Grab your bows and prepare to make mince meat out of the other tributes…The Hunger Games are upon us.
This week, arguably the first anticipated film of 2012 finally finds its way to theaters. Based on the young adult book series by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games presents a distant future in which an uprising of the poorer classes was quelled and, as punishment, each of these districts must offer up two children each year to fight to the death in a widely-televised, macabre sporting event.
This movie details a dystopian future, an oppressive, state-run nightmare masquerading as a utopia, and that got us thinking about the ultimate dystopian story: 1984. If you haven’t seen the film adaptation of this classic novel (which was, unironically, produced in 1984), Netflix’s Watch Instantly service has you covered. We hope you’ll consider making it a companion film for The Hunger Games.
Who Made It: 1984, the novel, was written by George Orwell. Orwell was a deeply socially-conscience thinker harboring a fierce opposition to totalitarian and otherwise oppressive political regimes. This film version was directed and written for the screen by Michael Radford. One of his first feature films, 1984 would be followed with his highly acclaimed Il Postino in 1994.
Who’s In It: 1984 stars John Hurt in the lead role. Hurt, who most recently appeared in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, is one of the greatest living actors of our time. You may also have seen him in V for Vendetta, Immortals or as the wand maker Ollivander in the Harry Potter franchise. The film also marks the last on-screen appearance of acting royalty Richard Burton.
What’s It About: 1984 takes place in an alternate future, well what would have been an alternate future when the book was written though now a year long since past. In this supposed era, a form of socialism has taken over England, which is in a state of perpetual war and overwhelming poverty. The new government keeps a firm hold over its people through surveillance and fear. Our protagonist is Winston Smith, whose occupation sees him altering historical documents to create whichever past is most convenient for the government at that time. He is however risking his life to keep a diary of his thoughts, a rebel who dares to feel.
Why You Should Watch It:
1984, both as a novel and as a film, occupies the top tier of dystopian science-fiction. Like most works within this strange subgenre, it supposes a world where order and social “harmony” is achieved at the expense of individual thought and freedom. A society in which the people are lulled into conformity by a system of lies and propaganda. Individual expression is forbidden and regulated by a group called The Thought Police. I mean, heck, this is the story that coined the term, “big brother.”
These films, these stories, are always fascinating to contemplate within the context of our actual society. We may not be living under a tyranny this exaggerated, but there are themes touched upon in the film that are echoed in our current political climate. The influence and government and its right to intrude upon our privacy, the regulation of sexual morays, and the supplication of the poorer classes are all ideas that, in some form or another, still resonate and foster much debate. What’s great about these dystopian tales is that the presence of the lone, rebel hero who has the audacity to be a normal, free-thinking human being, always inspires hope in even the most somber, pessimistic portrayal of our future.
On top of its metaphoric and thematic trappings, 1984 is a supremely well-made piece of cinema. John Hurt’s performance is reserved, but powerfully complex. The film was shot by Roger Deakins, who is one of the most celebrated cinematographers in the industry. The guy has shot pretty much every Coen Brothers movie—if that’s any indication. He does a great job of creating this harsh, cold, industrial hellscape to which these supposedly free citizens are shackled. It’s a movie that looks as desolate and grim as its themes elicit affectively from the audience. Interesting side note, it was jrecently announced that we’ll be getting an updated version of the film co-produced by Ron Howard and renegade street artist Shepard Fairey.
The Mean Girls star has been on her best behaviour in recent months as she fulfils her community service hours and attends therapy sessions relating to her 2011 conviction for a probation violation.
Her final progress hearing is set for next Thursday (29Mar12) and Lohan is determined to reach the date without further controversy following allegations she was involved in a hit-and-run incident outside a Hollywood nightclub last week (14Mar12).
The actress has dismissed the accusations as "false" and "absurd", and her mum admits she's since told Lindsay to stay indoors to ensure her last few days on probation remain drama free - because Dina's convinced the paparazzi are out to cause trouble.
In a phone interview with U.S. talk show host Wendy Williams on Thursday morning (22Mar12), Dina Lohan says, "I said (to Lindsay) do not leave the house!
"She's coming down the home stretch and the paparazzi is just stalking her right now and trying to do anything, crash her car, just trying to hurt her before her court date on the 29th and we just wanna put this behind us. So I said, 'Live in a bubble for the next two weeks and everything's over...' and she'll be free and clear to live her life."
Lindsay Lohan has already lined up work to get her career back on track and is due to portray a young Dame Elizabeth Taylor in upcoming TV biopic Liz and Dick, about the late Hollywood legend's love affair with Richard Burton.
And Dina is delighted her daughter has landed such a major comeback project.
She adds, "It's an incredible, incredible role for her."
Los Angeles police are reportedly interested in talking to Lohan about the alleged hit-and-run, in which she's accused of bumping into a pedestrian, to determine whether a criminal investigation should be pursued.
The Welsh-born actor, who is best known for his starring role in 1960s sci-fi drama A for Andromeda, spent almost 60 years in showbusiness.
Halliday became a professional actor after serving in World War II. He joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in 1950 and worked alongside great thespians like Richard Burton and Sir Ralph Richardson.
During his career, he appeared on cult TV shows Dr Who, The Sweeney, The Saint and The Avengers.
He also featured in the films The Swordsman and Remains of the Day.
His final movie was 2005's star-studded Lassie, in which he played a vicar.
The Mean Girls star has landed a major comeback gig following a string of legal issues after signing on to star as the Hollywood legend in Lifetime network biopic Liz and Dick, which will focus on Taylor's love affair with Richard Burton.
Lohan has now revealed she was sent a piece of costume jewellery by Taylor, who encouraged her to focus on her acting.
She tells Britain's Daily Mail, "I treasure it (the ring). It came with this beautiful note, hand-written by Elizabeth Taylor, which was very encouraging about my work - and that work is something I should concentrate on. It’s a costume ring! It has a cognac-coloured stone with precious stones set round it.
"After I was sent it, I put the ring, and the letter, away in a safe place so I wouldn’t lose it. But I took them out recently when I was asked to portray her. It’s a tiny connection to her."
The actress admits she is taking the role extremely seriously and hopes it will give her the chance to resurrect her once glittering career.
She adds, "I realise how important it is not to muck this up. This is my chance to get on with my life."
The Mean Girls star was previously named as one of the frontrunners to play the late star in the Lifetime network biopic, Liz and Dick, which will focus on Taylor's love affair with Richard Burton.
Executive producer Larry Thompson revealed he was in talks with several young Hollywood stars, including Lohan and Megan Fox, about playing the legendary Oscar-winner, who died last year (11).
He said, "It's a very serious selection. It's like casting for Hollywood royalty."
Thompson has now decided to give the job to Lohan, as long as she sticks to the rules of her probation following a string of legal problems, according to Access Hollywood.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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In honor of Russian literature, Richard Ayoade will attempt to drive Jesse Eisenberg crazy. And he's asking a Wonderland traveler to help. Obviously there is no explanation necessary, but read on if you'd like.
Last summer, we heard that Eisenberg would be starring in Ayoade's developing film The Double, from a script the director and Avi Korine adapted from Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1846 novella The Double: A Petersburg Poem. The latest to join the project: Mia Wasikowska, star of Jane Eyre and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, is starring opposite Eisenberg in the film, which promises, thanks to all parties involved, to be an artistic sensation.
Eisenberg will play a low-level government employee driven to madness when a man who looks exactly like him, but supercedes him personally, begins working in his office. So, I suppose, Eisenberg will be playing two roles in this film. No word on Wasikowska's character just yet.
Director Ayoade is on the rise in the American spectrum as a director with an incredible, unique vision. To date, the filmmaker has given us such greats as Submarine, and my favorite episode of my favorite show on television.
The Transformers star was named as a frontrunner to play the Cleopatra icon in Lifetime network's forthcoming TV biopic Liz & Dick, about Taylor's love affair with Richard Burton.
Fox was said to be in direct competition with Lindsay Lohan for the coveted part, but the brunette beauty insists she has nothing to do with the project.
In a post on her official Facebook.com page, Fox writes, "Contrary to recent media reports I am not, and have never been in discussions to star in the lifetime biopic 'Liz and Dick'. I do however wish the project well in its television debut."
The veteran Broadway star passed away on 7 January (12) of natural causes, according to Variety.
Kucinski famously starred opposite Richard Burton and Julie Andrews in the original 1961 Broadway production of Camelot, and she went on to spend 20 years with the New York City Opera Company before opening her own opera company with her husband Arthur Kucinski.
Her partner, also an opera star, died in 1999.
I honestly hope this all just a ploy to drum up publicity for Lifetime, because the news I'm about to share is rather maddening. Lindsay Lohan is in talks to play the legendary actress, Elizabeth Taylor, in a Lifetime movie. While I do acknowledge that Lifetime isn't always known for lending the highest levels of reality to its original movies, can we all agree that letting Lohan take on the Taylor legacy is just a little indecent?
Let's couple this notion with the fact that the movie isn't a general biopic, instead it is aimed at the screen siren's on-again-off-again romance with Richard Burton and bears the title Elizabeth & Richard: A Love Story. It's one of the most classic of all Hollywood romances and I'm just not sure putting Lohan in the role is right for it. Aside from her own Hollywood legacy, Lohan hasn't exactly shown her acting chops very consistently or to great affect in recent years. Then again, we're talking about a Lifetime movie - not a big screen adaptation.
Then there's the notion that people have been comparing the pair for years considering their smouldering semi-resemblance and the fact that neither could manage to escape media frenzy surrounding their personal lives. They both went from child stars to adult actresses and they both had overbearing stage mothers, but only one of them ended up in stealing jewelry, taking pictures with guns and knives, and going to rehab more often than the nail salon. The other is a true American icon. Guess which one Lohan is.
While I'm obviously pretty dubious about handing over the legacy of an icon to Lohan, I'll put on an air of positivity for just a second and say maybe this is her shot to show us that she can do more than walk around naked and dress like a nun in Machete. Maybe underneath all the scandal and attempted sex appeal, there is a good actress who can lend the character some depth. Or maybe Lifetime will further drown its own reputation by casting her in this role.