Record-breaking Tony Award winner Audra Mcdonald has confessed to attempting suicide when the stress of attending top drama school Julliard became too much for her to handle. The actress and singer, who became the first star to pick up six Tonys last month (Jun14), has opened up about the depression she battled as a young hopeful at the New York school.
In a candid new ABC interview with top film critic Peter Travers, Audra says, "When I was at Julliard, I had a suicide attempt. I tried to slit my wrist."
She obviously survived the attempt and now credits Julliard's caring teachers for helping her get past the darkest days of her life.
She adds, "When someone is suicidal, one of the first things you have to do is to protect them from themselves. They had a mental health facilitator there, a therapist there and they checked me into a mental health hospital, where I was for a month and got me the help I needed.
"Julliard was like, 'We think that that musical theatre thing is more for you anyway. That seems to be where you're the happiest'. I went out and did (show) Secret Garden and then I came back and finished Julliard."
McDonald is now among the most beloved stars on Broadway.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
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Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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Forest Whitaker has broken his silence about his "humiliating" shoplifting accusation in a new TV interview. The Oscar winner was mistaken for a common crook at the Milano Market in Manhattan earlier this year (Feb13) after a store employee suspected the actor of stealing.
Embarrassed Whitaker, who was frisked in front of other shoppers, has since received an apology from the store's owners and the "misguided" employee has been fired, but Whitaker tells ABC News film correspondent Peter Travers he'll never forget the moment he was accused of stealing.
He says, "I was angered. It's a humiliating thing for someone to come and do that. It's attempted dis-empowerment."
The Butler star adds, "Most of the stop and frisk... Nine out of the ten (times someone is frisked), the person is not a criminal. They don't ticket them, or they don't arrest them (and) 99 per cent of them don't have a weapon. So I think there's something that has to be examined."
American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street and August: Osage County have been named the early frontrunners for next year's (14) Best Picture Oscar by America's top movie critics. Respected experts like Thom Geier, Tariq Khan, Peter Travers and Thelma Adams have offered up their opinions on the favourites in awards news website GoldDerby.com's first Oscars countdown odds of the year.
David O. Russell's 1970s period film American Hustle leads the way with 9/2 odds, closely followed by Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's latest collaboration, The Wolf of Wall Street.
Meryl Streep's latest August: Osage County comes in third, while the Coen Brothers' folk music film Inside Llewyn Davis and George Clooney and Matt Damon's The Monuments Men also make the top five.
Russell is the early favourite for the Best Director award, while Robert Redford leads the way in the Best Actor category for his high seas drama All is Lost, and Cate Blanchett is the clear leader in the Best Actress stakes for her portrayal as "a tarnished trophy wife" in Woody Allen's new drama Blue Jasmine.
The Oscar nominations will be announced in January (14) and the awards ceremony will be hosted by comedienne Ellen DeGeneres in Hollywood on 2 March (14).
The film, an adaptation of the famous Brothers Grimm fairy tale which also stars British actress Gemma Arterton, debuted at the top of the U.S. box office this weekend (26-27Jan13) with takings of $19 million (£11.88 million), but received a rotten reception from reviewers.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine called the film "lame-brained", "vomit-inducing" and "the longest 90 minutes you ever spend in a theatre" while Richard Corliss of Time magazine suggests Renner "lacks the crackle of genuine star quality" and Arterton "had her 15 mins. (sic) of movie fame three years ago... before retiring to the Julia Ormond Home for English Actresses Briefly Mistaken for Hollywood Hotties."
However, Renner has shrugged off the negative comments about the film and insisted the movie is not meant to be taken seriously, telling the Sydney Daily Telegraph, "We knew this was never going to be a movie for the critics. I'm just hoping that people go along and can have some fun with it. It's pure escapism."
The Breaking Bad star was working odd jobs on California's Santa Catalina Island in the 1970s when he was asked to marry a couple - and the pay was so good, he couldn't refuse.
He tells Rolling Stone writer Peter Travers, "It was a big scam, it was a hell of a scam. During the summers of '75 and '76... I spent my summers on Catalina Island, making money, meeting girls, I was young, it was a great time. We befriended a guy named Reverend Bob, he was about 40, he was an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church.
"One time he accidentally booked two weddings - different locations, same day, same time. He realised the mistake too late to change it, so he comes to me and says, 'Do you want to be an ordained minister and go marry this (couple)? They'll pay you $150 cash...' I was working minimum wage over on Catalina Island, it was $4 an hour maybe, so $150 for an hour and a half was huge. I could pay my entire share of rent from that one time. So I said, 'How does one do this?'
"He takes a piece of paper with scrolls on it and gilded florets and everything and puts it into the IBM Selectric (typewriter), types my name in, gives that to me in a cellophane sleeve to show the bride and groom... Bing bang boom, I'm legal to marry people."
But Cranston no longer oversees nuptials, joking, "When I married the Kardashians and they got divorced it broke my heart. So I stopped doing it, I'm too involved emotionally."
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Ok, there is a better story here, but we have to get all the basics out of the way first. Derek Cianfrance, the director of the heart breaking Blue Valentine, has signed on to adapt Sam Fussell's 1991 body building memoir Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder into a comedy for HBO. Fussell was a 170 pound Oxford graduate academic before immersing himself in the bodybuilding world and ballooning up to 257 of pure (steroid-aided) muscle. While we’re skeptical about how well Cianfrance can handle comedy considering how dark and dramatic Blue Valentine is and how funny a memoir that exposes the bulimia, homosexuality, and steroid use (among many other things) in the body building world can be, we’ll just toss out the obligatory Hans and Franz reference.
But the REAL story is Ryan Gosling, potential Oscar nominee in Blue Valentine, sang the My Little Pony theme song to Peter Travers:
Now THAT is something to write home about.
Source: Deadline and Pajiba