Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
When fans learned that Megan Fox’s love-interest role in Transformers: Dark of the Moon was removed from the script and replaced with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s character of Carly, they were completely confused. Not with Michael Bay’s decision to replace Fox, that part some people understood (if someone likens you to Hitler, you give them the boot, no questions asked). But Bay’s decision to put his faith in some random underwear model seemed strange: he’d already been directing movies for years, and it was hard to believe that out of all his possible connections in the movie industry, the best person to play Sam Witwicky's new love interest was someone with no acting skills. And so the fact that Bay chose inexperienced Huntington-Whiteley for the role could mean one of two things: either Huntington-Whiteley is a superior actress who, despite no training, is excellent anyway, OR Bay believes the only way to make a good movie is to cast good-looking people in it, regardless of their experience or talent.
But that’s not a question I’m even going to attempt to answer at this point in time. What I am going to do is tell you how Rosie Huntington-Whiteley found herself in a position to be cast in a Michael Bay movie. I think that’s a much more suitable task for the day.
Rosie was born on April 18th, 1987 in Plymouth, Devon, England to Fiona, a fitness instructor and Charles, a chartered surveyor. She grew up on a farm in Devon, where her classmates at school teased her for having full lips and two last names. She was voted Miss Big Mouth when she was because she talked so much and then at 13, she got very tall and was voted Girl Most Likely to Become a Supermodel. When she grew up and was studying at Tavistock College (which is not a college, actually – in England, high schools are called “colleges”), a scout for Profile Model Management spotted her and recruited her to the agency. Her first job as a model was appearing in a commercial for Levi’s jeans, and she spent the whole check she received as payment on a three-door Ford even though she couldn’t drive.
In December of 2006, Rosie began modeling for Victoria’s Secret and made her debut at the lingerie line’s fashion show in Los Angeles. But she wasn’t noteworthy until she replaced model Agyness Deyn in an ad for Burberry’s fall/winter campaign alongside Sam Riley. While continuing to work for Victoria’s Secret, Rosie still managed to find work elsewhere, like for Agent Provocateur, Godiva and Miss Sixty and in 2008, Harper’s Bazaar put her as number 6 on their annual “Best Dressed List.” After booking solid work for the next few years, she finally received the coveted title of a Victoria’s Secret Angel in 2009. Then her career really took off -- she met Michael Bay on the set of a Victoria’s Secret commercial in December of 2009, and she posed naked for Pirelli Calendar in early 2010, which was shot by noted photographer Terry Richardson. Then fashion photographer Rankin compiled a book of photographs he took of her and called it Ten Times Rosie, which celebrated the work of Thomas Wylde and Rosie's sense of style and empowerment. Of her look and talent, Rankin said “We’ve been looking at very, very skinny, almost masculine girls for a long time. [Rosie] really is the model of the moment. She’s the actress of the moment. She’s definitely going to become something much, much bigger.” And then finally, in May of 2010, Bay offered Rosie the role of Carly in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
There's no way to tell if Rosie will continue to pursue a life as an actress in Hollywood. I'm sure she's getting offers upon offers from other directors and producers who are hoping to snag her for their own projects. But if modeling will remain her true passion, then there aren't a lot of ways to persuade her to capitalize on the extreme fortune she had of getting cast in a Michael Bay movie, or to convince her that her door is about as open as it will ever get. I would assume that she'll do what most models do, which is enjoy the benefits of making occasional cameos in movies while modeling full time and then when they become too old to strut down the runway in the $2 million bra, they begin working on creating their own brands. And at this point in time, I'd say Rosie won't encounter too much resistance along the way.
Grammy Award-winning artist Eminem was sentenced to two years' probation Tuesday for carrying a concealed weapon.
The rapper had entered a guilty plea with prosecutors in February after he pistol-whipped a man he saw kissing his wife, Kimberly, outside a Detroit-area nightclub called Hot Rocks in June.
Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga said earlier that he would seek no more than six months because Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, "has no record and there was no serious injury," The Associated Press reported.
Circuit Judge Antonio Viviano also fined Eminem $2,500 and ordered him to undergo counseling and submit to drug testing. The rapper also must ask the court for permission to travel overseas.
Eminem already has reached a preliminary divorce agreement with his wife that gives him joint custody of their 5-year-old daughter.
On the advice of his attorneys, Eminem made no statement in court. He stood silent between his attorneys in a dark suit and tie.
The rapper's mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, was at court Tuesday to see her son's sentencing.
"It was just basically to make sure he was OK," she told Reuters. "I didn't want my son to get jail time. You may have differences, but you never stop loving a child," she told Reuters.
Eminem said after his sentence that he was looking forward to putting the case behind him.
"The judge treated me fair, like any other human being," he said, AP reported. "I just want to get it behind me and get back to spending time with my little girl and making music."
Springsteen shows who the "Boss" is
New Jersey rock star Bruce Springsteen won his legal battle Tuesday to block Masquerade Music Ltd. from releasing 19 songs he recorded before he became famous.
The London Court of Appeal dismissed Masquerade's challenge of a December 1998 decision preventing the release of an unauthorized album featuring Springsteen's early work. The London-based Masquerade had imported about 75 copies of the album, Before the Fame, and had "threatened to release many further copies," said High Court Justice Francis Ferris, according to the BBC News.
The songs were recorded in the early 1970s, several years before Springsteen's hit "Born to Run." The album would feature the "Boss" accompanying himself with guitar and piano, material that was never meant for release.
Springsteen felt that Masquerade's attempt to claim ownership of the songs' copyright was an attack on his artistic integrity
"The music you release is the way you shape your career, and I have always believed you have to do all you can do to protect your work," Springsteen told Reuters.
The singer received an award of $725,000 in legal costs and the cost of the appeal, still to be determined.
Strike Waivers OK'd by SAG president
Strike waivers for individual filmmakers have received the approval of Screen Actors Guild president William Daniels. He will support granting the waivers if the qualifiers accept the guild's labor demands during a work hiatus, but he stressed the ultimate decision will be made by SAG's negotiating committee.
"I want to keep actors working," Daniels said Monday following a news conference about the announcement of legislative hearings on agent issues.
Some more stringent guild members believe this move may take away leveraging power at the negotiation table, while others see it as a tactic to bring out the benefits of the guild contract.
SAG has received hundred of requests from filmmakers seeking waivers in the last few months. The SAG contract is due to expire June 30. Negotiation talks have not yet been set.
Castro attends "Thirteen Days" screening
Producers of Thirteen Days, including star Kevin Costner, Peter Almond and Armyan Bernstein, spent many hours Monday viewing the film and discussing its historical significance with Cuban president Fidel Castro -seven hours, to be exact, lasting until 2 a.m. The actor was very appreciative of the president's time and that Castro responded very favorably to the film, Costner's spokesman Stephen Rivers told Reuters.
The film's ending has Moscow agreeing to withdraw the missiles from Cuba to the annoyance of Castro, who resented the deal being cut over his head. The U.S. delegation explained to Castro before the screening that the film represented "one perspective on the crisis from one side" and encouraged the Cubans to make their own version.
Not surprisingly, the Cuban news agency, the Presna Latina, felt the film displayed a superficial vision, typical of Hollywood.
"The North Americans are presented yet again as the saviors of the world, while Cuba appears in the film, according to some critics, as mere decoration in a sugary film of pure Hollywood style," the agency said. "With more dialogue than action, the film tends to send the spectator to sleep," it added. The film is set to be screened Wednesday in Moscow for Russian dignitaries and former U.S. cabinet members who were involved in the Missile Crisis, including former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
Napster continues to filter music files
Napster filed a third compliance report on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, saying it has blocked more than 1.7 million files from its service, substantially improving its filtering technology.
The online song-swap service reported that its has reduced in half the average number of music files shared by users.
Napster has spent $750,000 for six-month's worth of access to the song database of the Internet music company Gracenote and hired 15 staffers to increase its efforts.
In March, Napster disputed claims filed by the Recording Industry Association, which blamed the Web site of inadequate filtering efforts.
In opposition, Napster said the RIAA's complaint dealt with parameters of injunction and not the file sharer's effort to comply with it.
Both companies will have a chance to reconcile their differences on Tuesday at a hearing before District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel to discuss compliance issues.
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Andrew Morton to write unauthorized Madonna biography
Andrew Morton, the author of such celebrity biographies as Princess Diana and Monica Lewinsky, has a new subject: pop star Madonna.
St. Martin's Press purchased the North American rights to Morton's unauthorized Madonna biography, in which he will "disclose the unknown Madonna," St. Martin's president and publisher, Sally Richardson, said Tuesday in a statement.
"Andrew loves complicated women and has a genius for getting into their psyche and telling the world what makes them tick," Richardson added.
A 500,000-copy first printing is planned. The book is scheduled for release in November.
Morton wrote 1992's Diana: Her True Story and 1999's Monica's Story, both New York Times No. 1 bestsellers.
Queen tune makes a comeback
British pop singer Robbie Williams will work with Queen to record a new version of the rock band's 1977 hit "We Are the Champions." The song will be included on the soundtrack for A Knight's Tale, the upcoming film starring Aussie hunk Heath Ledger, according to Reuters.
A spokesman for Williams emphasized that this was a onetime collaboration.
"There are no plans to release it as a single here or in the U.S. It's for a film, so it will just be part of a soundtrack," he said.
Williams recorded the track with Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon from Queen, which originally sold more than 100 million records. Lead singer Freddie Mercury died in 1991 of AIDS.
"Captain Corelli" to receive London premiere
The highly anticipated love story Captain Corelli's Mandolin will receive its world premiere in London on Thursday, April 19, according to Reuters.
The film, starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, is based on the bestseller by British novelist Louis de Bernieres. It details a love affair between an Italian officer, Corelli, and a local girl on the Greek island of Cephallonia during World War II. This leads up to the events of September 1943, when, after the Italians declared an armistice with Allies, the Italian soldiers left on the island refuse to surrender to the Germans and fought in vain for 10 days.
The premiere will benefit the British Red Cross.
Paul McCartney's daughter getting into the act
Fashion designer Stella McCartney, the daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, wants Beatles documentary filmmaker Geoff Wonfer to film her as she sets up her own fashion label, according to Reuters. Wonfer produced The Beatles Anthology and has made films about McCartney's late photographer mother, Linda.
The documentary would chronicle McCartney's departure from the French fashion label Chloe to create her own Gucci-backed designer label.
Several television stations are bidding for the rights to air the documentary.
"Ab Fab" is back
The British cult hit comedy Absolutely Fabulous will return to television after a five-year absence, with the original cast in place, according to USA Today. The BBC and Comedy Central will produce six new episodes to air in November.
Known affectionately among fans as Ab Fab, the sitcom follows the misadventures of two boozy, sex-starved, fashion-crazed friends played by Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.
Rosie goes home after stint in hospital
Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell was sent home from a New York hospital Monday afternoon, after she was admitted for a staph infection in her hand, according to USA Today. She will not return to her show this week as she is still recovering and on antibiotics.
O'Donnell went to the emergency room on April 3 complaining of excruciating pain in her hand after she had surgery to repair a tendon from a fishing accident last year. Barbara Walters and other members of the show The View are filling in this week for O'Donnell. She will return to her duties behind the desk on Monday.
Actor and activist Graf dies
David Graf, a character actor who starred in all seven Police Academy films, died Saturday of a heart attack in Arizona. He was 50.
Best known for his role as Eugene Tackleberry in the Police Academy series, and for his recurring role as Col. Chase on NBC's hit drama The West Wing, Graf also was very active with the Screen Actors Guild. He served on the national board as a Hollywood representative, the TV-theatrical steering committee, the new technologies caucus and the national disciplinary review committee.
"His kindness, generosity of spirit and ability to tirelessly work for the better of actors will be missed," SAG President William Daniels told Variety.
His other credits includeRules of Engagement, Citizen Ruth and Guarding Tess.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and two children.