The stars of hit TV series Game Of Thrones met Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh when the royals visited the show's set on Tuesday (24Jun14). Actors including Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams lined up to speak to the monarch beside the series' famous Iron Throne during her tour of the Titanic Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The show's creators, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, escorted the royals through the large indoor studio and showed them a variety of props and costumes.
The monarch was given a souvenir version of the Iron Throne before she embarked on the rest of her three-day royal tour of the country.
Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole will miss their Broadway turns in Tony-nominated musical After Midnight following producers' decision to close the show early. The production will end after Patti LaBelle's run as special guest star, which began last week (beg09Jun14), after 19 previews and 272 regular performances.
After Midnight, which celebrates Duke Ellington’s years at New York's Cotton Club, was nominated for seven Tonys this year (14) and picked up the prize for Best Choreography a week ago (08Jun14).
Fantasia Barrino, LaBelle and Knight also opened the ceremony by performing a rendition of jazz standard Sunny Side of the Street. Barrino, k.d. lang, Toni Braxton, Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds and Vanessa Williams have also appeared in the show at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
Knight was scheduled to take over from LaBelle in July (14), and Cole was billed to appear from 5 to 31 August (14).
Soul stars Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole are all set to grace the Broadway stage as guest performers this summer (14) in Tony Award-nominated show After Midnight. The musical, which celebrates jazz icon Duke Ellington's years at Harlem, New York's famous Cotton Club, has already featured the likes of k.d. lang, Toni Braxton and Vanessa Williams as guest vocalists, and now another trio of music veterans will be delighting audiences at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
LaBelle, who first saw the show in January (14), will take over from singer Fantasia Barrino from 10 to 29 June (14), while Knight will pick up the mic from 8 July to 3 August, and Cole will appear from 5 to 31 August (14).
After Midnight has proved to be a big hit with fans and critics alike - it scored seven Tony nominations, including a nod for Best Musical, when the shortlist was announced on Tuesday (29Apr14).
U.S. singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc has scored his first solo number one in the U.K. after topping the British singles chart with The Man on Sunday (06Apr14). The hitmaker, real name Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III, hit the top of the countdown last year (13) with his Avicii collaboration Wake Me Up, and now he has his first solo number one thanks to his homage to Elton John's first U.K. top 10 single, Your Song.
Meanwhile, John Legend finds himself a runner-up on both sides of the Atlantic - his All Of Me climbs up the chart to two as the same track stays put in second place behind Pharrell Williams' Happy in America.
Duke Dumont's I Got U rounds out the new top three.
On the U.K album chart, the Kaiser Chiefs debut at one with their fifth album Education, Education, Education & War, while last week's chart-topper, Sam Bailey's The Power Of Love falls to two and George Michael's Symphonica rounds out the top three.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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George Michael's comeback album Symphonica has soared to the top of the U.K. music charts, scoring him his seventh solo number one. The Wake Me Up Before You Go Go hitmaker's first album in 10 years beat out Kylie Minogue's Kiss Me Once for the coveted number one spot, and the singer is overwhelmed by the fan support.
He tells OfficialCharts.com, "Thank you so much... it's so nice to be able to savour this wonderful moment. I am a lucky man."
Pharrell Williams' G I R L slipped to third place, while Paloma Faith's A Perfect Contradiction and Elbow's The Take Off And Landing Of Everything took the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
Meanwhile, Duke Dumont and Jax Jones' I Got U hit nabbed the number one spot on the singles chart, followed by Route 94 and Jess Glynne's My Love at two and John Legend's All of Me at three.
R&B star Fantasia Barrino is returning to Broadway for a second stint in After Midnight, a musical which celebrates jazz icon Duke Ellington's years at Harlem's famous Cotton Club. The singer ended her first run in the show in February (14). The role has since been played by k.d. lang, Toni Braxton, and Vanessa Williams is set to take over on 1 April (14). Barrino will return to After Midnight in May (14).
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Actress Vanessa Williams is to star in Broadway musical After Midnight. The Ugly Betty actress has signed on for a six-week stint in the production, which celebrates jazz icon Duke Ellington's years at Harlem's famous Cotton Club.
She will replace R&B singer Toni Braxton as special guest vocalist on 1 April (14) and is due to perform until 11 May (14), according to Billboard.com.
Williams announced the news to the cast backstage on Wednesday (19Feb14). She said, "It's an honour to jump in. It's a well-oiled machine, up and running and I think it'll be a perfect fit."
The role of guest star is currently being played by singer k.d. lang, who will be replaced by Braxton in March (14).
The opening scene of American Hustle — a loud, loquacious, upper-fueled romp through the avenues of high stakes swindling — plays somewhat like a Buster Keaton short. We watch a schlubby Christian Bale fumble (with as much delicacy as someone can, in fact, fumble) with a greasy combover and a dime store toupee, laughing at the small scale physical comedy and learning more than you'd expect about Bale's con man character Irving Rosenfeld before we even meet him or hear him speak.
But there is nary a silent moment in the two-and-half hours to follow. Its people speak in explosions. The passions are dialed all the way up between Irv, his accomplice and girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), and the venemous FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) who rangles the pair into the biggest heist of their career. There's no tranquility in the waters of their high-stakes operation to take down a New Jersey mayor, the Italian mob, and quite possibly a few of the dirtier suits in Congress. When things proceed like clockwork, we're talking diving pendulums and cuckoo birds darting from every crevice. Naturally, it's all the more fun when things go awry.
And, of course they do. It wouldn't be a heist movie without a few cogs springing loose. But the beauty of American Hustle is in its undoing. From start to finish, Irv and Sydney are pros at the game. They leave no stone unturned in pulling the wool over the eyes of every deadbeat, mafioso, and active senator that finds his unlucky way into their eyeline. Even the misguided improvisations of Cooper's control freak lawman don't serve to uproot the plans from their course. We don't suffer through a dropping of their guard or an overlooking of important details. Everything that goes wrong in this movie is embedded in character.
The follies, screw-ups, and mutinies are all emotionally charged, inspired by romantic rivalry, ego, flights of affection, and the ribald distate that so many of these people have for each other. Everything in this big, flashy, high-stakes movie is personal. It's a toxic, burning love/hate/envy/longing/attraction/friendship/enmity between every conceivable pairing in this dynamic cast of rich, strong, uproarious characters that fuels the movie and drags down the scheme at its center.
And just about everyone we meet is dragged into the maniacal nucleus by the arms of anxious passion. Irv's spitfire wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) outranks the lot of her company in the screws-loose department, stirring the pot of her unfaithful husband's business dealings as soon as she crosses the threshold into his world. The psychopathically dutiful Richie (Cooper) sees anyone who tries to temper his occupational obsessions as the enemy, even his pragmatic Midwesterner boss (Louis C.K.). And at the head of the race is Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), unaware of his place in this tremendous game but coursing at top speeds on an engine of his democratic heart nonetheless. The characters are all operating at 11, and most of the actors are able to keep up.
As Irv, a uniquely undesirable Bale is a laugh every minute. We enter this world through him — a world of accessible lies, of rough-and-tumble New York streets, of Long Island parties, of Duke Ellington, of hairpieces, of dry cleaners, of only conning the men you can stomach the idea of laying to waste — and have a terrific time walking in his footsteps. Always just out of reach is Adams as Sydney, who cons herself just as often as she does Richie, Irv, and the poor saps who fall for her seductive act. Bale and Adams are the standouts of the cast — playing their hearts on their sleeves and tucked away tightly, respectively — so it's good fortune that most of our time is spent with one or the other.
The power players from director David O. Russell's last effort, Cooper and Lawrence, shine a bit dimmer here — Cooper plays Richie as petulant, misguided, and teetering on the edge, but he's undercooked beside the far meatier material presented by Bale and Adams. Lawrence, while not without her moments, never seems to commit altogether to the loon that is Rosalyn, alternating between too reserved and too outlandish to really make the character feel like somebody. But the biggest surprise of the lot might be Renner, who has more fun as his Jersey boy Carmine than he ever has onscreen. But in earnest, some credit goes to the hair.
It's the electricity of American Hustle that keeps its long narrative from dragging. We have fun with the characters, the performances, and the colorful world itself. The movie never insists that we feel anything beyond that, but offers a few bites of some authentic empathy for Irv and his kind nonetheless. So we can dip into the bustling character work that Bale and Adams are mastering, Cooper is handling, and Lawrence is just falling shy of delivering on, but we're free to latch onto the life preserver of this movie's output of comedy. There's so much to laugh at in American Hustle, and some wonderfully molded characters to do all your laughing with.
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