After picking up the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the Oscar winner will be feted for the work she does to eradicate AIDS through her Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project.
The actress will be awarded the Honorary Chair of this year's Cinema for Peace Gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where she'll be awarded the Cinema for Peace Honorary Award.
Gala founder Jaka Bizilj says, "As a South African, Charlize Theron cares deeply about the human suffering of those infected, their families and friends due to HIV and AIDS. Every day thousands of people die of this disease. Charlize Theron's Africa Outreach Project contributes tremendously in the concerned areas, helping to educate children and minors about HIV and AIDS as well as to support affected persons."
Also up for major honours at the event are films by Oscar-nominated directors Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), who are all nominated in the Most Valuable Movie of the Year category at the gala, alongside Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Nicholas Jarecki, Juan Antonio Bayona, Jacques Audiard and Kim Nguyen.
Ben Affleck's third directorial project affords the budding filmmaker a huge leap in scope. With the TIFF debut Argo, Affleck jumps from the slummy streets of South Boston to the Canadian Embassy in Iran, from missing persons cases and bank robberies to international hostage crises. And as the film's hero, Affleck shifts from The Town's dead-end small time crook to Central Intelligence Agent Tony Mendez, the driving force toward the rescue of six Americans trapped in hostile territory.
But beyond all this, Argo steps out of the bounds of The Town and Affleck's debut feature Gone Baby Gone with the dynamism of its plot: this isn't just any hostage crisis movie. Not even just any true story hostage crisis movie. This one has some fun to it. In order to free the Americans, the CIA concocts a plan to convince Iran that the hostages in question are not working for the American government, but are in fact filmmakers who have traveled to the Middle East to shoot a movie. A sci-fi!
There's a great deal of gravity to the story, as per expectation, but there's also got to be a kick of humor to it. The trailer, at least, would suggest as such, allowing Affleck and his grab bag of fantastic costars (Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman) to riff on the moviemaking industry. This element of the film suggests that we're in for an industry comedy; something fun, if not too dark. But how much of Argo will this identity occupy?
The new poster will keep those hoping for the fun, frenzied side of Argo at arm's length. Are the advertised jokes and jabs in such a minority of the film that a better depiction would be Affleck's pain-ridden eyes and gaping mouth (as we see below)? Is the mood of the film largely tragic and weighty, rather than offbeat and energized?
Maybe it is. And maybe this will work out just fine — while Affleck's past projects are hardly perfect, he seems to know his way around an emotional story. And in stepping away from his comfort zone, he does look to be interested in expansion and growth with Argo. So no matter what we're in for, it promises something interesting. Whether it fully embraces the "fun" of the trailer, or sticks more to the wistful, "Dear God..."-sighing Affleck we see below.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Argo': The Next Best Picture Winner?
'Argo': Watch Ben Affleck's Fake Movie — TRAILER
Which Drama Movie Should You See This Fall?
After decades of moviemaking years spent honing his craft and sifting through the industry's best collaborators to form a cinematic dream team Steven Spielberg is one of the few directors whose films routinely hit a bar of high quality. Even his more haphazard efforts are competently constructed and executed with unbridled passion reeling in audiences with drama adventure and big screen fun. There really isn't a "bad" Spielberg movie. His latest War Horse isn't in the top tier of the grandmaster's filmography but as a work of pure sentimentality and spectacle the film delivers rousing entertainment. Makes sense: a horse's heart is about eight times the size of a human's and War Horse's is approximately that much bigger than every other movie in 2011.
The titular equine is Joey a horse born in the English countryside in 1914 who triumphantly navigates the ravished European landscape during the first World War. A good hour of the 146 minute film is spent establishing the savvy creature's friendship with his first owner Albert (Jeremy Irvine). A farmer boy with a penchant for animal training Albert copes with his alcoholic father Ted (Peter Mullan) and their homestead's dwindling funds but finds much needed hope in the sprite Joey. After blessing Albert and company with a few miracles Ted makes the wise decision of selling Joey off to the war and the real adventure begins.
Like Forrest Gump of the animal kingdom the lucky stallion finds himself intertwined with an eclectic handful of persons. He encoutners the owner of a British Captain preparing a surprise attack. He becomes the ride for two German army runaways the prized possession of young French girl and her grandfather and the unifier of two warring soldiers in the battlefield's No Man's Land. From the beginning to the end of the war Joey miraculously sees it all all in hopes of one day crossing Albert's path again.
Spielberg avoids any over-the-top Mr. Ed techniques in War Horse but amazingly the horses employed to play Joey deliver a riveting muted "performance" that's alive on screen. The animal is the lead of the movie his human co-stars (including Thor's Tom Hiddleston The Reader's David Kross and Toby Kebbell of Prince of Persia) sprinkled around Joey to complicate his (and our) experience of war.
But even with a stellar cast working at full capacity War Horse falters thanks to its episodic nature. It is a movie of moments—awe-inspiring breathtaking and heartfelt—stuffed with long stretches of underdeveloped characters guiding us through meandering action. Spielberg's longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski makes the varying environments visually enthralling—from the dark blue hues of war to rolling green hills backdropped with stunning sunsets—and John Williams' score matches the film's epic scope but without Albert in the picture's second half War Horse simply gallops around in circles.
Spielberg is a master craftsman and War Horse a masterful craft but the movie lacks a necessary intimacy to hook us into the story's bigger picture. The ensemble's devotion and affection for Joey sporadically resonates—how could it not? Look at that adorable horse!—but even those emotional beats border on goofy (at one point Hiddleston's character decides to sketch Joey a moment I found eerily reminiscent of Jack sketching Rose in Titanic). War Horse really hits its stride when Spielberg pulls back the camera and lets his keen eye for picturesque composition do the talking. Or from Joey's perspective neighing.
Take Me Home Tonight directed by Michael Dowse is a comedy about the ‘80s but its futility is timeless: In just about any decade it would be considered generic and unfunny. Set in 1988 it stars the likable and witty Topher Grace as Matt a recent MIT grad with a crippling case of post-college career-indecision. Working as a lowly clerk at a video store he has a chance encounter with his high-school crush Tori (Teresa Palmer) who to his (and our) surprise actually displays faint interest in him. But Matt fails to pull the trigger and so he resolves to make up for his lack of cojones when he sees her later that evening at a party hosted by the preppy douchebag boyfriend (Chris Pratt) of his twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris).
This sets the stage for an eventual romantic union between Matt and Tori; until then there is insecurity to overcome and wacky adventures to be had. Many of the latter stem from the increasingly unhinged behavior of Matt’s best friend Barry (Dan Fogler). The film turns on a bag of cocaine Barry finds in the glove compartment of a Mercedes stolen from the dealership that fired him earlier in the day. Cocaine is renowned for its ability to induce euphoria in even the most mundane of settings but it has arguably the opposite effect on Take Me Home Tonight. I consider Fogler to be a legitimately funny guy but he has the irritating tendency to compensate for underwritten material by wildly overacting. Throw in a bag of blow and that tendency is amplified ten-fold.
A happy standout in the film is Palmer who brings a liveliness and dignity to the stereotypical rom-com role of the Otherworldly Hottie Who Inexplicably Falls for the Stammering Schlub. (It also helps that she's the only member of the main cast who is young enough to realistically portray a recent college graduate.) She is one of the more talented young Australian exports to arrive on our shores in quite some time and has the potential to become a saucier version of fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman. That is if she finds material better than Take Me Home Tonight.
Poor Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow). Some years back her parents and brother were slaughtered by Richard Fenton (Jonathan Schaech) a teacher who had developed a psychotic fixation on her. Richard went to an insane asylum but he broke out and now he’s back in town just in time for Prom Night where he resumes his pursuit of Donna and knocks off some of her friends for good measure. Bringing up the rear is dogged Detective Winn (Idris Elba) desperately trying to nail Fenton as the body count mounts. Sooner or later--and it’s much later unfortunately--Donna will come face to face with Fenton one last time. With characters as one-dimensional and dumb as these there’s not much the cast can do except stand around in their prom outfits waiting to get killed off. As the deranged killer Schaech stares glares and skulks around. Leading lady Snow widens her eyes and worries accordingly throughout while Elba tries to inject a little intensity into the stock role of the cop on the case. Working from a bad screenplay by J.S. Cardone first-time helmer Nelson McCormick displays little enthusiasm--either for the genre or for this particular film. The scare tactics are hackneyed and usually involve characters surprising each other--a gag that gets really old really quickly. When one character mutters “This is getting silly. Enough already ” we couldn’t agree more. And we’d add “boring” to that statement. It should be noted however that there’s an awfully high body count for a film rated PG-13 even if the film isn’t as bloody as one might expect. McCormick and Cardone have re-teamed on the upcoming remake of The Stepfather and if their collaboration here is any indication horror fans may have reason to be afraid--very afraid.
Top Story: Actor Patric Arrested on Intoxication Charge
Jason Patric, star of the upcoming The Alamo and films such as The Lost Boys and Speed 2: Cruise Control, was arrested in Austin, Texas, on misdemeanor public intoxication charges, The Associated Press reports. According to police, Patric, 37, was with a group of people standing in a downtown street about 3 a.m. when they were asked by officers to move. The actor moved slowly toward the sidewalk, but then took an aggressive stance, police told AP, and when they tried to arrest him, he resisted and shoved an officer. The arrest warrant says Patric insisted he was not drunk and that officers should test him, but no test was administered. Patric's publicist, Michelle Bega, said in a statement that the actor "believes he has done nothing wrong. He hopes for a rapid resolution to clear his name," AP reports.
Jackson Says Breast Incident Was Unplanned
In her first television interview since her sensational Super Bowl stint, Janet Jackson appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday and insisted the breast exposure "was an accident." The singer, wearing a revealing red dress, was on the show to promote her new album Damita Jo, due in stores Tuesday. Censors bleeped the singer when she exclaimed "Jesus!" in response to Letterman's bringing up the topic. She went on to say, "It truly was an accident. It was very embarrassing for me to have so many people see this little breast," Jackson said. "It was supposed to kind of happen like that, but I wasn't supposed to come out of it the way I did." When asked if she and stint cohort Justin Timberlake were still friends, she responded, "at some point, he and I need to talk."
Veteran Broadcaster Cooke Dies
Broadcasting icon Alistair Cooke, best known for his long-running BBC radio series Letter from America and for hosting the PBS series Masterpiece Theater, died in New York Tuesday from apparent natural causes. He was 95.
Studios, Independents Settle Screener Ban
Officially putting an end to a legal battle that sparked much controversy in the entertainment industry late last year, Hollywood's major studios, led by the Motion Picture Association of America, and a coalition of independent filmmakers have settled a lawsuit over the use of videotape ("screener") copies to promote films vying for awards, Reuters reports. The battle erupted last September when MPAA members issued a ban on all screeners, citing piracy issues. Indie filmmakers, who consider screeners a helpful tool to get lesser-known films noticed by Academy voters, then filed suit, claiming the ban would bias voters toward big-budget films. Last December a federal judge in New York sided with the indies and effectively stopped the ban. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, according to a statement issued by the groups suing the studios. In a statement made Monday, the Motion Picture Association of America chief executive Jack Valenti said he was "pleased that we have put this matter behind us."
E.R. Actor Wounded by Father
Actor Keith Diamond, whose real name is Vincent Ford Jr. and who has made guest appearances on shows such as E.R. and The Drew Carey Show, was shot by his father Sunday while eating at his family kitchen table in Queens, New York, AP reports. He was visiting his parents from California when his father, Vincent Ford Sr., 81, allegedly walked in and shot him three times with a .32-caliber revolver, police told AP. The actor was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition with face, chest and arm injuries. The elder Ford, a retired postal worker, was arraigned on charges of attempted murder, assault and weapons possession and did not enter a plea, AP reports.
Leno Cops $100 Mil
Late-night talk show host Jay Leno has signed a $100 million deal with NBC that will keep him on The Tonight Show through 2009, Reuters reports. Leno has been the undisputed ratings champ in late-night talk since the mid-1990s after taking the reins from Johnny Carson in 1992. The Tonight Show generates about $100 million in annual profits for NBC, according to a report in the February edition of Fortune magazine.
Reality TV Tackles Serious Subject
Reality TV guru Mark Burnett, producer of hits such as Survivor and The Apprentice, has set his sights on the very serious subject of abducted children. According to Variety, CBS has ordered episodes of Recovery, which will track a special team of experts in covert missions as they set out to find and rescue kidnapped youngsters. "The show is like Without a Trace, but it's with a kid who really has been taken," Burnett told Variety, referring to the CBS drama series about the FBI's missing persons unit. "There's nothing bigger than this. It's more than just television."
Role Call: Black Stomps Into King Kong, Aniston Makes a Gambit
Jack Black has been cast opposite Naomi Watts in director Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Black will play Carl Denham, an adventurer filmmaker who is trying to make a name for himself in 1930s New York. Robert Armstrong played the role in the 1933 original … Jennifer Aniston has signed on to star in Gambit, a remake of the 1966 British caper starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. The trade paper reports the film revolves around a British thief who comes up with a foolproof plan to steal an expensive statue from one of the richest men in the world. His strategy involves the participation of a beautiful woman (Aniston) who happens to be the spitting image of the rich man's late wife. Igby Goes Down's Burr Steers is set to write and direct.