Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
There was a time when Kevin Costner was one of the top actors in Hollywood, as well as an Academy Award winning director. Of course, that was 20 years ago, before his epic debacle Waterworld. It's been so long that it's like saying that there used to be a time when movies weren't in color or didn't have sound.
After years of flying beneath the radar, Costner could have as many as five films released in 2014 (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 3 Days to Kill, Draft Day, McFarland, and Black and White). Five! That's a lot for any actor not named Elizabeth Banks. How did it come about that an actor-director once vilified for his difficult nature and cost overruns is suddenly the hardest working guy in films?
Costner's is a tale of how to best deal with Hollywood adversity and come out mostly okay. After the fiasco that surrounded Waterworld — which comes honestly by its reputation as one of the biggest filmmaking disasters ever — Costner kept on working. Even when the post-apocalyptic The Postman tanked on a grand scale as well, the actor kept going. In fact, since his breakout role as Elliott Ness in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables in 1987, there have only been four calendar years in which Costner hasn't been on the big screen at all. Typically, it's been roles that play upon the everyman characteristics that made him so appealing in earlier films like Field of Dreams.
It's actually the most recent of those missing years, however, that probably explains the actor's current resurgence. While he didn't appear in a feature film in 2012, he did appear on television in the History Channel's well-received miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. His turn as 'Devil' Anse Hatfield won him a Golden Globe and a wave of good publicity.
After playing Superman's Earth father last year in Man of Steel, Costner's new run of roles has him playing everything from a dying Secret Service agent in 3 Days to Kill to sports related characters in Draft Day and McFarland to a man fighting for custody of his granddaughter in Black and White. It's a diverse group, yet each part harkens back to territory that Costner has covered in the past.
That, in the end, might be the true explanation for why 2014 is shaping up to be the Year of Costner. After 30 years of working steadily as an actor, Costner has found the sweet spot where he knows what kinds of roles that he can excel in and he largely works within that range. Acknowledging limitations is something that many actors are loath to do, but as Costner has demonstrated sometimes staying true to one's self leads to greater rewards… and a whole bunch of movie roles.
Pop star Morrissey has attempted to make amends with iconic rocker David Bowie almost 20 years after they first fell out. The former The Smiths frontman was enlisted as the main support act on Bowie's 1995 European tour but he quit after a handful of gigs and later blamed Bowie for trying to overshadow his performances.
Since then he has made several cutting remarks about his former hero in interviews, and Bowie fuelled the bust-up by reportedly refusing to allow permission for Morrissey to use a photograph of them together on a release last year (13).
However, Morrissey has now spoken out to insist his catty remarks about the Starman hitmaker were merely "high ribbing" and even alleges he asked Bowie to duet with him on a version of You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', but the offer was rejected.
In a question and answer session on the Truetoyou.net fansite, Morrissey writes, "When I made the (2006) record Ringleader of the Tormentors, the producer (Tony Visconti), who is a very close friend of David Bowie, tried to get both Bowie and I together to do our version of You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', with David doing the deep Bill Medley parts, and me doing the Bobby Hatfield shrieks.
"I loved this idea, but David wouldn't budge. I know I've criticised David in the past, but it's all been snotnosed junior high ribbing on my part. I think he knows that."
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire star Jena Malone has revealed the film saved her acting career because she was close to quitting Hollywood after action movie Sucker Punch flopped in 2011. The actress had hoped the Zack Snyder film would be a big hit and when it got critically savaged, she started considering a new line of work.
She says, "I was so over the game and (I was) going to quit acting."
Malone turned to her photography hobby and her band Shoe as she waited for an acting lifeline, and then it came when she was offered a role in hit TV mini-series Hatfield & McCoys. That led to a leading role in the Hunger Games sequel, and now the actress wants to play Johanna Mason forever.
She tells Entertainment Weekly magazine, "I love this character. I would play her in an after-school special."
British band Happy Mondays have scrapped a show in England on Wednesday (04Dec13) due to "unforeseen circumstances". The Kinky Afro hitmakers, who are currently on a U.K. tour after reforming last year (12), pulled the plug on a planned concert at The Forum Hertfordshire venue in Hatfield, England on Wednesday night.
A statement from the venue reads, "Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Happy Mondays concert on Wednesday has been cancelled.
"We regret to inform you that the show will not be rescheduled; refunds can be obtained from point of purchase. Sorry for any inconvenience caused."
The rockers, led by Shaun Ryder, axed their Australian tour earlier this year (13) due to drummer Gary Whelan's ill health.
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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One of the stars of hit U.S. TV period drama Hatfields & Mccoys is suing producers of the mini-series for injuries he received on the set. Thomas McKay, who played Jim McCoy, claims he was thrown from a horse and into a tree.
In his lawsuit, he claims the producers assured him he was in good hands with the on-set horse experts - but they put him on an out-of-control beast.
The actor claims he suffered serious and permanent injuries, which caused him "great physical, mental and nervous pain", reports TMZ.com.
McKay also alleges the horses were abused on the set.
He is suing Hatfield & McCoys Productions, Thinkfactory Media and others for unspecified damages.
British rockers The Xx have rescheduled a show in London after discovering a local section of the city's Underground service would not be operating on the day of the gig. The band was due to perform in Osterley Park, west London on 23 June (13), but it has decided to bring the concert forward a day and change the venue to Hatfield House, Hertfordshire because the tube lines which served the area around the original venue are scheduled to be closed.
A statement issued by the group on Facebook.com reads, "We've had to make a change to our London Night + Day event. TFL (Transport for London) have decided to cancel all Piccadilly and District line services through Osterley, making it impossible for most of the ticket holders to get there/home.
"The event will now happen on Saturday 22nd June at Hatfield House, just 20 minutes from Kings Cross or Finsbury Park. We're really sorry for any trouble this causes anyone, but we made sure that the new venue is even better."
Solange Knowles, who joined the rockers onstage at the Coachella festival in California last weekend (13Apr13), is among the acts also set to perform during the rescheduled show on 22 June (13).
Oh. My. God.: Louis C.K. is back on TV! Don't get too excited — it's not his currently-on-hiatus FX hit Louie. Instead, the famed comedian will air a new stand-up special, entitled Louis C.K.: Oh My God. The special will debut on HBO on April 13th at 10PM, and will eventually be up for sale (cheaply) on his website. [Splitsider]
Fox Says Goodbye: Fox has officially finalized its plans for the end of the 2012-2013 television season. Some of the bigger names on the roster include American Idol, which will bow out on May 16, Glee (May 9), and New Girl (May 7). [E! Online]
Simon Cowell Continues Quest for World Domination: Apparently, the many failures of the US version of The X Factor are not enough to stop King Simon Cowell. The infamous Brit announced today that his company, Syco Entertainment, is joining forces with YouTube for an online show called “The You Generation" — which will search for the best talent in photography, cooking, visual art, and... wait for it... magic. Err, illusion. Quick, someone call GOB Bluth! [EW]
RELATED: ABC Sets 'Mistresses' Premiere Date
Alison Janney Gets Sexy Guest Gig: No, it's nothing like her role on Lost. Showtime has announced via release that Janney will be playing Margaret Scully, the wife of Beau Bridges’ University Provost Barton Scully, on 5 episodes of their new series Masters of Sex — a drama which focuses on the pioneers of the sexual revolution. [Showtime]
Family Feud: Former One Tree Hill-er Sophia Bush is returning to her drama roots after co-staring in the canceled CBS sitcom Partners. The actress will star in NBC's Hatfields & McCoys, about the infamous feuding families set in present-day Pittsburgh. Bush's Emma McCoy is her clan's eldest sibling and a successful doctor. Meanwhile, Rebecca De Mornay will headline the show as Mary Hatfield, the city's mayor and the matriarch of her powerful family. [Deadline/Deadline]
No more Ryan Shay?: Chatswin's lovable dumb jock might not be returning next year. Parker Young, who plays the fan favorite Suburgatory character, has landed a role in the military comedy Enlisted as one of three brothers working at an Army base in Florida. Geoff Stults plays his older bro. Although Suburgatory boss Emily Kapnek has said that Ryan will return after he heads off to college at the end of the current season, Young's pilot takes priority over his role on the ABC show so it's likely his return will be relegated to guest spots. [TVLine]
[Photo Credit: Eric Leibowitz/FX]
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Look's like we've got a regular McCoy on our hands. Monk and Hell on Wheels alum Virginia Madsen has joined NBC's Hatfields and McCoys series according to The Hollywood Reporter. Madsen will take on the role of Eloise McCoy, the surreptitious matriarch of the McCoys and a royal thorn in the Hatfield family's side.
The actress — who's played both funny and dramatic in her past roles — will join the production, which finds the age-old American tale of the feuding Hatfield and McCoy families fast-forwarded from the late 1800s, when most of the real-life drama went down, right into modern day Pittsburgh. The wealthy Hatfields are pitted against the McCoy family from the wrong side of the tracks, and of course, drama ensues — with Madsen in the middle of it all. Her character, Eloise, is set as the whispering voice in Patrick McCoy's ear, getting revenge for her husband's death by convincing Pat to take revenge on the Hatfields.
With the monumental success of History's Hatfields and McCoys miniseries, including a Golden Globe for star Kevin Costner, it's safe to say NBC's Charlize-Theron-produced drama has some dusty coattails to ride in on. But will audiences take to an updated version of the old Kentucky tale? Or will they simply be itching for the simpler times of the actual Hatfield-McCoy feud?
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