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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 last few James Bond movies have delivered unconventional theme songs, when you consider the history of slinky songs like "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever." Shirley Bassey's sultry voice is probably the one most closely associated with a "classic" Bond Theme. However, more the recent techno-pop "Die Another Day," Chris Cornell's rocker anthem "You Know My Name," and finally, Jack White and Alicia Keys' "Another Way to Day" were all entertaining, and they helped bring the classic character into the modern consciousness without stripping him of his old fashioned charm. But the announcement of Adele's involvement in the newest Bond movie's title theme is a delicious notion, because her signature sound is sure to deliver us back to the past era of sexy, sultry female voices bringing us into the action.
Adele tweeted a photo of the sheet music for the new Skyfall single, appropriately titled... "Skyfall" and in a swift move of confirmation, the official James Bond Twitter spread the image to the rest of the movie-loving world. In the image, we see Adele's signature black, pointy nails (cue the girls' chatter about how fierce she is, because well, she is) as well as the writing credits: A. Adkins and P. Epworth (Adele and Paul Epworth, who co-wrote "Rolling in the Deep" with the Grammy-winner). Basically, we've got the perfect set of circumstances for the contemporary version of a classic Bond song. Adele's raspy, full voice is sure to remind longtime fans of Bassey's alluring sound, but she's decidedly modern and decidedly Adele.
It's a decision so perfect, it almost makes up for that whole beer issue.
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[Photo Credit: Twitter (2)]
More: Adele Says She Doesn't Use Sex to Sell Albums Dear Heinekin, James Bond Doesn't Even Drink Beer... In Your Ad - VIDEO 'Skyfall': James Bond - Back from the Dead! - VIDEO
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Biggest Comedy Movie Mistakes Ever
S3E16: Modern Family has its go-to relationships for comedy: Phil and Luke, Manny and Jay, Luke and Manny, Phil and Jay. It's a smaller circle of champions than I ever realized. Just as importantly, the show has some powerful pairings when it comes to delivering more serious storylines. Mitchell and Jay work well together. Claire and Gloria have their moments. But beyond any other coupling on the series is one that is capable of delivering a truly moving degree of emotionality: Phil and Haley. Phil doubtlessly loves all of his children, but there is a very special bond between the man and his oldest daughter.
"Can I give you a Swedish massage? Accent optional." - Phil Throughout this season, we have seen Phil/Haley storylines that have not really reached full potential. First, in “Go Bullfrogs,” Phil took Haley to visit his old alma mater as a potential college for her to attend. Although the episode shot for a sentimental “letting the bird leave the nest” story, it came off a little overdone. Later on, a missed opportunity occurred in “Egg Drop,” where Phil and Haley were paired in an emotionally erratic plotline that diverted attention, curiously, to Phil’s relationship with Gloria. But finally, the show does something worthwhile with this fertile grounds for sweet television. This week, the doting and naïve father Phil finds out that his oldest daughter Haley is no longer a virgin. And he is hardly comfortable with the news. "Look at them. They all think Lily's so great." - Luke"The novelty will wear off." - Manny After Lily’s favorite doll is broken, Phil, Haley and Alex take Lily to the mall to have it repaired (it’s a special kind of doll with a special kind of “health insurance”—it really gets drilled into our heads this week that this family does not have money problems). Alex's slip of the tongue informs Phil that Haley is not a virgin, which instantly removes all joy from his face and food court puns from his tongue. From this point on, Phil is heartrendingly serious, and nears the point of tears a few times. This incites similar feelings in Haley. Although she is shown to be inconsiderate and flighty at times, Haley definitely has a soft spot in her heart for her dad. How could she not? She is saddened to have hurt or disappointed her father—but that’s just the thing. Phil is not really angry with Haley, nor is he all that disappointed. He is just having a lot of trouble accepting that she is growing up. "I have a cool dad." - Haley Now, since the pilot, Phil has had one ostensible goal: to be seen by his kids, and all others, as the “cool dad.” The dad who is their friend, who is just like one of them—who is totally fine with anything they have to say to him. But Phil struggles with maintaining this role this week. And as such, he feels like he has failed. But quite the contrary: although Phil cannot bring himself to speak openly to Haley on the matter, he does manage, in coded language about trusting her, to find the right table at the food court, to convey that he does trust, love and respect his daughter. Immediately afterwards, the emotion of the story is driven home when Haley delivers a brief talking head that says tons more than just the five words she speaks: “I have a cool dad.” It’s one of the sweetest moments the show has delivered to date. Bravo, Dunphys. "They didn’t used to label babies as carefully in hospitals, so for two days—" - Phil "Not now, Phil." - Jay Another team that’s always good for some meaningful moments is Mitchell and Jay. Although their story doesn’t compare to Phil’s and Haley’s this week, it reminds us (as the show is bent on doing every so often) that Jay is a much warmer man than he might seem to be. All these years, golfer Jay has prided himself on a single hole-in-one he got while playing a round with his teenaged son. Mitchell reveals this week that Jay did not actually get the hole-in-one, but that he threw Jay’s ball into the hole in order to end the game. Jay is furious. His reputation at the clubhouse is shattered. Mitchell tries to remedy the situation by reminding Jay that the hole-in-one was not the most important part of that day: it was the bonding time between father and son, and Mitchell having his first beer with his dad. But Jay is affixed on the hole-in-one, leading Mitchell, once again, to believe that his father cares very little for him. But Jay bests Mitchell here, reminding him that the first beer they actually shared was years prior, on Mitchell’s fourteenth birthday after his mother embarrassed him in front of all of his friends. Mitchell realizes that his father clearly does care enough to hold onto a memory that he himself had forgotten. Jay is redeemed. Not something we haven’t seen on the show before, but why nitpick? "You can't expect me to focus when Miranda Cornell is right down the street. She's like a dream wrapped in a wish poured into Jeggings." - Manny Most of the remaining storylines are far from impressive. Cam fakes a back injury so that he can be alone in Claire’s house to search for a piece of Tupperware that he swears she never returned to him. Claire tries to dodge Gloria so that she can go to yoga—Gloria takes this personally, but Claire reveals in the end that she’s actually just being evasive to hide the fact that she’s really going to the shooting range. Not many laughs in either story; not much meaning either. But the big guns of comedy are not absent from the episode: the Luke and Manny storyline delivers quite a bit in the realm of laughter. Luke and Manny run wild this week. First, they set up a Rube-Goldberg to frame Lily for a kitchen mess so that the family will stop fawning over her (all Luke’s idea, of course—Manny is a sweet kid, but a bit impressionable). Then, after getting the keys to Cam’s car, Luke and Manny decide to throw caution to the wind and take it out for a drive. Luke plays wingman to his yuncle (young uncle), insisting they drive past the lemonade stand of Manny’s crush-of-the-week, Miranda Cornell. This story is nuts, and has absolutely resolution. But Luke and Manny driving a car at seven miles per hour, giving the eyes to the girl of Manny’s dreams…it works on many comedic levels. Bravo, Dunphy/Delgado. Modern Family does have a habit of biting off more than it can chew. And sometimes, it just seems to be all over the place. But credit where credit is due: this week has one phenomenally moving storyline, one insanely funny one, and some innocuous filler. All in all, let’s call it a win. What did you think of this week’s episode? What are your favorite pairings on the show? Who would you like to see put together for an episode? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter @Hollywood.com and @MichaelArbeiter.
Legendary actor Paul Newman has reportedly been given only weeks to live after allegedly completing chemotherapy treatment at a New York hospital.
The Oscar-winning actor, 83, was photographed being wheeled out of the Weill Cornell Medical Center--which specializes in cancer treatment--looking thin and frail last week.
Rumors of his declining health and alleged lung cancer diagnosis surfaced earlier this year, following his withdrawal as director from a production of Of Mice and Men in his native Connecticut.
At the time of the reports, Newman's spokesman denied the actor had cancer.
But according to new claims, the star has spent the last few weeks arranging his business and personal affairs in preparation for his departure from the facility.
A source tells Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "The sudden move angered his children. It's especially hard for them to come to grips with what's going on. The word they've been given is that he has only a few weeks to live."
Newman is best known for his roles in 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and 1967's Cool Hand Luke.
He has been nominated for 10 Oscars in his 50-year-long career, winning best actor for his role in The Color of Money in 1986.
Just last year, he announced his retirement, saying: "You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that's pretty much a closed book for me."
Newman and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, share three daughters. He is also father to two daughters from his first marriage to Jackie Witte.
A spokesperson for the actor says Newman is "doing nicely", but has neither confirmed nor denied that he has cancer.
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Top Story: Jack Osbourne in Rehab
Jack Osbourne of MTV's hit reality show The Osbournes is receiving treatment in a California rehab clinic, reports Entertainment Tonight. According to the show, Osbourne is being treated at the Las Encinas Hospital in Los Angeles, although it is not clear what the 17-year-old is being treated for. Photos of parents Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne visiting Jack at the private clinic, which specializes in drug addiction and psychiatric care, were published in the UK paper The Sun. Despite being four years too young to drink publicly in LA, he has admitted he loves "going out with friends and getting wasted," and viewers of the show have witnessed Jack being read out by his parents for smoking pot.
Vandross Undergoes Tracheotomy
Grammy-winning singer Luther Vandross has undergone a tracheotomy to fight off pneumonia, Reuters reports. His business manager Carmen Romano said in a statement Monday that the procedure was done in a way that would not affect his vocal chords. The 52-year-old singer, who remains in intensive care at Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, was described as barely conscious 13 days after suffering a stroke.
Chewie Back for Star Wars Prequel
Star Wars creator George Lucas plans to bring back Chewbacca the Wookie, C-3PO and R2-D2 for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode III. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lucas has already signed actors Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniel and Kenny Baker to reprise their respective roles for the prequel, which is currently in preproduction. This is the third installment of the films set in a time period prior to that of the original three Star Wars films. Production on the sci-fi actioner begins in late June in Sydney, Australia with a release date set for May 25, 2005.
Luke Perry and Wife Separate
Former Beverly hills, 90210 star Luke Perry and his wife, Minnie, have decided to separate after nearly 10 years of marriage, the AP reports. Their publicist said Monday the couple plans to share custody of their two children, Jack, 5, and Sophie, 2. Perry, who played teen rebel Dylan McKay on the popular Fox series, is set to appear in Beverly Hills, 90210: 10-Year High School Reunion, which is scheduled to air May 11 on Fox.
Mr. 3000 Lured to Louisiana
Disney will begin shooting the baseball pic Mr. 3000 starring Bernie Mac in Louisiana next month to take advantage of the state's new film incentive program, the AP reports. The film is set in Milwaukee but will be shot primarily in the New Orleans area. The incentive program offers state income tax credits to investors in movies made in Louisiana, a credit on payroll expenses and a sales tax exemption for productions costing more than $250,000.
Apple Unveils Online Music Service
Apple Computers unveiled Monday its new iTunes Music Store, which offers more than 200,000 songs available for downloading at 99 cents apiece, the AP reports. The service lets customers keep songs indefinitely, share them on as many as three Macintosh computers, transfer them to any number of iPod portable music players and burn unlimited copies of the songs onto CDs--without a subscription. The venture draws from all five major labels and includes artists who previously shunned online distribution.
Role Call: Brill Helms Paddle Comedy, Liu Is New Charlie Chan
Mr. Deeds director Steven Brill is in negotiations to helm the comedy Without a Paddle for Paramount Pictures. The picture is about three lifelong friends who find themselves on a canoe trip in search of a $200,000 treasure unaware of the obstacles in front of them, including a perilous river and hostile mountain men ... X2: X-Men United scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris will pen a remake of the 20th Century Fox classic Charlie Chan, about a Chinese detective who works for the Honolulu Police Department. Charlie's Angels star Lucy Liu will produce the project and star as Chan's granddaughter, who takes on her own investigations.