TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
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In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
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Katy Perry and Rita Ora became high-fashion models for a day, when the singers hit the runway during Milan Fashion Week on Thursday (20Feb14). A day after the pop pals were partying in London for the BRIT Awards on Wednesday (19Feb14), they jetted to Italy to support designer pal Jeremy Scott.
The newly appointed creative director for Moschino debuted his collection for the brand, and he enlisted the beauties to show off edgy outfits from his Autumn/Winter 2014 collection on the catwalk.
Perry donned a black leather mini dress, a matching coat and gold accent pieces, including the signature oversized Moschino necklace.
Ora soon followed down the runway, wearing a black satin large t-shirt dress, with a certificate of authenticity printed in large lettering on the front.
Scott later posted a photo sitting in between his two muses on Instagram.com, along with a caption that reads: "THANK YOU @katyperry & @ritaora FOR BEING THE BEST GAL PALS A BOY COULD DREAM OF I LOVE YOU BOTH SO MUCH !!!"
The Oscar winner, who is currently shooting The Counselor with Ridley, is slated to portray Patrizia Reggiani in Jordan Scott's Gucci.
Reggiani was jailed in 1998 for hiring a hitman to kill her husband four years after the couple officially divorced.
She became known as the Black Widow throughout her trial.
Her daughters urged lawmakers in Milan, Italy to overturn their mother's conviction on the grounds a brain tumour had altered her personality. The conviction was upheld but Reggiani's sentence was reduced to 26 years.
Last year (Oct11), she was offered a chance at parole, but refused stating, "I've never worked in my life and I'm certainly not going to start now."
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Ridley Scott is talking to Angelina Jolie about a role in Gucci, the director's drama about murder and decadence in the Gucci fashion dynasty.
Media reports say Jolie would play Patrizia Reggiano, who was sentenced to 29 years in jail for plotting the murder of her ex-husband, Maurizio Gucci. Scott has approached Leonardo DiCaprio to play Maurizio, but he is not attached at this point.
Fox 2000, for which the project is a priority, is eyeing a 2010 start date. Scott Free and Giannina Facio are producing.
The studio is hiring a writer to work from Charles Randolf's current draft of the script, which follows the drama that highlights the glamorous days of the Gucci family dynasty in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Infighting hobbled the clan until Maurizio, the grandson of founder Guccio Gucci, came out on top of a power struggle to run the family business.
In 1995, gearing up to reestablish the brand name via then-newcomer designer Tom Ford, Maurizio was gunned down in front of his Milan apartment.
Jolie is likely to next star in The Tourist, the Spyglass thriller that has Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in line to direct. Scott is in post-production with Robin Hood for Universal Pictures and Imagine.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Claire is an attractive CIA operative and Ray is an M16 agent who simultaneously leave their Governmental spy activities in the dust to try and profit from a battle between two rival multi-national corporations both trying to launch a new product that will transform the world and make billions. Their goal is to secure the top-secret formula and get a patent before they are outsmarted. While their respective egomaniacal CEOs engage in an unending battle of wills and one-upmanship Claire and Ray start out conning and playing one another in a clever game of industrial espionage that is even more complicated due to their own long-term romantic relationship.
WHO’S IN IT?
Reuniting Closer co-stars Julia Roberts (as Claire) and Clive Owen (as Ray) turns out to be an inspired idea. They turn out to be the perfect pair oozing movie-star charm and electricity in this elaborate con-game that might have been the kind of thing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant might have made in the '60s (in fact they did in Charade). Roberts with that infamous hairstyle back the way we like it and Owen looking great in sunglasses prove they have what it takes to navigate us through this ultra-complex plot in which no one is sure who they can trust at any given moment. They play it all in high style and the wit just flows as the story skirts back and forth during the period of five years. The supporting cast is well-chosen with juicy roles for Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti (out of their John Adams duds) as the two CEOs going for each other’s throats. Giamatti who sometimes has a tendency to overdo it is especially slimy here and great fun to watch.
Big-star studio movies today rarely take risks and often talk down to the audience but in Duplicity writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) has crafted a complicated con-comedy that requires complete attention at all times just to keep up with the dense plot’s twists and turns. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a New York Times crossword puzzle and Gilroy and his top-drawer production team deliver a glossy beautiful-looking film that’s easy on the eyes hitting locations from Dubai to Rome to New York City.
Like any good puzzle it sometimes can be frustrating putting it all together and Gilroy’s habit of taking us back in time and then inching forward gets a little confusing even with the on-screen chyron pointing out where we are at any given moment. Stick with it though and you will be well-rewarded.
A scene near the end where the formula must be found scanned and faxed in a matter of minutes is sweat-inducing edge-of-your-seat moviemaking and it provides the ultimate opportunity for Roberts and Owen to take the “con” to the next level. Another where Roberts uses a thong to try and trick Owen into admitting an affair he never had is also priceless and gets right to the heart of the game-playing.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
Never. Stock up during the coming attractions. If you miss a moment of this entertaining romp you might never figure it all out.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had a few surprises up its sleeve tonight, though for the most part experts predicted the winners accurately.
Gladiator, which many thought was a shoe-in for Best Picture, was. In a more surprising addition, the film's star, Russell Crowe, beat out Golden Globe winner Tom Hanks for the Best Actor award. Gladiator's chief rival for Best Picture, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, had to be content with the prize for Best Foreign Language Film as well as several technical awards.
Steven Soderbergh seemed surprised to find himself the proud owner of a new gold statue when he was awarded the Best Director Oscar for Traffic, one of two movies for which he was nominated. A win for Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, the other Soderbergh directing venture, was no surprise in the Best Actress category.
In one of the evening's biggest shockers, Marcia Gay Harden walked away with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Pollock, upsetting pundit predictions that newcomer Kate Hudson would take home the statuette. Holding back tears, Harden thanked her co-workers and her family for their support throughout her career.
As expected, Benicio Del Toro took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Traffic. The actor thanked the members of the Academy, and dedicated his Oscar to the people of Nogales, AZ and Nogales, Mexico, two of the cities where the film Traffic was filmed.
Screenplay awards fell out much as anticipated, with Traffic's Stephen Gaghan winning for Best Adapted Screenplay and Cameron Crowe taking home the award for Best Original Screenplay for Almost Famous.
The Oscar for Best Achievement for Costume Design went to Janty Yates for Gladiator, and Goldie Hawn presented the award for the Best Score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon composer Tan Dun. Crouching Tiger's Peter Pau also won for Best Cinematography. The first Oscar awarded this evening, Best Achievement for Art Direction, went to Tim Yip for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. "I am really nervous...this is the first time I win an Oscar," Yip said.
Bob Dylan appeared live from Australia, and later accepted the award for Best Song from there as well. His tune "Things Have Changed" is from Wonder Boys.
Several technical awards went out early in the evening; Jon Johnson won for Sound Editing for U-571, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects went to Gladiator. Nominee Kate Hudson presented the award in the Best Makeup category to Rick Baker, a six-time Oscar winner, and Gail Ryan for Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Bob Beemer, Ken Weston and Scott Milan picked up the statue for Best Sound for Gladiator, and that film's John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke and Rob Harvey won for Best Visual Effects. Stephen Mirrione won the Oscar for Best Editing for Traffic.
The Short Subject Documentary award went to Tracy Seretean for Big Mama, and the Documentary Feature award went to Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer for Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kinder Transport.
When Quiero Ser" (I Want To Be ...) won the award for Best Short Live Action Film, director Florian Gallenberger greeted his native Mexico and thanked his film school for making his dreams come true.
The Best Animated Short Film nominee category followed with Michael Dudok de Wit's Father and Daughter taking the prize.
The Academy honored director Jack Cardiff with an honorary Academy Award tonight. "For those of us who are 70 years or younger were born, Jack Cardiff was shooting film...and he's still shooting," Dustin Hoffman said. As he accepted his award, Cardiff hugged his statue and said, "This has to be a dream."
Ernest Lehman, screenwriter for such amazing movies as The Sound of Music and Hello, Dolly, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, as was Gladiator producer Dino De Laurentiis.
In other news, Bob Raime, President of the Academy for five and a half years, told viewers and attendees that he was resigning from office.