A new British musical based on the early career of The Kinks has won high praise from critics, who have awarded the production top marks. Sunny Afternoon, named after the rockers' 1966 hit of the same name, opened at London's Hampstead Theatre on Thursday night (01May14) and the stage musical, which features a slew of the icons' tracks, has gone down a storm with reviewers.
The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts brands the show "a belter" and exclaims, "You really got me! ...This show is far better than a mere tribute evening, though it includes lots of Kinks hits. It gives you a strong sense of period - some terrific short hemlines on the girls - yet also well-drawn characters that evolve with the band."
Nick Hasted from TheArtsDesk.com awards the show four out of five stars and writes, "In The Kinks' 50th Anniversary year, their spirit could hardly be better revived", while The Telegraph's Charles Spencer states, "It is an irresistibly enjoyable and touching night, and anyone who loves pop music at its greatest would be mad to miss it."
Lead actors John Dagleish and George Maguire, who portray Ray Davies and his guitarist brother Dave, respectively, have also been singled out for applause, with the Evening Standard's Henry Hitchings calling Dagleish's performance "immense", while claiming Maguire gives his character "an exciting wildness".
Reports suggest Sunny Afternoon may transfer to the West End stage once its run at the Hampstead Theatre wraps on 24 May (14).
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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Sigh. It feels like it was only yesterday when we last left Raylan Givens and co., with his nemesis Quarles lying on the ground with a bloody stump, and Raylan himself bleeding from the inside due to the several emotional wounds opened by various members of his family. But it wasn't, and tonight, Justified will make its triumphant Season 4 return — complete with snakes, flashbacks, and Twitter-happy comedians. Hollywood.com was able to attend Justified's premiere in Los Angeles last week, and we're here to fill you in on what you missed last season, and to mercilessly tease you with quotes from the stars on what's to come. Read on, hill people!
Where We Left Off: Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) was already having a pretty rough go of it — his pregnant on-again-off-again Winona (Natalie Zea) left him, and began trolling Orbitz for flights to Costa Rica. His arch-nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) was finally in jail for murdering his former associate, but he was released when Raylan's own father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), confessed to the crime — effectively choosing his buddy-in-crime over his son.
Things were (sort of?) looking up when Season 3's big bad Quarles (Neal McDonough) got his arm hacked off by Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), but the pale bastard used up his last words telling Raylan that Arlo only shot Trooper Tom because he mistook him for Raylan. And you thought Boyd had daddy issues?
Biggest Jaw-Dropper Last Season: Well, besides the aforementioned attempted filicide, the ruthless murder of Winona's other ex-husband, Gary, was a shocker.
Biggest Let-Down From Last Season: Last season was pretty stellar, but it would be nice to see Raylan's co-workers actually do something. This isn't Dexter, after all.
Most Improved Character: Arlo was always interesting, but his ruthless deception and moral decrepitude was fascinating to watch, and we can't wait to see how it will continue to weigh on Raylan this season.
Least Improved Character: Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel (Erica Tazel), though it's not really their fault that they never have anything to do.
5 Reasons You Should Keep Watching: First, there's the fact that comedian Patton Oswalt will recur as Constable Bob, a goof from Raylan's high school class who is assigned the difficult task of watching over Arlo's house, and who not-so-secretly has a man-crush on Raylan. Then there's the mysterious backwoods "Snake Church" that Boyd, Ava and co. become involved with over the first few episodes — a plot line that Goggins wasn't initially very happy about. "I'm not scared of many things, but snakes are one of the things that I’m most scared of in the world," Goggins says. "I read [the script] and I started sweating, like I couldn’t handle it. And at one point there’s a snake in a box that I had to pick up, and that freaked me out. There’s not really anything that scares me in the way that snakes do, so yes — Walton Goggins did not want to go in that church as much as Boyd Crowder did not want to go in that church." Color us intrigued!
Meanwhile, Raylan will interact with a group called the "Hill People", while also tackling a deep family mystery, which means — you guessed it — FLASHBACKS! And since Raylan/Olyphant are both sexy as f***, we were very excited to hear the following news about the Deputy Marshall's love live: "Well, [Winona] left Raylan so he’s available to f*** up his life in every which way," Olyphant says.
What We Ultimately Want To See: More Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) and Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies, who won an Emmy for the role), though producer Graham Yost has hinted that their returns may not happen this year. It's a shame, because these two redneck extraordinaires steal every episode in which they appear. We'd also love to see Ava take on a larger role in the crime world, as Harlan County would be a very interesting place with the competent, fiery blonde running the show.
What Would Make Us Turn Our Backs: That would be extremely difficult, as Justified has been consistently engaging throughout the last three seasons. However, we will say that we're pretty sick of the Raylan/Winona drama.
Justified premieres Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 10pm on FX. Reporting by Leanne Aguilera Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna [PHOTO CREDIT: FX] MORE: 'Justified' Gets Season 4: More Timothy Olyphant Shooting Junkies 'Justified' (Season 3) TV Stills 'Justified' Recap: Who Took the Money? From Our Partners: ’Texas Chainsaw’: Top 5 Leatherface Kills (Moviefone) Quentin Tarantino’s Most Bad-Ass Music Moments (Moviefone)
It was 1999, and David O. Russell was new to the industry — he had only directed two films to date, fostering stars like Jeremy Davies (Spanking the Monkey) and Ben Stiller(Flirting with Disaster). And then came Three Kings. The filmmaker's first straight drama, his first pickup by a Big Five production company, is also his first collaboration with Mark Wahlberg: his muse in the making.
Following Three Kings, Russell and Wahlberg partnered on the offbeat comedy I Heart Huckabees and the Oscar-nominated drama biopic The Fighter. And for a while, it was expected that Wahlberg would take the lead in Russell's upcoming romance/dramedy, Silver Linings Playbook. But top-billing in that picture ultimately landed in the hands of Bradley Cooper, whom Russell has cast in his next movie, an untitled project formerly named American Bulls***. On top of this, Russell discussed with The Hollywood Reporter on a desire to work with Cooper on a third film: American Sniper — a property to which Cooper presently has the rights.
So, the days of Russell/Wahlberg might be over. But will Russell's partnership with Cooper really be able to reproduce, or perhaps top, the magic he and his first muse managed in Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, and the critical/popular topper of the lot, The Fighter?
It's not like it hasn't been done — there have been plenty of directors who have moved from one acting muse to another, for whatever reason, resulting in some fantastic work:
Original Muse: Robert De Niro
Collaborations: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Mad Dog and Glory, Casino
Replacement Muse: Leonardo DiCaprio
Collaborations: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street
Original Muse: Matt Damon
Collaborations: Oceans Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, The Brothers Grimm, Syriana, Ocean's Thirteen, Che, The Informant!, Contagion
Replacement Muse: Channing Tatum
Collaborations: Haywire, Magic Mike, The Bitter Pill
Original Muse: Tarantino has collaborated with several people on multiple occasions — Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth — but the director's true original muse is undoubtedly Uma Thurman
Collaborations: Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bill movies
Replacement Muse: Christoph Waltz
Collaborations: Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained
Original Muse: Diane Keaton
Collaborations: Play It Again, Sam, Sleeper, Love and Death, Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Radio Days, Manhattan Murder Mystery
Replacement Muses: Diane Wiest, Mia Farrow, Daryl Hannah, Judy Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz...
Collaborations: Every remaining movie he has ever made
So is it possible? Heck yes. Clearly, Russell has found something in Cooper that inspires him. That's all it takes for two talented people to make magic. I Heart Huckabees-level magic, though? Hard to say...
[Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company]
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Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz have unwrapped their plans to co-star in "The Mummy 2," set to begin shooting this spring for a May 2001 release. The dynamic duo will reprise their roles as rugged hero Rick O'Connell and love interest Evelyn Carnahan.
Both actors had been expected to return to action after Universal received a commitment from "Mummy" writer-director Stephen Sommers six months ago. Also returning to the fold is co-star John Hannah. Daily Variety reports that it's his first $1 million deal.
Fraser's expected to receive somewhere in the $12.5 million range, up from the $5 million he collected for the first installment. The actor's most recent payday was $10 million for 20th Century Fox's update of "Bedazzled." The new story will follow the entombed terror as it resurfaces in London. The script reportedly includes a 9-year-old son for Fraser and Weisz's characters who shares his father's knack for adventure. The studio says possible locations for the shoot include Egypt, Morocco and London.
MORSE GETS 'LIFE': "The Green Mile's" David Morse is ready to be taken hostage in the Taylor Hackford-directed "Proof of Life." Morse will co-star with Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe and David Caruso. It's the third Castle Rock Entertainment film for the actor, after "The Green Mile" and "Extreme Measures." The story involves a hostage negotiator (Crowe) who falls for the wife (Ryan) of the person (Morse) he's hired to save.
'LOVE RETURNS' FOR BARRYMORE: Drew Barrymore's latest romance is an adaptation of Robert Nathan's 1958 book "So Love Returns." Variety notes that the "Ever After" star has signed on to direct and headline the supernatural love story after obtaining the rights from the author's estate.
The story involves a writer who can't get over the death of his wife. He isolates himself from the world and his two kids. But then he meets a magical woman (Barrymore in the flesh) who appears out of the sea to help him recover.
Barrymore will produce the feature with Middle Fork Productions, after passing on studios that wanted to turn her character into a mermaid. Budget for the indie project is $5 million.
STONE'S BROADWAY INSTINCT: Sharon Stone might be ripe for Broadway. The "Casino" star is considering a role in David Mamet's "Boston Marriage," with Variety reporting that she's already met with "The Iceman Cometh" stage director Howard Davies about the project. The sexy star could be just the right enticement. The play's involves two lesbians at the turn of the century.
TARANTINO THE ACTOR: "Pulp Fiction" director Quentin Tarantino will flex his thespian chops once again (after flopping in the Broadway play "Wait Until Dark") in a cameo for the Adam Sandler flick "Little Nicky." Sandler stars as the son of Satan in the pic, while Tarantino plays a blind preacher whom "senses" Sandler's presence.