Reclusive funnyman Dave Chappelle is returning to the spotlight to headline a U.S. comedy tour with the Flight Of The Conchords duo. The cult comedian, who was once considered among the world's funniest people, abruptly walked away from his hit TV programme, Chappelle's Show, in 2005 and has kept a low profile ever since.
He made a handful of impromptu stand-up appearances in New York earlier this year (13), joining pals including Chris Rock and Kevin Hart at the famous Comedy Cellar venue, and now he has announced plans to hit the road for a 13-date trek.
The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Tour, presented by Will Ferrell's Funny Or Die website, will also feature New Zealanders Brett McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, aka Flight of the Conchords, in addition to Al Madrigal, Brody Stevens and Demetri Martin, among others.
The shows will kick off in Austin, Texas on 23 August (13) and will touch down in New Jersey, Colorado, Arizona and Michigan before wrapping up in Mountain View, California on 20 September (13).
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.
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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On Emmy night the only place filled with more glittery winged statuettes than the trophy room at the ceremony was HBO’s annual after party, thanks to a series of sweeping victories – 26 in all – by the pay cable network’s programming, including the miniseies John Adams, the telepic Recount, the drama In Treatment and the comedy Entourage.
West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center served as the epicenter for HBO’s bash, converted into a swanky, sprawling blue-green Brazillian-themed party palace as a sea of stretch limos deposited an increasingly starry contingent of Emmy-toting actors, writers, directors and producers, as well a dozens of famous faces from film and television.
Appropriately for a glitzy blowout filled with free-flowing champagne and low-cut gowns, the gang from Entourage led the party pack: Adrian Grenier greeted In Treatment star Gabriel Byrne at the door and congratulated him on his Emmy victory effusively, along with Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen; Kevin Dillon and Jerry Ferrara huddled up with the show’s upcoming guest star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the only member of The Sopranos family on hand; Kevin Connelly belied up to the bar alongside Stacy Keibler; and dapper Jeremy Piven worked the room with a stogie in one hand and an Emmy in the other before DJ RAVIDRUMS invited him to the platform high above the dance floor to play the drums for an appreciative crowd of stars that included the show’s sexiest guests, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino who swayed to the Piv’s beat.
The octogenarian “Mr. Warmth” himself, Don Rickles, held court at a table by the door alongside his shiny Emmy, circled by a crowd filled with HBO’s comedy superstars Larry David, Bill Maher, Cynthia Nixon, Jeff Garlin and Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement and Brett McKenzie. Baby mama Amy Poehler parked her pregnant frame in a nook near the outdoor patio overlooking a specially created candlelit “pond” while hubby Will Arnett fetched food for her.
John Adams executive producer Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson cruised in with the latest addition to his already impressive trophy mantle, and Hanks told Hollywood.com that even with his abundance of awards each honor had special significance to him. Looking at each honor, “you go back and remember all of the people that were working on it with you,” Hanks said.
The Hanks fam slipped out early, just missing the miniseries’ Emmy-winning stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, and as the night wore on the celebrity wattage only increased, with appearances by Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Michael C Hall, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, Tina Fey, Denis Leary, Mary-Louise Parker, John Krasinski, Hayden Panettiere, Sally Field and Lost-ies Daniel Dae Kim, Harold Perrineau, Jr. and Michael Emerson.
The party raged on into the wee hours – even Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa took a turn on the drums! – and even after spending hours squeezed into her Christian Laboutin shoes all day, Kate Walsh danced the night away as long as she could. “I’ve gotta work tomorrow,” she lamented, “but not too early.”