Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
1984 was a great year for movies, but it was also the year that one of the great sitcoms came on the scene. I'm talking about Night Court. Yes, you already hear the theme music in your head, don't you? No? OK, for those of you who haven't heard it, here it is.
While the first season, like many shows, took tiny steps towards achieving the greatness that lay ahead (Markie Post, who played Christine Sullivan, didn't join the show until the second season), there were glimpses. Harry Anderson's Judge Harry Stone was a jurist who was still caught between stunted adolescence and adulthood. John Larroquette, the man who should have had the best supporting actor Emmy just named after him during his run as Dan Fielding, was a lothario who had the stirrings of a soul underneath. Who can forget Fielding running for a city council slot and losing to a dead man? Selma Diamond, may she rest in peace, was really the glue that held that show together with her deadpan deliveries. She was the perfect one to ground Richard Moll's Bull Shannon. It was a shame she died right after the first season ended.
Of course, the main attraction was the absolutely insane people that appeared before Judge Stone in his courtroom. There was a man in a lobster suit, to begin with. The thing was, the show, while acknowledging the sheer absurdity of these defendants and plaintiffs, it also stopped just short of labeling them as cartoon characters. The vast majority of them were imbued with a humanity that made us laugh more at the situations they were in rather than completely at them. There was the hooker with the real heart of gold, to begin with.
As the seasons went on, the people in the courtroom got zanier, weirder and the cast just jelled perfectly, with Charles Robinson's Mack and Marsha Warfield finally beating the curse of the Female Bailiff, after Diamond and Florence Halop died in quick succession. It was an ensemble comedy with all the cast members hitting on all cylinders. I'd even put it up there with The Golden Girls as best comedy of the '80s. Of course, fans of Cheers might disagree with me.
Right now, Larroquette, Moll, Post and Robinson are all still appearing as guest stars on various shows. Anderson has done sporadic work after playing Dave Barry in Dave's World in the '90s. All the seasons are on DVD - I highly recommend picking them up or renting them through Netflix. Heck, it might get you into Mel Torme too.
Pop veteran Tommy Roe is set to relive the night he supported The Beatles at their very first concert in America by recreating the event for its 50th anniversary with a Fab Four tribute band. The Dizzy singer, 71, opened for the Let It Be hitmakers at their iconic Washington Coliseum show in Washington, D.C. on 11 February, 1964, two days after the great Brits made their U.S. performing debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Now Roe has signed up to take part in a re-enactment of the landmark gig to celebrate the historic occasion next month (Feb14).
He will take the stage for an acoustic set at the same venue on 11 February (14), before cover band Beatlemania Now perform the same setlist Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison delighted fans with five decades ago.
Photos of the original concert, snapped by a young Mike Mitchell, will also be exhibited at the event, which has been put together by officials at the DC Preservation League and Douglas Development Corporation. Proceeds from photos sold at the bash will benefit the DC Preservation League, which aims to preserve and protect the history and environment of the area.
Beloved British TV show Only Fools & Horses could make a permanent return to the small screen if an upcoming one-off revival proves popular with the public, according to lead actor Sir David Jason. The sitcom went off-air for good in 2003, but will make a temporary return to TV in March (14) when Jason and his co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst re-team for a sketch as part of the BBC's Sport Relief telethon.
The sketch was written by creator John Sullivan before he died in 2011 and has been reworked by his two sons, Jim and Dan, and Jason admits they could bring the series back if there is enough demand from fans.
He says, "It is the material we lack. We need John Sullivan, but you know, if we get enough tweets, we might bring it back."
The show, which starred Jason and Lyndhurst as a pair of luckless market traders, ran from 1981 until 2003.
The Eurythmics are to reunite to perform at a Grammy tribute concert in honour of the Beatles later this month (Jan14). Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart will take part in The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles, marking their first appearance onstage together since 2003.
John Mayer and Keith Urban will team up to perform Don't Let Me Down at the gig, while Alicia Keys and John Legend will tackle Let It Be. Maroon 5 also will hit the stage.
Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich says, "When it came around to booking this show, what I felt was important was to try and find those artists who not only would be able to interpret Beatles songs, but would also have an... understanding of what they meant."
The show will be taped at the Los Angeles Convention Center on 27 January (14), a day after the Grammy Awards.
The Fab Four have been announced as the recipients of an honorary lifetime achievement Grammy this year (14) and they will be feted at a special ceremony before the main awards show.
The special concert will air on America's CBS network on 9 February (14), exactly 50 years after the Beatles made their U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Beloved British comedy Only Fools & Horses will return to the small screen in the U.K. in March (14) as part of the BBC's Sport Relief telethon. The award-winning sitcom, starring Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst as two hapless market traders, ran from 1981 until 2003, when it ended after 63 episodes.
A year later (04) it was named Britain's greatest ever sitcom.
The show's creator John Sullivan died in 2011, but his sons Jim and Dan have been working on a new episode, and now BBC bosses have confirmed reports suggesting Jason and Lyndhurst will be part of this spring's (14) Sport Relief.
A spokesman for the network says "a short sketch" is being produced, adding, "Further details will be announced in the build up the appeal night on March 21".
BBC bosses are eyeing a shock new episode of hit British comedy Only Fools And Horses more than 10 years after it last aired. The award-winning sitcom, starring Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst as two hapless market traders, ran from 1981 until 2003 when it ended after 63 episodes.
The show's creator John Sullivan died in 2011, which seemingly ended any hope of the comedy returning to TV screens, but now it has emerged his sons Jim and Dan have been working on a new episode.
Jason has been handed the outline for the show's return but is yet to agree to step once more into his character Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter's shoes.
He tells British newspaper The Times, "I've had a quick look at the treatment and it's very good, but I'm saving the proper read-through until there are no distractions. It's not the sort of thing you can muck about with."
In a 2004 BBC poll, Only Fools and Horses was voted Britain's greatest ever sitcom.
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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Singer Carrie Underwood's 2013 Primetime Emmy Award performance was the most-tweeted about moment of the ceremony. The hitmaker performed Yesterday during Sunday's (22Sep13) telecast to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first appearance on U.S. TV show The Ed Sullivan Show - and the death of President John F. Kennedy.
The tribute generated 17,090 tweets per minute, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The singer performed the beloved song after she received a letter from Sir Paul McCartney giving her permission to cover the track.
On Sunday (22Sep13), she wrote on Twitter.com, "The coolest thing about singing Yesterday on the #Emmys is the sweet letter I got from @PaulMcCartney giving me his blessing to sing it!"
Carrie Underwood sang the Beatles' Yesterday as part of a "tribute to the historic events of 50 years ago" at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night (22Sep13). Her musical spot came after actor Don Cheadle reminded the audience and viewers of the telecast of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr's famous march on Washington, D.C. and the Fab Four's arrival in America on The Ed Sullivan Show.