, Katy Perry shamelessly appropriated Egyptian culture in her latest music video – and that's after dressing up like a "geisha" at the VMAs. Oh, and let's not forget that at the beginning of this year, well-loved sitcom How I Met Your Mother (or, as dubbed by Twitter, #HowIMetYourRacism) employed some tasteless (not to mention tin-eared) yellowface.
It's hard to believe that we're still seeing this kind of ignorance and blatant whitewashing in this day in age. Well, at least we can still hold out hope for a recast.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
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In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
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Spike Jonze doesn't waste any time introducing us to the technology at the center of Her. "An operating system that can mimic human sentience?" a dangerously lonely Joaquin Phoenix wonders after catching glimpse of an ad in a transit station. "Don't mind if I do!" (He doesn't actually say that, don't worry.) But by the time we're meant to believe that such a world can seamlessly integrate characters like Scarlett Johansson's automated voice Samantha into the lives of living, breathing men and women like Phoenix's Theodore, we're already established residents of this arresting, icy, quivering world the filmmaker has built. We meet Theodore midway through his recitation of a "handwritten letter" he penned on behalf of a woman to her husband of many years. That's his job — tapping into his own unique sensititivies to play ghostwriter for people hoping to adorn their spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and children with personal notes of personal affection. Theodore is no independent contractor; he's part of a thriving company, and we almost get the feeling that the folks on the receiving end of these letters are in the know. Before we ever encounter Samantha, we're embedded in the central conceit of the movie: emotional surrogacy is an industry on the rise.
What makes Jonze's world so palatable is that, beneath its marvelously eerie aesthetic, this idea is barely science-fiction. Theodore, humbled and scarred by a recent divorce from lifelong love Catherine (Rooney Mara, who contrasts Johansson by giving a performance that, for a large sum of the movie, is all body and no voice), accesses the will to go on through interractions with video game characters and phone-sex hotlines. But the ante is upped with Samantha, the self-named operating system that Theodore purchases to stave off loneliness, deeming choice a far less contorting one than spending time with old pals like Amy (Amy Adams)... at first.
Samantha evolves rather quickly from an articulate Siri into a curious companion, who is fed and engaged by Theodore just as much as she feeds and engages him. Jonze paces his construction of what, exactly, Samantha is so carefully that we won't even catch the individual steps in her change — along with Theodore, we slowly grow more and more enamored and mystified by his computer/assistant/friend/lover before we can recognize that we're dealing with a different being altogether from the one we met at that inceptive self-aware "H-hello?" But Jonze lays tremendous groundwork to let us know this story is all for something: all the while, as the attractions build and the hearts beat faster for Samantha, we foster an unmistakable sense of doom. We can't help but dread the very same perils that instituted one infamous admission: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."
But Jonze's sci-fi constructs are so cohesively intertwined with his love story that our dread doesn't exactly translate to an anticipation of HAL's hostile takeover. Her wedges us so tightly between Theodore and Samantha that our fears of the inevitable clash between man and machine apprehend a smaller, more intimate ruin. As Samantha's growth become more surprising and challenging to Theodore, to herself, and to us, the omens build for each.
And although all three parties know better, we cannot help but affix ourselves to the chemistry between Theodore and Samantha, and to the possibility that we're building toward something supreme. A good faction of this is due to the unbelievable performances of Phoenix — representing the cautious excitement that we all know so painfully well — and Johansson, who twists her disembodied voice so empathetically that we find ourselves, like Theodore, forgetting that we have yet to actually meet her. The one castigation that we can attach to the casting of Johansson is that such a recognizable face will, inevitably, work its way into our heads when we're listening to her performance. It almost feels like a cheat, although we can guarantee that a performance this good would render a figure just as vivid even if delivered by an unknown.
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In this way, Her is as effective a comment on the healthiest human relationships as it is on those that rope in third parties — be they of the living, automated, or greeting card variety. In fact, the movie has so many things to say that it occasionally steps on its own feet, opening up ideas so grand (and coloring them so brightly) that it sometimes has trouble capping them coherently. Admittedly, if Spike Jonze had an answer to some of the questions he's asking here, he'd probably be suspected of himself being a super-intelligent computer. But in telling the story of a man struggling to understand what it means to be in love, to an operating system or not, Jonze invites us to dissect all of the manic and trying and wonderful and terrifying and incomprehensible elements therein. Just like Samantha, Her doesn't always know what to do with all of its brilliance. But that might be part of why we're so crazy over the both of them.
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It’s the classic fairytale: Boy meet girl. Girl poses nude in boy’s magazine. Boy falls in love with girl. And after an attempted wedding, breakup, and reconciliation, boy and girl tie the knot in a New Year's Eve wedding. Okay, okay. Maybe it’s not your typical fairytale, but for new bride Crystal Harris Hefner, life is pretty magical right about now. 86-year-old Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner married 26-year-old Crystal Harris Monday night in an intimate ceremony at the infamous Beverly Hills mansion. And guess what? The bride wore pink!
Pink wedding dresses seem to the hot new thing in bridal couture these days, and Harris looked lovely in a blush mermaid gown designed by Romona Keeveza. The Femme Fatale lingerie shop owner tweeted a full-length mirror shot of the body-hugging strapless gown early Tuesday morning.
But that’s not the only peek we got into the Hefners’ big day. The bride and groom took to Twitter to share oodles of details from their New Year's Eve nuptials.
The couple exchanged their vows underneath an arch of pink, purple, and white flowers at the bottom of the mansion’s iconic double stairway surrounded by a small group of family and friends.
Harris also revealed the playlist that set the tone for newlyweds’ romantic evening. “The harpist and flutist did an amazing job last night. They played 'As Time Goes By,' 'Because You Loved Me,' 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' and 'Chasing Cars.' They continued to play through the night as guest arrived for the big annual NYE party,” Harris tweeted.
After the couple exchanged their vows it was time to party! According to Us Weekly, Hefner and Harris joined their guests — including Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney, Gene Simmon and Jon Lovitz — at the joint wedding reception/annual New Year's Eve bash. The party, which lasted well into Tuesday morning, was done in an Art Deco theme, and Jazz singer Brenna Whitaker graced the party with multiple performances.
Despite the couple’s rocky past, Harris stresses to Us Weekly that their marriage will last through better or worse. “When the wedding didn't work out the first time, it was because of me. I needed to explore out there and take the time away [from Hef and the Mansion]. The time away really helped make me realize that where I'm meant to be is here with Hef," Harris says. "Our relationship is better than it ever has been before. I'm very happy and Hef's very happy and we're excited.
In fact he was so excited, the magazine tycoon was the first to tweet out the debut picture of Mr. and Mrs. Hefner. "Crystal & I married on New Year's Eve in the Mansion with [brother] Keith as my Best Man. Love that girl!"
What do you think of the new Mr. and Mrs. Hefner? Were you a fan of Harris’ pink gown? Bunny hop on down to the comments and share your thoughts!
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[Photo Credit: Elayne Lodge/Playboy; Twitter (5)]
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Pop idol Justin Bieber recently sparked controversy when he poked fun at the prince and suggested he should try taking hair loss drug Propecia to stave off baldness, which has blighted the males in his family, but Dr. Asim Shahmalak insists the heir to the throne's receding hairline is no laughing matter.
He suggests Propecia could halt the royal's problem, but it would not restore his lost hair.
Shahmalak, who runs the Crown Clinic in Manchester, England, tells WENN, "He would have to take Propecia for the rest of his life and it would not help him to grow new hair."
And he doesn't think Bieber's idea is a great one: "Around two per cent of patients who take Propecia suffer side effects,
such as the loss of libido."
But the hair doctor has urged the prince to do something or risk becoming completely bald on the top of his head by the age of 40.
He adds, "Prince William has been losing his hair since he was 25. His hair loss is even worse than his father's, and obviously his grandfather Philip is bald too. That is a strong family gene.
"Prince William has quite fine light brown hair. To restore the hair on the top of his head to a reasonable level of density, he will need at least 3,000 or 4,000 hair grafts where hair is taken from the back of the scalp and moved to the top of the head. This is similar to the treatment which (British soccer player) Wayne Rooney had."
The candid footage will screen during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ presentation of Hollywood Home Movies II: Treasures from the Academy Film Archive on 17 October (09) at the Linwood Dunn Theater.
The event is already sold out.
A spokesperson for the Academy says, "The Academy Film Archive houses a wide variety of such films and will present a selection of excerpts including footage of Marlene Dietrich, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Judy Garland, Paulette Goddard, Betty Grable, Alfred Hitchcock, Harpo Marx, Edward G. Robinson, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Stewart, Esther Williams and Loretta Young."
Hollywood Home Movies II is being presented in conjunction with Home Movie Day, an annual international celebration of amateur films and filmmaking.