Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
With only a week and change having passed since the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we no doubt feel the question living fresh in our minds: can we ever judge a remake without considering its predecessors? The conversation about the stark contrast in critical favor between Marc Webb's release and Sam Raimi's trilogy (the second installment of his franchise in particular) buzzed loudly, and we imagine the volume will keep in regards to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. But it'll be a different sound altogether.
The original Godzilla, a Japanese film released in 1954, reinvented the identity of the monster movie, launched a 30-film legacy, and spoke legions about the political climate of its era. The most recent of these films — Roland Emmerich's 1998 American production — is universally bemoaned as a bigger disaster than anything to befall Tokyo at the hands of the giant reptile. With these two entries likely standing out as the most prominent in the minds of contemporary audiences, Edwards' Godzilla has some long shadows cast before it. And in approaching the new movie, one might not be able to avoid comparisons to either. It's fair — by taking on an existing property, a filmmaker knowingly takes on the connotations of that property. But the 2014 installment's great success is that it isn't much like any Godzilla movie we've seen before. In a great, great way.
This isn't 1954's Godzilla, a dire and occasionally dreary allegory that uses the supernatural to tell an important story about nuclear holocaust. A complete reversal, in fact, first and foremost Edwards' Godzilla is about its monsters. Any grand themes strewn throughout — the perseverence of nature, the follies of mankind, fatherhood, madness, faith — are all in service to the very simple mission to give us some cool, weighty, articulate sci-fi disaster. Elements of gravity are plotted all over the film's surface, with scientists, military men (kudos to Edwards for not going the typical "scientists = good/smart, military = bad/dumb" route in this film — everybody here is at least open to suggestion), doctors, police officers, and a compassionate bus driver all wrestling with options in the face of behemoth danger. The humanity is everpresent, but never especially intrusive. To reiterate, this isn't a film about any of these people, or what they do.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
The closest thing to a helping of thematic (or human) significance comes with Ken Watanabe's Dr. Serizawa, who spouts awe-stricken maxims about cryptozoology, the Earth, and the inevitable powerlessness of man. He might not be supplying anything more substantial than our central heroes (soft-hearted soldier Aaron Taylor-Johnson, dutiful medic and mom Elizabeth Olsen, right-all-along conspiracy theorist Bryan Cranston), but Watanabe's bonkers performance as the harried scientist is so bizarrely good that you might actually believe, for a scene or two, that it all does mean something.
Ultimately, the beauty of our latest taste of Godzilla lies not in the commitment to a message that made the original so important nor in the commitment to levity that made Emmerich's so pointless, but in its commitment to imagination. Edwards' creature design is dazzling, his deus ex machina are riveting, and the ultimate payoff to which he treats his audience is the sort of gangbusters crowd-pleaser that your average contemporary monster movie is too afraid to consider.
In fairness, this year's Godzilla might not be considered an adequate remake, not quite reciprocating the ideals, tone, or importance of the original. Sure, anyone looking for a 2014 answer to 1954's game-changing paragon will find sincere philosophy traded for pulsing adventure... but they'd have a hard time ignoring the emphatic charm of this new lens for the 60-year-old lizard, both a highly original composition and a tribute in its way to the very history of monster movies (a history that owes so much to the creature in question). So does Godzilla '14 successfully fill the shoes of Godzilla '54? No — it rips them apart and dons a totally new pair... though it still has a lot of nice things to say about the first kicks.
Oh, and the '98 Godzilla? Yeah, it's better than that.
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Reality TV star Alexis Neiers, who inspired Emma Watson's character in The Bling Ring, has opened up about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. The Pretty Wild star, 22, has penned a blog on Vice, detailing how memories of being molested by a male relative returned after she gave up drink and drugs in 2009.
She explains, "After getting sober for the first time at age 18, I quickly relapsed and began having night terrors about sexual attacks that happened to me as a child.
"After my memories resurfaced, I kept the history of sexual abuse a secret for another year, until I entered rehab for my addiction."
She eventually decided to go to the police and report the unnamed man in a bid to save his own child from the same peril.
Neiers adds, "I knew in my heart that, at the end of the day, this man has a child - a child who is the same age I was when he started abusing me. I would feel responsible if anything happened.
"I didn't report his actions for revenge or to make myself feel better - it was a painful experience and reporting the abuse doesn't keep the painful memories from returning.
"I'm making my traumatic history public knowledge, because one in five girls and one in 20 boys are victims of childhood sexual abuse. To prevent him from abusing other children and to begin the healing process, I had to speak up."
The socialite served four weeks behind bars for her part in the so-called 'Bling Ring' gang, which broke into the homes of stars including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom in 2008 and 2009 and snatched more than $3 million (£1.9 million) worth of goods.
Their story was transformed for the big screen by Sophia Coppola earlier this year (13).
Here a little tip – when you live in a multimillion dollar house, don’t leave the key under the doormat. Paris Hilton had to learn this the hard way when her house was ransacked by the Bling Ring... but it took her a while to catch on: they broke in five times before she noticed anything was gone. In this new clip from Sophia Coppola’s movie about the exploits of the teen criminals, the group invades her mansion and marvels at her extensive closet. As they excitedly go through racks of furs and sparkly dresses, they squeal about how cute her clothes are.
Hilton told The Hollywood Reporter that she allowed Coppola to film scenes in her actual house, which brings up the question: Does she really have pillows with her own face on them? That’s not so cute. The Bling Ring opens June 14.
Follow Mary Oates on Twitter @Mary_oates and Hollywood.com @Hollywood_com
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Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ringis still two months away, but you'd never know that based on how much people are talking about it.
First, there was Emma Watson's tongue-roll while dancing in the first trailer, or as I prefer to call it, "The Tongue Roll That Launched a Million GIFs." Then we all started talking about whether the movie is just a toned-down version of Spring Breakers. Just this weekend, Emma Watson raised the temperature of a lot more guys by pole dancing in a clip released from the film. And now, we've got this new poster that defines The Bling Ring's quintet of thieving, fame-obsessed teenagers by their choice of eyewear. Check it out:
Considering how literal-minded most movie posters are these days, it's pretty refreshing to see one that approaches its material from a more creative angle. Bling Ring arrives in theaters June 14.
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There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
Now that Upfronts are in full swing, CBS has taken the time to release four brand new trailers, which showcase some very recognizable names. Dennis Quaid fans will be happy to see the actor starring in Vegas, a period drama set in the 1960s and based on the true story of Ralph Lamb — a rodeo cowboy-turned-longtime Sheriff of Las Vegas.
But if you're looking for a new comedy to cozy up to come next fall, you should feast your eyes on Partners, which follows the story of two best friends, Charlie (David Krumholtz) and Louis (Michael Urie), whose friendship seems to reflect that of a weird married couple (and no, the two are not romantically involved). It's written by the creators of Will & Grace though, so you know there are sure to be many, many laughs along the way. One Tree Hill's Sophia Bush co-stars (long live B-Davis!) as does former Superman Brandon Routh.
Courtroom drama buffs will want to check out Made in Jersey, a legal drama that centers around a working-class woman (Janet Montgomery) who uses her street smarts to compete with her colleagues at a top New York law firm. And there's always Elementary, which looks to give viewers a contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and his partner Watson, who's now a lady and played by Lucy Liu. Miller's no Robert Downey Jr., but then again, no one is.
Check out all four trailers below and see which ones will make their way into your DVR programming schedule this fall.
Made In Jersey:
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The 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival is officially in full swing, with nearly everyone in Hollywood transported to the prestigious French fest for a week and a half of wheeling and dealing. Catch up on all the goings-on with Cannes Chatter.Continuing his worldwide publicity trek for his new movie The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen arrived Wednesday morning to the Cannes Film Festival riding a camel and decked out in his over-the-top costume. In character as the tyrannical (and goofy) Admiral General Aladeen, Cohen rode the animal (named "Osama," of course) up to the Croisette beachfront, ordering his beauty queen body guards to stick up the onlooking press with assault rifles while Cohen made his way into a cafe. Cohen's stunt mirrors his last Cannes-inspired act of public defiance — in 2006, he walked the beach in a skimpy bathing suit in anticipation of Borat. [The Telegraph]
Alec Baldwin is reportedly teaming with director James Toback (Tyson) on a documentary film that will follow the duo as they attempt to raise money for another movie at Cannes. The meta non-fiction flick, running with the title Seduced and Abandoned, will chronicle the duo's attempts to secure funds for another vague project they hope to make in the future, while integrating interviews with famous faces like Martin Scorsese. Speaking to Deadline, Toback explains, "“We will talk to every billionaire financier in Cannes, to a few directors and movie stars to get a sense of where film is today and how it is changing as a business, and the whole evolution of Cannes from a pure festival to this bizarre mix of wildly diverse elements. It still clings to the pure notion of film, with all sorts of other ramifications from financial to maritime implications that make it so complex.” [Deadline]
Outside of the competition films, producers and talent are flocking to the festival to pitch and sell their latest projects. Among the movies in need of distributors are Ashton Kutcher's Steve Jobs biopic JOBS, Guillermo del Toro's 3D Pinnochio, Terrance Malick's two in-the-works films, Sophia Coppola's Bling Ring (which sports Emma Watson with a tramp stamp), the porn star biopic Lovelace and the latest from the Coen Bros., Inside Llewyn Davis. Who will take them home? Only time will tell… [Deadline]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: WENN.com]
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In the immortal words of Barney Stinson, "That, dear boy, is a tramp stamp. A hoe tag. A** antlers. A Panama City license plate." And yes, that is our dear Hermione Granger sporting a lower back tattoo, but don't worry that Emma Watson has grown up too fast. The actress is sporting fake ink for her role in Sofia Coppola's upcoming film The Bling Ring based on the real-life story of a group of teens who burglarized the Hollywood homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and Audrina Patridge from 2008 to 2009. Hence why Watson – who co-stars alongside Leslie Mann and Taissa Farmiga in the project – has made the bad girl transformation.
Check out the photos of the actress (who turns 22 on Sunday, April 15) on The Bling Ring set – including the Harry Potter star taking a break in a revealing outfit and showing off that faux lower back tattoo – below:
What do you think of an inked Emma Watson? Does she look good as a tough chick or do you just want to cover her up like a concerned mother? Hey, at least we can all rest easy it wasn't a tribal band!
[Photo credits: Pacific Coast News, Ramey]
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