Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
He's used to partying in Miami with Jennifer Lopez but Pitbull is headed to a colder, less sparkly place — Sarah Palin's homestate of Alaska. You betcha.
The rap superstar confirmed on Tuesday that he'd visit the small town of Kodiak, Alaska, as part of a promotion with Walmart and Sheet Energy Strips. The contest was based on whichever store got the most "likes" on its Facebook page.
No one ever imagined a little town like Kodiak (population 6,100) would win.
So, what happened, do Alaskans just go nuts for "International Love"?
Maybe — but they got a little help. It was all part of a prank played by a writer for The Boston Phoenix, David Thorpe: He thought it would be funny to send Pitbull to the most faraway Walmart ever, and encouraged people to "like" Kodiak's Walmart. He says he has nothing against the music star. He wanted to disrupt a corporate social media campaign. And it worked. The store ended up with more than 70,000 "likes."
Pitbull found out about the prank but took it all in stride. In a YouTube video on Tuesday, he said, "I heard that Kodiak, Alaska, has the most likes due to someone who thinks he was playing a prank. I said, `OK, great, this sounds really good.' You have to understand I will go anywhere in the world for my fans."
He then asked Mr. Thorpe to come along on the trip. "I want to invite that someone who thinks it's a joke to Kodiak, Alaska, with me," he said.
Thorpe's response? It's "very likely" he's going. He just has to raise the funds to get there. What, no extra seat on Pitbull's private jet?
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
Hip-hop guru Russell Simmons said Tuesday he will announce plans this weekend for a boycott against Pepsi, accusing the soft drink giant of applying a double standard, Reuters reports. A few months ago, Pepsi yanked a commercial featuring rapper Ludacris after conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly urged a boycott and accused Pepsi of being "immoral" for using the foul-mouthed rapper to promote their product. Pepsi caved in to the pressure and pulled the 30-second television spot, but recruited potty mouth Ozzy Osbourne for a Super Bowl commercial only months later. A spokeswoman for Simmons said in a statement, "The boycott is being called in response to Pepsi dropping Ludacris as spokesman and subsequently picking up the Osbournes, who are no less vulgar." Meanwhile, a PepsiCo Inc. spokesman told Reuters the Ludacris controversy was an unfortunate experience. "It was our mistake, we learned a lot from it and we've moved on," the spokesman said. "We respect Russell's interest in bringing hip-hop talent to a larger audience and we have worked together to do just that," he added.
Madonna said she has not dyed her hair or started sporting baggy clothes because she is pregnant--and she is striking back at British gossip magazine Heat for saying so. Spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said Madonna would file a complaint with Britain's Press Complaints Commission, a self-regulatory body set up and run by newspaper and magazines, over inaccurate reports that she is pregnant with her third child. "It's not true ... it's not accurate. She dyed her hair brown instead of blond, that does not confirm somebody's pregnant. And she's been wearing baggy clothes for 20 years, so what else is new?" Rosenberg told Reuters.
Brit mag Hello!, meanwhile, told London's High Court Tuesday that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones couldn't complain over the use of unauthorized photos of their lavish New York wedding because they actively sought publicity for the event. The stars are suing the mag for an estimated $800,000 in damages for loss of income, stress and damage to their careers because of the poor quality of the shots, taken by gate-crashing photographer Rupert Thorpe. Hello! published the pics three days before rival magazine OK! hit the stands with official shots secured in a $1.65 million deal with the stars, Reuters reports.
A man who helped steal Nicolas Cage's 1989 Porsche 911 was sentenced to five years in prison Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, The Associated Press reports. Michael Gramling, 20, of Arnold, Mo., pleaded guilty last year after Missouri Water Patrol divers found the $100,000 car submerged in 12 feet of water at Lake of the Ozarks. It had been stolen a month earlier from a parking lot in Arnold while in a transport trailer on its way from California to Pennsylvania. Another defendant, Scott Air Force Base airman Robert Clerkin, 21, was previously tried on stealing charges in a military court and sentenced to six months in prison. His sentence includes a rank reduction, forfeiture in pay and a letter of reprimand.
Tickets are on sale now for the Santa Monica Film Festival, which runs Feb. 13-16 at the Laemmle Theater in Santa Monica, Calif., and features more than 40 independent and short films including Briar Patch (a dark love story starring Dominique Swain and Henry Thomas), Stevie (a documentary by Hoop Dreams director Steve James) and Lost Junction starring Neve Campbell. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are slated to receive the festival's Maverick Filmmakers award at the Feb. 13 opening night ceremony. Tickets and more information are available at www.smff.com.
Miramax offshoot Dimension Films is on board to co-finance the Warner Bros. action comedy Starsky and Hutch, which is based on the classic 1970s cop series. Originally the film was going to be an updated pic set in modern-day Los Angeles but has since been turned into a period piece. Co-financing was needed to cover the rising cost of costuming and set design expenses. Insiders tell Variety the budget for the pic is already north of $60 million. Directed by Todd Phillips, the film stars Ben Stiller as Det. David Starsky, Owen Wilson as Det. Kenneth Hutchinson and Snoop Dogg as their streetwise informant, Huggy Bear.
Director Mathieu Kassovitz, best known for his 1996 drama Hate, will helm the supernatural thriller Gothika starring Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz, Variety reports. The film revolves around a criminal psychologist (Berry) who awakens to find herself a patient in her own mental institution, unable to remember a murder she supposedly committed, and victimized by a vengeful spirit in the asylum. Cruz plays a fellow inmate. The film begins production in April and is scheduled for release at Halloween.
AP reports the first new Doors concert will take place on Friday in Los Angeles with a tour planned for later this year, despite a looming lawsuit. Original Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger re-formed the group and renamed it The Doors 21st Century, with Ian Astbury of The Cult on vocals and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland. But former Doors drummer John Densmore has now filed a suit seeking a court order prohibiting the band from calling themselves The Doors when they perform without him, and requests that Densmore be paid a share of profits from any shows that have already taken place without him.