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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Legendary Irish actress Maureen O'hara has filed legal papers against a lawyer in New York as part of an ongoing financial wrangle. The Quiet Man star has accused Howard Gibbs of failing to turn over his files on her personal finances and estate holdings after he was previously hired to help O'Hara's former assistant, Carolyn Murphy, sell off her property in Ireland to fund a film centre.
Now the 92 year old has filed documents at the Manhattan Supreme Court demanding he surrender the sensitive information, according to the New York Daily News.
The Maureen O'Hara Legacy Centre is currently under development in Cork. Once built, fans will be able to view the icon's memorabilia and attend filmmaking classes there.
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The Quiet Man star held a press conference at a hotel in Glengarriff, Ireland last week (11Jul12) to confirm she has launched legal action against longtime assistant Carolyn Murphy.
O'Hara's lawyers revealed Murphy has been stripped off her power of attorney in light of a dispute over how the actress' affairs were handled, and O'Hara is now seeking to regain the rights to her own image and name.
In a statement read out to reporters, O'Hara said, "I trusted Carolyn Murphy, not only as my personal assistant, but also as my power of attorney for the past six years. I have recently made discoveries that give me grave concern regarding Carolyn Murphy's handling of my affairs (during) those years...
"I recently revoked all aspects of the power of attorney, which I had formerly entrusted to Carolyn, and she is no longer my personal assistant. I also underwent testing to certify my own competence in conducting my affairs, and I am assisted by family members, trusted lawyers and accountants."
A spokesperson for Murphy told the Irish Times, "Carolyn Murphy has always acted in Ms O'Hara's best interest and will continue to do so. She's dealing with these unfortunate affairs in the appropriate way."
The annual Maureen O'Hara film festival, due to take place in Glengarriff later this summer (12), has now been cancelled.
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Former lovers Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow are reuniting on the big screen for a feature film about former President Richard Nixon.
The couple, who were engaged in 1996, previously starred together in the thriller Seven.
Nip/Tuck director Ryan Murphy has also just cast Sharon Stone and Jim Broadbent in Dirty Tricks.
The film also features Meryl Streep playing Martha Mitchell, the wife of Nixon's Chief of Staff John Mitchell.
Paltrow will play Maureen Dean, who stood by her husband John, another member of the Nixon team, as the administration slowly sank into scandal, according to moviehole.net.
Annette Bening, who is starring in Murphy's new film Running with Scissors along with Paltrow, will play a White House correspondent who received leaked information.
Murphy says, "It's about the women in Watergate. It's very different than Ron Howard's upcoming Frost/Nixon [movie].
"I love Ron Howard's movie. That was about what a nightmare Nixon was to get the rights for the (David) Frost interview and the negotiations back and forth for that.
"But that movie is really about a woman who said our government is corrupt, and 'Why is no on believing me? Why is no one seeing that this Tricky Dicky Nixon is insane?'
"I also think it's the perfect time to make this movie. We'll shoot in the fall and put it out next fall."
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Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) leads a salvage team of five people aboard the tugboat Arctic Warrior with Maureen (Julianna Margulies) as something of a second in command. At a bar one night the crew is approached by a Canadian Air Force pilot (Desmond Harrington) who while monitoring icebergs in the Bering Sea spotted a mysterious vessel. He offers to divulge its location for a cut of whatever it's worth. What the crew finds are the decaying remains of the Antonio Graza an Italian cruise ship thought to be lost at sea for more than 40 years. While scavenging the vessel for valuables the salvage team discovers that something horrendous happened on board four decades ago. To make matters worse the crew starts seeing ghosts including a little girl named Katie (Emily Browning) who warns them to get off the ship before it's too late. Let's just say that the plot involves something about a ghost tricking people into boarding the ship in order to amass a certain amount of souls and complete a mission of sorts. Don't be surprised if you find yourself scratching your head when the ghost's true intentions are revealed--the film leaves many questions unanswered.
Former ER star Margulies (Dinosaur) shares the lead here with Byrne (End of Days) and the most refreshing thing of all is that there is no romance between the two characters. Maureen is a tough and independent woman who has no qualms about living at sea with a bunch of grubby men and Margulies portrays that well. We are told that Maureen and Byrne's character Murphy have a father-daughter-type relationship but that is not explored on screen. While Byrne plays a convincing rugged sea captain his character is never delved into and is dismissed rather abruptly. In fact that is the biggest problem with most of the actors and their characters; they are more like slightly more developed extras brought in to become victims rather than the film's protagonists. Harrington's (We Were Soldiers) character Jack is not as glazed over as the others and the actor conveys the different sides of his personality well enough. The rest of the crew including Ron Eldard as Dodge Isaiah Washington as First Mate Greer Alex Dimitriades as Santos and Karl Urban as Munder do the best they could with the flat and disposable characters they are given.
Ghost Ship opens up with a fantastic scene that involves hundreds of crewmembers and passengers getting dismembered by a high tension wire that slices across the boats main deck. Too bad it's so implausible because unless the wire was lined with razor blades all those bodies wouldn't have been severed so neatly. The massacre is set aboard the Antonio Graza back in 1962 when cruises were still considered a luxury. But when the film zips back to present day it becomes less imaginative and director Steve Beck (Thirteen Ghosts) dips into the old haunted-stories bag o' tricks including ghost reflections in mirrors. But while the gags are a little worn they still scare and are constant enough to keep the film from lagging. The film comes in under 90 minutes which isn't short enough to graze over some of the story's plot holes. The characters for example jump in and out of the icy Bering Sea without the slightest quiver even though their survival time in the 45-degree waters would be measured in minutes. And if Ghost Ship sounds familiar that's because it was made in 1997 and called Event Horizon except that rescue mission was set in the year 2047 aboard a space ship.
Maureen Reagan, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan and his first wife, actress Jane Wyman, is undergoing radiation treatment for melanoma that has spread to her brain, People magazine reports. Reagan was released in March from a Santa Monica hospital after 3 ½ months of chemotherapy treatment for a malignant tumor in her right pubic bone.
Writer J. Davis Reed, who sued HBO last week for allegedly stealing his idea for the cable network's series Six Feet Under, will drop his lawsuit, Reuters reports. Reed suffered a setback in court Thursday when a New York judge refused to grant a temporary order blocking HBO from airing future episodes of the show, which airs Sundays. Reed had claimed that HBO and the show's creator, Alan Ball, stole the idea for Six Feet Under from a script Reed wrote and submitted to HBO called "For Heaven Sake."
A man convicted of murder escaped from a Los Angeles jail July 6 using an ID badge featuring a photograph of Eddie Murphy, BBC News reports. Hours after being convicted of shooting a man six times in 1999, Kevin Jerome Oullum strolled out of the jail wearing the badge and civilian clothes. Oullum, who was to be sentenced July 19, is still on the run.
Are Charlie Sheen's swinging days over? The Hollywood bad boy's 2.5-acre Los Angeles bachelor pad is on the market for $4.5 million, The Associated Press reports. Sheen, the star of the ABC sitcom Spin City, recently bought another home in Los Angeles which he intends to remodel. No word yet on whether Sheen will throw in his little black book.
Britney Spears does not want to be considered a role model. The 19-year-old pop sensation, whose skimpy outfits and suggestive lyrics constantly land her in hot water with the parents of her teen-age fans, said she wants her new album and HBO concert special "to be shocking and edgier" than anything she's done before, AP reports. Whether Spears' planned duet with Cher during the show, set to air Nov. 18 from Las Vegas, falls into either category remains to be seen. Spears will release her new album Nov. 6.
Fears that the Japanese would not take too kindly to Pearl Harbor proved unfounded this weekend. Director Michael Bay's reenactment of the Japanese 1941 surprise attack of Pearl Harbor earned $7.09 million over a two-day period, marking Buena Vista's biggest ever opening in Japan. The film not only earned more than Armageddon, which marked the first collaboration between Bay, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Ben Affleck, but knocked A.I. Artificial Intelligence from the No. 1 box office spot.
Enterprise, the new Star Trek series, will launch Wednesday, Sept. 26, with a two-hour premiere, UPN has announced. The series will air at 8 p.m. Wednesdays during the rest of the season. The fifth Star Trek series, and a prequel to the original 1960s show, stars Scott Bakula.
Critics may have dismissed NBC's summer hits Fear Factor and Spy TV as TV at its worst, but the network will continue to air the reality shows as long as audiences tune in. NBC has ordered 13 more episodes of each series, Variety reports.
Crime does pay for HBO, thanks to The Sopranos. Now the cable network plans to go straight. HBO is developing a new police drama from Homicide's David Simon and ER's David Mill, who last collaborated on HBO's miniseries, The Corner, Variety reports. HBO also said it is in discussions with The Sopranos' David Chase about the future of the hit mob series beyond its fourth season. HBO will rerun every episode from the first three seasons on Sunday nights for 39 weeks beginning Aug. 12. The fourth season of The Sopranos will likely debut next summer.