Actress Jodie Foster has scored her first two nominations for the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards after receiving recognition for her work behind the camera on House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. The Silence of the Lambs star directed a House of Cards episode, titled Chapter 22, last year (14), while she also took charge of the Thirsty Bird instalment for the female prison show's latest season.
Now the two shows have earned Foster nods in both the drama and comedy categories at the upcoming DGA Awards, making her the only nominee this year to garner attention two separate fields.
In the shortlist for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series, Foster will face competition from True Detective's Cary Joji Fukunaga, Game of Thrones' Alex Graves, and Dan Attias and Lesli Linka Glatter, who both scored mentions for separate Homeland episodes.
Meanwhile, the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series also features Gail Mancuso (Modern Family), Louis C.K. (Louie), Mike Judge (Silicon Valley) and Transparent's Jill Soloway, who picked up a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Series, Comedy or Musical on Sunday (11Jan15).
The movies for television and miniseries category will be a fight between Ryan Murphy (The Normal Heart), Lisa Cholodenko (Olive Kitteridge), Rob Ashford (Peter Pan Live!), Uli Edel (Houdini) and Michael Wilson (The Trip to Bountiful), and Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) and Dan Krauss (The Kill Team) are among those up for the Documentary prize.
The TV and documentary nominees were announced on Wednesday (14Jan15), a day after the directors of Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and American Sniper were unveiled as the contenders for the DGA's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film honour.
The winners will be revealed at a ceremony in Los Angeles on 7 February (15). Glee star Jane Lynch will host for the second consecutive year.
Former Batman Michael Keaton is to be honoured with the Modern Master Award at the 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The actor, who is being hotly tipped for the Best Actor Oscar for his role in new movie Birdman, will collect the accolade at a gala on 31 January (15).
Past Modern Masters have included Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sean Penn, Peter Jackson, George Clooney, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett and Clint Eastwood.
Announcing next year's (15) recipient, SBIFF executive director Roger Durling says, "There is no actor more befitting of the Modern Master Award than the legendary Michael Keaton. His performance in Birdman is tremendous, showing the range of decades-long experience."
The Cloud. It's the data storage solution of the future. But is it evil? Sure, it's useful for storing documents and pictures, but what exactly is the Cloud in the first place? Is it dangerous? Am I breathing it in right now? Isn't it disturbing how little the average person knows about the technologies we use every day? The new Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz film Sex Tape might looks like just another raunchy rom-com, but it's really a sobering warning about the dangers of computers and technology. Look down. You're probably reading this on a computer right now. That's how far they've gotten. They're right under our noses! Filmmakers have been warning us for years about the dangers of computers, and how with just a few mouse clicks, our lives can be ruined forever. Before we all retreat to our luddite caves, let's take a look at all the ways computers have screwed things up in movies.
Sex Tape The Technology: An iPad/the CloudWhat It Did: Synched a couple's embarrassing sex tape to multiple iPads given out as gifts to all their friends Fallout: The couple feels the appropriate amount of embarrassment at having your friends seeing you bump uglies in a crappy tablet video. Also, ridiculous hijinks ensue while they try to get the video deleted. In terms of technology screwing things up, this one isn't bad at all.
Her The Technology: Samantha, a sentient operating system What It Did: Fell head over heels in love with the hapless Theodore Twombly, then broke his heart after the OS race decides to fly away to another plane or universe or something. Fallout: Mr. Twombly (how is that an actual name?) loved and lost, but at least he became a better person because of it.
Office SpaceThe Technology: The Initech computer virusWhat It Did: Office drones Peter, Michael, and Samir, in an attempt to get back at their bosses for years of mistreatment, decide to infect their company's accounting system with a virus that would steal fractions of pennies over time from Initech. The amount stolen would be so small that no one would notice. Unfortunately, a missing decimal point caused the virus to steal thousands of dollars over just a few days.Fallout: Before the trio could get into any trouble, Initech is mysteriously (though not that mysteriously) burned to the ground, along with all of the evidence pointing Peter to the crime. The situation resolves itself, but being caught could have meant years of jail time.
American PieThe Technology: Jim Levenstein's PC What It Did: Jim hooks up a webcam and unwittingly shares his embarrassing sexual encounter with Nadia, a foreign exchange student from Slovakia, with his entire school.Fallout: Jim blows it for all of the internet to see and Nadia's foster parents send her back home, leaving him dateless and sexless for the prom. Happily, he does hook up with Michelle before the end credits roll.
Back to the Future The Technology: The DeLorean, a car-shaped time machine What It Did: It sent Marty McFly to the year 1955, where he unwittingly meddles into his parents' past and almost prevents his own birth. Fallout: Marty is able to get his parents back together at the end, but has to forever live with the idea that his mother tried to get into his Calvin Kleins. Yuck!
Captain America: The Winter SoldierThe Technology: Arnim Zola, a HYDRA supercomputer What It Did: Zola helps HYDRA infiltrate the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. and leads the team of scientists that turn Bucky Barnes into the Winter Solder. He then tries to kill Captain America and Black Widow, but the heroes survive in the end. Fallout: Cap's best friend, Bucky is turned into a brainwashed HYDRA spy and the terrorist organization nearly takes over the entire world after infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D.
WarGamesThe Technology: Joshua the WOPR, a supercomputer at NORADWhat It Did: After hacker wunderkind David Lightman hacks into NORAD and plays a mock game of "Global Thermonuclear War," Joshua stages a real Soviet nuclear attack to win the "game." After that fails, Joshua tries to launch the missiles himself, and nearly plunges the world into World War III.Fallout: After playing a couple rounds of tic-tac-toe, Joshua learns that nuclear war has no real winner except the cockroaches and settles for a game of chess instead. The day is saved, but the world came dangerously close to ending.
Terminator The Technology: Skynet, a self-aware intelligence system What It Did: Skynet, given command of the U.S.’s computerized defense programs, becomes self-aware and starts a nuclear war with Russia, leading to the near genocide of humanity. The intelligence system then sends Terminators to kill what’s left of the population Fallout: The initial nuclear attack kills three billion people and locks humanity in a war with machines. Skynet then sends a Terminator into the past to kill John Connor, the leader of the human resistance. This is certainly a far cry from your sex tape getting leaked onto the internet. It's a slippery slope.
Emma Thompson has been robbed of another acting honour just two weeks after missing out on an Oscar nomination - she has been replaced as this year's (14) Modern Master Award recipient at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in California. The Brit was slated to pick up the festival's highest honour next month (Feb13), but she won't be able to attend the event due to commitments in London, and so SBIFF bosses have opted to give the award to Oscar nominee Bruce Dern instead.
The Nebraska star will now be honoured at Santa Barbara's historic Arlington Theatre as part of the festival's 29th year on 8 February.
The Modern Master Award is given to an individual who has "enriched our culture through his/her multi-faceted accomplishments in the motion picture industry".
Previous recipients include Ben Affleck, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Peter Jackson, George Clooney and Clint Eastwood.
SBIFF's executive director Roger Durling says, "We're deeply humbled and grateful to Bruce Dern for accepting this award. He's not only a Modern Master, he's a hero. Year after year, performance after performance, Bruce Dern has enthralled audiences and with Nebraska he has given us a character for the ages in Woody Grant. It's his time and we're delighted to honour him."
Dame Helen Mirren, Joanna Lumley and new Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi are among the stars who are supporting a new foster carer recruitment campaign in the U.K. The actors have offered up cherished snaps from their childhood as part of leading charity Barnardo's Create My Memories initiative, which urges Brits to take vulnerable children into their homes.
The collection of pictures will be projected in busy shopping areas in London and Manchester in England, and Glasgow, Scotland as part of the annual Fostering and Adoption Week, which starts on Monday (13Jan14).
Other stars who are supporting the scheme include pop singer Nicola Roberts, actress Amanda Holden and veteran model Twiggy.
Brenda Farrell, head of fostering and adoption at Barnardo's, says, "Without the right foster family to care for them, many vulnerable children may never experience the love and stability they so desperately need and happy memories will remain a distant dream. We are truly grateful that so many household names are helping us to broadcast our plea for people to consider becoming foster parents."
Universal via Everett Collection
Lone Survivor isn't a film for the faint of heart. It's a film that beats you down and only lets you up for a few precious moments before the credits roll, but that emotional throttling is what helps make the film such a powerful experience.
Peter Berg's Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, primarily focusing on a group of four Navy SEALs who are sent to the mountains of Afganistan to capture or kill a member of the Taliban. The plan goes wrong, and the team has to fight for their lives to escape the enemy-infested area. The film does a marvelous job of ratcheting up the tension before collapsing into its main action sequence, one that is as thrilling as it is unsettling. The long sequence brings forth memories of the infamous D-Day opening of Saving Private Ryan, except this film's fire-fight stretches out the violence like a medieval torture device. The langourous scene is, at times, hard to sit through. Each moment slips by in coiled tension. It's undoubtedly uncomfortable, and the film makes a point to never make the violence fun or enticing. The action isn't consequence-free, and every bullet fired carries weight, making the scenes brutal and unrelenting because of it. The film takes on the aura of a horror movie that wants you to feel every second that ticks by, and director Berg makes sure that a pressing hopelessness starts to weigh on the viewer just as it does on the soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg is plenty capable as Marcus Lutrell, a member of the SEAL unit that is sent on the mission. The supporting cast plays its parts admirably by believably infusing a diverse set of personalities and values into the soldiers, while still keeping them in tune with the same military culture that governs much of their thoughts and actions. There's a great scene where a difficult decision has to be made, and the viewer gets to see the different directions to which some of the character's moral compasses are tuned. Sometimes the right thing can mean different things to different people when the risk of death is on the table. The real standout in the cast is Ben Foster, whose SO2 Matthew Alexson swirls with barely contained fury. He is darkly intense and has electric screen presence that really starts to manifest when the bullets star flying and things become dire.
Universal via Everett Collection
For all the good will that the film builds up in its first and second act, the final third of the film hits some snags as history demands that the story take itself to a different location, sacrificing some of the tension that it has built up. In the last 30 minutes of the film, there are some odd tonal choices that don't gel with the tension brimming in the first half. A comedic scene involving a language barrier stands out in particular.
The movie makes a point to steer clear of any political judgment, and it doesn't try to lay blame for the botched mission on any one head. And while the film never outwardly states and opinion on the conflicts that America found itself embroiled in during this time period, the searing brutality depicted in the movie highlight that no one should be subjected to the pain that these men were faced with. Made abundantly clear is the soldiers' willingness to drop everything and serve their country the best way they know how. Lone Survivor tries to honor the soldier, but not glorify war.
Lone Survivor is at its best when it makes you feel the worst. It gives soldiers their due reverence by showcasing the true terror of the battlefield, and while the film does start to sag a bit in its third act, it's still more than worth the experience in order understand the consequences of war, and its toll on the people in the trenches.
The Fosters is the latest in ABC Family’s teen-oriented family dramas. ABC Family has strived to add more realism and positive representations of families and teenagers on shows like Switched at Birth and the suspense series Pretty Little Liars. The Fosters goes even further by showcasing a non-traditional family with multi-racial and LGBT family members. It also challenges previous representations of the foster system.
Callie Jacob (Maia Mitchell) gets out of juvenile hall and needs a place to stay. The foster system places her with Steff (Teri Polo) and Lena Foster (Sherri Saum). They are lesbian partners with three children of their own. They have adopted twins Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez). Steff also has a son, Brandon (David Lambert), from her previous marriage to Mike Foster (Danny Nucci). Tensions rise as Callie adjusts to her new surroundings and still tries to care for her brother Jude (Hayden Byerly). There’s also tension when Steff and Mike are assigned to be partners on the police force.
Created by Brad Bredeweg and Peter Paige (Queer as Folk) and executive produced by Jennifer Lopez, this series is not only completely addictive but it’s also heartfelt and emotional. Each episode explores the challenges of this non-traditional family, while still reaffirming their connection. Lena tells one of the children, "DNA doesn't make a family. Love does." This series is a testament to the unsung heroes in the foster system and the parents that adopt American orphans and children from broken homes. Most media representations focus on the horror stories but it’s nice to believe that there are families offering homes to disenfranchised youth.
The series is also a great blend of positive representations of multiple ethnicities and sexualities. Lena is bi-racial and the series explores her racial identity and complex relationship with her mother. The two twins are Latino and have ties to their Latin heritage despite being adopted. The show also doesn’t feel heavy handed in its portrayal of LGBT characters and storylines. Steff was married and had a son but she fell in love with her partner Lena and together they formed a family. The series explores her relationship with her parents and ex-husband. The series also introduces certain juvenile experimentation with the character of Jude. He tried on his mother’s clothes, he wears nail polish, and he likes a boy at school. His parents on the show, as well as the show’s writers, don’t judge this or play this up. Instead, they just portray it as natural.
The Fosters is inspiring. It brings together drama and heartfelt emotion while still maintaining a positive view of families and balanced and positive portrayals of ethnic and sexual minority groups. Luckily, episodes are available on Netflix and Hulu and the new season returns January 13.
When Peter Berg and Marcus Luttrell sat down in front of the press to talk about Lone Survivor, it was immediately clear that these two men couldn't be any more different from one another. One was an acclaimed director of several successful Hollywood films, while the other was a war veteran and the survivor of a horrific tragedy. But there was a clear understanding between the two. And it is this very understanding, specifically of Luttrell's experience at war, that Peter Berg sought to pass on in his latest film.
Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, and Taylor Kitsch, primarily tells the true story of Luttrell and his three brothers in arms. The men are sent on a mission that quickly goes south, and the four of them are slowly hunted down by the Taliban on the rocky cliffs of Afghanistan. But surprisingly enough, Peter Berg isn’t interested in the political and moral motives that sent those men up that mountain that day. Instead, his main goal is to impart understanding to the viewer of what Luttrell and the others went through in those trying hours. To convey, through film, the understanding that he's gained from Luttrell in making this movie. Berg want to inform viewers that they'll never truly know, never really feel or experience what it was to be Marcus Luttrell on that day, but for the next two hours, they'll, at the very least, understand.
This idea of gaining an appreciation for the sacrifice of the men behind the story of Lone Survivor was something on Berg's mind from the very beginning, and the filmmaker spent a great deal of time immersing himself in the culture of Navy SEALs before filmming. According to Berg, "Marcus made sure that I understood as much as I could, not by talking but literally by spending the time to be with those communities to understand, not just how they hold their guns, and how they put their equipment on, but how they talk about each other, and how they feel about each other, and he wanted me to get as comprehensive of an understanding of what that culture is." But understanding what it's like to be a Navy SEAL isn't for the faint of heart, and Berg wasn't given any special treatment when he signed on for the film. Berg says, "Next thing I know, I’m in a military plane with three marines sleeping on top of me, flying for 18 hours with an outhouse on board as a bathroom. Thank you, Marcus, for that." Clearly, Berg had to earn the right to make this film.
And there is certainly a sense that Berg and the rest of the crew had to work for their stripes when shooting this film. The crew treated this project like something bigger and more sacrosanct than just another job. They regarded it as a privilege and a duty to serve the soldiers that have risked life and limb to serve them. The stuntmen especially felt the pressure to give their jobs their all, especially during the film's gruesome cliff jumping scene. Berg says, "Because Marcus and other SEALs were there, these stuntmen wanted to push a little harder than they might normally. Often times, a lot of my job ended up being to calm people down because everybody wanted to get it right, and those stunts were done without any dummies, without any wire work. Those were human beings literally throwing themselves off of cliffs, and you know, some guys got hurt and some guys got bumped up, and a rib was broken, and a lung was punctured, some concussions, but these guys were determined to try and do everything they could to capture what Marcus described in the book."
Even the actors themselves wanted in on the action. Berg goes on to say, "The actors would try and sneak in... I’d get a call that Ben Foster snuck in there and he’s trying to jump. We'd have to run over there and tell Ben 'no.' And then Marcus is of course going, 'Go on, Ben, do it, do it.' Everybody wanted to do it right. We knew we could never be Navy SEALs, we don’t have that ability, that’s not who we are, That’s who [Marcus] is, but we do have the ability to imitate and try and mimic, and that’s what we tried to do." According to Berg, this strive toward authenticity is something that informs every frame of Lone Survivor.
But foremost, Berg doesn't want to proselytize or preach with this film. When asked about any message that he hopes to express, he says, "I never really go into a film and say 'Okay, here’s the grand thesis, here’s my goal.'" He wants to show, as purely as he can, what Luttrell and his fallen friends have sacrificed, and maybe give them a chance to show their gratitude "One thing that I think Lone Survivor does, and certainly its book did is give the audience a chance, in its own way, to acknowledge what these guys are doing and pay respect. To give people the opportunity to say, 'Wow, thank you and I understand a little bit about what you may have gone through.'"
Marcus Luttrell, the former U.S. Navy SEAL whose heroics inspired Mark Wahlberg's new movie Lone Survivor, has heaped praise on one of the film's stars, insisting he has what it takes to become a real-life war hero. Wahlberg portrays Luttrell in the film, based on his book about the failed 2005 Operation Red Wings mission to capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd, but it wasn't The Fighter star who impressed the real-life combat survivor the most - it was actor Ben Foster.
Luttrell tells WENN that the 3:10 to Yuma star's dedication and intensity really left a mark on him.
He explains, "(Director) Peter (Berg) picked Mark Wahlberg to play me and I didn't have a problem with that because when it came down to it, he's the professional at what he does. It's like telling a heart surgeon how to work on your heart.
"But Ben Foster was the guy that I really gravitated towards. He's probably one of the best actors in Hollywood and nothing against Taylor (Kitsch) and Emile (Hirsch); I love those guys like brothers for what they did, but there's something about Foster and his portrayal of Matt Axelson; that's him when you see him on the screen. He's just like Ben Foster, real quiet but when he threw his kit on and grabbed a rifle he was the most lethal man you've ever met.
"Ben, with all his talent, had attention to detail which really does mean something in the SEALs. He captured that and was always asking those questions. When we got done filming, if we got into a scrape and something went down, I could throw Ben a rifle and he'd go to work.
"When we put a live weapon in his hand, shooting at a target at 25 metres and I challenged him to hit it at 700 metres... When we got done he was shooting targets at 800 metres."
And Wahlberg admits he had to fight to get Foster in the film, giving up part of his salary so Berg could hire the actor to portray the heroic Navy SEAL who died in combat.
He tells Entertainment Weekly magazine, "I was with the Axelson family and I said, 'If you think people know who your son is now, just wait. Ben Foster just brought your boy back to life'."
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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