Dame Helen Mirren was finally given the royal thumbs up for her portrayal of The Queen at a Buckingham Palace party in London on Monday night (17Feb14). The actress was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship by Prince William, the Queen's grandson, on Sunday (16Feb14), and 24 hours later she was in his company again at the palace.
Mirren was welcomed by William's wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who joked that her husband had referred to the actress as "granny" at the awards ceremony.
Last week (ends14Feb14), a nervous Mirren revealed she hoped that Prince William's presence at the BAFTAs was a sure sign that the royal family liked her Oscar-winning turn as his grandmother in The Queen.
She said, "I don't think he'd do it (present the award) if the royal family felt I had messed up. I hope it's a sign they don't think I messed up. But I don't know, and I will never know for sure."
Monday night's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Reception at Buckingham Palace was also attended by Helena Bonham Carter, director Steve McQueen, Roger Moore, Joan Collins, Dame Angela Lansbury, Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Joely Richardson.
It was announced recently that Christine McVie was reuniting with her bandmates in Fleetwood Mac after leaving the group in 1998. Fans can now be treated again to the group's Rumours-era lineup, with McVie taking back over vocals on her hits like "You Make Loving Fun" and "Hold Me."
With so many musicians cashing in on the money that can be made by going out on the road with a classic edition of their band, it's become hard to find acts that people clamor to have back together. Hard, but not impossible. Here are some artists that we'd like to see back in the band.
Slash, Guns N' Roses
Granted, Axl Rose is a nut-job and a major pain in the tuchus. Still, the demand for a tour featuring Rose, Slash, and the rest of the original lineup of GNR would be unbelievable and the group's core audience is now old enough to afford the ticket prices. If Don Henley, Glenn Frey and the other Eagles can spend years on the road taking separate busses and not speaking to each other, than there has to be a way for Axl and Slash to play nice long enough to cash in.
Beyoncé, Destiny's Child
Beyoncé certainly doesn't need to do anything that she doesn't want to do. Let's face it; Mrs. Carter has the entire world at her disposal. But, here's the thing, she's still friends with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, as evidenced by the recent photos of the three band members together at little Blue's birthday party. Beyoncé just released a 14-track "visual album" that nobody knew about in advance. If she's got that kind of time, then surely there's some extra to lay down some new DC material.
Roger Waters, Pink Floyd
Every subsequent generation has its own Floyd experience, whether it's watching late-night showings of The Wall or synching up Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz. Waters is a creative genius, and notoriously difficult to work with. He's also 70 years old. Waters and the other surviving Floyd members (David Gilmour and Nick Mason) have done some one-off shows over the years, but it's not too late to give those younger fans one more chance to see one of Floyd's legendary live shows.
Steve Perry, Journey
There have been rumors for a long time that Perry's voice isn't what it used to be, which is why the singer hasn't released any new solo material in nearly 20 years. Perry's camp has denied that there is anything wrong with his voice, but even if there is a vocal issue, a reunion is still eminently doable. Arnel Pineda, the current lead singer of the band, has been a nice story, so keep him around to help supplement Perry. It's a little late to cash in on the hype that Glee created, but the band still might actually be more popular now than they were in their '80s heyday.
Dennis DeYoung, Styx
At the very least, this one would make Adam Sandler, an unabashed fan of the "Mr. Roboto" group, happy. DeYoung, who handled vocals on most of the band's biggest hits like "The Best of Times" and "Come Sail Away," has continued to perform Styx material in his shows and the other members of the group have long been on the fair and festival circuit. Sure, DeYoung sued the others at one time over the use of the band's name, but lawsuits are as much a part of the music industry as guitars. A reunion would at least upgrade them to the top county fairs in the country.
Current Bond Daniel Craig was filmed in character leaving Buckingham Palace with the royal before climbing into a helicopter, and the pair appeared to parachute into London's Olympic Stadium during the extravaganza.
The high-profile tribute to the superspy came 50 years after the first movie, Dr. No, was released, and Moore - who played the iconic agent from 1973 to 1985 - is ecstatic the monarch took part.
He tells Britain's Daily Telegraph, "Wasn't she marvellous? What a tribute to Bond in its 50th year, to be recognised by the Queen in agreeing to do that.
"In that first scene, with Bond standing there when you saw the back of her head, I thought to myself, 'I wonder who they have got to double for the Queen?' and then when she turned around, I just thought, 'Wow.'"
The great Brit is still coming to terms with his latest honour and he has called on advice from his knighted pals to make sure the big day at Buckingham Palace is memorable and pain-free.
He tells WENN, "I will be sent to the palace at some stage soon. Michael Caine and Roger Moore, both of whom I've worked with, offer only the insight that it was very handy to have the kneeling stool with the handle. Roger Moore, who has a dodgy knee,
was terrified on the way into the ceremony that, having kneeled down, he wouldn't be kneeling back up again.
"And I believe the palace are on to that. So they give you the power to get back up. I should think it's a pretty nerve wracking walk, and you don't want to move suddenly while that sword's being wielded, I'm sure.
"Maybe they have little plasters (Band Aids) ready in case... I've never read of her (the Queen) having nicked someone on the ear yet, but perhaps I might be a first. I don't know."
The Henry V star learned of his knighthood six weeks before the Queen's birthday, when a message arrived from the U.K.'s cabinet office - and he admits he was almost too scared to open it.
He explains, "It was a sort of spanking, official looking document... I thought I had really been in trouble, I had been spotted speeding somewhere. Obviously, I don't speed. I opened it, and in very, sort of, beautifully archaic language, it said, 'In strictest confidence,' which was in huge, bold type and underlined. And then it went into a very, sort of, old world (language).
"The sentence finally ended up with 'conferring upon you a knighthood. Please tick the yes box if you would find this agreeable.' So I found it agreeable, and I ticked the box. But then I sent it off, and they said in it, 'But once you've done this, you won't hear from us again until the morning of the announcement on Her Majesty's birthday.'
"I've since learned that it's rather common, if you are privileged enough to receive such a message, that you then worry as I did, having posted it the next day, that it had ever arrived. So it was a little bit of a nervous moment on the morning of the announcement. But I was very, very, very surprised, and I was very touched. And I thought of my mum and dad up in the great green room in the sky, who would be absolutely made up. So it was an easy yes."
Perhaps Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows should have been a trilogy. Splitting the sprawling finale to author J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard saga into three parts — as opposed to its chosen two-part incarnation — might have come across as shameless profiteering (admittedly a not-uncommon practice in this town) but it wouldn’t have been without merit. At 759 pages Rowling’s source novel is said to be a rather dense work plot-wise; surely it could have easily warranted another installment?
I only say this because Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 though certainly a decent film clearly strains from the effort required to fit the book’s proceedings into a two-act structure. While Part 2 slated to open approximately six months from now is alotted the story's meaty parts — namely the spectacular Battle of Hogwarts and its emotional denouement — Part 1 must bear the burden of setting the stage for the grand confrontation between the forces of Light and Dark magic and framing the predicament of its three protagonists teen wizards Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) in suitably dire terms. And it's quite a heavy burden indeed.
As the film opens the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) having assumed control over Hogwarts since the events of the preceding film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has wasted no time in initiating his reign of terror. As far as historical evil-dictator analogues are concerned Voldemort appears partial to the blueprint laid by Stalin as opposed to that of his genocidal pact-pal Hitler. Enemies of the Dark Lord's regime are prosecuted in dramatic show trials presided over by the Grand Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) while muggles (non-magic folk) and half-bloods are denounced as "undesirables" and “mudbloods” in Soviet-style propaganda posters and forced to register with the authorities.
As the only viable threat to Voldemort’s dominion Harry and his allies are hunted vigorously by Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and her goon squad of Death Eaters. The Boy Who Lived now fully grown and in more or less complete command of his powers is still no match England's nasally scourge. Labeled "Undesirable No. 1" by the Gestapo-like Ministry of Magic he's is forced to go on the lam where he labors along with Ron and Hermione to solve the riddle of Voldemort’s immortality.
For those not well-versed in Rowling’s source material the film’s opening act is a frustrating blur: After an all-too-brisk update on the bleak state of affairs in Hogwarts we are hastily introduced (or re-introduced) to a dozen or so characters the majority of whom are never seen again. A few even perish off-screen. Had we gotten a chance to get to know them we might be able to mourn them as our heroes do; instead we’re left racking our brains trying to recall who they were and how they figured in the plot.
Rowling's flaws as a storyteller — the over-reliance on deus ex machina devices (in this case we get both a doe ex machina and a Dobby ex machina) the ponderous downloads of information (not unlike those of that other uber-anticipated and somewhat overrated 2010 tentpole Inception) the annoying ability of characters to simply teleport (or "disapparate") away from danger etc. — are more evident in this film than in previous chapters. And rather than obscure these flaws director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves both franchise veterans arguably amplify them.
What saves the film are Rowling's three greatest achievements: Harry Ron and Hermione who along with the actors who play them have evolved beyond the material. The film's narrative gains its emotional footing during the heroic threesome's exile ostensibly a series of camping trips — with tents and everything — during which they reflect on their journey together the challenge that awaits them and the sacrifices it will require. Though they occasionally verge on tedious these excursions into Gethsemane allow us precious quality time with these characters that we've grown to adore over the course of seven films even if the plaintive air is spoiled a bit by some rather puzzling attempts at product placement. In their rush to flee the Dementors and Death Eaters it seems that they at least took care to pack the latest in fall fashion:
As devout readers of Rowling's novels know all too well the only foolproof shield against Voldemort's minions is the Bananicus Republicum charm.
For a few years in the '60s and '70s producer Gerry Anderson made "supermarionation" all the rage in the world of British children's television. His stop-motion puppets starred in a number of sci-fi adventure series most memorably Thunderbirds which followed the exploits of International Rescue -- a team comprised of ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his sons. Based out of their secret fortress on Treasure Island the Tracys (aided by lovely secret agent Lady Penelope) used their amazing rocket-powered vehicles to prevent disasters and save lives around the world. Now 40 years after Thunderbirds' TV debut Star Trek vet Jonathan Frakes has brought Anderson's characters to life on the big screen. Front and center is youngest son Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet) who dreams of the day he too can pilot one of his family's fab ships and lead missions. But first he has to prove himself to his father Jeff (Bill Paxton). That opportunity comes sooner than either expects when mysterious villain The Hood (Ben Kingsley) strands Jeff and the older Tracy boys in space and attacks Treasure Island. With only his friends Tintin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) and Fermat (Soren Fulton) to help him Alan has to grow up quickly if he wants to save his family ... and the world!
It would be easy to mock several of the performances in Thunderbirds-- to chide Paxton for his earnest seriousness as Tracy patriarch Jeff to dismiss Corbet's angst-tinged eagerness as Alan to roll your eyes at Kingsley's over-the-top mystical fierceness as The Hood and to wince at Fulton and Anthony Edwards' nerdy stuttering as science whizzes Fermat and his dad Brains. But actors are only as good as their script and the one Frakes has given his cast (courtesy of screenwriters William Osborne and Michael McCullers) is weak and clichéd at best filled with after-school-special-worthy lessons for Alan to learn. "You can't save everyone " Jeff tells his son somberly and even Tintin has a moral for her crush when he's feeling selfish and indulging in self-pity: "This is hard on all of us Alan." Talk about insight! What makes it even more frustrating is knowing that the actors are capable of much more even the kids: Both Corbet and Hudgens did well with supporting roles in Thirteen. Thunderbirds' only real bright spot is Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope. A cross between Reese Witherspoon's Elle in Legally Blonde and Jennifer Garner's Sydney on Alias Myles' Lady P doesn't let her pink couture wardrobe prevent her from coolly kicking ass when the situation demands it. Attended by her droll driver/man-of-all-trades Parker (Ron Cook) Lady Penelope is a fresh feisty heroine with all of the film's best lines -- and the coolest car to boot.
Frakes cut his directorial teeth on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and his first feature film was Star Trek: First Contact so he would seem like a natural choice to bring a cult sci-fi TV show to the big screen. Unfortunately while he does an admirable job re-creating (and improving on) the original Thunderbirds' mod sets cool ships and special effects (which are fine if a bit more TV-sized than summer blockbustery) Frakes can't seem to decide who his audience is. If he was aiming at grown-ups who remember the show fondly from their own childhood he should have embraced the source material's campiness (à la Starsky and Hutch) rather than restricting it to the Tracys' plastic Barbie-like furniture and Lady P's bouffant hairdo. If on the other hand Frakes was hoping to entertain today's kids he should have really reinvented the show for a 21st-century world (à la Stephen Hopkins'1998 Lost in Space) rather than clinging to the '60s references As it is he's stuck somewhere in the middle leaving adults bored during the kids-on-an-adventure bits and children mystified by the handful of jokes aimed at their parents.