Victoria Beckham is clearing out her closet and selling off more than 600 pieces of clothing to raise money for charity. The Spice Girls star-turned-fashion designer decided to offload pieces from her personal collection after a heartbreaking trip to South Africa earlier this year (14) during which she visited mothers living with HIV.
Beckham's sale includes pieces from designers including Prada and Roberta Cavalli, as well as the white gown she wore to the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles in 2003, and a number of items from her Spice Girls days.
The sale on Theoutnet.com, which will also feature hats, purses and shoes, will raise funds for Mothers2mothers, a charity set up by Annie Lennox's husband Mitch Besser to help HIV-infected mothers in countries such as South Africa, Swaziland and Kenya.
Beckham says in a statement, "I came back from South Africa and thought, what can I do to help? I started going through my closet and found so many great pieces that I've worn and thought, maybe I can raise money by auctioning these off... I just want to do whatever I can do."
Last year (13), Beckham and her soccer legend husband David sparked controversy when they generously gave 20 boxes of their designer clothes to a charity shop in London to raise cash for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Ruthless customers exploited their goodwill to snap up items at bargain prices and sell them for a fortune on eBay.
From the '90s to the present, the neo-soul movement has been the springboard for everyone from Maxwell, Macy Gray, and Erykah Badu to John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and Raheem DeVaughn. The roll call of key influences should be familiar by now, mostly containing ubiquitous, iconic figures like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Al Green, but there's one man who's equally seminal to neo-soul despite never achieving anything near the star status of the aforementioned artists: Donny Hathaway. Fortunately, the first-ever domestic box set of Hathaway's work, Never My Love: The Anthology, has now appeared via the always-worthy Rhino Records, and not only does it underscore the weighty debt owed to the late Hathaway by subsequent generations of soulsters, it expands his regrettably slim discography with two discs' worth of previously unheard music.
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Hathaway released only four studio albums during his too-short life: three on his own and one in a duo with Roberta Flack. For whatever reason, Hathaway/Flack duets like "The Closer I Get" and "Where is the Love" became huge hits while Hathaway's solo work mostly achieved only middling commercial success. The four-disc box includes one CD compiled from Hathaway's albums, one containing collaborations with Flack, another featuring demos of never-before-heard songs, and one full of previously unreleased live recordings from 1971. The breadth and depth encompassed by this set is almost shocking, and the anthology is an overdue monument to the mighty artistry of this mercurial genius.
The demos disc is the most revelatory, as its contents highlight not only Hathaway's vision but also his eclecticism. "A Lot of Soul," for instance, is a country stroll (don't let the title fool you), while the "ZYXYGY Concerto" is a full-on neo-classical piece, with Hathaway's piano leading the way for a full orchestra. The live disc was recorded at New York's tiny-but-influential Greenwich Village club The Bitter End (other tracks from Hathaway's three-night '71 run at the venue have been previously unearthed). Listening to Hathaway and his band -- which includes killer players like guitarist Cornell Dupree, bassist Willie Weeks, and Earth, Wind & Fire drummer Fred White -- lock in on a slow-burning soul stirrer like Al Kooper's "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" or a free-for-all funkfest like "Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)" can be downright epiphany-inducing.
The mentally unstable Hathaway left us at the age of 33; seemingly off his meds for too long, he began acting irrationally at a 1979 session, and later that day he leaped out a window to his death, ending his story far too soon. But with the arrival of Never My Love, hopefully those who have never had the same opportunity to embrace him that his many musical disciples have maximized can begin to play catch-up.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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Businessman and philanthropist Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. - a former president of the Dakota's co-op board - claims his request to expand his apartment in the building was refused because he is black.
He is suing the officials over what he calls "an extensive pattern of hostility toward non-white residents of the building".
Fletcher names Banderas in his suit, claiming he overheard a conversation between two board members discussing the Spaniard's efforts to buy an apartment at the Dakota.
He suggests the unnamed neighbours refused to even give the actor and his wife Melanie Griffith an interview, joking they wanted a first-floor pad so Banderas could "purchase drugs from the people on the street".
Fletcher also names singer and neighbour Roberta Flack in his suit, claiming she was refused permission to install a new bathtub because she's black.
The plaintiff is demanding damages of $15 million (£10 million).
The Dakota Building's most famous resident was John Lennon, who was shot dead on the pavement outside in 1980.
About Schmidt is a curious slice of Americana. The film is really about ordinary Americans going about their everyday lives but the characters are so clearly drawn and the dialogue so rich you are immediately hooked. Somewhat reluctantly 66-year-old Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) retires from his long-standing job as an insurance salesman. He wonders what he is going to do with his time now. His wife Helen (June Squibb) convinces him to buy a motor home so they can travel around the country together in their golden years. That would be great if Helen didn't bug Warren incessantly. He is also plagued by the fact his only daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) is marrying Randall (Dermot Mulroney) a dimwitted fellow Warren does not consider worthy of his daughter (and really isn't). Still Warren would go on living his life without any change indefinitely even if he wasn't very happy because darn it that's what you do. But suddenly things do change for Warren--Helen unexpectedly dies leaving him with a big empty house and his own nagging thoughts which he writes down in letters to the third-world foster child he sponsors in Africa for $22 a month. Finally one day he wakes up with a purpose in life--to stop Jeannie's marriage. He decides to drive the Winnebago across the country to convince her she's making a mistake but as with any good soul-searching journey he discovers more things about himself than anything else.
Oscar-winning Nicholson is one of those performers who continually surprises you. He may have that same maniacal grin and the unmistakable "Jack" voice but he is an actor of immeasurable talent--and he goes way out on a limb as Warren Schmidt. He plays all 66 years right up there on screen in vivid Technicolor--down to the gray hair wrinkles black socks and saggy boxer shorts. Nicholson lets his vanity go to epitomize the aging white Midwest American man. The process the actor uses to transform Warren from a cold and selfish man into a somewhat decent human being is mesmerizing. This is Jack's movie and he should almost certainly get an Oscar nod for this. But to give credit to the rest of the cast almost everyone in the film turns in gutsy performances. Davis (Hearts in Atlantis) downplays her good looks to play the mousy Jeannie who eventually stands up to her father. Mulroney's performance as the mullet-haired Randall is a far cry from his romantic leading man in My Best Friend's Wedding. The supporting role which stands out the most is Randall's New Age mom Roberta as played by Oscar winner Kathy Bates. She bares it all--literally and figuratively--and gives the spunky Roberta a wonderful very human twist. Her scene with Nicholson in a hot tub is one for the movie anthologies.
Much like his excellent films Election and Citizen Ruth writer/director Alexander Payne likes to paint a picture of true blue Americans perhaps somewhat exaggerated for the big screen but nonetheless real. Anyone who sees About Schmidt will know at least one Warren Schmidt in their lives--an uncle a friend but more than likely a father. Payne exquisitely details this man's life visually and with the spoken word. From the opening shots of the insurance building Schmidt works in to seeing Warren sitting in his empty office boxes packed waiting for the hour hand to hit 5:00 so he can leave to his less-than-happy retirement party you immediately understand what this character is all about. He lives his life by the book rarely venturing off the beaten path until at 66 he realizes he wants to break free. As soon as Warren starts his journey things unravel ruts are broken out of and even though Warren won't entirely change who he is he tries to be a better person. His toast to his daughter at her wedding reception is classic--you think at any moment he is going to ruin it for her and do something typically "Schmidt-like " but he ends up surprising you instead. There are only a few moments when the film drags a little but for the rest it is riveting.
With a limited number of new films hitting the theater, this weekend will be the perfect time for filmgoers to catch up on the movies they missed during the holiday frenzy.
Opening in New York on Friday is the award-winning "Life is to Whistle" from Cuba . Expanded releases include the adaptation of John Irving's "The Cider House Rules" and Universal's romantic drama "Snow Falling on Cedars" with Ethan Hawke.
Also in theaters Friday is the re-issue of Miramax's "Music of the Heart" starring Meryl Streep, Gloria Estefan and Angela Bassett.
The following is a complete list of the films opening this week.
"Life is to Whistle" (New York) -- The award-winning film from Fernando Perez follows the intersecting lives of three Cubans on the Day of Santa Barbara: a ballerina who ponders breaking the vow of chastity she made in order to land a coveted role; a sexually neurotic woman; and a male musician who enjoys seducing white tourists. Winner of the Special Jury Award in Latin American Cinema at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.
"The Cider House Rules" (Miramax) -- Directed by Lasse Hallstrom ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape") and adapted from John Irving's best-selling novel, this coming-of-age story casts Tobey Maguire as a young man who has spent his entire youth in an orphanage. Hungry for experience, he sets out to explore the world outside. Charlize Theron, Paul Rudd and Michael Caine co-star.
"Snow Falling on Cedars" (Universal) -- "Shine" director Scott Hicks returns with a tale of intrigue and love set in 1954 on an island in the Pacific Northwest. Ethan Hawke stars as a reporter assigned to cover the trial of a Japanese man accused of the murder of a local fisherman. Youki Kudoh co-stars as Hawke's childhood flame and the wife of the accused played by Rick Yune. Based on the best seller by David Guterson.
"Music of the Heart" (Miramax) -- Director Wes Craven forsakes his trail of horror and brings to the screen the inspiring story of violin teacher Roberta Guaspari. Meryl Streep plays the real-life music instructor whose fight to save her school's music department pits her against the education system. Her extraordinary efforts eventually lead to a concert performance by her Harlem students at Carnegie Hall.
Talk about a teaser. Not only did Elle magazine announce "Don't Date George Clooney" on its November cover, the accompanying article implied that the Hollywood heartthrob had a thing for sniffing armpits. It seems writer Deanna Kizis detailed her boring date with an unnamed movie star, described as an actor from "The Thin Red Line." At night's end, the actor "stuck his face in my armpit," Kizis writes. "He took a deep whiff and, coming up for air, said, 'You smell so good.'"
A full-page photo of Clooney accompanies the article, headlined "Gods and Monsters."
The 39-year-old actor, voted "The Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine and the star of last summer's blockbuster "The Perfect Storm," shot off a letter to Elle editors stating that he's never dated Kizis.
"You put my name on the cover of your magazine in a story that has nothing to do with me," writes the former "ER" star. "The article is so deceptive . . . that my parents called to ask me about it."
Clooney's letter further chides the editors: "Playing by your rules, what if I was to point out that a certain national magazine that just had my name on their cover wouldn't put an African American on their front page because they felt the magazines wouldn't sell as well?"
"The magazine (whose title ends in the letter 'E") had every cast member of "ER" on the cover except Eric LaSalle (who did three photo shoots for them)," writes Clooney. "In that same time, the magazine (who we'll keep nameless) had not put one actor of color on their cover, while 32 white actors graced the front page!"
It might sound like he's talking about Elle, but the magazine in question is actually TV Guide.
Elle editors say they're sorry for "any misunderstanding." Editor-In-Chief Roberta Myers stated, "We at Elle, along with millions of women around the world, consider Clooney to be one of Hollywood's most attractive men."
Sounds like they'll do anything to get his name on their cover.