James star Tim Booth has signed up for singing lessons for the first time in two decades to strengthen his voice for the band's touring commitments after falling ill earlier this summer (14). The band was forced to cancel plans when the singer lost his voice and the drama prompted Booth to seek professional help.
Now, as the band embarks on a tour to promote its new album La Petit Mort, Booth explains, "I'm really good now. I got a summer bloody flu in England and was laid up for a few days. I'm fine now.
"I have to be like an athlete to do what I do, but the long tours can get tough. We've had to take a couple of songs down a key to get them more in my range. I've started singing lessons, which I haven't done in probably 20 years as an aim to give the voice more endurance and to be able to hit the high notes without destroying my throat, but I do love a good rasp... There's something in the struggle that is very human.
"I also use Chinese herbs to keep my throat open... and I do yoga to keep myself healthy."
British rockers James were quietly hoping English soccer officials would ask them to record the team's 2014 World Cup anthem after their songs Come Home and Sit Down hit the top of a new poll of unofficial terrace tunes. The band even included a soccer-themed song, name-checking singer Tim Booth's sports hero Lionel Messi, on its new album, La Petit Mort, but the Football Association executives opted not to record an official anthem this year (14).
Booth tells WENN, "We were hoping Curse Curse might get picked up, but it didn't. We thought we were in with a chance because Come Home was just voted the best soccer anthem to ever come out of Manchester (England), and Sit Down is sung at many clubs."
But Booth admits it's perhaps just as well James didn't get asked to create a soccer song - because he tried it once before with terrible results: "We tried very badly around (album) Laid, I changed the lyrics to a song and it was just appalling."
And the singer, who grew up an ardent Leeds United fan, reveals he's not a big fan of English soccer: "I tend to watch Barcelona now. I love Messi.
"I wanted Argentina to win the World Cup and I wanted Messi to score and be hailed the best player in the world. Once the Germans scored in extra time in the final, I turned off. I was out of that game."
British rockers James have created alternative versions of new songs on their set lists for upcoming shows just in case the tunes about the death of frontman Tim Booth's mother and best friend prove too much for the star onstage. The Laid singer felt compelled to write new tracks All I'm Saying and Moving On after the double tragedy and he tells WENN he's never sure how he'll cope with the emotions the songs stir up until he's actually singing them.
And after he burst into tears during a recent gig in Leeds, England, his bandmates have come up with alternative versions of the songs to allow the frontman to "gather" himself at gigs.
He says, "Grief comes in waves and there are times when you're suddenly like a blubbering fool. We play it as a band where it's open-ended; they're ready for when I'm not able to sing a song like All I'm Saying, and they can go round it a few times while I gather myself. That happens now and again."
Booth reveals the song was written after his late friend visited him in a dream weeks after her death, adding, "It was so vivid. It was like she was there.
"I didn't make it to her when she died; I flew to New York but it was too late - and that just devastated me. I didn't get to clear something with her... That woke me up in a certain way.
"I don't want to waste time now. Once you lose friends or loved ones to death, you go, 'S**t! Don't f**k around. Don't wait to kiss a person you love, don't wait to tell them you love them'."
The singer admits his mother's passing in 2012 was a much more "beautiful" affair: "She was 90 and she died in my arms and she was surrounded by loved ones and she wanted to go. It was really quite beautiful.
"I got to sing to her for days and then cuddle up to her and sleep with her the night before she died. It was amazing. Yes, there were tears, but it felt like a birth."
Both songs appear on the group's new album La Petit Mort.
Keane rocker Tim Rice-Oxley been banned from the roads for two years for drink-driving. The keyboardist, 38, was arrested in East Sussex, England in April (14) when a roadside breath test revealed he was almost three times over the drink-drive limit.
Rice-Oxley appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court earlier this month (Jul14) and pleaded guilty to the charge.
He was banned from the roads for 24 months and fined $1,275 (£750). He was also ordered to pay court costs of $145 (£85) and a victim surcharge of $128 (£75).
The driving ban can be reduced by 24 weeks if he successfully completes a road safety course.
Yes, you did indeed read that right: Fox is working on a movie adaptation of the 1970s children’s book series Choose Your Own Adventure. However, other than the production studio and the director — Rawson Marshall Thurber, who directed 2013’s We’re the Millers — not much is known about this film adaptation.
There are many ways a Choose Your Own Adventure movie could go. Multiple versions of the film could be shot and sent out to theaters — similar to the way Clue had three different endings. Or the Choose Your Own Adventure film could follow in the footsteps of the Jack Black Goosbumps movie: instead of sticking to the plot of one of the books, it could focus on the creator, Edward Packard. Or a Jumanji type movie where Packard’s creations come to life could be really cool if done well.
What we’d like to see from a Choose Your Own Adventure movie is an element of interactivity, since that was the whole point of the series. Sure, you mostly ended up dying a horrible death in a deep, dark cave or at the hands of some terrible aliens, but the fun part was that you got to make your own choices. Of course, interactivity will be hard to pull off in a theatrical release and would work better on a gaming system.
Although a Choose Your Own Adventure film could be really awesome and nostalgic — especially since so many people grew up with the books — it will take the right team. Hopefully with Thurber as director, they’ll be able to make something really cool, rather than a movie trying to cash in on our nostalgia.
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.
Rapper Drake helped to convince British soccer star Jermain Defoe to leave the English Premier League and join Major League Soccer's Toronto Football Club after sharing his favourite things about the Canadian city. The Started From the Bottom hitmaker serves as a global ambassador for the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment group, which owns Toronto F.C., and he was recently rumoured to have played a part in recruiting his pal Defoe from London's Tottenham Hotspur F.C. for his hometown team.
Drake has now opened up about his involvement in the transfer deal, insisting he simply shared some advice about the North American city.
The musician tells the Toronto Sun, "I don't know if I had an influence on him coming here (to Canada). I think that all I did was give him the necessary information about a city he didn't know much about. I told him how great it's been to me, and how great I assumed it would be to him. We had a great conversation. We built up a personal relationship.
"I'm excited to see him begin his career here. I just do what I can. (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president Tim Leiweke) is the boss. It's all Tim, really. I was just a piece of the puzzle, I guess."
England striker Defoe was officially unveiled as a Toronto F.C. player during a press conference on Monday morning (13Jan14). His four-year deal with the club will kick off at the end of February (14).
Defoe, 31, isn't the first big name soccer star to leave a top European team for the MLS - David Beckham famously helped to raise the profile of the MLS during his five years at the Los Angeles Galaxy, while Frenchman Thierry Henry left Spanish side Barcelona in 2010 to join the New York Red Bulls.
Meanwhile, Drake's new role landed him the honour of introducing the starting line-up for the Toronto Raptors basketball team, another brand owned by the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment company, on Saturday (11Jan14), as they took on New York's Brooklyn Nets at home. The event was dubbed Drake Night and his presence appeared to be good luck for the Raptors - they went on to win the showdown 96 to 80.
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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Is that you, Rufus Scrimgeour and Bill Weasley? Well, yes it is, but this time Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson have left Harry Potter behind and teamed up in the time-traveling romantic comedy About Time. The film follows 21-year-old Tim (Gleeson) as he learns from his father (Nighy) that the men in his family can time travel. Tim uses his new-found skill to try and swoon the lovely Mary (Rachel McAdams).
Our own Julia Emmanuele sat down with the 7pair and talked about everything from on-set bonding to Richard Curtis to the onslaught of female-fandom the film is sure to bring Weasley... I mean, Gleeson.
About Time is now in theaters.
Carsten Windhorst/WENNDespite becoming the first band since The Beatles to top the U.K. charts with their first five albums, the music world appeared to collectively shrug its shoulders at the weekend when Keane announced that they were taking a break after sixteen years together. One of many inoffensive piano-rock outfits to emerge in the wake of Coldplay's success, the East Sussex trio enjoyed huge success on both sides of the Atlantic in the mid-'00s. But they also became an easy target for the cooler indie fraternity, most notably with Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno, who famously joked that frontman Tom Chaplin's stint in rehab was more likely to be for port addiction than cocaine, and Noel Gallagher, who claimed that "whatever direction the band take, they will always be s***." But did they really deserve the 'Most Boring Band In The World' tag? Here's a look at five arguments in their defense."Is It Any Wonder"Inspired by their disillusionment over the Iraq War, "Is It Any Wonder" proved that Keane weren't always overwhelmingly polite. Recorded whilst battling a drink and drugs problem, Chaplin has never sounded so impassioned on a squalling indie-rock anthem which channelled U2 at their chest-beating stadium rock finest.Perfect SymmetryTo the surprise of everyone, Keane ditched their signature sound for third album, Perfect Symmetry, and instead looked to the widescreen '80s synth-rock of Tears For Fears, Simple Minds and David Bowie for a perfectly-executed pastiche which also produced their career-best single, "Spiralling.""Stop For A Minute"One of the more surreal collaborations of recent years, this lead single from 2010's Night Train E.P. saw one of the most quintessentially English bands of the '00s hook up with Somali-Canadian rapper K'Naan for a wholly unexpected venture into hip-pop."Early Winter"Not exactly a Keane song, although they did later give away their cover as a free download, the gorgeous soft-rock heartbreak of Gwen Stefani's "Early Winter" suggests that its writer and the brains behind the band, Tim Rice-Oxley, may have the more fruitful solo career."Dirtylicious"Recorded for Radio 1's famous Live Lounge series, Keane proved they weren't averse to the odd bit of suggestive R&B with this inspired mash-up of Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty" and Destiny’s Child's "Bootylicious."