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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It's been quite a shocking week. NBA star Jason Collins came out as gay, becoming the first male athlete currently active in a team sport to do so. Then Amanda Bynes decided to continue her tweeting spree, revealing another video of herself in the bathroom and pictures of herself in a sexy bra. And, on a sadder note, Chris Kelly of the rap duo Kriss Kross passed away at the age of 34. Serious material to be sure, but still ripe for a bit of friendly jesting.
Check out the jokes Twitter comedians shared about this week's pop cultural events.
10 Funnies Pop Culture Tweets of the Week:
1. Gerry Duggan: "First Sir @IanMcKellen, and now @JasonCollins34 — looks like my favorite wizards are gay."
First Sir @ianmckellen, and now @jasoncollins34 — looks like my favorite wizards are gay.
— Gerry Duggan (@GerryDuggan) April 29, 2013
2. John Oliver: "Don't worry, it'll still be everything you love about the Daily Show - just without the thing you love the most about it."
Don't worry, it'll still be everything you love about the Daily Show - just without the thing you love the most about it.
— John Oliver (@iamjohnoliver) May 1, 2013
3. Aziz Ansari: "'HEY DON'T WRITE ANYTHING ABOUT THE NBA ON TWITTER TODAY. PLEASE!!!' - PR teams to their homophobic clients"
"HEY DON'T WRITE ANYTHING ABOUT THE NBA ON TWITTER TODAY. PLEASE!!!" -PR teams to their homophobic clients
— Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) April 29, 2013
4. Michael Ian Black: "At my house, Mondays are "feel slightly disappointed in the new episode of 'Mad Men' night."
At my house, Mondays are "feel slightly disappointed in the new episode of 'Mad Men'" night.
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) April 29, 2013
5. Lauren Ashley Bishop: "hello 911 yes i need amanda bynes' parents"
hello 911 yes i need amanda bynes' parents
— lauren ashley bishop (@sbellelauren) May 2, 2013
6. Morgan Murphy: "I'm Jewish but I just krossed myself. I rapped & wore my clothes backwards when I was 10 and it scared my mom. #RIP"
I'm Jewish but I just krossed myself. I rapped & wore my clothes backwards when I was 10 and it scared my mom. #RIP
— Morgan Murphy (@morgan_murphy) May 2, 2013
7. Mike Birbiglia: "Chris Kelly made a lot of people jump. You can't say that for many people. #RIPMacDaddy"
Chris Kelly made a lot of people jump. You can't say that for many people. #RIPMacDaddy
— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) May 2, 2013
8. Patton Oswalt: "IRON MAN 3 just blew my ass apart and hillbilly-fucked it full of awesome.*. (*usable poster quote)"
IRON MAN 3 just blew my ass apart and hillbilly-fucked it full of awesome.*. (*usable poster quote)
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 2, 2013
9. Neal Brennan: "Kobe's so competitive, he's trying to figure out a way to be gayer than Jason Collins right now."
Kobe's so competitive, he's trying to figure out a way to be gayer than Jason Collins right now.
— Neal Brennan (@nealbrennan) April 29, 2013
10. Mary Charlene: "by tomorrow night Amanda Bynes will be completely naked in all her selfies"
by tomorrow night Amanda Bynes will be completely naked in all her selfies
— Mary Charlene (@IamEnidColeslaw) May 2, 2013
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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The tragic passing of Chris Kelly, one half of the '90s hip-hop duo Kris Kross, is bound to weigh on the hearts of his fans. Just a glance at the statement released by Kelly's performing partner and friend Chris Smith, via E!, is enough to conjure up a steady flow of tears:
"Chris Kelly was my Best Friend. He was like a brother. I love him and will miss him dearly. Our friendship began as little boys in first grade. We grew up together. It was a blessing to achieve the success, travel the world and entertain Kris Kross fans all around the world with my best friend. It is what we wanted to do and what brought us happiness. I will always cherish the memories of the C-Connection."
But what's just as important as our sensitivity to the death of a beloved artist is our celebration of his life and work. The 1990s had legions of fans entertained by Kris Kross' upbeat, wholesome, good-natured songs — cheerful hits about bus rides to school and heavier numbers about the dangers of crime and violence. The young duo's career gave us a handful of memorable entries, and we've rounded up some of our favorites in honor of "Mac Daddy" Kelly and his work with friend and fellow artist, "Daddy Mac" Smith:
"I Missed the Bus"
"Warm It Up"
"Live and Die for Hip Hop"
"It's a Shame"
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
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Kris Kross star Chris 'mac Daddy' Kelly has died at the age of 34. The rapper was found unresponsive at his home in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday (01May13) and transported to Atlanta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, a representative for the Fulton Country Medical Examiner tells Billboard.com.
The cause of death is not yet known and an autopsy is expected to take place on Thursday (02May13).
Stars flocked to pay tribute to Kelly as news of his death broke, with Timbaland and Big Boi among the first to offer their condolences.
Kelly and his bandmate Chris 'Daddy Mac' Smith were discovered in an Atlanta shopping mall by Jermaine Dupri in 1990 and the hip-hop duo went on to release three studio albums.
They are best known for their hit 1992 song Jump, which spent eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than 100,000 copies as a VHS video single, as well as for wearing their clothing backwards.
Kris Kross performed on Michael Jackson's 1992 Dangerous World Tour and even had a cameo in his music video for Jam. They also appeared in promos for Run-D.M.C. and TLC, and featured in an episode of TV sitcom A Different World.
Kelly and his bandmate found fame with a new audience in the mid-1990s when they recorded a rap for Nickelodeon kids' cartoon Rugrats - it went on to appear on VHS copies of the show from 1994 and was released on CD in 1998.
The duo disbanded after the release of their third album, 1996's Young, Rich & Dangerous, and went on to have solo careers.
They reunited earlier this year (13) to perform at a special concert to mark the 20th anniversary of Dupri's label So So Def Recordings.
In his personal life, Kelly was an avid kite flyer - he entered several national competitions and was planning to start a kite design company.
UPDATE: According to Cpl. Kay Lester of the Fulton County police, Kelly's death "may have been a possible drug overdose," Fox News reports. Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratt, has released the following statement in regards to her son's death (via Buzzfeed):
"It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1. To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trendsetting, backwards pants-wearing one-half of Kris Kross who loved making music. But to us, he was just Chris — the kind, generous and fun-loving life of the party. Though he was only with us a short time, we feel blessed to have been able to share some incredible moments with him. His legacy will live on through his music, and we will forever love him."
EARLIER: Chris Kelly, one half of the popular 90s rap duo Kriss Kross, has passed away. He was 34 years old. Hollywood.com confirmed the news with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office, but an official comment was unavailable.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Kelly was reportedly pronounced dead on the south campus of the Atlanta Medical Center at 5PM EST on Wednesday after being found unresponsive at his home. No further details were provided.
Kelly performed in the popular group alongside his friend Chris Smith as a young child in the early 90s, even scoring a chart-topping hit, "Jump" from their 1992 debut album "Totally Krossed Out." Kelly was more commonly known as Mac Daddy, while Smith was Daddy Mac. The two were discovered by popular producer/artist Jermaine Dupri at a shopping mall in the group's hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. In their short career, the men (who were young children at the time) performed with Michael Jackson, and were featured in the music videos of popular groups Run D.M.C and TLC. The pair recently reunited for the So So Def (the record label started by Dupri) 20th Anniversary concert earlier in 2013.
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An actor starring in two or more movies in a single year is a common occurrence. In 2011 alone, stars such as Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen toplined or had supporting roles in 3-5 films a piece. This is because on-screen talent has the luxury of spending around 2-4 months on any given production before being whisked away to another exotic location. Directors don’t have that luxury. For them, it can take anywhere between 2-3 years to bring a project from page to screen, but the end result can often be much more gratifying. So when a filmmaker manages to drop two (or more?) movies in one year, it’s quite an accomplishment.
This week, 20th Century Fox releases The Sitter, David Gordon Green’s second 2011 effort (the first being Universal’s ill-fated Your Highness), and to say the least, we’re impressed. However, he’s the not the only filmmaker to have ever done so. Heck, he’s not even the only one who has done it this year! Read on for a roundup of the best multi-tasking directors in the business.
He’s the unofficial Godfather of the film industry, and there’s virtually nothing he can’t do, including putting out a whopping six films this year as either director or producer (he releases his pair of directorial efforts, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, less than a week apart from each other later this month). But the real kicker is that this isn’t even the first time he’s pulled this off: Spielberg directed two films a year in 1989 (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Always), 1993 (Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List), 1997 (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Amistad), 2002 (Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can) and 2005 (War of the Worlds, Munich).
Eastwood has worked and excelled on both sides of the camera over the last 55 years. In his first two years as a credited actor (1955 and 1956), he appeared in about eight films, but his real triumphs came more than 15 years later when he directed High Plains Drifter and Breezy in 1973. He repeated the duel directing duties in 1982 with Firefox and Honkytonk Man, 1990 with The Rookie and White Hunter, Black Heart, 1997 with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Absolute Power, 2006 with Flags of Our Father and Letters From Iwo Jima and 2008 with Changeling and Gran Torino. Not too shabby for an 81 year-old man…
Mr. Z got his start in the movie business thanks to the aforementioned Godfather of cinema (Spielberg produced/contributed to many of his films), and like him, has achieved the uncanny feat of releasing two films in a year. Though he only managed to do it once in his long career, the year 2000 was especially lucrative for Zemeckis as he released Cast Away and What Lies Beneath, two of his biggest movies.
It’s coincidental that there would be another Steven on this list whose last name also sports a “Bergh” of some kind…but hey, Hollywood’s a small world after all. Soderbergh has also had multiple “two-fer” years wherein he’s released a variety of films, including Gray’s Anatomy and Schizopolis in 1996, Erin Brockovich and Traffic in 2000, Solaris and Full Frontal in 2002, Ocean’s Twelve and a segment of Eros in 2004, Che Part 1 and 2 in 2008 (though that’s a bit of a cheat as it’s essentially one loooong movie), The Girlfriend Experience and The Informant! in 2009 and Contagion and Haywire this year (though Haywire will see its wide release in early 2012).
This auteur is internationally known as a pillar of film production and is responsible for movies of all shapes and sizes. He’s also incredibly active and has an enviably prolific resume that includes a few years in which he released narrative features and documentaries like 1974’s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Die große Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner (love that name), 1977’s La Soufriere and Stroszek, 1979’s Nosferatu the Vampyre and Woyzeck, 2005’s Grizzly Man and The Wild Blue Yonder and 2009’s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
In the golden age of Hollywood, moviemaking was a much different kind of animal and filmmakers could shoot, edit and release a feature much quicker than one could today. That convenience is the reason why Hitchcock, one of the true legends of cinema, was able to deliver so many masterpieces, including quite a few of them in the same year. In 1927, he released The Lodger, The Ring and When Boys Leave Home; in 1928, The Farmer’s Wife, Easy Virtue and Champagne, in 1929, The Manxman and Blackmail. And the hits kept coming: 1931 saw the release of East of Shanghai, Mary and The Skin Game, 1934 had The Man Who Knew Too Much and Strauss’ Great Waltz and 1936 had Secret Agent and Sabotage while 1940 had Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent and 1941 had Suspicion and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. His most famous two-at-a-time films, however, came in 1954 (Rear Window, Dial M for Murder), 1955 (The Trouble with Harry, To Catch a Thief) and 1956 (The Man Who Knew Too Much with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, and The Wrong Man).
Zack Snyder: Since becoming a Warner Bros. golden child with 300 in 2007, Snyder has had an incredible output at the studio, releasing a film a year since 2009’s Watchmen. Most recently, he completed Legend of the Guardians and Sucker Punch within six months of each other (September 2010 and March 2011).
Tarsem Singh: After a five-year absence, Tarsem returned last month with the epic actioner Immortals and will follow it up in March 2012 with Mirror Mirror, the first of two Snow White tent-poles to enchant audiences next year. Not bad for a guy with only four directorial credits to his name!
'Steven Spielberg' is one of those names that has such cachet that we sit up and take notice any time he does, well, anything. Although Spielberg's last project was 2008's disappointing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, his latest, War Horse, looks to hearken back to the tone of his 1987 Empire of the Sun with its war-torn setting and human drama.
War Horse - the story of the friendship between a boy (Joey) and his horse, who is sold to the British army during the First World War (the horse, not the boy) - boasts an impressive international cast, with Jeremy Irvine (formerly of the National Youth Theatre) playing the young horse owner, Emily Watson (Gosford Park, Cold Souls) playing his mother, and Peter Mullan (Trainspotting, Children of Men) his father. Niels Arestrup (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) plays the grandfather of a young French girl (Celine Buckens) who takes Joey in.
Other renowned members of the cast include Tom Hiddleston (to play Loki in Thor and the upcoming Avengers movie), Rainer Bock (Inglorious Basterds), Patrick Kennedy (Atonement), and Stephen Graham (Baby Face Nelson in Public Enemies and Al Capone in the upcoming HBO series Boardwalk Empire). Rounding out the ensemble are Nicolas Bro, Leonard Carow, Robert Emms, and David Kross.
War Horse is being adapted by Lee Hall, the writer behind Billy Elliot, and Richard Curtis from the novel by Michael Morpurgo. Expect War Horse to hit theaters August 10, 2011.
Source: Empire Online
Based on the award-winning book by Bernhard Schlink The Reader is an extraordinary provocative and controversial story set in post-World War II Germany. It starts when 15-year-old Michael (David Kross) becomes ill with scarlet fever and is helped home by sympathetic woman named Hanna (Kate Winslet). After his recovery he returns to thank her and is drawn into a clandestine affair with this intriguing woman more than twice his age. Their relationship grows stronger especially when he starts reading to her. But then she suddenly disappears leaving a devastated Michael who now must move on with his life. Little does he know that eight years later while he is in law school he would see Hanna again -- as one of the defendants in a court case against Nazi war criminals. Shocked at revelations about her secret past he also discovers something that will change both their lives forever. Granted Kate Winslet is one of the finest young screen actresses but her range in The Reader will astonish you. It’s an extremely tricky part that could easily lose the audience’s sympathy if done incorrectly but Winslet handles it with aplomb. She runs through the whole gamut of emotions -- aging from her 30s to 60s -- all at once sexy mysterious conflicted contrite as well as many other colors. As Michael newcomer Kross is devastatingly good the most impressive acting discovery in a long time. Although he plays 15 he was 17 at the start of filming and production had to shut down until he turned 18 for the graphic sex scenes. As the story flashes forward Ralph Fiennes takes over the role as the older Michael and does so with a touching sincerity. Lena Olin also has a strong cameo as a Holocaust survivor with definite opinions of Hanna. Although this is only acclaimed stage director Stephen Daldry’s third film he once again shows a mastery of the medium far beyond his limited cinematic resume. Like The Hours and his debut film Billy Elliot he has crafted another film to savor. The Reader isn’t necessarily the most comfortable film to watch but Daldry guides the subject matter with a delicate and steady hand giving us a complex and touching love story between the most unlikely couple. It also delves into how one generation of Germans can come to terms with the horrors of another. Daldry’s directorial restraint and power perfectly serves David Hare’s impressive screenplay and delivers a memorable movie-going experience.