Rock legend Carl Palmer had to turn down the chance to become Black Sabbath's new drummer when the heavy metal stars reunited in 2011 because he was too busy touring with supergroup Asia. The former Emerson, Lake & Palmer star has revealed pal Tony Iommi offered him the job when it became clear Bill Ward would not be part of the reunion but he had to decline the dream gig.
Palmer, who will launch his first Los Angeles art exhibit at Mr. Musichead gallery on Thursday (22Aug13), tells WENN, "Tony and I did talk when they were looking for drummers to make the album and he put me forward. I couldn't do it because I was off with Asia, we were touring and then something else came up. I couldn't have done it but I would have loved to. It just wasn't on the cards."
But the rocker, who is hoping to attend Black Sabbath's homecoming gig in Birmingham, England in December (13), admits that playing in a band like Iommi's is something he'd still like to do.
He adds, "I was classically trained but basically I'm a rock drummer and I've never been in a true out-and-out guitar band like Black Sabbath, where it's just big riffs - very simple but very dynamic... It would be extremely invigorating.
"The older I get the more I appreciate that music... I was late to come to heavy metal. Asia had a bit of that but we were a little bit more corporate rock and melodic."
One thing Palmer won't be doing is reuniting with Greg Lake and Keith Emerson anytime soon.
He states, "I don't really want to play with ELP anymore. I've made that very clear. We played in July, 2010 in London and that's gone."
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.
S01E03: Call me a sucker for bank robberies and broken hearts, but tonight’s episode of Person of Interest is a step up from the last two weeks. And this conclusion is based entirely on two separate lines in the episode—one spoken by Finch, one by Reese.
Tonight’s episode picks up the “Here’s this week’s case” theme less than two minutes in. Finch awakens in his apartment to see Reese standing over him, feeling guilty about blowing his cover at the company last week—or at least claiming to. We quickly move from any particle of continuity into the weekly mission: the machine has singled out Joey Durban (James Carpinello) a former soldier working as a doorman and involved in a long-term relationship.
"If Joey’s bad choices mean he’s about to walk into a bullet, we have to find out who is firing it." - Finch
Reese tails Joey for a while, noticing nothing of interest until the latter participates in a (successful, and nonviolent) bank robbery with a few other men. After the robbery, Reese follows Joey to a rendezvous with a young woman, to whom he sees him give an envelope of money. Finch and Reese surmise that Joey is likely cheating on his girlfriend with this woman.
Through some high-level surveillance work and information gathering (there is nothing these two men cannot see/find out), Finch and Reese figure out that the other men with whom Joey robbed the bank also served with him in the war.
One is a cabdriver—Finch plants some illegal weaponry in the man’s trunk and has him arrested. Reese goes “undercover” as a soldier looking for work and speaks with the head of the crime syndicate (syndiquette, really) who gets Joey & co. their heist jobs—for the benefit of the finder’s fee. Through some trickery, Reese convinces the man, Sam Latimer (Ruben Santiago) to link him up with Joey and the team. Of course, they don’t give him a warm welcome. They throw a bag over Reese’s head, drive him out to a back alley and point a gun in his face. Reese can tell that Joey does not intend to kill him—he’s not a murderer. This cements the idea that Joey must be the victim (as the machine chose him, so he’s either a potential murderer or a potential murderee). Reese also manages to convince the soldiers to let their guard down about him, at least to some degree.
Reese decides to get close to Joey to better solve the case. He “bumps into him” at a bar, and the two discuss war. Joey goes off on a speech, questioning the purpose of the war and berating the big businesses that profit while men like him come back to squalor. This instigates a couple of blue collar jackasses, provoking them to put down soldiers in general. Reese responds by knocking one out, and Joey does the same to the other. The scene…well, I guess it helped to characterize Joey, a little. And it brought Reese and Joey a lot closer. But it seemed more intent on illustrating just how big a jackass the writers think every banker and big business employee is.
Anyway, Reese begins following another member of the heist team: Straub (Keith Nobbs) who approaches Latimer for a job opportunity and seems to be considering killing his partners so that he could get a larger sum of money per job to pay his gambling debts/mother’s rent money.
"You can't cure someone of guilt." - Reese
Another heist takes place—of a casino, this time—and Reese is on board. He wears his direct-to-Finch headset, so he knows exactly when the cops are coming (and leading the cops is, of course Detective Carter, who caught a “glimpse” of Reese on the security camera in the bank robbed earlier). The gang escapes, but Straub is livid that they were unable to get the money.
Finch and Reese find out (through investigation and conversation, respectively) that the woman Joey is supporting is not a lover, but the lover an old soldier friend for whose death Joey feels responsible. The two had a daughter together, and Joey is dedicated to putting her through college.
Although Reese admires Joey for this, he tells him that he must be more present with his girlfriend. Here, Reese is channeling his own inner turmoil. We get a few flashbacks through the episode of Reese bumping into his ex, Jessica, who he finds out is engaged. But we’ll get to that.
"I waited six years for him to come home and it's like he's still over there." - Joey's girlfriend
Before the last heist, Reese pays a visit to Joey’s girlfriend, telling her just how much her boyfriend loves her, but also telling her that “there are other fish in the sea” if it doesn’t work out. Kind of a mixed message; I'm not too sure what he’s trying to drive home there.
The group, Reese included, pulls one more heist. Finch manages to find out and inform Reese of the fact that Latimer is setting them all up and plans to kill all of them. Latimer does manage to kill Straub, but flees the scene when Carter and co show up.
Reese gives Joey his share of the heist money and convinces him to leave town with his girlfriend, which he does.
"The truth is, it was easier for you to be alone." - Jessica
This channels the final flashback: Reese’s ex telling him that if he put himself out there and asked her to wait for him, that she would. She can’t take how protective of his feelings he is, and she needs him to be more open. He can’t bring himself to ask her, so she leaves. But once she’s gone, he mutters, “Wait for me. Please,” teary eyed. Sure, it’s not exactly never-been-done, but it’s powerful enough to make Reese’s character all the more valuable. That, by the way, is one of the two lines that made this episode an improvement.
The other comes from Finch after Reese heads to Latimer’s apartment to take him out — finding that someone else already has. When Reese investigates this, he comes up with the name “Elias,” which Finch claims he knows nothing about, but he’ll “look into it.” This means one thing: a continuous arc. Continuity! A larger story! THAT is what this series needs, beyond episodic mysteries. This is promising.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.