United Artists via Everett Collection
The Beatles' influence has touched every inch of modern pop music, leaving an indelible mark on film and television... which is pretty good for four working-class mop tops from Liverpool. Director Ron Howard will be the next to immortalize the band onscreen, in a new documentary that will explore the group's early years, when they still toured their music across the globe. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison will contribute to the feature, which will trace the band's humble beginnings at the Caven Club in Liverpool, their tours through Germany, all the way through the group's final public performance in San Francisco's Candlestick park. But before we get around to seeing Howard's tribute to the Beatles, we're inclined to look back upon some of the best musical contributions they made to movies and TV.
Bowling for ColumbineThe last half of the John Lennon-penned "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," which may or may not be about heroin, serves as the perfect soundtrack for Michael Moore's anti-gun manifesto Bowling for Columbine. It's used in a terrifying sequence that shows just how gun crazy some Americans are, and as the song ramps up, the sequence escalates to a violent and unnerving conclusion that still has us wincing all these years later.
"Baby, You're a Rich Man" in The Social NetworkWhat better way to end a biopic about one of the richest men in the universe than this cut from Magical Mystery Tour. It's so fitting, it's almost like it was made expressly to cap off David Fincher's tale of billion dollar grudges.
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" in HelpWe couldn't, in good faith, compile a list of the best Beatles moments in film and television without including a sequence from the Fab Four's own filmography. We chose "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" the film Help for sheer oddness of the sequence. Plus, it's just a great song in general.
"In My Life" in Little ManhattanThe best thing about the Beatles is how timeless their music is. "In My Life," a song about losing and gaining friendships through the slippage of time, is the perfect piece of music to accompany the story about a preteen losing his first love in modern day New York.
"A Little Help From My Friends" on The Wonder YearsJohn Cocker's throaty rendition of "A Little Help from My Friends" graces the title sequence of The Wonder Years, and it may be the best cover song ever recorded. It's even better than the original Beatles tune, and it just makes The Wonder Years a better show. Nowadays, we can't even look at Fred Savage without hearing Cocker's raspy croon blasting through our heads at full volume.
"Come Together" in A Bronx TaleIn a scene from Robert De Niro's directoral debut, a pair of Italian mafiosos rough up a couple of unruly bikers that stop into their bar while "Come Together" spills out of a jukebox. Thanks to the '60s aesthetic, the song is a perfect addition to the scene.
"Hey Jude" in The Royal TenenbaumsFilmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese are often celebrated for their use of pop music in film, but Wes Anderson's musical touches in his work are just as poignant. His use of a beautifully orchestrated version of "Hey Jude" in 2001's The Royal Tenanbaums is a perfect example of this.
"Twist and Shout" in Ferris Bueller's Day OffWe're still not sure if Ferris Bueller is really a wizard, or if it was just the power of music, but the teen somehow brings the entirety of downtown Chicago to a grinding halt for the musical number to end all musical numbers.
The history of iconic British rockers The Beatles is to be charted in a new TV series, according to a U.S. report. Bosses at America's NBC network have allegedly recruited The Tudors creator and producer Michael Hirst to write a new series which will tell the story of John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr's rise to global superstardom.
The programme, which is still in the early stages of development, will see Hirst re-team with his fellow The Tudors executive producers Ben Silverman and Teri Weinberg, and NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, who gave The Tudors the go-ahead when he ran the Showtime network, reports Deadline.com.
"If I had to say who I thought the best singers were, I'd say first that I don't know there's a definitive answer, as, in my opinion it's subjective, and second that my focus is primarily rock singers. That said, I enjoy Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Dan McCafferty, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Roger Daltrey, Don Henley, Jeff Lynne, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Scott, Etta James, Fiona Apple, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and a ton of others... and would rather hear any of them anytime rather than me!" Axl Rose responds to a new online poll which placed his at the top of the world's greatest singers list.
Lady Gaga is parting ways with her red Rolls-Royce Corniche III convertible to benefit the MusiCares charity. The luxury vehicle, in which she travelled to Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum for an event in September, 2012, is to be auctioned off at the upcoming Julien's Auctions Music Icons, Legends and Rebels sale in New York.
The car is expected to fetch between $30,000 (GBP19,000) and $50,000 (GBP31,250) when it goes under the hammer on 17 May (14) at the Hard Rock Cafe auction, where one of Gaga's Philip Treacy hats and a stage worn headpiece are also among the lots.
The auction highlights also include George Harrison's 1962 Rickenbacker guitar, a Paul McCartney-used Hofner Bass guitar, Elvis Presley's onstage jumpsuit, U2's With Or Without You MTV Award and Michael Jackson's handwritten lyrics to Billie Jean.
The Frozen soundtrack continues to wow chart experts in America after scoring an 11th week at number one on the album chart. The 2013 release, which features songs by the film's stars Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, has just notched up its biggest sales week yet, selling 259,000 units to rule the Billboard 200 again.
The album, which has now sold a total of 2.3 million copies in the U.S., has become one of 15 soundtracks to spend at least 11 weeks at number one since Billboard began publishing a weekly chart in 1956.
It also breaks a tie with The Lion King to become the outright longest-running number one animated film soundtrack.
August Alsina's debut Testimony enters the chart at a distant number two, while rockers NEEDTOBREATHE debut Rivers in the Wasteland at three, and Jason Derulo makes his first top 10 bow with Talk Dirty at four.
Ingrid Michaelson rounds out the new top five with Lights Out.
Meanwhile, Pharrell Williams has followed up two weekends at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in California with a ninth week atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Happy makes Williams just the sixth solo male artist to spend a cumulative six months at number one on the countdown - only Usher, Michael Jackson, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney and his Blurred Lines collaborator T.I. have spent more time atop the Hot 100.
John Legend's All of Me holds onto the number two spot on the new chart, while Jason Derulo's Talk Dirty rebounds to three.
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones showed off a united front at the Super Bowl on Sunday (02Feb14) - the Hollywood couple was briefly spotted together at the big game. Reports initially suggested Douglas was at the game with the couple's son Dylan, but now there's photo evidence that his wife was there too - further proving that the pair is working on its problems following a much-publicised separation which began last year (13).
Wrapped up in a red shawl, a smiling Zeta-Jones was spotted with her husband and son as opera star Renee Fleming belted out the National Anthem just before the start of the game.
The Douglases were among the many stars who were at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the Super Bowl - Hugh Jackman took his brother, John Travolta, Sir Paul McCartney and Kevin Costner treated their wives to an evening out and celebrity suites were packed with famous faces like Beyonce and Jay Z, Forest Whitaker, Whoopi Goldberg, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Jennifer Garner and supermodels Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio.
Sir Paul McCartney, Kevin Costner and John Travolta treated their wives to a sporting day out on Sunday (02Feb14) when they took them to the Super Bowl in New Jersey. The stars and their spouses were spotted at the big game along with Hugh Jackman, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Dave Grohl, David Beckham and Michael Douglas, who was joined by his son Dylan.
British rockers the White Lies have seen off competition from Sir Paul McCartney, Daft Punk and Sir Elton John to win a top honour for their latest album's cover art. The band's Big TV record, which features an oil painting of an astronaut by Michael Kagan, has won the 2013 Best Art Vinyl award ahead of other nominees including McCartney's New, Elton John's The Diving Board, and Daft Punk's Get Lucky.
Artist Kagan says of the honour, "It has been a very exciting experience for me to see my artwork used in this way. I have really enjoyed how involved the band has wanted me to be... I could see how the painting had really become a symbol of the band and the new album."
Previous winners of the award include Muse's The Resistance and Thom Yorke's The Eraser.
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.
Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna and Barry Gibb showed off their comedic chops this weekend (21Dec13) by joining Justin Timberlake and funnyman Jimmy Fallon for a Christmas edition of U.S. sketch show Saturday Night Live. Timberlake and Fallon kicked off Saturday's live gig by performing a medley of songs dressed as a tube of wrapping paper and a gift bag respectively, as they parodied tracks such as Ludacris' Roll Out (My Business), Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know and It's Tricky by Run-D.M.C.
Fallon then delivered the opening monologue by showing off impressions of David Bowie, Bob Dylan and McCartney as he acted out his dream collaboration, blaming heavy New York traffic for preventing the rockers from appearing in person.
However, as he began to mimic the former Beatle, McCartney himself stepped out onstage, much to the crowd's delight, and quipped, "I was (stuck in traffic) but then I took a Citi Bike (public bike-sharing system). Am I too late to sing a song?"
The unlikely duo then launched into a rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas as fake snow fell all around them.
McCartney's unexpected appearance was just the first of many surprises - Madonna joined in a discussion about politics during spoof segment The Barry Gibb Talk Show, with Fallon sporting '70s attire, a fake wig and fake facial hair to portray the only surviving Bee Gees star.
The Emotions hitmaker appeared to be in on the joke as he joined Timberlake and Fallon, who were both rocking vintage hair styles and suits, to close out the skit.
Even outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made time for a cameo during SNL's Weekend Update to discuss his plans after stepping down from the post early next year (14).
Saturday Night Live will return to U.S. TV screens for a new episode on 18 January (14) when rapper/actor Drake will serve as guest host.