Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
In a suit filed last month (Jul09), lawyers for the Los Angeles food store Gelson's allege Burton has had an account with the company since 1990 but has failed to pay his tab since 2008.
Gelson's executives are suing Burton for $2,000 (£1,330) plus attorney's fees, reports TMZ.com.
Ryan Seacrest calls Simon Cowell "pompous"
Ryan Seacrest, host of Fox's hit series American Idol, dissed acerbic judge Simon Cowell during a visit to Singapore, where a local version of the program is planned. "I think that he's pompous. I think that he's arrogant. So my feelings about him, and the way that I address him on air, are very real," Seacrest said Wednesday in an interview with the Straits Times newspaper. "I think he says things that are at times a bit too harsh and could probably convey them in a different light so that they don't crush a young person's dream." But the 29-year-old emcee added that Cowell was a good friend and the "most honest" of the show's three judges, according to excerpts published by The Associate Press. A record 65 million phone votes were cast in the finale of the latest American Idol season, which saw 19-year-old single mother Fantasia Barrino crowned the third Idol winner.
Catherine Zeta-Jones' stalker charged
A 33-year-old woman was charged in Los Angeles last week with stalking Catherine Zeta-Jones and making threatening phone calls, Reuters reports. According to a statement released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Dawnette Knight was arrested at her Beverly Hills apartment after a four-month investigation, during which time Zeta-Jones was the target of numerous threatening letters and phone calls. Knight was arraigned on one count of stalking and 25 counts of making "terrorist threats." She remains in custody. The British actress is married to Hollywood veteran Michael Douglas, and won an Academy Award last year for best supporting actress in the hit musical Chicago.
Pat O'Brien joins ET spinoff
Pat O'Brien is leaving Access Hollywood for a new gig as the Los Angeles anchor of The Insider-- a new spinoff of Access Hollywood's rival Entertainment Tonight set to premiere Sept. 13. AH executive producer Rob Silverstein said Wednesday that O'Brien's contract with the show was expiring and his departure was amicable. Sources told Reuters that former Good Morning America correspondent Lara Spencer will serve as O'Brien's New York counterpart on The Insider, while Access Hollywood East Coast correspondent Billy Bush will relocate to Los Angeles to share anchor duties with Nancy O'Dell, who has been with the show since it launched in 1996.
Johnny Ramone's wife says guitarist isn't dying
Johnny Ramone, who has been living with prostate cancer for several years,
was recently admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with
what his physician called a "complication from the cancer." Ramone’s
hospitalization set off a nationwide media deathwatch earlier this week.
According to MTV.com, his wife Linda Ramone was so dismayed by the funereal
headlines that she authorized Ramone’s doctor to explain his condition to
the media--despite the fact that the 55-year-old guitarist refused to issue
a corrective press statement. Dr. David Agus told MTV News Wednesday that
Ramone is now on a new, experimental therapy and predicts he will be going home
in the near term. "He's not dying," Linda said. "He was OK for years, and
he's fine now. He's in the hospital, but he's not in ICU. And I think he may
be leaving by tomorrow."
Screener issue rises from the ashes
Following a year of controversy over the Motion Picture Assn. of America's (MPAA) controversial screener ban, which bowed under legal action brought on by the indie film community, the issue is once again on the forefront. According to Reuters, Oscar voters could receive specially encoded promotional DVDs during the upcoming awards season. The discs would have to be played on a new system from Dolby Inc. unit Cinea, which would be sent to all members. Last year, major studios resorted to sending out watermarked VHS tapes because DVDs were considered more susceptible to piracy.
Franchise Pictures held accountable
A California jury on Wednesday ordered the production company Franchise Pictures to pay $77 million to Germany's Intertainment AG for padding production costs for about a dozen films such as Sylvester Stallone's Driven, Reuters reports. The legal dispute arose from a 1999 contract, in which Intertainment agreed to fund 47 percent of production costs for about a dozen big-budget U.S. films in return for European distribution rights. In some cases, however, Intertainment unknowingly picked up the entire tab for the big budget films, Intertainment's attorney Scott Edelman told Reuters. Other films included The Whole Nine Yards starring Bruce Willis and The Art of War starring Wesley Snipes.
Transient charged with grisly murders
Keven Lee Graff, a 27-year-old homeless man, has been accused of beheading 91-year-old Robert Lees, a once-blacklisted screenwriter best known for writing Abbott and Costello comedies, as well as stabbing Lees' neighbor, Morley Engleson, to death, Reuters reports. Police say that Graff murdered Lees, then cut off his head and ran with it to Engleson's home. There, police said, he interrupted the physician speaking on the phone and stabbed him to death. Graff was charged with murder with special circumstances, meaning that prosecutors could seek the death penalty against him if he is convicted, Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office told Reuters. Graff was arrested on Monday near the gates of the Paramount Pictures studio in Hollywood, one day after Lees and Engleson were found slain.
Role Call: Chocolate Factory casts kids, Bow Wow in Bounce
Director Tim Burton has rounded out his young cast for his updated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, including Anna Sophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde, Jordan Fry as Mike Teevee, Julia Winter as Veruca Salt and Philip Wiegratz as Augustus Gloop. British actor Freddie Highmore had previously been cast in the title role of Charlie, while Johnny Depp will portray Willy Wonka ... Rapper Bow Wow (grown up for being 'Lil Bow Wow) and Chi McBride are teaming up for Roll Bounce, a roller-skating comedy. Set in the '70s, story revolves around X (Bow Wow) and his pals, who rule supreme at their local roller-skating rink, but when the doors close, the boys venture into foreign territory--uptown's Sweetwater Roller Rink, complete with over-the-top skaters and beautiful girls. Through his preparation for the showdown of the season, X manages to find himself and also help his dad (McBride) get back on track.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
The year is 1914. Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) is a lowly museum cartographer and linguistics expert who knows the whereabouts of Atlantis. He isn't taken seriously however until an eccentric billionaire (voiced by Fraiser's John Mahoney) funds an expedition based on Milo's late grandfather's journal about the lost city. Milo joins a motley group of mercenaries led by Commander Rourke (voiced by James Garner) on a dangerous trip through the ocean where they discover a thriving civilization ruled by the King (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) and his beautiful warrior daughter Princess Kida (voiced by Cree Summer). It's Atlantis and it's been kept alive by a crystal energy hidden deep within the city which thrills Commander Rourke--his evil plan is to steal the crystals. Now it's up to Milo and the others to save the city from certain doom.
Once again Disney has gathered a talented cast to lend their voices to the characters. Fox easily handles the hapless hero Milo and the animators capture Fox's essence especially in Milo's oh-so-familiar hand gestures. Garner's fairly menacing vocal quality in the evil Commander Rourke is equaled only by the majesty of Nimoy's Atlantean King. However it's the team of explorers each with their own special abilities that really make Atlantis fun. There's demolition expert Vinny voiced in a monotone by the hilarious Don Novello; creepy geologist Mole voiced by Corey Burton in a combination of French and Peter Lorre-ish speak; and Cookie the expedition's lard-lovin' cook voiced by the late Jim Varney. Together they represent the collective "sidekick character" Disney films love but this time it's done with a surprising and delightful twist.
The creators of Atlantis decided try a different approach to the Disney animated formula. Instead of the usual hero-must-find-his/her-way-in-the-world-and-get-the-girl/boy directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale went for the pure adrenaline of an action-adventure story paying tribute to the great Disney adventure movies of the '50s. Also conspicuously absent are the songs so common in recent Disney films. Some die-hard Disney fans may not like that but it's actually a refreshing change of pace. The one thing however that detracts from the film slightly is its look. The animators were going for a particular style--merging computer-generated imagery with traditional animation and giving the film a flat dark comic-book look. This works well for some scenes but when the audience gets to Atlantis that lush Disney look we've seen in films like Tarzan and The Lion King needed to be there.