Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
When Hollywood movies were very much "a certain thing," Woody Allen's weren't. An innovator from the get-go, Allen celebrated the possibilities of cinema by contorting and creating, giving us in everything from What's Up, Tiger Lily? straight through his '80s string a filmic style that America hadn't yet seen. Now that he's done his due diligence, Allen seems content to make the sort of pictures that snagged his heart in the first place: the romantic comedies of the '40s and '50s — appropriately, Magic in the Moonlight borrows the Jazz Age setting of classics like Some Like It Hot — that operated in a certain straightforward, delightful fashion. Allen's latest follows the swath of Billy Wilder, Blake Edwards, and Howard Hawks, but aims for the Woody brand with muted doses of his signature nihilism and cantankerous banter. But seven decades after this cinematic golden age and four past Allen's heyday, Magic in the Moonlight's charms wear thin and familiar rather quickly.
Magic in the Moonlight doesn't carry too many surprises; kind of a shame for a flick about magicians and mediums. But it's not the premise that is in principal need of reconstruction, it's the Allen chatter. The movie opens immersed in the fun inherent in the rantings of a misanthropic blowhard illusionist (Colin Firth, whose comic delivery in the early scenes of this movie is markedly impressive) who knows the margins of reality and can barely stomach the thought of some charming charlatan passing as a psychic (Emma Stone) pulling the wool over the eyes of a gaggle of unsuspecting millionaires... whom he also detests for their stupidity, but it's the thrill of the "A-ha!" that drives him to prove the clairvoyant a fake.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
Firth's comical butting of heads — both with the enamored aristocrats (Hamish Linklater plays the hysterically doe-eyed son who is smitten with Stone's Sophie; Jacki Weaver is a giddy matriarch longing to connect with her dead husband) and with the alleged swindler — ensues, opening up an unmistakably Allenian world of privilege-induced idiocy and shirt-stuffing. But what kicks off as great comedy grows tired by the fifth or sixth time we have to hear the curmudgeonly Stanley (Firth) pronounce his skepticism or watch the entrancing Sophie declare her devotion to possibility. After a while, what started out as a classic-era throwback reveals itself to be something with very little to show off, new or otherwise.
Still, even in its most redundant hours, Magic in the Moonlight never dips to levels of unpleasant. Firth and Stone are always a joy to watch, especially when playing rounds of combat. Allen's diatribes about mortality and meaning tire, but never fall dead asleep. And there is something consistently funny about Linklater playing a dead-from-the-neck-up Pittsburgh WASP serenading Emma Stone with a ukulele.
Ultimately, Magic in the Moonlight won't be a memorable trip back to the age of Wilder or Hawks, or a reminder of why you started watching Woody Allen movies in the first place. Instead, it's just a pleasant enough romp with a few hearty laughs and ample opportunities to let your mind wander back to your favorite scene in Sleeper. Ha, yeah, Sleeper. That was a good movie.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
Country star Reba Mcentire has taken a stand against global unrest by releasing a free song called Pray For Peace and starting a campaign on social media.
The singer has offered up the track for download on her website and encouraged fans to spread her message of peace through websites such as Instagram.com. McEntire has asked supporters to post a picture of themselves flashing a 'peace' sign along with the #PrayForPeace hashtag.
Post by Reba McEntire.
In a statement posted on her website, she writes, "I feel this song is a gift from God. I have never worked on a song as long as this one. It went from a bass drum, fiddle and singers to guest artist singing with me, adding more instruments and even a choir and a bagpipe! It's an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love."
The singer admits she is thrilled by the response to the campaign, but had no idea it would coincide with the headline-grabbing conflict in Israel and the tensions in eastern Europe after pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet last week (ends18Jul14).
She tells People.com, "In a way, I'm totally amazed at the response. And in another way, I'm not because I knew this was a message that people would receive and share... It's very timely. We had no way of knowing what would be happening in the world when we decided to release the video this week. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and families of the Malaysian Airlines flight as we continue to pray for peace."
Post by Keith Urban.
Sir Ian Mckellen has urged theatre bosses to provide a minimum wage to help struggling actors.
The Lord of the Rings star wants thespians at the lower end of the pay scale to receive more money for their work to keep them above the poverty line, and he urges stage producers to do more to support them financially.
McKellen tells Britain's Radio Times magazine, "Most actors are not rich - they are very poor indeed. What keeps them going is that they just love the job."
"I know actors who have had to turn down good roles because they just don't pay enough. It's hard. The one thing you can ask, I think, is that actors get paid a living wage. I would like it if all the repertory theatres that currently exist could do that. It would make a huge difference."
McKellen's plea follows the publication of a report which showed only one in 50 actors in the U.K. earns more than $34,000 (£20,000) a year.
British pop star Cheryl Cole and her new husband Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini hosted a black and white-themed bash in London on Monday night (21Jul14) to celebrate their surprise nuptials earlier this month (Jul14). The Fight For This Love hitmaker tied the knot with her boyfriend of three months on the Caribbean island of Mustique, with only her mother Joan Callaghan and assistant Lily England among the handful of guests at the secret ceremony.
On Monday night, Cole had a much larger guest list as 80 of the couple's friends and family attended a party celebrating the nuptials at private members' club The Library in the British capital.
Among the invitees were Cole's former Girls Aloud bandmates Nicola Roberts and mother-to-be Kimberley Walsh, as well as The Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes and husband, former JLS star Marvin Humes. Cole's The X Factor boss Simon Cowell was also expected at the party, and most of the guests arrived in monochrome attire.
Cole was photographed arriving hand-in-hand with her new husband wearing a black strapless floor-length gown while Fernandez-Versini matched in an all black suit.
American soprano Renee Fleming has swapped opera for acting to make her debut in a play at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. The opera veteran is no stranger to the stage, but for the first time in her three-decade long career, she has stepped into the spotlight without a musical score to accompany her.
In Living on Love, Fleming plays a beloved American opera diva married to a fiery composer, and it co-stars Douglas Sills as her onstage husband, as well as Veep actress Anna Chlumsky and actor Justin Long.
Fleming managed to prove herself onstage, with critics giving her mostly positive reviews.
Alexis Soloski of the New York Daily News writes, "Like all the characters, (Fleming's character) Raquel is an assemblage of tics and quirks rather than a flesh-and-blood human. Ms. Fleming's take on the role is eight-lane-highway broad, and she has the costumes to match. But when she ascends into an aria, letting her heavens-grazing voice stand in for Raquel's, she seems entirely in tune."
Steve Barnes of New York's Times Union newspaper calls her performance both funny and "captivating", adding, "Fleming commands the theatre with an expected amount of regal presence, especially on the few occasions when she sings."
Living on Love ends its run on Saturday (26Jul14).
Getty Images/Bruce Glikas
Actor Zach Braff has denied rumours he's dating Taylor Swift, insisting he has sworn off dating "super-famous girls" after becoming a tabloid target while romancing singer/actress Mandy Moore.
Speculation recently surfaced that the former Scrubs star and the serial celebrity dater had become an item, but in an interview with U.S. shock jock Howard Stern on Monday (21Jul14), Braff quickly shot down the story. Calling the Love Story singer "a sweet girl" the actor explained he has only met Swift twice and romance reports are nothing but "Internet bulls**t".
Braff, who recently split from his model girlfriend Taylor Bagley after five years together, revealed he vowed never to date another celebrity after breaking up with Saved star Moore in 2006. He told Stern, "When you date another famous person, that's when they really hound you. That's when the paparazzi are outside your house and that's when you can't ride your bike through Manhattan because they follow you."
"When my relationship with Mandy ended, (my publicist) said, 'I'm going to give you a hint that you should know. If you don't date these 25 girls, your life will be so much easier.' And she was kind of exaggerating because there's more than those 25 girls, but in so many words, if you can, don't date other famous people because then all the tabloids pretty much leave you alone."
He added, "I could walk down the street, I don't get followed. Well, if you're going to hook up with a famous girl, that might be fun for your ego, but you don't want to be out in public dating a famous girl because then they follow you everywhere you go."
And Braff admitted he'd hate to have pal Harry Styles' life, adding, "He can't walk two f**king feet or a crowd forms and the paparazzi forms (sic)... He's the sweetest kid, but I don't want that existence."
Ironically, Styles briefly dated Taylor Swift at the end of 2102.
I would never be so bold as to declare any one Simpsons quote the funniest of the lot. With 25 seasons (and about 10 good ones) it'd be impossible to allocate inarguable superlatives to a single line, moment, character, or even episode. But even if candidates for all-time favorites are perpetually up in the air, there are a dozen or so instances from the prolific series that stick with me consistently. Quotes and gags that pop into my head multiple times a week, sometimes with only the slightest provocation, diverting brain power from the legion of more important things I might be wise to pay more attention to. A few of these examples aren’t even especially funny (at least not in comparison to some other gems from the show), but have for some reason found a comfortable home just beneath my conscious thought.
In celebration of The Simpsons' imminent arrival in our lives in two whole new ways — in its first full-series marathon on FXX, and in its pioneer journey to digital distribution (via EW) — I couldn't resist paying tribute to these moments back upon these neurological leeches from one of my favorite TV series. Please chime in with your own!
"'Give me five bees for a quarter,' you'd say."Speaker: Grampa SimpsonEpisode: "Last Exit to Springfield" (Season 4, Episode 17)Context: Strikebreaker Abe begins reminiscing on the good old days during a meeting with business mogul Monty Burns. Eventually, his rambling takes him to the above quote about the alleged mid-20th century colloquialism for American currency.Pops into my head whenever: Someone asks me to make change.
"That's my dad's shootin' car!"Speaker: Nelson MuntzEpisode: "Bart the Mother" (Season 5, Episode 22)Context: Juvenile delinquent Nelson introduces Bart to his father's prized possession.Pops into my head whenever: I see a car. Seriously. Any car.
"So I says to Mabel, I says..."Speaker: BartEpisode: "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" (Season 8, Episode 9)Context: None.Pops into my head whenever: There's a lull in conversation aching for placeholder smalltalk.
"Then I go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like explooode yooou."Singer: Sideshow BobEpisode: "Black Widower" (Season 3, Episode 21)Context: After an ostensibly romantic musical montage, Sideshow Bob reveals his true intentions behind marrying Marge's sister Selma Bouvier: he aims to kill her!Pops into my head whenever: I hear a Frank Sinatra song.
"Oh no! My brains!"Speaker: Hans MolemanEpisode: "Team Homer" (Season 7, Episode 12)Context: An ether-induced Mr. Burns ostensibly drills a hole into the brain of perpetually unfortunate Hans Moleman.Pops into my head whenever: Anything causes me duress or anxiety (which, if you know me, you know is no rare occurrence).
"No wires at all! Except one."Speaker: Principal SkinnerEpisode: "We're on the Road to D'ohwhere" (Season 17, Episode 11)Context: After procuring a cherished ringtone (Bart groaning in sorrow) for his "brand new cell phone," Skinner brags about the lack of wires weighing the phone down... before pulling out the one necessary, and particularly bulky, cord. Pops into my head whenever: I hear somebody discussing cell phones.
"The ironing is delicious."Speaker: BartEpisode: "Grift of the Magi" (Season 11, Episode 9)Context: Bart mocks Lisa for her stint in detention via Springfield Elementary's new academic regime (under which he is thriving), highlighting the unusual turn of events for the siblings... or trying to.Pops into my head whenever: Anything unexpected happens. This is the perfect example of a quote that isn't outrageously funny but that has proved itself a resilient go-to quote, due largely to its simplicity (and all-purpose nature).
"WHOOO'S NEEELSOOON?!"Shouter: HomerEpisode: Once again, "Bart the Mother" (Season 5, Episode 22)Context: Prompted by Marge, Homer asks Milhouse where the conspicuously absent Bart might be... but Homer doesn't bother leaving his seat at the kitchen table, he simply shouts out the window across the alley to get his answer. Upon hearing that Bart is over at Nelson's place, he has one last question for Milhouse.Pops into my head whenever: Anyone I know mentions an unfamiliar name.
"Play it... cooooooooool."Speaker: Homer/GrampaEpisode: "Lady Bouvier's Lover" (Season 5, Episode 21)Context: Homer aims to teach his father how to woo Marge's mother, bestowing his lessons of "cool" through the means of a funky little ditty.Pops into my head whenever: I'm faced with giving advice (usually unsolicited) to a friend (usually unrequited)
"Why did I have the bowl, Bart? Why did I have the bowl?"Speaker: MilhouseEpisode: "The Canine Mutiny" (Season 8, Episode 20)Context: Milhouse is bemoaning Bart's troublesome dog Santa's Little Helper. He accuses Bart of lying for the pup when he allegedly ate Milhouse's goldfish, a crime that Bart attempted to cover up by trying to convince Milhouse he never had a goldfish.Pops into my head whenever: Honestly, there is no organic trigger for this. I just think about it a lot.
"Your store is being robbed, Apu!"Speaker: HomerEpisode: "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love" (Season 13, Episode 4)Context: Homer tries to write legitimately prescient fortune cookie fortunes. This is one of them.Pops into my head whenever: I open a fortune cookie.
"No! No one's going Catholic!"Speaker: MargeEpisode: "Lisa Gets an A" (Season 10, Episode 7)Context: Bart asks a stressed out Marge if the family can convert to Catholicism for the "Communion wafers and booze."Pops into my head whenever: Anyone asks my endorsement on any plan, significant or menial.
"I hate every ape I see from chimpan-A to chimpan-zee..."Singer: Troy McClureEpisode: "A Fish Called Selma" (Season 7, Episode 19)Context: Prolific actor McClure performs the final scene of the hit musical, Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off!Pops into my head whenever: Anyone mentions the original Planet of the Apes, any Planet of the Apes apes follow-up feature, apes, chimpanzees, the alphabet, hatred, Broadway musicals, music in general, The Simpsons, television, or most other things. Few contributions to the English language have affected my life so prominently.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
"It doesn't even matter to me whatsoever, who would show up. Because the most important person to show up there, to me, was Kim. And that's all that matters to me. I had to fight for that for seven years... Kim is this girl who f**king turns me on. I love her. This is who I want to be next to and be around." Rapper Kanye West insists he wasn't angered that close friends Jay Z and Beyonce snubbed his Italian wedding to reality star Kim Kardashian in May (14).
Indie rocker Conor Oberst has dropped his libel lawsuit against a fan who accused him of sexually assaulting her. Joanie Faircloth issued a statement last week (beg14Jul14), confessing she made up lies about an encounter with the Bright Eyes star to get attention.
She made the remarks anonymously in a comment section on XOJane in December (13), prompting Oberst to identify her and then sue her for libel.
On Friday (18Jul14), he dismissed his suit without prejudice.
In a statement released the day after Faircloth confessed to making up the story, Oberst wrote, "This has been extremely difficult and stressful for me personally and for those I love. I'm appreciative of the family, friends, fans and business partners who supported me throughout this and look forward to happier times as we all move forward with our lives."
Newlywed Jessica Simpson has no plans to give her daughter Maxwell and son Ace another sibling. She revealed the news on Sunday (20Jul14) as she posted an Instagram shot of herself posing with pal Kathryn Sykora's son Jack. In the accompanying caption, she wrote, "I love you Jack, but I do not want another!!." The singer wed former American footballer Eric Johnson earlier this month (Jul14).