Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As grand as the themes of good and evil, needs and deservings, power and responsibility and such forth are, superhero movies are generally pretty straightforward in premise: hero stops villain from wreaking havoc. As off-putting as this kind of simplicity might sound, it's usually the right way to go. If you pack enough substance into your characters and adhere your plot to these linear margins, you can actually wind up saying a healthy amount (and having a lot of fun). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets half of this formula down pat. Although Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is still a moreover undistinguished identity, his emotional magnitude (re: his relationship with Gwen Stacy) is enough to keep him valid through the storm of lunacy that is his second feature. And it's not even that lunacy that holds him back. The problem isn't how wild his conquests are, how silly some of the action sequences feel, or how absolutely bonkers his villains turn out to be. It's all the other stuff (and yes, if you can believe it, there's a ton more going on in this movie than what I've already mentioned — that's the issue). All the plot twists, tertiary mysteries, ominous flashbacks, abject reveals, and weightlessly sinister pawns in this brooding game that, save for its fun with the baddies, takes itself way too seriously. All that stuff that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 thinks is necessary to make Peter Parker matter? It actually does just the opposite.
Peter is at his best when he's playing Tracy and Hepburn with the girlfriend he's perpetually disappointing (the eternally charming Emma Stone), or trying to win back the favor of the only remaining parental figure from whom he's rapidly slipping away (Sally Field, reminding us why she's a household name), or angling to connect with the mentally unstable engineer who just wants people to notice him (Jamie Foxx working his comic shtick with a frightening zest). We have the most fun with Peter when he's playing the simplest games, and we connect best with him on similar ground. But Peter and company, at the behest of The Amazing Spider-Man franchise's Sandman-sized aspirations, spend so much time exploring new avenues: the secrets surrounding the death and work of Richard Parker, the behind-the-curtains operations of OsCorp, the nefarious goings on in the waterside penitentiary Ravencroft.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As a result of the grand stab at world building, there is just so much stuff that Peter has to wade through in this movie, dragging the likes of Gwen and his boyhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, mastering angst, menace, and upper-class privilege all at once) into the dark crevasses of narrative waste. With so many diversions into the emotionally vacant, deliberately joyless explorations of Parker family origin stories, secret brief cases, and underground subways — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rivals Captain America: The Winter Soldier in complexity, but forgets the necessary ingredient of fun — we barely have enough energy left when the good stuff hits.
And in truth, the good stuff isn't really good enough to sustain us through all the duller periods. Garfield and Stone do have laudable chemistry. Foxx is a hoot as Peter's maniacal new foe, especially when paired with the grimacing DeHaan. And the action, while often straying from any aesthetic authenticity, is nothing shy of neat-o. It's all passable, occasionally worthy of a hearty smile, but rarely anything you'll be definitively pleased you took the time to see.
But beyond coming up short in the micro, the film's regal downfall is its scope. With so much to do, both in accomplishing its own necessary plot points and setting up for those to come in future films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn't seem to take time to make sure it's having fun with its own premise. And if it isn't having fun, we won't be either.
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The When Harry Met Sally... writer, who passed away in June (12) aged 71 after battling acute myeloid leukaemia, left her estate to her husband Nicholas Pileggi, and her two sons from her previous marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.
The fortune will be divided up and left in trust funds for Jacob and Max Bernstein, while Goodfellas writer Pileggi will get a cash bequest of $500,000 (£312,500) and enough money to sustain the family's living standards.
The Sleepless in Seattle director was one of 12 women due to be feted on Wednesday (27Jun12) at the Manhattan lunch gathering for the Makers, a documentary series saluting the "women who make America".
But the event turned into a tribute to Ephron as guests including feminist icon Gloria Steinem and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg watched a touching interview with the filmmaker before Walters stepped up to the podium to praise her.
She told the crowd, "We'd known that Nora was ill, we didn't know that she was dying," adding that she and Ephron had met regularly over 12 years with other high-powered members of 'lunching ladies' group The Harpies.
Walters recalled, "We would discuss facelifts, other people's. We just met with Nora, and she looked great."
Chatting to The Wall Street Journal after the event, Walters added, "We were so shocked because many of us have known that she was ill, but not that ill. To die at 71 is just tragic anyway but for someone like Nora, who's so witty and funny and romantic and scathing, and who can produce and direct and write - it's just an enormous loss on a personal level."
Ephron died after a battle with acute myeloid leukaemia, and her funeral is reportedly set to take place on Thursday (28Jun12). Her son, Jacob Bernstein, has told the Associated Press the family is planning to hold a memorial service for the beloved moviemaker on 9 July (12).
Speculation about Ephron's ill health hit the Internet on Tuesday (26Jun12), with some reports suggesting she had been battling cancer, and Hollywood gossip columnist Liz Smith revealed her family members were planning her funeral.
And now, Ephron has lost her fight for life. No further details were known as WENN went to press.
Ephron, the eldest of four sisters, was born in New York City to screenwriter parents, who moved the family to Beverly Hills in California when she was four.
Despite her love of film, Ephron majored in political science at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and briefly worked as an intern in the White House during President John F. Kennedy's term in the early 1960s. She also served as a reporter at the New York Post and wrote for publications including Esquire and The New York Times Magazine.
Her film career took off in the 1980s when her second husband Carl Bernstein's affair with Margaret Jay, the daughter of British Prime Minister James Callaghan, inspired her to write the novel Heartburn, which she adapted for the big screen in 1986.
She went on to write the BAFTA-winning screenplay for beloved romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, which became a hit film starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. The film also earned Ephron Academy Award and Writers Guild of America nominations.
She made her directorial debut in 1992 with This Is My Life and reteamed with Ryan a year later for her first big success as a moviemaker, Sleepless in Seattle. Director and star worked together again in 1998 on the movie You've Got Mail.
Ephron was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award in 1994, and branched into theatre in the 2000s - her play Imaginary Friends, which explored the rivalry between writers Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy, was a hit in 2002 and her co-authored production Love, Loss, and What I Wore was a sell-out in Canada, New York and California following its debut in 2008.
Ephron's film projects in more recent years have included 2005's Bewitched and Julie & Julia in 2009.
She is survived by her third husband, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, who she married in 1987, and sons Jacob and Max.
Nora Ephron, the writer-director-author-producer behind such hits as Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and Julie & Julia, is 'very ill,' according to her agent. Bryan Lourd told ABC News that Ephron was gravely ill with leukemia after gossip columnist Liz Smith posted a eulogy on The Women on the Web. The eulogy has been taken down, but Smith told The Hollywood Reporter that she had spoken with Ephron's son Jacob Bernstein.
“I was told this morning that she was dying, but I can’t confirm it,” Ephron told THR. Smith also said that Bernstein told her that the family was planning for the funeral.
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[PHOTO CREDIT: AP Images]
15 Qs With Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Nora Ephron of 'Julie & Julia'
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Madonna is never one to hold back on voicing her opinions, especially when it comes to hydrangeas. In other words, she's learned to expresses herself. But her vocal antics don't stop at loathing flowers and now it seems Lady Gaga is her next target. If you recall, there was a bit of a controversy last year regarding the similarities between Gaga's "Born This Way" and Madonna's classic hit, "Express Yourself." Some started calling Gaga's song a knock-off, accusing her of copying Madonna's work (rumors she immediately refuted). However, we never heard Madonna's view on the matter...until now.
The legendary singer addressed the similarities between the two songs (somewhat callously) in a new interview with Newsweek, saying, "I thought, this is a wonderful way to redo my song. I mean, I recognized the chord changes. I thought it was . . . interesting." Now that statement can be read in one of two ways: she's genuinely trying to give Gaga a compliment while innocently admitting that the songs are somewhat similar, or she's purposefully trying to undermine Lady Gaga's songwriting skills and achievements by implying that she copied her hit song. It's really hard to tell since the comments seem polite and essentially complimentary, but knowing Madonna's confrontational nature I'm willing to bet there's an underlying meaning in there somewhere.
In another recent interview on the BBC's Graham Norton Show, Madonna additionally mentioned Gaga, saying, "When I first saw her I was really impressed by her and she was cool," adding, "She did remind me of me back in the day." Another compliment or a different way of showing how much she believes Gaga mimics her? You never know with Madonna. Personally, I think it's ridiculous since Gaga's way above stealing content from another artist, although I do have to give Madonna props for dominating in the backhanded compliment category. I guess she was just born that way.
Click on the image below for more photos of Lady Gaga.
Source: NY Mag, Cheat Sheet, Capital FM
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie