If you've ever thought that holiday specials were too boring and safe, we have some good news for you: Lady Gaga will host a holiday special this year with the Muppets — presumably in an effort to keep things both festive and family-friendly. Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular will feature songs from the singer's latest album, Artpop, as well as some traditional holiday favorites. The hosts will be joined by special guests Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and RuPaul, ensuring that it will be the strangest holiday special the world has ever seen.
According to ABC, the show will be an "avant-garde twist" on traditional holiday variety shows, and is apparently a "dream come true" for Gaga, who has always wanted to perform with the Muppets. She is set to duet with Kermit the Frog and have the creatures join her for a new interpretation of her lead single, "Applause." And for those who would rather watch the puppets than the pop star, the Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal will be on hand to put a Muppet-y twist on classics like "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells." The special will also feature a sneak preview of the upcoming film Muppets Most Wanted, which will hit theaters in 2014.
Gaga has a long history with the Muppets, having taken Kermit as her date to the 2009 VMAs and used pieces from Jim Henson's Creature Shop on her tours. However, her most famous Muppet-collaboration is the jacket she wore in 2009 that was made entirely of Kermit puppets, and might actually beat out the meat dress as the strangest thing she's ever worn. Hopefully, Gaga will avoid turning her co-hosts into clothing this time around, although we predict there will be some kind of fashion showdown between her and Miss Piggy. Gaga was also supposed to have made a cameo in 2011's The Muppets, but the sequence was cut for time.
This is the second holiday special that the pop star has hosted for ABC, after she headlined A Very Gaga Thanksgiving in 2011. That event featured a duet with Tony Bennett, a sit-down interview with Katie Couric, and a cooking segment with celebrity chef Art Smith, in addition to Gaga performing several tracks from her second album, Born This Way. She even got into the holiday spirit with a performance of White Christmas — although, in true Gaga fashion, she wrote a whole new verse for the song (which you can see below). It's hard to imagine how the superstar will manage to top A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, which was equal parts insane and entertaining, although we're personally hoping it involves an homage to the greatest Christmas movie of all time, The Muppets Christmas Carol.
Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular will air on November 28th at 9:30 pm.
Pierce Brosnan hasn't stepped into James Bond's shoes for over a decade, but you wouldn't know it when you meet him. The Irish actor — who turns 60 this month, but doesn't seem to age — seems to be carrying on the suave legacy of Bond. Especially when it comes to his affinity and appreciation for women.
Hollywood.com caught up with Brosnan to discuss his latest film Love Is All You Need and when it came to the subject of his co-star, Danish actress Trine Dyrholm (whom Brosnan says has "the Meryl Streep touch" to her craft), he put it simply: "I've been blessed with all the leading ladies I've been with, they've all been rather gorgeous and beautiful and I love women." When it came to the subject of his Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier, he put it simply: "I've worked with some great directors from Barbra Streisand to Susanne Bier to when I did Remington Steele, there were some fine lady directors on that show. I love working with women. I love women. There's just an ease and a grace." Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan.
But, it wasn't just his fondness for working with talented females like Dyrholm and Bier that drew him to a project like Love Is All You Need. The film a glossy but heartfelt romantic drama about a hairdresser named Ida (played by the vivacious Dyrholm who gets naked, literally and metaphorically), a cancer survivor whose husband has been cheating on her, and Philip (Brosnan, in what Bier describes as "one of his most touching performances"), a hard-working businessman and widower. Philip and Ida meet at their respective children's nuptials at a picturesque French villa and the two begin fall in love. "It goes right up there on the shelf with, dare I say, Mamma Mia," Brosnan says of the film, which taps into similar theme of finding yourself — and, of course, love —at any age.
Another one of the film's emotional cores — dealing with a devastating loss — is one that hits especially close for Brosnan. In 1991, Brosnan lost his first wife Cassandra Harris to ovarian cancer. They had one son together, Sean, as well as her children from a previous marriage Charlotte and Christopher. (Brosnan remarried in 2001 to his wife Keely Shaye Smith, with whom he has two sons with, Dylan and Paris). "All of that life pain that I went through — somewhat publicly, somewhat privately — is in the past but I can certainly identify and draw upon it," he says of playing a part like Love Is All You Need's Philip, a man who is still dealing with his pain.
"This character and this movie and this script found me at the right time in my life to be able to sit still and explore my own tragedies, my own pain, my own loss, what it's like to be a single parent," Brosnan continues. "In the hands of Susanne Bier, you surrender to that and allow yourself to go there. It just made sense. Her style of direction is very quiet and specific, strongly so at times. But there's great liberation in there because of the cinematic style that she uses. There were many emblems within the story: fatherhood, being a widower, being a single parent, a man of business, being alone, being middle-aged, dealing with time, time past, time present, time future."
And time, it seems, has since been kind to Brosnan. Not just in terms of his rugged good looks, but finding peace and comfort within himself and his career. "I painted myself into a corner sometimes I feel with the style of performance I'd given or the kind of actor I was trying to create when I came to America with Remington Steele," Brosnan admits. "As you get older there's a loosening of the ties to the ego and the posturing of who you are and how you behave. There's an ease within my own being now and there's a confidence, simple as that really, with performing... there's a great joy in being an older actor now. You have to adapt to your age and your years. It's nothing but humble gratitude of having come down the road so far."
Then again, it's hard not to be humbled with gratitude when you have labor of love projects like the big screen adaptation of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down (in which he stars alongside Aaron Paul, Toni Collette, and Imogen Poots, whom he refers to as "The Quartet...we were joined at the hip") and, of course, Love Is All You Need. Love, being the key word.
"It all melded together from day one," Brosnan recalls, adding, "[my cast and director] embraced me with such a warmth and generosity and I, in return, did the same and we just hit the ground running. The experience of filming on a day-to-day basis was nothing but joy. It's criminal how much fun we had. It was a magical summer." Who knew Bond was such a softie?
Love Is All You Need opens in limited release on May 3.
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More: 'Love Is All You Need' Director Susanne Bier: 'It's Kind of Disgraceful There Aren't More Female Directors 'Love Is All You Need' Trailer — WATCH 10 Actors Who Almost Played James Bond
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 the political thriller The Ides of March – George Clooney’s adaptation of the stage drama Farragut North – Ryan Gosling stars as Stephen Meyers campaign press secretary to Mike Morris (Clooney) a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Savvy self-assured and blessed with a preternatural ability to spin a story in his candidate’s favor Stephen is a fast-rising figure with a dazzlingly bright future. Unlike his more seasoned – and cynical – campaign-manager boss Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) Stephen all of 30 years old still boasts something of an idealistic streak. He believes in Morris not just as a meal ticket but as someone who just might make the world a better place.
Stephen’s idealism and ambition come into conflict when in the feverish days leading up to the pivotal Ohio primary he suffers a series of judgment lapses that threaten to derail his promising career. Teased with the prospect of a job offer he’s lured into a meeting with Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) the campaign manager of Morris’ main Democratic rival – a major no-no in a business that prizes loyalty above all else. Later he beds a beguiling young intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) who unwittingly drops a bombshell that could very well bring down the entire Morris campaign.
There’s nothing particularly revelatory about Ides of March. Our eyes were long ago opened to the amorality and viciousness of electoral politics. And goodness knows we’ve witnessed political scandals far more salacious than anything depicted in the film. Ides of March’s strength lies in the power of its storytelling in the way that Clooney brings together several distinctive headstrong characters and sets them against each other in a riveting game of intrigue. It helps compensate for the been-there done-that familiarity of the topics explored.
Clooney is very much an actor’s director and Ides of March is a testament to how absorbing it can be to witness skilled performers operating at the peak of their powers. Gosling is particularly fascinating to watch as his character awakens to the severity of his predicament. When Stephen is dismissed from the Morris campaign after Zara learns of his meeting with Duffy the firing triggers in him something akin to a fight-or-flight instinct. His livelihood endangered he scrambles to outwit his former colleagues seizing upon tragedy and scandal to worm his way back into the fold. All pretense of idealism vanishes and his expression betrays the slightest hint of derangement. The game has claimed him.
At the time of Scream’s release in 1996 the state of Hollywood horror was at a pretty low-point. For every Dracula there was a Frankenstein. For every original idea there were dozens of painful sequels. There were some truly terrifying films released during the decade but there wasn’t a lot we hadn’t seen before. Then along came Wes Craven’s now classic slasher pic a revisionist take on the genre that simultaneously dissected its tropes while embracing them. It was equally hilarious and horrific thanks to the auteur’s precise execution and Kevin Williamson’s sharp sardonic script that dynamically pooled the characters’ points of view with those of the audience. Scream’s self-awareness was a true game-changer that has carved a very nice place in film history for itself. Fifteen years and two sequels later the franchises’ principle players have all returned to Woodsboro to catch up on cinematic commentary and thwart the sadistic plans of yet another Ghostface killer in Scre4m.
In how many ways does this bloody new chapter differ from the others? Not many. The story begins when Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott now the best-selling author of a self-help book returns home on the last stop of her promotional tour. There she meets up with Dewey and Gale Weathers-Riley (David Arquette and Courtney Cox) her friends and mutual survivors of the Woodsboro Murders though there’s precious little time for a warm reunion because someone has inherited the mantle of Ghostface and begun taking out the town’s well-endowed teenagers. The trio along with a young and attractive cast of victims and suspects including Emma Roberts Hayden Panettiere Nico Tortorella and Rory Culkin attempt to stop the killer despite an escalating body count.
As with the original Williamson’s screenplay is the most valuable part of the production. He employs the same narrative formula he did in ’96 but puts it in contemporary context riffing on cinema’s current trends (namely sequelitis and the torture-porn craze the latter which the filmmakers are clearly not fans of) his own franchise (the opening self-deprecating sequence is absolutely riotous and perhaps the funniest in the entire series) and America’s social media obsession (Twitter Facebook and YouTube references take the place of pagers and other outdated cultural staples further separating the film from its predecessors) which plays a larger part in the story and its characters motivations than you really want to know. If there ever was a film for and about the been-there-done-that post-modern generation it’s Scre4m.
While Williamson is at the top of his game Craven’s direction doesn’t appear to have evolved much since helming the original (a sad fact considering his creative growth with Music From The Heart and Red Eye). A few eerie shots aside he doesn’t take any risks with the material resulting in a monotonous merry-go-round of murders that’s consciously grislier but noticeably less effective than those found in the earlier entries. Thankfully his enthusiastic cast is more than willing to go over-the-top and beyond to sell the (few) scares; Panettiere particularly stands out as the confident Kirby Reed as does Alison Brie as the slimy PR girl Rebecca Walters. They’re all archetypes fitting into the film’s modus operandi of amusingly adhering to conventions and making it relatively easy for you to predict who’s going to die without spoiling the fun.
Still with so many preconceived notions about what Scre4m should be it’s hard to imagine all moviegoers loving its throwback premise and downright silly tone. What was once clever is now contrived; what was once refreshing and exhilarating for horror buffs is now exploitative of their common knowledge and passion. As a horror-comedy hybrid it brings some funny but not a whole lot of fear; in other words it’s very much like the original. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Beneath the glossy sheen of Zac Efron there exists the makings of quite a fine actor glimpses of which were seen in both the blockbuster comedy 17 Again and the indie drama Me and Orson Welles. His transition out of the Disney-fied teen-dream world and into more adult-oriented projects is a gradual uneasy one as is evidenced by his latest film the metaphysical drama Charlie St. Cloud which finds him perched squarely in between the two camps. Efron it appears is in that awkward stage.
In Charlie St. Cloud Efron plays the title character a carefree college-bound sailing star whose bright future is torpedoed when an awful auto wreck takes the life of his beloved kid brother Sam (Charlie Tahan). Charlie at the wheel of the car at the time of the crash briefly dies himself only to be wrested from a flatline by a particularly stubborn and spiritual EMT (Ray Liotta).
Years later Charlie’s body has made a full recovery but his mind remains plagued by some nasty after-effects of the tragedy. He’s given up sailing ditched his college plans gotten a job at a cemetery and taken up the habit of holding regular conversations with dead people — specifically his brother Sam with whom he meets daily in a forest clearing to play catch. Usually such mental deterioration coincides fairly closely with physical deterioration which is why you don’t encounter a lot of well-groomed paranoid schizophrenics on skid row. But Charlie has kept up with his workout and grooming regimens earning a reputation among the residents of his sleepy Pacific Northwest town as a sort of beautiful nutcase.
Unable to escape his all-consuming grief Charlie seems doomed to retreat further into isolation and despair until salvation arrives wrapped in a cardigan: Tess (Amanda Crew) a feisty pro sailor and no stranger to tragedy herself can see beyond Charlie’s unhinged persona to the sensitive troubled and irresistibly hot man that lies beneath. As their relationship deepens Charlie is increasingly torn between his imaginary friends and his real-life love.
It’s a noble aim giving tweens questions deeper than just “Edward or Jacob?” to contemplate and Charlie St. Cloud’s principal message “life is for living ” is a worthwhile one. But director Burr Steers having learned from the success of 17 Again clearly knows where his bread is buttered and so he takes care to sate the demands of Efron’s screeching fanbase by stocking the film with ample glowing shots of his star lovingly lit and clad invariably in a light blue solid color shirt and emoting against a picturesque coastal landscape. (Lest you think I'm exaggerating check out this studio-supplied promo clip featuring an interview with a shirtless Efron.) The awkward mix of existential drama and Abercrombie & Fitch commercial combined with a healthy dose of loopy Sixth Sense-esque supernatural shenanigans tossed in toward the end makes for an experience only the most fawning of Efron’s fans could enjoy.
Lonely Hearts is really two stories set in post WWII America. The main story is about Ray Fernandez (Jared Leto) a small-time swindler who bilks war widows out of their insurance money and life savings by getting them to fall in love with him. He then marries them and kills them once he has control of their assets. His neat little scam is thrown off kilter when he discovers that one of his targets Martha Beck (Salma Hayek) is penniless. He tries to dump her but she figures out his scheme and they become lethal lovers and partners in crime. The other story is about the detective (John Travolta) who tracks them down. He is picking up the pieces of his own tragic life after his wife commits suicide. His son (Dan Byrd) is a distant and difficult teenager and his girlfriend (Laura Dern) is trying to help him get on with his life. Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream) is excellent as the greasy playboy who seduces and kills lonely women. He plays the sleazy charm and indecisive weakness of Ray Fernandez perfectly. But the standout performance of the film is Salma Hayek. Although Martha Beck on her best day never looked anywhere near as good as Hayek does on her worst the actress makes the cold-blooded character her own doing whatever it takes to get her hands on the ill-gotten gains. The image of a bloody and frustrated Hayek in a frumpy housecoat sucking on a cigarette with a hacksaw in hand complaining about the tenaciousness of one of their victims is priceless. John Travolta is either miscast or misused as the tortured tough guy detective Elmer Robinson. This wasn't a cool character and Travolta is a cool star who seemed to be straight jacketed by a character who is almost completely reactionary. James Gandolfini and Laura Dern do their best in their supporting roles. Writer-director Todd Robinson turns in a serviceable job behind the camera but falls down on the script. Lonely Hearts' main problem seems to be his inability to wiggle away from the facts to create an engaging movie. Robinson is actually the grandson of the real-life detective who brought Fernandez and Beck to justice. Robinson never gets beyond the made-for-TV luridness of the basic story. Gandolfini gets stuck in the role of narrator which would have been much more engaging if Travolta's character would have been the one talking to the audience. Robinson never lets the audience inside the characters long enough to make the film a more emotional experience. This is a problem with true stories; the writers are often not able or willing to be creative with the lives and motivations of the characters who have done extraordinary and well-documented things.