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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The Best Man Holiday filmmaker Malcolm D. Lee is in talks to direct, produce and write a third installment of the film after a strong box office opening for the sequel. The Best Man Holiday brought in $30.5 million (GBP20.3 million) in its opening weekend (15-17Nov13), far surpassing the $20 million (GBP13.3 million) projection, and now executives at Universal are hoping to cash in on the momentum and bring a third film to audiences with Lee at the helm, according to Deadline.com.
The sequel, which stars Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan and Nia Long, comes 14 years after the original movie, The Best Man.
The new film appears to set up another sequel with news Howard's character drops at the end of the film.
Katharine Mcphee's fling with Smash director Michael Morris is over, according to a U.S. report. The pair hit headlines after they were snapped kissing in Los Angeles last month (Oct13), promoting speculation about the state of Morris' marriage to actress Mary McCormack.
Singer/actress McPhee, who is believed to have split from her actor/producer husband Nick Cokas earlier this year (13), is now said to have called time on her short-lived relationship with Morris.
A source tells People.com, "Katharine is no longer seeing Michael - at least for now."
Meanwhile, the status of star's own marriage to Cokas remains up in the air. The insider adds, "Katharine still has no plans to move forward with divorce at the moment, though they are not living together."
Actress Sanaa Lathan was subjected to playful punches on the set of new film The Best Man Holiday as her co-stars jokingly attacked her fake pregnant belly. The Alien vs. Predator star was not happy when writer/director Malcolm D. Lee revealed her character, Robin Stewart, was going to be heavily pregnant onscreen, and she admits the padded prosthetic made filming an uncomfortable experience.
However, Lathan reveals the movie's leading men, including Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard and Taye Diggs, managed to have a little fun with the big bump at her expense.
She explains, "I had to wear this huge prosthetic belly, which was like my own personal sauna, and it was heavy and it was a drag to go to the ladies' room, and every day my lovely, loving castmates got a sick pleasure out of punching me in the belly. They knew I couldn't feel it."
The romantic comedy-drama is a sequel to 1999's The Best Man.
On this week's New Girl, Schmidt seeks the counsel of Outdoor Dave in a quest to conquer his agonizing loneliness. After breaking up with Cece early this season and moving out of the loft a few weeks back — and being replaced by returning series regular Coach — Schmidt feels like a man without a country. As such, he finds solace in the words of a man without an anything: the recurring homeless wackadoo who pops up every so often to impart bouts of chaos into the lives of the loft residents. His wisdom, as we might have expected, is marginal at best... but he does offer something noteworthy, that being mention of Connor — an action figure bearing the likeness of Jesus, who Outdoor Dave claims is a graduate of SUNY Binghamton.
Yes. I, too, am a Binghamton alum. And for those of us who spent our formative years at little known state schools, it's a rare treat to hear shout-outs like this one (be they disparaging or otherwise) on network TV shows. The program that made the closest thing to a habit out of the practice was 30 Rock, a mighty knight whose sole mission was the conquer the realm of oscure humor... I recall one pointed jab that Will Arnett's devilish Devon Banks made at SUNY Oneonta. Ha ha, got 'em. Otsego County goons.
Now, this particular gag might seem like little more than a gift to the men and women who once attended what a 2014 U.S. News survey ranked as the 97th best higher education facility in the nation. But it's emanant of something more important: New Girl's penchant for intimate, offbeat, inimitable comedy. A type of comedy that has been slipping from the show's grasp lately. The Binghamton joke stands out especially in this week's episode, "Menus," which opens with a Nick-Jess dialogue that feels like it fell right out of a Family Matters teleplay:
To paraphrase:Jess: "I can't stop to watch you eat Chinese food, which is apparently going to be your plotline today. I have a meeting with Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, who is my boss."To quote directly:Nick: "I hate your boss. He never listens to any of your ideas!"Jess: "Not this time!"
And while the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" motto might apply to some formulaic sitcom mechanisms, the opening to "Menus" feels so abrasively lazy and phoned in that it sort of sets the entire episode off on a sour path. And nothing ever really convinces us to change our tunes. Jess, spurned by her principal's insistence that the school can't afford transportation to send her students on their very first trip to the beach, goes ape on a nearby Chinese restaurant for their proclivity for littering apartment buildings with a surplus of menus. And yes, that was a Seinfeld episode they decided was too uninteresting to actually air.
Meanwhile, Nick takes on a B-plot that we've suffered through in every sitcom from I Love Lucy to Family Ties to The Millers, probably: he tries to get in shape. So it's a half-hour of Jake Johnson not being good at jumping. This one must have been scripted when all of the writers wanted to jet out early to catch a showing of Gravity.
Peering through this haze of mediocrity is Schmidt's conversation with Outdoor Dave, which, though not especially hilarious, is evocative of the New Girl personality. It's grounded in a vivid place — a weird, sad, charming, real place. And a quirky one, unashamed of jokes that only a handful of people will truly appreciate, knowing the power in intimate writing. That's what we used to see in New Girl: scripts that were asymmetrical, uncategorizable, and personal. We need more of that. More episodes like Season 1's "Injured," or Season 2's "Chicago." More weird stuff, small stuff, personal stuff, and more jokes like Outdoor Dave's crack about Binghamton.
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Rockers Joy Division have criticised the "distasteful" sale of a table from the kitchen where the band's tragic singer Ian Curtis hanged himself in 1980. The wooden table is going under the hammer on eBay.com, but the sale has attracted criticism due to the item's macabre history as it came from the room where Curtis committed suicide at a house in Macclesfield, England.
The star's former bandmates Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris have now released a statement slamming the auction on behalf of Curtis' widow, Deborah, and his daughter, Natalie.
The band tells NME, "Joy Division original members Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris would like to lend their voice of support to Deborah and Natalie Curtis, who have been caused great distress over media reporting of the sale of the table originally owned by the family, and currently being auctioned on eBay.
"Deborah and Natalie would like to point out that the sale of this table has nothing whatsoever to do with them. The table was sold along with the house in 1980 and Natalie has never signed any authentication document. Furthermore, they consider the sale of a personal family item, and the subsequent media reporting, to be distasteful and upsetting."
The man selling the table, Tel Harrop, has apologised for causing distress to Curtis' family, but insists he can't change the table's history.
He says, "I can’t turn the table on the table story. I’m upset the way it's gone but I didn’t put it on for the money, I just did it for good intentions. I want the sale to end now because it's all got out of hand."
The lot had attracted a bid of $12,150 (£8,100) as WENN went to press.
Actress Mary Mccormack has been spotted in public with her husband Michael Morris for the first time since his kissing scandal broke. The couple's marriage was thrown into question after the Smash director was caught on camera kissing the show's star Katherine McPhee in Los Angeles earlier this month (Oct13).
Reports suggested McCormack had kicked Morris out of the family home they share with their three kids, but now they have been seen out together in L.A.
The pair looked strained as they made their way to their car, keeping their distance from one another and covering their eyes with sunglasses.
They are yet to comment on the headline-grabbing incident. McPhee is believed to have quietly split from her husband of five years, actor/producer Nick Cokas, earlier this year (13).
Michael Morris has dropped out of directing a U.S. TV pilot following his kissing scandal with Katharine Mcphee. The married Smash director was photographed earlier this week (begs21Oct13) locking lips with his former leading lady in Los Angeles, reportedly prompting his wife of 10 years, actress Mary McCormack, to kick him out of their home.
And it appears the drama has bled into Morris' professional life - he has departed a new TV project called Songbyrd, which would have reunited him with Smash executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
Songbyrd is a series loosely based on hitmaker Diane Warren's life.
Actress Mary Mccormack has kicked her husband Michael Morris out of their home after he was caught on camera kissing Katherine Mcphee, according to a U.S. report. Smash director Morris was snapped smooching the show's lead star in Los Angeles, sparking confusion over the state of their respective marriages.
Reports since editors at TMZ.com published the image online suggest McPhee quietly split from her husband of five years, actor/producer Nick Cokas, earlier this year (13), but Morris was assumed to still be living with McCormack, his wife of 10 years and the mother of his three daughters.
Now reporters at New York Post gossip column Page Six suggest the director was thrown out of the family home on Sunday (20Oct13) after the kissing picture came to light.
A source tells the publication, "Mary threw Michael out of the house on Sunday night when he told her that TMZ had the photos and that they were about to be released."
Former Dr. Feelgood rocker Gypie Mayo has died. He was 62. The guitarist's one time bandmate Wilko Johnson told fans on Facebook.com that Mayo passed away on Wednesday morning (23Oct13).
He writes, "Very sad to hear Gypie Mayo passed away this morning. RIP Gypie."
Reports suggest Mayo had been ill for some time, but no further details about the cause of death have been released.
Born John Phillip Cawthra, the musician joined his first band, White Mule, in 1969, before becoming a part of Dr. Feelgood from 1977 to 1981.
He co-wrote the band's biggest hit, Milk and Alcohol, in 1979. After leaving the group he played with reformed rockers The Yardbirds from 1996 to 2004 and worked as a guitar teacher.
Paying tribute to Mayo, Dr. Feelgood drummer Kevin Morris says, "Gypie was a tremendously talented and innovative guitarist who not only played in DF between 1977 and 1981 but also co-wrote some of our best known songs including Milk and Alcohol.
"He had been ill for some time but when I last spoke to him retained his great sense of humour. Truly a sad day for us all."
Johnson is currently fighting his own health battle after declining treatment for terminal pancreatic cancer earlier this year (13).