Hollywood comedian Mike Myers became an honorary member of Monty Python on Sunday night (20Jul14) as the veteran funnymen closed their reunion shows in London. The comedy troupe bowed out at the city's O2 Arena after a run of 10 comeback shows, and Austin Powers star Myers made a surprise appearance onstage during the last performance, which was broadcast live on TV and in cinemas.
Myers joined in a sketch with Michael Palin, while British funnyman Eddie Izzard also made a guest appearance.
Other stars in attendance at the final show included Martin Freeman, Harry Shearer and David Walliams.
There is a new trend of films, both maintream hits and cult favorites, being turned into successful Tony Award winning musicals. Some might say there are no new ideas and creativity is dead. Others may delight in seeing the movies they love set to song and dance. It seems like nothing is exempt from the treatment, from Disney cartoons like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, to heartwarming dramas like Newsies and Billy Elliot, and off-the-wall comedies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which begat Spamalot). There’s even an off-Broadway musical of the cult flick Heathers. It's getting some decent traction with its stylish production design and hilarious lyrics. Does this mean it could be the next toast of Broadway?
Some of the strangest films have gone on to become majorly successful musical. Here are some of the strangest and most fun:
Despite a memorable soundtrack and the magic of Olivia Newton John (ONJ) and The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), this film wasn’t commercially successful and was panned by critics. Heck, it even inspired John J.B. Wilson to create The Razzie Awards. However, it did make a wildly fun Broadway musical. The adaptation poked fun at some of the more bizarre parts of the film like ONJ’s love for roller-skates and leg warmers and some major plot holes. Greek muse Clio (Kerry Butler) goes undercover as a mortal named Kira with a thick Australian accent to inspire dim-witted artist Sonny Malone (Cheyenne Jackson).
The quirky British comedy drama finds a son inheriting his father’s shoe factory. When he befriends a drag queen Lola, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (yes, that Chiwetel Ejiofor) he gets an idea to save his factory. The film also features Shaun of the Dead star Nick Frost. The award-winning musical version has songs penned by Cyndi Lauper (who won her first Tony for the show — she's just an Oscar away from EGOTing now!) and story by Harvey Fierstein.
Reese Witherspoon throws the whole notion of "dumb blondes" out the window when sorority girl Elle Woods goes to Harvard Law School. This highly addictive musical features Laura Bell Bundy as Elle, along with major dance numbers, insanely catchy sing-a-long moments, and fresh additions to the original story. Smash star Christian Borle appears as Elle’s dorky love interest Emmett. The series did not win a Tony but it did find a lot success and even aired in its entirety on MTV.
John Waters' edgy comedy about the 1960s race relations and dance series already had musical numbers, so all it needed was that extra touch. The 1988 film starred Ricki Lake, Divine, and Debbie Harry. It spawned a musical that won eight Tony Awards. It starred Harvey Fierstein and Glee star Matthew Morrison. Xanadu star Butler and Legally Blonde’s Bundy also had roles in this obscenely popular musical. Not only did the musical clean up some of Waters more edgy themes but it somehow managed to inspire a movie musical based on a musical based on a movie. It can best be described as:
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Paramount via Everett Collection
So the holiday season isn't over, but you've already exhausted your holiday entertainment library. What to do? First, watch Love Actually a second time. (Hugh Grant and the Pointer Sisters, guys.) Then turn to these regular old movies that just happen to host some of the best Christmas scenes in film. Finally, congratulate yourself for being so gosh darn resourceful.
The guys show up to a post-heist Christmas party with new coupes and gals draped in furs. Jimmy is not pleased. "Are you stupid or somethin'? What's the matter with you?" Sounds like the holidays to us.
The Cutting Edge
The deliciously '90s and saxophone-drenched New Year's Eve scene may be flashier, but we prefer this understated gift exchange between the figure skater and the hockey player. Kate, because she's insufferable, gives Doug an unwieldy copy of Great Expectations. Doug, because he's falling in love with her anyway, gives her his lucky jersey.
Featuring Christan Bale in novelty reindeer antlers; a pot-bellied pig named Snowball; and a very PC Reese Witherspoon telling everyone to have a "Merry X-Mas!"
The Plastics perform a sexy dance for their school's holiday show; Amy Poehler still manages to steal the scene.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Who wouldn't want to pull on a Weasley sweater and spend Christmas at Hogwarts? The Great Hall looks even more magical than usual and a festive John Williams score follows everyone around. Plus, Harry getting his very first presents from his new friends gets us every time.
Not a scene, perhaps, but we can't snub a cameo by Peter Jackson as a demented Father Christmas.
Life of Brian
Brian is just Brian, so this scene may not actually count as a Christmas one. But the Monty Python classic is one of the most hilarious movies of all time, so we actually may not care.
Lady and the Tramp
British actor Daniel Radcliffe was left stunned during a recent trip to Italy when he discovered thousands of fans waiting for him as he used the bathroom. The Harry Potter star attended the Venice Film Festival in September (13) to promote his movie Kill Your Darlings, and he has previously told how he was mobbed by teens at the event.
Now he has lifted the lid on the madness that awaited him and likened one moment to a scene from Monty Python comedy Life of Brian.
Radcliffe tells U.K. talk show host Graham Norton, "Italy was crazy. We never did any press there for the (Harry Potter) films so there was 10 years (of) pent up energy and when I got there it just exploded.
"It was incredible. At one point I needed the loo (toilet) and had to make a 100-yard dash and was immediately followed by a flash mob. I had a Life of Brian moment when I opened the toilet door and there were thousands of people standing outside waiting. It was all very surreal and mad as always."
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Harry Potter star Warwick Davis has joined the cast of comedy musical Spamalot in London's West End. The actor will make his West End debut when he takes on the role of Patsy on 23 September (13).
Davis, who also appeared in the Star Wars movies and cult fantasy film Willow, reveals he jumped at the chance to play a part in the Monty Python production: "As a kid I was always a massive fan of Monty Python so when Spamalot came to town I thought, 'I'd really love to be in that'. And now I'm excited that I'm actually not just in it, but playing the lead role.
"I've been in hit TV shows and blockbuster Hollywood movies, but you are never really taken seriously as an actor until you've done a play."
He'll join comedian and British TV personality Les Dennis, who will take on the role of King Artur in the production.
Late British comedy icon Eric Sykes has been commemorated with a special blue plaque in London, a year after his death. The Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire star passed away on 4 July, 2012, at the age of 89, and family and friends gathered outside his office at London's Orme Court on Sunday morning (07Jul13) to unveil the dedication, which is traditionally placed by officials from The Heritage Foundation at significant historical sites across the U.K.
Sykes had shared the premises for more than 50 years with his comedian pal Spike Milligan, who also received a plaque in his honour.
Guests at the ceremony included Monty Python star Michael Palin, actress June Whitfield and musician Les Reed.
While his blockbuster role of Harry Potter's dastardly Uncle Vernon is sure to earn a few boos and hisses (a testament to his villainous performance), the world will long be cheering for Richard Griffiths, the beloved British character actor who has delighted film and television audiences since the 1970s and '80s. Tragically, Griffiths is reported by the Associated Press to have passed away on Thursday due to complications following heart surgery at age 65.
Advancing far beyond the one-off television roles in the mid-'70s that launched his career, Griffiths has made his mark on blockbuster franchises, critical favorites, and cult classics alike. While his recent years have branded him most recognizable as J.K. Rowling's Vernon Durnsley, or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' King George, fans will recall Griffiths from his earlier work — most of all, perhaps, from his major role in the bizarre black comedy Withnail & I, in which he played the titular character's uncle Monty.
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Following this turn, and a slew of smaller parts in big productions (Gandhi, Superman II, Chariots of Fire), Griffiths went on to establish himself as a formidable character actor. He impressed audiences throughout the '90s with his turns in Naked Gun II: The Smell of Fear (in which he played a wheelchair-bound villain), Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, and the comedy crime series Pie in the Sky.
Recent years have seen Griffiths lead the dramatic comedy The History Boys as an impassioned and unorthodox school-teacher. The part earned him a Tony for Best Actor forthe stage version of the show and a BAFTA nomination for the screen adaptation. Recently, Griffiths appeared in the smaller but scene-stealing part as a train station patron with an unruly gaggle of puppies in Martin Scorsese's Hugo .
Griffiths is survived by his wife Heather.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage]
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Funnyman John Cleese is selling signed photographs to bankroll alimony payments to his ex-wife.
Cleese split from his third wife, Alyce Faye Eichelberger, in 2008 after 16 years of marriage and her divorce settlement included an annual handout of more than £960,000 (£600,000) for seven years.
The writer famously devised a stand-up comedy show - dubbed The Alimony Tour - which is based on his divorce battle, to help raise money to pay his bills.
He also sold his prized Bentley car and props from his 1974 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail to boost his coffers, and now it has emerged Cleese is offering signed photographs of classic moments from his TV comedy shows.
The limited edition prints, showing scenes from sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and sitcom Fawlty Towers, are available for around $48 (£30) from an online memorabilia website.
Cleese bounced back from the divorce by marrying his fourth wife, Jennifer Wade, last August (12).
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