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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TV hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan are set to return to British chat show This Morning to host a one off live 25th anniversary programme. The show will air on 03 October (13) and will also feature current presenters Phillip Schofield, Holly Willoughby, Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.
Singer/songwriter Justin Vernon is returning to his alma mater in Wisconsin to perform with his rock band Volcano Choir. The Bon Iver frontman graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2004 with a degree in comparative studies in religion, and now he is heading back to the liberal arts school to hit the stage with his side project, a collaboration with members of the group Collections of Colonies of Bees.
Volcano Choir will play the college's Schofield Auditorium on 19 October (13).
Vernon this week (begs02Sep13) cast doubt on his future with Bon Iver, confessing he has no plans to reunite with his bandmates anytime soon as he is having too much fun working with Volcano Choir.
During an interview on Australian radio station Triple J, he said, "I'm really honoured that Bon Iver gives me a platform to do whatever I want, but there's only so much time you can spend digging through yourself before you become insular. I'm not in a hurry to go back to that temperature. All of the music I've been making shifting away from Bon Iver feels really good... so if I ever do go back to Bon Iver it will be all the better for it."
Actress Isla Fisher was left mortified on Thursday (20Jun13) when she accidentally uttered a curse word during a live family-friendly talk show. The Australian star let slip an expletive on U.K. TV show This Morning when she was quizzed about reports suggesting she scolded her The Great Gatsby co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire for making too much noise while partying in their hotel at the Cannes Film Festival in France last month (May13).
When asked if the story was true, she replied, "Yes, but in my defence, we didn't actually... It was my husband and I - we did put on our robes but we did it more for a joke, we didn't actually b**lock them."
Upon realising her slip, Fisher immediately gasped and covered her mouth with her hands, exclaiming, "I'm so sorry, I'm so so sorry! I'm Australian. We didn't tell anyone off. I didn't finish it (the story)! I didn't quite finish it! Oh no!"
Fisher added, "If anyone writes any letters in, I was pre-warned not to (swear). I'm so sorry!"
Host Phillip Schofield quickly wrapped up the interview by plugging the star's upcoming movie Now You See Me, and an embarrassed Fisher quipped, "But you might not see me ever again!"
The former Baywatch star has been learning to ice skate in recent weeks, and impressed the judges with her debut routine with professional Matt Evers, placing midway on the leaderboard.
However, Anderson found herself in the bottom two alongside British TV presenter Keith Chegwin after the viewers voted.
She skated again, to Sinead O'Connor's Sacrifice, in a bid to stay in the competition but experienced a slight wardrobe malfunction when her dress slipped down to reveal part of her breast.
Anderson told co-host Phillip Schofield, "My dress fell off! (I was) a little wobbly."
The judges opted to save Chegwin, but Anderson was gracious in defeat.
Speaking after she was booted off the show, the actress said, "(I feel) sad. It was really fun and now I know how to skate a little bit. I'll keep skating for sure. I feel so bad, I'm sorry Matt - he should not be here. I just stumbled, my dress, my boobs fell out, it happens."
The final months of the Civil War a time when President Abraham Lincoln struggled to end slavery and bring the Confederate States of America back into the fold of the Union are among the most important moments in Unites States history. They're also the murkiest. Eleventh grade American History tried to teach us — war four scores Emancipation Proclamation the 13th Amendment and a fateful night at the theater — but with a few hundred years' worth of events to process most people leave school knowing that Lincoln made a couple of important moves that turned the world what it is today.
Thankfully we now have a film courtesy of the legendary Steven Spielberg that brings the 16th President's amazing uphill battle to cinematic life. The cold hard facts could not be more impressive.
For Lincoln an adaptation of the Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Spielberg scales down his usual blockbuster sensibilities (last seen in 2011's World War I melodrama War Horse) to craft an intimate portrait of an iconic political figure. To pull it off writer Tony Kushner (Munich and the two-part Angels in America) constructs the film like a play relying on the soothing chameleon presence of Daniel Day-Lewis to breath life into Lincoln's poetic waxing. The president hits roadblock after roadblock on his quest to free the slaves and end the war Kushner and Spielberg weaving in handfuls of characters to pull him in various directions (and accurately represent the real life events). Each time Day-Lewis' Lincoln gracefully dances the dance solving every problem with action and words. Today Lincoln is held in high regard as an inspirational figure. Spielberg shows us why.
Lincoln isn't a full-blown birth-to-death biopic of the Great Emancipator and is all the better for it. Picking up in January of 1865 years into the Civil War Lincoln summons his Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) to say enough is enough — the time is ripe for the abolishing of slavery. Against the vocal naysayers of the Union and even his personal confidants Lincoln attempts to rally the congressmen he needs to make his bill an amendment. He hires three men (John Hawkes Tim Blake Nelson and the wonderfully outrageous James Spader) to use whatever nonviolent means possible to swing the vote. All the while well-spoken adversaries (like Lee Pace's Fernando Wood) take to the House of Representatives floor to discredit Lincoln and dissuade congressmen. Keeping the progressive foot in the door is Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) a foul-mouthed powerhouse who shares Lincoln's ambitious dreams of equality.
The story is simple but Kushner doesn't shy away from laying down lengthy passages of political discussion in order to show the importance of Lincoln's task. It's dense material spruced up with Kushner's ear for dialogue. But even so it occasionally meanders into Ken Burns documentary territory. Case in point: there are so many characters with beards in Lincoln Spielberg even flashes title cards underneath their opening scenes just so we're not lost. The fact-heavy approach takes getting used to but Spielberg and Kushner adeptly dig deep beyond the political gabfest to find a human side to Lincoln. He's a gentle man a warm man and a hilarious man. The duo's Honest Abe never shies away from a good story — at times he's like Grandpa from The Simpsons lost in his own anecdotes (much to the dismay of his cabinet). Day-Lewis chews scenery as hinted at in the trailers but with absolute restraint. That makes his sudden outbursts really pop. When Lincoln becomes fed up with pussyfooting politicians like the quivering representatives played by Walton Goggins and Michael Stuhlbarg Day-Lewis cranks the high-pitched president up to 10. He never falters.
There's a great deal of humor and heart in Lincoln — partially because the circus-like antics of Washington D.C. feel all too close-to-home in this day and age — and Spielberg paces it all with expert camera work. The drama is iffier: a side story involving Lincoln's son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) teases an interesting family dynamic that is never fully explored and is clunky when dropped to the wayside in favor of larger issues. Same goes for Lincoln's wife Mary Todd (Sally Field) who continues to grieve for the couple's lost child. They are important issues but they don't quite work in the fabric of this specific narrative.
The larger world outside the offices of the White House and Congress is often forgotten too — we hear a lot of war talk without seeing a whole lot of war. Instances where Lincoln ventures out into fields of the dead have emotional impact but we feel disconnected from it. Where Spielberg really gets it right is in the chaos of the presidential occupation. There is no easy task for Lincoln. "I may have been wrong about that " says Abe referencing his issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation "but I wanted the people to tell me if I was." Day-Lewis understands Lincoln's complex internal thought and brings it forward in each scene: humble confident deadly and compassionate.
Spielberg's technical team once again wows and echoes the lead performance. Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski's contrasting photography near chiaroscuro makes the beautiful set and production design hyper real and highlights the actors' aging faces. Composer John Williams returns once again but with a score as low-key as Day-Lewis' character — a change of pace when compared to War Horse. It's all up to par with Spielberg's past work without turning Lincoln into a flashy period drama.
Day-Lewis was the talk of the town when the first Lincoln trailers made their way on the web. Surprisingly however Lincoln wows because it's a well-balanced ensemble drama. Lee Jones delivers his best work in a decade as the grouchy idealist Spader delivers the comedic performance of the fall season and every scene introduces another familiar face to add additional gravitas to the picture (as opposed to being a distracting cameo fest). S. Epatha Merkerson's late-in-the-game scene opens up the tear ducts in a way that none of her male costars can.
If history isn't one of your interests Lincoln may not rouse you — background reading not required but conversation moves at lightning speed and without much hand-holding. It's a change of pace for Spielberg and a welcome one. With all the bells and whistles that come with being the biggest director of all time Lincoln looks amazing sounds amazing and has enough talent to make it an exhilarating learning experience.
Danny Devito pulled a surprise on British TV hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on Wednesday (11Jul12) by forcing them to pose with his foot for a photograph. The Twins star entertains his fans on Twitter.com by taking photos of his right foot in unusual locations, and he's now added the studio of talk show This Morning to his gallery.
The stars of American Reunion are in Britain to promote the latest film in the franchise, and Klein - along with Eddie Kaye Thomas and Jennifer Coolidge - sat down for a chat with This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
But the worldwide promotion of the movie has left Klein feeling unwell.
Thomas revealed, "London has made my pal Chris Klein a little sick, it took his voice away."
Klein added, "I'm a little bit sick - it wasn't London that did it, it's just all the running around."
The actor then talked at length about the American Pie franchise, prompting Thomas to quip, "It's the most he's said all morning! He's been telling us all morning that he can't speak, he's been saving it for you guys."
A few minutes into the chat, Klein's voice started to wane, causing Coolidge to chuckle, and the actor joked, "Are you laughing at my voice?"
He later added: "It sounds worse than it is."
The Crocodile Dundee and Australia star pleaded guilty to aggravated assault during a court hearing on Wednesday (21Sep11) after an altercation with his wife, Miriam Ashley, in December (10).
On Thursday (22Sep11), Darwin magistrate John Lowndes handed Gulpilil a 12-month sentence, suspended after five months.
Gulpilil's lawyer, Eugene Schofield, is adamant his client will turn his life around when he leaves jail.
He says, "He was very reluctant to go to prison... He intends to attend rehab when he comes out, and I understand he has a few films in the pipeline."
Linney passed away at his home in Germantown, New York on Saturday (15Jan11).
He wrote three novels and more than 30 plays in the U.S. and Europe during his long career, including The Sorrows of Frederick, Ambrosio, FM and A Woman Without a Name.
Perhaps his most widely-known work was The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks, which appeared on Broadway in 1972.
He also taught at America's prestigious Columbia and Princeton universities, Hunter College and The New School.
His wife, Laura Callanan, said he had been working on a novel at the time of his death, and had completed the libretto for an opera based on one of his plays.
In addition to his wife and his Oscar-nominated daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Susan.