Paramount via Everett Collection
A quarter of the way into Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit's far-too-long runtime, the titular hero takes note of a war-time portait in his adversary Viktor Cherevin's office. "Napoleon," Ryan says, proudly identifying the subject of the painting. "Ah," the nefarious Cherevin smiles. "I see you know your history." You'd think we'd get a bit more academic sophistication in a film directed by Kenneth Branagh... hell, in a line delivered by Kenneth Branagh. But this is par for the course in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit's script. And even more problematic, it's the thing that sticks with me most only a few days after seeing the movie. Well, that and the fact that Chris Pine and Keira Knightley make for the most compatibly attractive onscreen couple I have ever seen. Aside from these standout elements, the film dissolves into a 105-minute (jeez, it feels twice that) blur of running, driving, choking, shooting, and the like.
But it's not a painful jaunt all the while, and this is thanks almost entirely to Pine. An actor who we remember popping up in early Lindsay Lohan movies and thinking little of, Pine has earned his place at the center of franchises like Star Trek and, this weekend's box office intake permitting, Jack Ryan. He maintains character and personality in the movie's heightened scenes of "the first kill" and pulling the long con on Cherevin. With a better, smarter script, Pine could thrive in an action hero role like Ryan, but here he's only left to occasionally cut through a staunch layer of boredom.
Paramount via Everett Collection
The other winning factor of Jack Ryan is in its female lead: Knightley and her character Dr. Cathy Mullins. Another pervasive charmer, Knightley manages to inject a wealth of vitality into the movie at the points most desperate for some flavor — so much so that we're not simply thrilled, but relieved when she shows up unexpectedly to tag along with boyfriend Jack on his mission to... to... well, it's something to do with stopping terrorism. Trust me, you'll forget the specifics as soon as you leave the theater, if not sooner. But the most impressive part is that Shadow Recruit actually gives Knightley something to do as Mullins. She doesn't just wait around and lament the life choices of her danger-prone boyfriend, she gets in on the action. And we're glad for it. Without her, it'd just be Pine. And as much as we like him, he needs somebody else with a personality to play off (sorry, Kevin Costner, but you're not exactly playing your A Game here).
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In short, there's almost nothing to say about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which in itself says a lot — it's dull, it's slow, and it's got two stars who deserve a lot better than the material they're dealt. Aw hell, maybe the sequel (yeah, we've come out of denial... it's gonna happen) will up the ante on the script, and not mistake knowing who Napoleon is for being a history expert.
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The human face is a beautiful thing - when it's not contorted in a bass guitar-related gurn. So what is a bass face? Well, it's kind of like a sex face, sustained while hammering the old four-string.
While Haim's Este tops the current league charts for most grotesque bass face, her predecessors make for some compelling case studies.
Paul McCartney, for instance.
Some people know Macca as a Beatle. BF spotters know him as one of the original chronic gurners. Bass face: he's still got it!
Then there's Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols.
We don't know if it was the speed, the glue or the raw exertion of punk rock, but Sid's iconic bass face became an essential primer for bass face copycats to follow.
Then there's Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Never one for a lacklustre performance, Flea's face moves around almost as much as he does.
And last, but not least, the legendary stylings of Parliament-Funkadelic's Bootsy Collins have influenced a slew of imitators. Just in case his bass doesn't bring all of the funk, his face always packs a little extra.
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Visitors to the new Abba museum in Sweden will be able to talk directly to members of the band via a special exhibit which features a working telephone. The group's career is the focus of a new permanent display at the Swedish Pop Hall Of Fame in Stockholm and fans will be able to see memorabilia and costumes, while there are also recreations of recording studios and dressing rooms used by the band.
However, the most innovative feature of the museum is a room dedicated to hit track Ring Ring, which features a 1970s-style telephone. The handset is connected to a working phone line and the only people who know the number are ABBA stars Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, who will all call in occasionally to talk to visitors.
Curator Ingmarie Halling says of the telephone exhibit, "It was Frida's (Lyngstad) idea... so of course she'll call."
The museum opens its doors to the public on 7 May (13).
Rocker Ulf Ekberg has addressed allegations he was a member of a pro-Nazi band before joining Ace Of Base, insisting he wasn't responsible for white supremacist anthems attributed to the trio. Reports surfaced on Tuesday (23Apr13) suggesting Ekberg's former group Commit Suicide had written a handful of controversial songs during the 1980s after its demo was leaked online, but now The Sign hitmaker has spoken out to set the record straight, explaining most of the tunes, about white supremacy, Nazism and racism, were nothing to do with him.
He tells Eonline.com, "I did have a synth band called Commit Suicide between 1984 and 1986 with two gentlemen called Jens Andersson and Jens Svensson, and two of the songs on this demo where written and performed by us. The problem is that the other four songs (were) skinhead music with very racist lyrics.
"These songs have absolutely nothing to do with Commit Suicide. We did not write or perform those songs that were attributed to us. Commit Suicide was a New Wave music band, creating and performing electronic music on synthesizers without any political touch or agenda. The racist songs on this demo were not by us, but our potential association with such groups is a matter I truly regret."
The musician also shut down rumours he was once a staunch supporter of the far-right political organisation Swedish Democrats, which was founded in 1988 by activists with Nazi leanings - though he does regret the conservative views he harboured as a teenager.
He continues, "I have always been deeply regretful of that period in my life, as I strive to bring happiness to people, and during that period I did not live up to that standard. I have not been involved in violence or political activism in the past 25 years. However, I find some of my thoughts from those days nauseating to myself today.
"I'm truly deeply sorry for any hurt and disappointment this has caused for our fans, and I really hope that we clearly have stated that Ace of Base never shared any of these opinions and strongly oppose all extremist opinions on both the right and left wing. My past is my own, and only I can own up to it."
Abba legends Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus have given a nod to the band's beginnings on the Eurovision Song Contest by writing the official anthem for this year's (13) show. The Mamma Mia! hitmakers shot to international fame after winning the annual contest in 1974 with their hit track Waterloo.
The 2013 event will take place in the band's native Sweden in May (13) after the country's entry Loreen was crowned the 2012 champion, and Andersson and Ulvaeus have marked the occasion by writing a special theme song.
We Write The Story will be performed at the contest on 18 May (13) and will be arranged by Swedish DJ/producer Avicii.
The show's executive producer Martin Osterdahl, says, "We are extremely delighted to announce that Benny, Bjorn and Avicii (have composed) a unique piece of music for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.
"The idea of an (sic) 'Eurovision Anthem' for Malmo 2013 was there from the beginning of the planning of this year’s contest."
The Abba stars add, "It’s a lot of fun and very inspiring."
The 2013 Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Malmo, Sweden on 18 May (13).
It doesn't sound like The Beach Boys' founding member Mike Love, who owns the rights to the band's name, feels like Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and David Marks are made for these times. According to the Huffington Post, Love — who is also the band's frontman — and Bruce Johnston will be saying goodbye to Wilson, Jardine, and Marks after their reunion tour completes this week. The two announced that the dismissed members will be replaced by the band's backup crew (including Love's son Christian).
"The post-50th anniversary configuration will not include Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks," the statement reads. "The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band."
Besides the fact the the band is going their separate ways, the way in which the information was conveyed to the departing members seems off. Wilson, Jardine, and Marks reportedly didn't find out about their dismissals until after the statement was made. "I'm disappointed and can't understand why he (Love) doesn't want to tour with Al, David and me," Wilson told CNN. "We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys."
According to The Telegraph, Love made the decision based on financial motivations. "You've got to be careful not to get overexposed," he said. "There are promoters who are interested [in more shows by the reunited line-up], but they've said, 'Give it a rest for a year.' The Eagles found out the hard way when they went out for a second year and wound up selling tickets for $5."
Whether or not the decision was made based on finances, how can fans be excited to see these men dismissed so easily? The Beach Boys will never be the same without them.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
[Photo Credit: Mats Andersson/WENN]
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December 14, 2011 12:53pm EST
Let’s put the cards on the table: I have not read Steig Larsson’s best-selling “Millennium Trilogy” and therefore cannot comment on whether or not Columbia Pictures’ big-budget (American) adaptation of its first novel is a spot-on transfer of the shocking story or if Rooney Mara has lived up to the punk-goth-genius of an anti-heroine he created. This review is about director David Fincher’s craft and the dream cast he has assembled to make The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo one of the most brutal and engrossing films of 2011.
Right from lustrous sexy title sequence evoking torturous S&M imagery to the ultra-cool Karen O/Trent Reznor rendition of Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” the Oscar-nominated filmmaker plunges his audience into a very specific experience. This is not to say that the story itself is notably inventive; Dragon Tattoo is more or less a standard serial killer thriller wherein a pair of investigators attempts to solve a decades-old murder that has ties to other gruesome mysteries and a wealthy Swedish family. It’s the sinister atmosphere and tone he cultivates using color music and lighting that makes this tale so unique and highly watchable in spite of the terrible events that occur throughout.
Perhaps most compelling though is its mixed bag of characters from different walks of life including Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) a recently disgraced financial journalist in need of an assignment Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgard) a yuppie-ish corporate tycoon charged with running the family business started by his uncle Henrik (Christopher Plummer) and Lisbeth Salander (Mara) the alpha-outsider and titular character of this eerie epic. All are emotionally scarred and the actors charged with portraying them go the darkest corners of their own souls to make them their own. Mara in particular must be praised for her ghoulish and extreme embodiment of Salander who suffers physical and emotional torment unlike anything we’ve seen in cinema this year. This more than her scene-stealing presence in Fincher’s The Social Network is no doubt her star-making turn; expect to see her name on a marquee soon. Though she and Craig at times struggle with the Swedish diction (the latter’s native British accent slips through more times than I can count) they more than make up for it with their physical personifications facial expressions etc. Yet it’s Skarsgard who is most impressive as the younger Vanger (he’s of Swedish descent) and delivers a stunning and chilling performance that will rival Mara’s in defining this film in years to come.
Still this is a Fincher film through and through and I cannot think of source material better suited for the maker of Se7en and Zodiac than this disturbing chronicle. Visually he’s given the opportunity to create damp decaying interiors familiar to fans of his work but contrasts them with beautifully filmed exteriors including some terrifying whiteout conditions that are sure to lower your body temperature. In terms of form he and editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall effectively lay out dual character arcs (that of Salander and Blomkvist) that run parallel but connect in uncanny ways until their eventual convergence resulting in a highly literary feel. Both Baxter and Wall won Oscars for cutting The Social Network and I’m afraid that their penchant for quick transitions between shots has a decreasing effect on the terror; for a film that so closely treads the line between horror-thriller I felt that letting certain shots play out a bit longer could’ve had more dreadful results.
Still in no way I am saying that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn’t come with its share of nail-biting suspense. Fincher takes tense situations to the next level using unconventional camera angles and Reznor’s unnerving score making many sequences in the movie hard to watch. It’s a tiring but entertaining task; one that is a pleasure and pain to endure but the auteur’s masterful methods are quite magical even when being used to tell a story as menacing as this one.
There’s nothing else playing at the multiplex this season that’s quite like it and should you choose to view it you’ll carry its shocks with you for days after.
In the 2006 animated blockbuster Happy Feet an alienated emperor penguin named Mumbles found empowerment through tap-dancing and in so doing managed to both attract a mate and stop the overfishing that imperiled his Antarctic habitat. Directed by George Mitchell – the same George Mitchell who gave us the post-apocalyptic Mad Max trilogy and the almost despairingly bleak Babe: Pig in the City – Happy Feet paired its broadly conventional narrative with a darker sensibility not often seen in talking-animal fare.
The film’s sequel Happy Feet Two finds Mitchell (co-directing with Gary Eck) both more jovial and more easily distracted. The story begins straightforwardly enough with Mumbles (Elijah Wood) now grown-up and by all appearances well-adjusted ceding the mantle of self-discovery to his son Erik (Ava Acres). Boogie fever has swept the once dance-averse penguin nation but in a cruelly ironic twist Erik has inherited none of his father’s nifty moves. But just as Happy Feet Two appears intent on recycling its predecessor’s basic storyline the film abruptly changes course and embarks on a series of detours that seemed geared more as fodder for throwaway gags and showy set pieces than anything else. The disparate narrative elements while enjoyable in isolation never quite coalesce into a meaningful whole leaving us entertained but unfulfilled.
As before Happy Feet Two features a variety of buoyant song-and-dance numbers with Alecia Moore (aka P!nk) lending her formidable pipes to spirited re-workings of “Rhythm Nation” and “Under Pressure ” among others. Robin Williams returns for double duty as both Ramon a diminutive oversexed Latin lover and Lovelace a fiery Southern-preacher type. (Lovelace later adopts a Rastafarian dialect allowing Williams to achieve the rare culture-caricature trifecta.) His voracious scenery-devouring is all the more impressive given the grandeur of the scenery. Not to be left out of the quasi-Vaudevillian comic shenanigans Hank Azaria lays on a thick Scandinavian shtick as Sven a charismatic Arctic émigré who presents himself as the only penguin in the world who can fly. Azaria is a hoot but the film’s best moments come courtesy of the cast’s highest-profile additions Matt Damon and Brad Pitt voicing Bill and Will (respectively) two tiny krill in search of meaning at the bottom of the food chain.
The movie, which tells the story of a 17-year-old girl living in America's Ozark Mountain range, was named Best Film at the glitzy ceremony in the Swedish capital on Saturday night (27Nov10).
The film's lead, Jennifer Lawrence, picked up the Best Actress prize, while the picture also landed the Fipresci critics' award.
Director Gus Van Sant was honoured at the gala, picking up the Stockholm Visionary Award, while Swedish actress Harriet Andersson, who starred in a number of Ingmar Bergman films, received a lifetime achievement prize.
The festival jury was headed by actress Holly Hunter.
Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried are game for a Mamma Mia! movie sequel -- as long as it includes Abba duo Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.
Seyfried, who played Streep's daughter in the movie musical, has revealed there are talks about a sequel -- and she'd jump at the chance to revive her character.
She says, "I've been talking to some insiders and it's not something that they haven't been working on. I don't actually know anything other than that.
"I know it's still going to be Abba music, because what else would it be? Come on, I wouldn't do Mamma Mia 2 without Benny and Bjorn.
"I think we all had the best time and we all got along so well. It was like some days it felt like we were just people on vacation. I will do it. And I know Meryl's game as well, so bring it on. It will be so cool."
Seyfried has very fond memories of making Mamma Mia! because she met boyfriend Dominic Cooper on the set. The Brit played her love interest in the film.
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