Veteran British radio presenter Mike Smith had died at the age of 59. The former BBC Radio 1 host passed away on Friday (01Aug14) from complications following major heart surgery.
His wife of 25 years, Sarah Greene, said in a statement released through Smith's filming company Flying TV she would "like to offer enormous thanks to the staff at the hospital for their care and compassion".
Smith first joined BBC Radio 1 in 1975 as a freelance producer and presenter but moved to Capital FM in 1978 where he presented a number of shows.
He returned to Radio 1 in 1982 and took over the station's breakfast show slot in 1986, with Diana, Princess of Wales declaring herself one of the programme's biggest fans. He also appeared on TV as a host of Top of the Pops and the BBC's coverage of Live Aid.
In 2004 Smith, a qualified pilot, founded aerial filming company Flying TV.
Close friend Noel Edmonds was among those to pay tribute to Smith following the news of his death, saying, "I am totally stunned and heartbroken for Sarah and his family... Mike was that rare individual, the consummate broadcaster, in an era when professionalism, dedication and hard work were truly valued."
BBC Radio 2 host Simon Mayo also paid tribute, writing on Twitter.com, "When we joined Radio 1 in '86, he was the guy who had it all. His breakfast show was a shiny, sparkly thing, a must-listen."
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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A spokesperson for a U.K. movie firm has denied reports suggesting Naomi Watts walked out of a radio interview while promoting her new movie Diana last week (03Sep13). The actress was said to have been chatting about the biopic, in which she plays tragic royal Diana, Princess Of Wales, with DJ Simon Mayo, who claimed the star abruptly left their chat with no explanation.
After the alleged incident, Mayo tweeted, "A first for me... as Naomi Watts walked out of an interview! She seemed a tad uncomfortable with the questions. Shame."
However, a representative for film company Entertainment One insists Mayo's account is false.
The rep says, "Simon Mayo acted unprofessionally following an interview last week with Naomi Watts, star of the film Diana.
"After completing the interview Simon Mayo tweeted that Naomi walked out on his interview. This was factually incorrect as she did not walk out and Simon Mayo was not even in the same room whilst interviewing Naomi."
Mayo maintains he and his team at the BBC's Radio 5 Live have now been blacklisted by Entertainment One, but he stands by his story.
He says, "We were not asking any difficult questions as the film is not about Diana's death. We did not want to talk about Diana's death... but she obviously felt uncomfortable. As I was asking questions, Naomi turned to her publicist whispered something in her ear and she got up and left. We have now been told that the film company won't let us interview any stars they have in their movies.
"I have listened back to the tape of the interview and I can see nothing wrong with it."
Watts has yet to personally comment on the incident.
Actress Naomi Watts walked out of a U.K. radio interview (03Sep13) as she was promoting her new movie Diana. The Hollywood star was chatting about the biopic, in which she plays tragic royal Diana, Princess Of Wales, on BBC Radio 5 broadcast Kermode & Mayo when she decided she had had enough and left.
Host Simon Mayo took to his Twitter.com page to tell fans about the encounter, admitting he had no idea what he had done to offend Watts.
He tweeted, "A first for me... as Naomi Watts walked out of an interview! She seemed a tad uncomfortable with the questions. Shame."
When one follower asked if the interview would air this Friday (05Sep13), Mayo explained, "It's for next week I think. (Director) Ron Howard this week. He stayed for the full interview... The honest answer is I have no idea (how I upset Watts). You know my hectoring style is always a problem... Didn't express any opinion (about the film). So still baffled."
U.K. columnist Allison Pearson later tweeted, "So Naomi Watts stormed out of Simon Mayo's interview today. That explains why she was heavily guarded by the time I went in. Cheers, Simon!" to which he replied, "Apologies then... I feel I was probably picking up someone (else's) pieces too."
Watts has yet to comment on the incident.