Actor Morgan Freeman and former U.S. President Bill Clinton will celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela at a tribute concert in New York next month (Feb14). The Hollywood veteran, who portrayed the ex-South African leader in 2009 movie Invictus, will recite speeches from Mandela's early political career as he fought against racial segregation, and letters to his wife, Winnie, which the late icon wrote during his incarceration at Robben Island prison, to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid.
Freeman will also read the civil rights hero's famous inaugural address following his election victory in 1994, while Clinton will also be on hand to honour Mandela's legacy.
The special event at the St. Paul the Apostle Cathedral on 13 February (14) will feature a performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Mandela died on 5 December (13), aged 95.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
A badly decomposed body of an elderly woman was found Friday in the Beverly Hills home of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's mother, Yolanda, Reuters reports. Although her identity has not been confirmed, police are operating on the assumption that the body is that of the talk show host's mother. An autopsy revealed she had been murdered although cause of death has not been released. Beverly Hills Police Lt. Gary Gilmond said the state of the body and home suggested that the woman had been dead for a "substantial period of time," possibly several months. Police found the woman's body Monday after concerned neighbors said they had not seen her in several weeks. Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who hosts a syndicated talk-radio show dispensing advice to her listeners, has reportedly been estranged from her mother and was unavailable for comment.
The anonymous buyer who scooped up Bette Davis' Oscar for her 1935 film Dangerous at a Sotheby's auction in New York turned out to be none other that Steven Spielberg, The Associated Press reports. The filmmaker shelled out $180,000 for the golden statuette, which he will donate to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Audiences heading out to see the Martin Scorsese's epic Gangs of New York this weekend will also get a glimpse of Quentin Tarantino's highly anticipated thriller Kill Bill. The film, slated for release in October 2003, stars Uma Thurman as a former assassin who swears revenge on her boss, who shot her in the head and put her in a coma for four years. This is Tarantino's first feature since the 1997 drama Jackie Brown.
Oliver Stone's Alexander the Great starring Colin Farrell won a key battle yesterday in its race to beat Baz Luhrmann's rival project to the big screen, Variety reports. Warner Bros. is closing a deal to become Stone's movie's domestic distributor, allowing producer Intermedia to greenlight the film for a June start. Luhrmann's project is financed by DreamWorks and Universal and would star Leonardo DiCaprio. Both films are among the most expensive films ever attempted, with budgets between $100 and $150 million.
Lord of the Rings's Elijah Wood is set to star in Focus Features' The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by scribe Charlie Kaufman. According to Variety, the film revolves around a failed couple who attempt to rekindle their romance through a treatment that erases painful memories from the brain. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Ruffalo also star in the film.
Venice residents are upset over U.S. director F. Gary Gray's canal stunts for the film The Italian Job starring Mark Wahlberg. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gray is shooting scenes of high-speed motorboat chases and gondola crashes in historic waterways, prompting residents to accuse the city's mayor of selling his soul to Hollywood. Shooting will continue in coming weeks in the Italian Alps and later in Los Angeles.
The proposed Latin Emmy Awards has created a feud between East and West Coast television groups, The Associated Press reports. The New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences filed an arbitration demand on Thursday, claiming the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is refusing to cooperate in establishing Emmys honoring Spanish-language programs. ATAS denied the allegation, calling the "self-serving" action by its Big Apple counterpart a "charade." Any new Emmy format requires the approval of both groups.
Bono, Eve, Ludacris, Nelly Furtado, Coldplay, Shaggy, Joe Strummer, Queen and others will perform at Nelson Mandela's historic Mandela SOS concert on Feb. 2, RollingStone.com reports. The concert will take place on the site of the maximum security prison on Robben Island, South Africa, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
The Harry Potter books, which have topped the annual best-seller list in Britain for the past three years, have been knocked down a few notches. According to Nielsen BookScan, Pamela Stephenson's book Billy, a biography of her husband, comedian/actor Billy Connelly, sold 517,811 copies this year. Nick Hornsby's How To Be Good was second on this years list with 477,522 copies sold, followed by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which sold 464,985 copies.