There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
Turner stars as Sister Jamison Connelly, a nun and counsellor who has to treat a drug addict, in new play High, which marks her first return to the Manhattan stage since her 2005 Tony Award-nominated role in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
And there was at least one friendly face in the crowd on opening night - Douglas waved to photographers outside the Booth Theatre before taking his seat inside.
The pair has been friends for more than 25 years since starring in 1984 comedy Romancing the Stone, its sequel The Jewel of the Nile and The War of the Roses in 1989.
Turner's performances proved to be a hit - drama critic Joe Dziemianowicz from the New York Times praised her for bringing an "irresistible gusto to a star turn filled with virtues. Her work is credible, clean and honest."
Bosses at the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) network have scrapped all programming and will run back-to-back Taylor films instead - to honour the passing of the two-time Oscar winner.
The tribute will begin with a showing of Butterfield 8 at 6am (ET) and feature screenings of classics like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Giant, Lassie Come Home, National Velvet and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The network will also air the 1949 spy drama Conspirator, which features Taylor in her first adult role.
In addition to TCM's on-air tribute to Taylor, the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood will feature a special 60th anniversary screening of her performance opposite Montgomery Clift in George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951). The TCM Classic Film Festival takes place from 28 April to 1 May (11).
Taylor died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday morning (23Mar11).
The actress has signed on to play Sister Jamison Connelly, a nun whose faith is tested when she agrees to sponsor a 19-year-old drug addict, in High.
The play, written by Matthew Lombardo, will be directed by Rob Ruggiero.
Turner's last Broadway appearance was her 2005 Tony-nominated role in the revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
High opens on 19 April (11) at New York City's Booth Theatre.
Hit sitcom Friends is definitely making a comeback, according to guest star Kathleen Turner.
It was rumored this week the six stars had signed to make a series of reunion shows, two years after the show ended its ten year run.
Bosses at NBC denied the claims—but Turner, who played the transvestite mother of Matthew Perry's character, Chandler Bing, says she has been approached about making more episodes.
She says, "I think they're definitely coming back, despite what you've heard.
"I was approached by executives just the other day about my availability.
"I've no idea what the storylines are—they don't tell me anything—but I’ve definitely been approached.
"There are no dates and no script. But if it happens I would love to do it.
"I know the writers and creators have got something in mind but I don't know when it will happen."
The 51-year-old actress is currently preparing for a four-month stint in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf on London's West End.
Article Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
Hit musical Monty Python's Spamalot has wowed theatre's toughest critics to
pick up a staggering 14 Tony nominations.
The medieval musical, loosely based on wacky movie Monty Python and the Holy
Grail, led the field May 10 when the nominations were announced
in New York.
The show will fight for the best musical prize, while stars Tim Curry and
Hank Azaria are up for best actor in a musical. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Light in the Piazza earned 11 nominations each.
Also vying for Tony Awards next month will be Kathleen Turner,
Mary-Louise Parker and Laura Linney, who will fight for the best actress prize
for their roles in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff, Reckless and Sight Unseen,
Parker's ex Billy Crudup has also been named among the
Nominees for his performance in The Pillowman. He'll face off with On Golden Pond's James Earl Jones, among others, for the best actor honor.
And Christina Applegate's bravery and determination have earned her a Best
Actress nomination for the musical Sweet Charity. Applegate broke her foot during rehearsals in March, prompting producers to cancel the show, but the actress' determination helped to resurrect the
Australian actor Hugh Jackman will host the awards ceremony on June 5 at New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Get the full list of nominees at here!
Article Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
From the creators of the TNT miniseries Gettysburg including executive producer Ted Turner and writer/director Ronald F. Maxwell Gods chronicles the Civil War from its beginnings when the South rises up. Confederate General Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall) a distinguished military man but also a loyal native Virginian chooses to fight for his home rather than his country while Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang) a devoutly religious man becomes Lee's most trusted lieutenant. On the other side we have Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) a professor from Maine who ends up one of the Union's finest military leaders. In between there are glimpses of the wives and families left behind. Stories of this magnitude with their dramatic bloody battles and tragic endings usually leave you numb or crying for those lives lost and destroyed. Instead Gods and Generals holds no resonance whatsoever meticulously plotting out the details and making this decisive moment in American history interminable at three and a half hours. It's like wading through a textbook--or worse watching Civil War fanatics carefully reenact the famous battle scenes on the very ground they were fought over and over again--while the players stand around quoting long-winded verse from the Bible or Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Blech.
The actors in Gods and Generals must have honestly thought they were making something important when they signed up. Main players Lang (who played Major Gen. George Pickett in Gettysburg) and Daniels (who reprises his Gettysburg role as Chamberlain) have their moments but after hearing them recite one speech after another especially Lang's Jackson who says more prayers to God than anything else you start to wonder if they ever realized they made a mistake. (Or have we for sitting through it?) One of the more superfluous scenes is when Jackson and his black cook Jim played by Frankie Faison are standing outside in the freezing cold night for about 15 minutes both looking up at the stars and praying to God. It seems like the actors are trying to make such sermonizing poignant meaningful but all this pontification simply drags the movie further down. These speeches aren't just Lang's and Daniels' territory--Mira Sorvino as Chamberlain's wife and Kali Rocha as Jackson's wife get their own personal moments in the sun too. If you count the cast of thousands each with their own things to say well you get the point. Thankfully Duvall who is the only good thing about the movie gets to keep the talking to a minimum.
If you want to see a Civil War melodrama at its best where watching the heroes race through a sacked city makes you hold your breath and witnessing horrific hospital scenes makes you squirm then watch Gone With the Wind. If you want gut-wrenching Civil War battles or more understanding of how slaves truly felt then watch Glory. If you want a heartening history lesson about the Civil War that not only teaches you about the era's political machinations but also shares the insights and thoughts of the men and women who experienced it then watch Ken Burns' documentary series The Civil War. Gods and Generals offers none of that in its dry textbook version of the Civil War which uses the same shots are used over and over again (how many times does the camera pan up to the night sky or show the panoramic view of Fredericksburg Virginia? I lost count) features more actors waxing prophetic than real drama and actually makes you yawn during what should be intense battle scenes.
Shock-rocker Marilyn Manson pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges of disorderly conduct and assault and battery, The Associated Press reports. Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, was charged with sexual misconduct for allegedly gyrating against a security guard during a July 2001 concert at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Michigan. Manson was ordered to pay fines totaling $4,000.
Manson's litigation nightmares are far from over. He is also being sued by security guards who accuse him of similar behavior during an October 2000 concert in Minneapolis, and an August 2001 show in Long Island, N.Y. In a separate case, the mother of a woman who died when she drove her car into some parked cars is also suing him for wrongful death, claiming Manson gave her daughter drugs and sent her home.
The manager of the theater where Madonna is making her London stage debut has apparently quit over what he says is the star's never-ending demands and quest for total control. According to the London Evening Standard, William Ingrey, who has spent nearly 30 years at the theater, had become exasperated by all the fuss surrounding Madonna and told colleagues he was "unable to cope with constraints put upon him to satisfy the needs of the present productions."
It's a girl for singer Brandy and her producer husband, Robert Smith, the AP reports. Brandy's first child, named Sy'rai, was born on Father's Day, two days before an MTV series on her pregnancy debuted. Diary Presents: Brandy--Special Delivery, will run for about four or five episodes.
Vanna White, Wheel of Fortune's famed letter turner, has filed for divorce from her husband of 11 years, restaurateur George Santo Pietro. A spokeswoman for the show told Reuters that the two are not bitter and remain good friends. The couple has two children--a daughter, 5, and a son, 8.
Actress Liv Tyler is in negotiations to join the cast of Miramax Films' Jersey Girl, which is scheduled to begin production Aug. 12 in Philadelphia, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The role would reunite Tyler with her Armageddon co-star Ben Affleck. The film, directed by Kevin Smith, also stars Jennifer Lopez.
Robert Luketic, who directed last year's sleeper hit Legally Blonde, is in talks to helm the DreamWorks comedy Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, reports Variety. The film follows a young grocery clerk who leaves West Virginia for the West Coast after winning a date with Hollywood's most eligible bachelor.
Actor/comedian Damon Wayans is outraged over Fox's decision to move The Bernie Mac Show from its original 9 p.m. time slot to 8 p.m., when it will air opposite Wayans' My Wife and Kids on ABC on Wednesdays. Wayans told The Los Angeles Times, "The networks should not be playing checkers with two shows about African-American families that are working....It's divide and conquer." My Wife and Kids earned Wayans a People's Choice Award for favorite male performer on a TV series, while The Bernie Mac Show recently took home a Peabody Award.
Nickelodeon's special on gay parenting, My Family Is Different, pulled in strong ratings despite protests from conservative groups accusing the network of "homosexual advocacy." According to Variety, the program brought in 976,000 viewers in the adult 18-49 demographic, a record for the kids' cable channel's news specials. In kids 12-17, 145,000 teens tuned in.
Ex-"Beverly Hills 90210" star Jason Priestley today was sentenced to five days in jail (well, a private "correctional institution"), dinged with nearly $600 in fines and ordered to complete an alcohol-treatment program, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said. This, after entering a no-contest plea to one count of misdemeanor drunken driving.
The 30-year-old actor was not personally in the Los Angeles courtroom. He's currently on the boards in London with the Tony-winning play "Side Man." When he returns to the States, he'll be hoofing it around town for a while. The court also suspended Priestley's license for a year. In fact, he's got two weeks to turn over the card to authorities.
According to Priestley's lawyer, Peter Knecht, other than the license deadline, the actor can pretty much serve his sentence, such as it is, at "his leisure." In fact, Knecht told Hollywood.com that Priestley might not return to these shores until September or October. "Side Man" wraps in June, and Priestley tells Knecht that he's got other Euro gigs to tend to after that.
Priestley's car troubles began Dec. 2 when he ran his Porsche into "several fixed objects," including, er, a parked car. His passenger, a 27-year-old friend, suffered a broken arm.
At the time, the actor argued that he'd merely been trying to avoid a deer when he started crashing into all that stuff. Police later said the actor was legally drunk.
The jail that's Priestley headed to, by the way, isn't exactly Sing-Sing. Knecht says the star won't be required to stay on the grounds 24/7 -- although he will have to bed down there at night.
HOLD THE RICE: Courtney Love is not engaged to record exec Jim Barber, no matter what Women's Wear Daily says. Love's publicist today denied the WWD report that had the couple walking down the aisle. Love and Barber are an item, the rep says -- they're just not spouses-to-be.
IMAGINE HOW CHAD LOWE FELT: Best Actress winner Hilary Swank "should not stand up there and thank my child," so says the ticked-off mother of Teena Brandon, the real-life gender-bended subject of "Boys Don't Cry." JoAnn Brandon took exception to Swank's Oscar-night speech, the one in which she forgot to thank her husband but did pay tribute to Teena, or as Swank called "him," "Brandon Teena." Says Mrs. Brandon: "I get tired of people taking credit for what they don't know."
NOW THAT'S THEATER! Kathleen Turner is drawing raves (and raising blood pressures) among pasty-faced theater critics for taking it off -- taking it all off -- in the new London stage production of "The Graduate," based on the 1967 film. Turner, 45, bowed as Mrs. Robinson in a Monday night preview performance.
SO SORRY: Led Zeppelin rocker Jimmy Page did not don a robe, cast a satanic spell and otherwise stand idly by whilst bandmate John Bonham choked to death on his own vomit in 1980. The British magazine Ministry, which said all that stuff about Page, today apologized for the story that appeared in its pages last year. Unfortunately, the magazine could not take back the thing about Bonham choking to death on his (Bonham's) vomit. That part really happened.
GOOD-TIME CHARLIE: In a Malibu, Calif., court Monday, onetime bad-boy Charlie Sheen, 34, was released from probation two months early on account of the judge doesn't think he's such a bad boy anymore. That sigh of relief you hear is from the producers of "Spin City," the ABC sitcom on which Sheen will step into next season.
THEY SEE DEAD PRESIDENTS: Shut out at the Oscars or not, "The Sixth Sense" keeps rolling along at the box office. The thriller is now the No. 10 domestic grosser of all time. Through March 23, it had raked in $290.3 million at the box office, bumping 1980 "Star Wars" sequel "The Empire Strikes Back" ($290 mil) from the vaunted Top 10.
HEADLINE NEWS: CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour is a new mommy, having given birth to son Darius on Monday in Washington, D.C. The dad (and Amanpour's husband) is U.S. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin.
GRUNGE LIVES: Pearl Jam has announced plans to launch a 39-date North American tour August 3 in Virginia. The caravan is tentatively scheduled to wrap Nov. 5 in (where else?) Seattle.