Russell Crowe's Biblical epic Noah has taken the North American box office by storm, grossing $44 million (£27.5 million) in its opening weekend to sail to number one. The Darren Aronofsky film appeared to benefit from becoming a hot topic over the director's loose adaptation of the religious tale.
Actor Crowe has also been heavily defending the movie from religious conservatives, who have harshly criticised the film without even seeing it, branding them "absolutely stupid" for making assumptions about the project.
The extra attention helped to propel the ark to the top of the box office, toppling Divergent, which fell to second place with $26.5 million (£16.6 million).
The Muppets Most Wanted was a new entry at three with $11.4 million (£7.13 million), while animated children's film Mr. Peabody & Sherman and The Grand Budapest Hotel rounded out the new top five at fourth and fifth place, respectively.
"The Water Diviner wrapped principal photography yesterday. Leaving Turkey. Have a deep affection for this country and the people. Thank you." Russell Crowe fell in love with Turkey while shooting his upcoming film, The Water Diviner, there.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
There is a certain level of enjoyment you are guaranteed when signing on for a movie that boasts a cast of George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Bill Murray. And that's the precise level of enjoyment you'll get from The Monuments Men — that bare minimum smirk factor inherent the idea that your favorite stars are getting to play together. In FDR-era army helmets, no less. But what we also get from the film is an aura of smug self-confidence from project captain Clooney, who seems all too ready to take for granted that we're perfectly satisfied peering into his backyard clubhouse.
So assured is the director/co-writer that we're happy to be in on the game that there doesn't seem to be any effort taken to refine the product for the benefit of a viewing audience. An introductory speech from art historian Frank Stokes (Clooney) sets up the premise straight away: the Nazis are stealing and destroying all of Europe's paintings and sculptures, and by gum we need to stop them! The concept doesn't complicate from there, save for a batting back and forth of the throughline question about whether the preservation of these pieces is "really worth it." Stokes rallies his own Ocean's Seven on a fine arts rescue mission, instigating an old fashioned go-get-'em-boys montage where we learn everything we need to know about the band mates in question: Damon has a wife, Goodman has gumption, Murray doesn't smile, Bob Balaban is uppity, and Jean Dujardin is French.
The closest thing to a character in The Monuments Men comes in the form of Hugh Bonneville, a recovering alcoholic whose motivation to take on the dangerous mission is planted in a festering desire to absolve himself of a lifetime of f**king up. When we're away from Bonneville, the weight disspears, as does most of the joy. Without identifiable characters, even master funnymen like Goodman, Murray, and Balaban don't have much to offer... especially since the movie's jokes feel like first draft placeholders born on a tired night.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
But wait a minute, is this even supposed to be a comedy? After all, it's about World War II. And no matter what Alexandre Desplat's impossibly merry score would have you believe (coupled with The Lego Movie, this opening weekend might be responsible for more musical jubilance than any other since the days of "Make 'Em Laugh!"), warfare, genocide, and desecration of international culture all make for some pretty heavy material. But The Monuments Men's drama is just as fatigued as its humor, clumsily piecing together a collection of mini missions wherein the stakes, somehow, never seem to jump. We're dragged through military bases, battered towns, and salt mines by Clooney and the gang — occasionally jumping over to France to watch Damon work his least effective magic in years on an uptight Cate Blanchett, who holds the key to the scruffy American's mission but doesn't quite trust him... until, for no apparent reason, she suddenly does. We never feel like any of these people matter, not even to each other, so we never really feel like their adventures do.
The Monuments Men doesn't have much of a challenge ahead of it. Its heroes are movie stars, its bad guys are Nazis, and its message is one that nobody's going to refute: art is important — a maxim it pounds home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, through countless scenes of men staring in awe at the works of Michelangelo and Rembrandt. And in this easy endeavor, Clooney decides to coast. How could it possibly go wrong? Just grab hold of the fellas, toss 'em in the trenches, and let the laughs and danger write themselves. "This is what they came to see," Monuments Men insists. "Just us guys havin' a ball." But we never feel in on the game, and it isn't one that looks like that much fun anyhow.
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Anne Hathaway could have been a double winner at the Oscars last year (13) if she hadn't dropped out of Silver Linings Playbook due to creative differences with director David O. Russell. The film's producer, Harvey Weinstein, has revealed Hathaway was the first choice to play mentally-unstable Tiffany Maxwell in the movie, but she fell out with Russell and was replaced by Jennifer Lawrence.
Both women won Oscars - Lawrence took home a Best Actress award and Hathaway a Best Supporting Actress honour for Les Miserables.
Weinstein tells radio host Howard Stern, "Silver Linings Playbook was originally going to be with Anne Hathaway and Mark Wahlberg... and then Anne wasn't doing it. And she's marvellous, and wonderful and she was my choice, I love her.
"We had Annie and then we had Mark... (and) then whatever happened, happened... David and Anne had some creative differences. They didn't see eye-to-eye.
"Then Jennifer Lawrence and two or three other actress came in, and the minute we saw Jennifer Lawrence's tape...
"I said, 'How the hell are we gonna replace Annie?' And then this amazing creature walked in."
Wahlberg's role went to Bradley Cooper, who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance.
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to New Who – Tennant vs. Smith, Russell T. Davies vs. Steven Moffat, the hating Martha contingencies, the Clara-has-no-personality clubs – but I think I can safely say that all parties awaited the recent Christmas special with similar fervor.
But did it deliver? Alas, it seems that most Doctor Who fans agree that it did not. It should have – it had all of the trappings of a great episode: a regeneration, a Doctor-as-fake-boyfriend (my favorite sitcom trope), a surprise-naked scene, flirtations with a fabulous priestess, a town called Christmas, and wooden cybermen – heck, silence even fell "when the question was asked." It should have, by all accounts, been awesome, but it decidedly wasn't. What went wrong?
The list above, though full of strengths, was actually one of the problems – there was simply too much going on to cram into one episode. With so much plot, we were presented with an equal number of confusing plot holes. True, there were an awful lot of answers in this episode – pretty much every question set up in the Eleven arc, except the eponymous "Doc-tor WHO? Doc-tor WHO?" (groan). Sure, it was great to find out that the terrifying Silence were engineered to be the perfect confessors, but the idea that the Time Lords created the cracks in the universe that we've been chasing since series 5? Disappointing, just like the mysteries of "The Impossible Girl," "The Girl Who Waited" and River Song (does she have an obnoxious moniker?).
Also, two flirtations in one episode was too much, even for New Who's Lothario-esque Doctor. It was hard to sustain the Clara/Doctor love storyline with Tasha Lem around, no matter how fabulous she happened to be (also, personality-wise, she was a dead ringer for River Song – a clue to a new mystery, or Stephen Moffat's inability to write women rearing its ugly head again? Only time will tell). The whole "she's just your type" joke didn't play well against the "I secretly fancy [him]" joke, not to mention all of the meaningful face-caressing going on (I'm still mad we didn't get the kiss we deserved).
There were a lot of truly great moments in this special – the way that the Doctor decides to spend his last regeneration defending Christmas, his farewell to Amy, the final removal of the bowtie (sob), and our first glimpse of Twelve – all pitch-perfect. But like a stomachache-inducing binge of Christmas cookies, this episode just had too much of a good thing to truly give Matt Smith the send-off he deserved.
* The Naked Doctor was another example of "too much of a good thing" – it just didn't fit in with the episode. Besides, there may be no beating Naked!Ten in "Journey's End."
* The fake-boyfriend storyline also failed to live up to its promising sitcom-esque potential. It could have been glorious!
The year 2013 has been good to several actors. A number of Hollywood's best and brightest have had big roles in at least two films, some of these turns much more impressive than others. For each actor, we pit these roles against one another, and after much discussion, and break-room fisticuffs, we decided a winner. So which roles came out on top?
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) vs. Rosalyn Rosenfeld (American Hustle)
Katniss is a fierce competitor and is tasked to be the symbol of a burgening revolution, but Rosalyn is a gale force wind of pure charisma, and she could have the entire world wrapped around her little finger if she wanted. We get the feeling she could topple dictatorships and fell regimes without needing a bow and arrow. Plus, using weapons would totally mess up her clear coat and she can't have that. She just can't.
Winner: Rosalyn Rosenfeld
Barbara Sugarman (Don Jon) vs. Samantha (Her)
Barbara is a no-nonsense Jersey girl with strong opinions about how her man should conduct herself, but Johansson really flexes her acting muscles when she's limited to a voice-only role as Samantha in Her. In Spike Jonze's latest, she perfectly captures what it's like to be a person trapped in circuitry, yet yearning for real, tangible love.
Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street) vs. Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby)
Both Belfort and Gatsby only saw the color green, but while Jay built his wealth in the pursuit for Daisy from accross the bay, Belfort wallowed in the depravity of extreme greed for the relentless hunt for the almighty dollar, preaching his sermon of wealth to his baptized followers. Gatsby was lavish for sure, but Belfort made being despicable look like a hell of a lot of fun before it all came crashing down around his ears.
Winner: Jordan Belfort
Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (The Heat) vs. Dr. Ryan Stone (Gravity)
Agent Ashburn was the kind of straight-laced stick in the mud that everyone loves the hate until Det. Shannon Mullins teaches her to stop being such a "Naach" and loosen up a little, but Ryan Stone's journey from depressed scientist to fierce survivor was probably the most life-affirming thing at the movies this year.
Winner: Dr. Ryan Stone
Russell Baze (Out of the Furnace) vs. Irving Rosenfeld (American Hustle)
Russell Baze is a blue collar working stiff who goes up against a terrifyingly evil version of Woody Harrelson, but there's something electric in Bale's performance as Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle. Irving might have gotten the short shrift in terms of '70s hairdos in the movie, but he works that wispy comb-over of his like nobody's business.
Winner: Irving Rosenfeld
Ron Woodroof (Dallas Buyers Club) vs. Mark Hanna (The Wolf of Wall Street) vs. Mud (Mud)Matthew McConaughey is fun as Mark Hanna, an experienced stock broker who teaches Leo's Jordan Belfort the basic philosiphies of scheming suckers and taking barells of illicit substances in The Wolf of Wall Street. He's also hits the mark as island hobo (don't call him a bum) in the adventure story Mud. But the actor really shines as the emaciated cowboy who starts an HIV drug trafficking ring in Dallas Buyers Club.
Winner: Ron Woodroof
FBI agent Richard DiMaso (American Hustle) vs. Phil Wenneck (The Hangover Part III) vs. Avery Cross (The Place Beyond the Pines)
We've seen Cooper play the straght man opposite The Hangover's gaggle of weirdos in two movies already, so he's wasn't really breaking new ground as Phil Wenneck in the last film. In Place Beyond the Pines, Cooper is outshined by the far more charismatic Handsome Luke character, played by Ryan Gosling. But the actor is truly exciting as the manic and ambitious FBI agent Richard DiMaso, who seeks to create the bust of the century by recruiting some cornered con men.
Winner: Richard DiMaso
Kirsten Dunst must have winced slightly yesterday when Lindsay Lohan posted this Throwback Thursday picture of them modeling for some sub-Laura Ashley kids' catalog in the early '90s. Not just because of the flower prints and denim, but because for two former child actors who went to rehab, Dunst and Lohan could not have more different adulthoods. They be one of the strangest, but they're not the first pair of celebrities to work together as kids but grow apart as adults.
Selena Gomez/Demi LovatoLong before the Disney Channel, these two met on a casting call for Barney. Instant childhood friends, they grew up together, both starring in their own sitcoms. Nowadays, Gomez is friends with stars like Taylor Swift and has a long on again/off again relationship with Justin Bieber while Lovato is outspoken about the mental health issues she incurred in the Disney enviornment. While they're not the best friends they used to be, Gomez did express sympathy and pride for Lovato.
Leonardo DiCaprio/Sara GilbertThough Leo is famous for his league of pals, one former friend he's fallen out of touch with is Sara Gilbert, host of The Talk. DiCaprio actually guest-starred in an episode of Roseanne as one of Gilbert's classmates in 1991, just two years before his breakout role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. The pair were friendly, but once Leo hit it big, it was just him and the boys.
Tom Welling/Ashton KutcherThe two, like Dunst and Lohan, modeled together, showing off their collective abs for Abercrombie and Fitch. But only one short year later, Kutcher was cast in That 70's Show and the two fell out of touch.
Maya Rudolph/Gwyneth PaltrowPaltrow's and Rudolph's families were old friends and they lived nearby one another, even attending the same school. In 2000, they reunited to work together in a family film, Duets. But since Rudolph's comedy career has taken off and Paltrow has rebranded herself as a lifestyle guru, the two have found their own circles of friends.
Everyone From the All-New Mickey Mouse ClubWe all love at least one member of this cast. But whether they dated, fueded, or simply got the hell out of there and became an Oscar nominee, the Mouseketeers are no longer speaking. It's a shame. How can you not like Keri Russell?
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Besides cute kids, another thing that can make a show great is a dog. They jump around, they frolic. They cover their faces with their paws when somone on the show does something dumb. Here's five TV dogs that don't belong in the doghouse.
1. Eddie (Frasier)
Frasier Crane's dad's dog probably was a boon to Jack Russell Terrier breeders. He was the perfect foil for the three Crane men: Frasier's pompousness, Niles' prissiness and Martin's crankiness. He could be cheeky, but also sweet.
2. Buck (Married With Children)
Even the DOG gave Al Bundy crap. Well, who wouldn't, having an owner who was a shoe salesman that was married to an obnoxious redhead and had two of the most conniving, but ultimately stupid, teenagers on the planet. Buck's voiceovers were always awesome.
3. Lassie (Lassie)
Lassie was ultimately about the bond between a boy and his dog. Poor Lassie was always rescuing Timmy from all kinds of trouble, like him falling down a well or something equally dangerous. It was set in a simpler time though. In a modern show, they'd be saying, "What's that, Lassie? Timmy fell for another Nigerian scam e-mail and is in danger of being kidnapped?"
4. Rin Tin Tin (The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin)
Representing really old school here: this show aired in the fifties, when there were like only three channels and even satellites were a novelty. This dog gave German Shepherds their good name. Of course, this being set in the time that it was, it was almost unbearably squeaky clean and wholesome. If filmed today, he'd be getting in trouble when off-duty, getting in fights, just being generally gritty.
5. Brian Griffin (Family Guy)
This dog isn't included just because he shares the same last name as the author. He really makes a good foil for Stewie Griffin. The fact that no one on the show is even fazed by a walking, talking dog just heightens the absurdity. I hope they never do something dumb and make a live-action Family Guy movie and try to use a real dog for Brian.
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U.S. reality TV star Taylor Armstrong is engaged to her boyfriend John Bluher, two years after her husband committed suicide. Businessman Bluher proposed to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star in Mexico on Thursday (22Aug13).
He tells Us Weekly, "(Mexico) is where we fell in love, it was the perfect choice for this wonderful occasion. Taylor was beautiful and never stopped smiling! it was an amazing evening, a ten all round!"
The happy news comes two years after the star's estranged husband Russell Armstrong killed himself at a friend's Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles home a month after Taylor started divorce proceedings.
She has a daughter Kennedy from her marriage to Armstrong.
Pop star Katy Perry underwent "a lot of therapy" following her split from Russell Brand. The couple's marriage fell apart just 14 months after they tied the knot in India and they were officially divorced last year (12).
Perry has since moved on with fellow musician John Mayer, but admits she spent a long time dealing with personal issues in the aftermath of her marriage breakdown.
The singer reveals she underwent therapy sessions to help her deal with her emotions and even poured her angst into new song Roar.
She tells Britain's Radio 1, "This new song is called Roar. It's a bit of a self-empowering type of song. I wrote it because I was sick of keeping all these feelings inside and not speaking up for myself, which caused a lot of resentment.
"Obviously I've been through a lot of therapy since my last record and that's what this is about."