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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One of Truman Capote's closest confidantes has revealed the writer captured footage of a secret meeting between Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe at his home in New York just weeks before the actress' death in 1962. Celebrity seer John Cohan tells WENN Capote showed him the footage of the tense showdown between President John F. Kennedy's wife and his alleged mistress, which he filmed without the two women's knowledge, multiple times before he sold the home video to TV mogul Merv Griffin in the eraly 1980s.
Griffin, in turn, had planned to release the film on the 50th anniversary of Monroe's death last year (12), but died in 2007 before he could create the television special he had planned.
Now Cohan has no idea what has become of the footage, but he's convinced it will be broadcast in the near future.
He says, "I was reminded of this film while I was recalling my friendship with Truman for a new book, titled The Pink Triangle.
"Truman had been a friend to Jackie Kennedy but they had a falling out and when she asked him to arrange a meeting with Marilyn at his home, he bugged the room and filmed them. He did this because he could be devious and cunning."
And Cohan was stunned when the author first showed him the footage.
He recalls, "I remember Marilyn arrived looking like the movie star she was, dressed in a stunning white dress and Jackie showed up in this very tailored black suit, which made her look very matronly... When MM (Marilyn) first started the greetings, she said, 'Hello Madam Jacqueline'.
"The two women were together a little over 30 minutes and Jackie basically told Marilyn she knew what was going on between her husband and Marilyn, and wanted it to stop. Jackie said she forgave MM for the affair with her husband because she knew too well Jack could charm a dead body and get a response.
"Marilyn became hysterical because she didn't want to end the affair. Money was exchanged. Jackie had with her a good size pink round hat box. In it was a lot of money. She said to MM, 'Take this and use it to make your new home more beautiful and the rest invest in stocks and other good ventures for your future'. By the end of the film, Marilyn was a mess. Her hair was all messed up and her mascara was running."
Cohan admits Capote was very guarded about the film and, as far as he knows, he's the only person who has seen it other than the author and Merv Griffin.
He adds, "In the beginning, Truman kept it because he wanted to get back at Jackie and just by having this film he felt he had achieved that, but over the years he got so bored with it and told me, 'I'm going to sell it' - and he did.
"Merv Griffin treasured the footage and intended to keep it under lock and key until the 50th anniversary of Marilyn's death. Like Truman, he was very guarded about this and I don't think he showed it to anyone or talked about it.
"Unfortunately Merv, another great friend of mine, died before his time and the footage is now lost, but I'm sure Merv took care of all his affairs before his death and had plans for this film. I'm sure it will see the light of day at some point."
Actor Jackson Rathbone is trying to persuade his Twilight co-star Nikki Reed to get pregnant, so his baby son Monroe has a playmate. Rathbone's new wife Sheila Hafsadi gave birth to the couple's first child last year (12) and now the movie vampire is urging the boy's godmother to start making family plans with her musician husband Paul McDonald.
He says, "Nikki will be an amazing mom, so we're trying to infect her with baby fever so we can have an amazing kid for Monroe to play with. We want him to have a little buddy."
And is seems little Monroe will have a sibling or two in the very near future - his proud dad is keen to add to the family.
He tells People.com, "We kind of hope that we’ll have twins, a little boy and girl."
In addition to releasing their own explicit videos and having parents who are already famous, celebrities have become notorious for their effortless, immaculate good looks. But in recent decades, the public has discovered that they aren’t necessarily an elite group of naturally beautiful people, more like surgically altered attention whores. Typically, when we hear about plastic surgery, we picture the extreme cases like Pamela Anderson opting to carry the equivalent of a small child on her chest; or Joan Rivers, whose face is now pulled back so far that she has officially changed ethnicities. So you can imagine our surprise when our friend, Lisa Kudrow, recently admitted to the Saturday Evening Post that she got a nose job at the age of 16.
“I went from, in my mind, hideous to not hideous,” Kudrow told Lawrence Grobel. She described the surgery as “life-altering,” and explained further: “I did it the summer before going to a new high school. So there were plenty of people who wouldn't know how hideous I looked before. That was a good, good, good change.”
Undergoing a nose job before reaching the legal age to vote seems to be the antithesis of the character who Kudrow is most well known for playing, the formerly homeless hippie Phoebe Buffay. But it’s clear that she isn’t the only celebrity who's used rhinoplasty as a catalyst to a career. Throughout the years, alleged before-and-after photos have surfaced of other celebrities that raise some serious questions about the validity of Hollywood's nasal passages. Ryan Gosling, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston and Tyra Banks are a few celebrities who are often praised for their beauty. And yet after seeing these photos, it’s hard not to picture all of them crying to their parents about their insecurities as snot dripped from their bulbous, average people noses.
There’s one photo, however, that really causes us to wonder how long this has all been going on:
Getty Images / WENN
Before becoming Marilyn Monroe, it’s rumored that Norma Jeane Mortenson underwent rhinoplasty, a chin implant, had her teeth straightened and her hairline raised. Plastic surgery was relatively new in the late 1940s, so her transformation went surprisingly under the radar at the time.
Whether it’s Lisa Kudrow getting a nose job at 16, Heidi Montag having ten surgeries in one day, or Marilyn Monroe pioneering what we’ve come to know as general cosmetic procedures, we know that it’s pretty common for drastic measures to be taken for beauty under the scrutiny of the public eye. Perhaps as a society, one day we can change our expectations of what celebrities look like, judge them at their craft and allow them the freedom be as ugly as everybody else. But, we probably shouldn’t.
The drama surrounding R. Kelly's alleged no-show at a party in Louisiana on Saturday night (26Oct13) has just taken another bizarre turn - the soul singer's representative insists the hitmaker was the performer fans mistook for a local impersonator. Concertgoers who booed the lip-syncing man offstage at the gig in Monroe are demanding refunds, but now Kelly's aides are insisting the performer was the real thing.
It appears even promoter Cedric Johnson was left confused - he initially stated he "got duped" over the show, but has since denied he made the remark.
Johnson has promised to explain all.
R. Kelly himself has yet to comment on the controversy.
R. Kelly has found himself at the centre of a bizarre concert scandal after fans were allegedly duped into attending a Louisiana party hosted by the R&B veteran, only for an impersonator to take the stage instead. Attendees at the Ced's All Black Affair event in Monroe, Louisiana on Saturday night (26Oct13) were left outraged after claiming the man promoted as the Ignition hitmaker was just a local doppelganger attempting to lip-sync his way through the show.
He was booed offstage by angry devotees just minutes into the gig and they have now bombarded event promoter Cedric Johnson with demands for refunds.
Johnson has promised to explain all later on Monday (28Oct13), but the incident has been further complicated by the fact that Kelly's official website also lists the Monroe Civic Center appearance as part of his tour.
The singer has yet to comment on the controversy.
Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert's bandmate in country group Pistol Annies, has wed baseball star John Danks. The singer and the Chicago White Sox pitcher exchanged vows at a sunset ceremony in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains on Thursday (24Oct13).
Gushing about her new husband, the 27 year old says, "I married my best friend. He has such a good heart."
The couple met after a show in Chicago, Illinois in 2011.
Lambert's husband Blake Shelton officiated the nuptials, which took place at Blackberry Farm, where Kelly Clarkson wed Brandon Blackstock over the weekend (19-20Oct13). Lambert was Monroe's maid of honour and also served as wedding planner.
The bride tells People.com, "Miranda was the one who cared about all the details. It was magical."
Celebrity agent Roger Richman has died at the age of 69. Richman passed away from complications from pneumonia on 9 October (13) in Los Angeles, according to his wife.
He was best known for working with the families of John Wayne and Fred Astaire to lobby lawmakers in Sacramento, California to help push through the California Celebrity Rights Act in 1985, paving the way for stars' heirs to licence the rights to images, the voice or name of their dead relatives for merchandise with the profits going to the estate.
Richman also founded the Roger Richman Agency in 1978, where he represented the families of Marilyn Monroe, Bela Lugosi and James Cagney before selling it in 2005.
Mariah Carey gave her husband Nick Cannon an eye-popping birthday treat on Tuesday (08Oct13) by posting a close-up of her cleavage on Twitter.com. Her 13 million followers were also left titillated by the sexy 'selfie' snapshot, in which the singer fondled her ample breasts while wearing an unbuttoned white shirt and a black lacy bra.
The saucy photo was accompanied by a caption that read: "Happy Birthday to my Hubby Nick Cannon. My baby I'm waiting on youuuu hahaha!"
The loved-up couple wed in 2008 and the Cannons are the proud parents of twins Monroe and Moroccan.
Proof of Marilyn Monroe's cosmetic surgery procedures and details of a 1957 ectopic pregnancy are to go under the hammer as part of a macabre auction lot in California. The tragic screen icon's X-rays, medical records and doctors' notes, are to be sold at Julien's Auctions Icons and Idols event next month (9-10Nov13).
Highlights of the odd lot include Monroe's skull X-ray and notes from the office of Dr. Michael Gurdin, M.D. from 1958, which are expected to fetch between $15,000 (£10,000) and $30,000 (£20,000).
The patient was listed as Marilyn Miller, to protect her identity, and the doctor noted that her chief complaint was "chin deformity".
The records offer a fascinating medical history that begins in 1950 and ends in 1962, just months before the star's death.
Listed are a 1956 bout of Neutropenia in England; an ectopic pregnancy in New York and a 1950 cartilage implant in the chin that the doctor observed had slowly begun to dissolve.
A spokesman for the auction house tells WENN, "Those with knowledge of the implant procedure have explained that this was done in association with a tip rhinoplasty, a procedure involving the tip of Marilyn Monroe's nose only."
The last entry of the medical files is fascinating - dated June 7, 1962, it reports a fall at between 2am and 3am resulting in swelling and tenderness of the nose.
Monroe was brought to Dr. Gurdin by her psychoanalyst Dr. Ralph Greenson. Her alias at the time was Miss Joan Newman.
Included in the file are "six X-rays including frontal facial bones X-rays, a smaller X-ray that is a composite of the right and left sides of her nasal bones and four small dental X-rays into the roof of Monroe's mouth, looking upwards toward her nasal bones".
Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home on 5 August, 1962.
The Julien's Auctions Icons and Idols event will also feature William Shatner's signed shirt and boots from the Star Trek series, a mask worn by Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger, a Katherine Walker-designed dress owned by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, a tracksuit James Gandolfini wore on The Sopranos, and the wedding gown Julie Andrews wore in The Sound Of Music, which is valued at an estimated $30,000 (£20,000) to $50,000 (£33,330).