Downton Abbey star Jim Carter is fronting a Greenpeace campaign ahead of the Christmas holidays by playing a dishevelled Santa Claus struggling to cope with climate change and oil drilling. The Brit, who plays butler Carson on the hit TV show, has swapped his bow tie and tails for a Santa outfit in a new promo for the environmentalist organisation.
In the film, titled An Urgent Message From Santa, Carter's Claus attempts to deal with the North Pole melting and flooding, as well as power failures.
The actor hopes the stark message in the short film will encourage viewers to go green this holiday season.
He says, "I want to do my part to help raise the profile of the threats posed to the Arctic by oil drilling and climate change. I was pleased to have this opportunity to support Greenpeace and their Christmas campaign.”
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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From the '90s to the present, the neo-soul movement has been the springboard for everyone from Maxwell, Macy Gray, and Erykah Badu to John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and Raheem DeVaughn. The roll call of key influences should be familiar by now, mostly containing ubiquitous, iconic figures like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Al Green, but there's one man who's equally seminal to neo-soul despite never achieving anything near the star status of the aforementioned artists: Donny Hathaway. Fortunately, the first-ever domestic box set of Hathaway's work, Never My Love: The Anthology, has now appeared via the always-worthy Rhino Records, and not only does it underscore the weighty debt owed to the late Hathaway by subsequent generations of soulsters, it expands his regrettably slim discography with two discs' worth of previously unheard music.
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Hathaway released only four studio albums during his too-short life: three on his own and one in a duo with Roberta Flack. For whatever reason, Hathaway/Flack duets like "The Closer I Get" and "Where is the Love" became huge hits while Hathaway's solo work mostly achieved only middling commercial success. The four-disc box includes one CD compiled from Hathaway's albums, one containing collaborations with Flack, another featuring demos of never-before-heard songs, and one full of previously unreleased live recordings from 1971. The breadth and depth encompassed by this set is almost shocking, and the anthology is an overdue monument to the mighty artistry of this mercurial genius.
The demos disc is the most revelatory, as its contents highlight not only Hathaway's vision but also his eclecticism. "A Lot of Soul," for instance, is a country stroll (don't let the title fool you), while the "ZYXYGY Concerto" is a full-on neo-classical piece, with Hathaway's piano leading the way for a full orchestra. The live disc was recorded at New York's tiny-but-influential Greenwich Village club The Bitter End (other tracks from Hathaway's three-night '71 run at the venue have been previously unearthed). Listening to Hathaway and his band -- which includes killer players like guitarist Cornell Dupree, bassist Willie Weeks, and Earth, Wind & Fire drummer Fred White -- lock in on a slow-burning soul stirrer like Al Kooper's "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" or a free-for-all funkfest like "Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)" can be downright epiphany-inducing.
The mentally unstable Hathaway left us at the age of 33; seemingly off his meds for too long, he began acting irrationally at a 1979 session, and later that day he leaped out a window to his death, ending his story far too soon. But with the arrival of Never My Love, hopefully those who have never had the same opportunity to embrace him that his many musical disciples have maximized can begin to play catch-up.
British stars Emma Thompson and Jim Carter are among the locals fighting plans to chop down 35 trees to make way for a railway station in their London neighbourhood. The pair is backing a campaign to stop bosses at development company Ballymore from ripping down the trees in West Hampstead.
Carter, who lives in the area with actress wife Imelda Staunton, says, "I have lived in West Hampstead for over 20 years and I'm dismayed to hear that there's a possibility that 35 trees may be chopped down by the developers Ballymore. I would urge them to reconsider as a matter of utmost urgency.
"In a densely packed residential area like West Hampstead all our green amenities are cherished and provide a much needed habitat for wildlife as well as visual relief from the enormous increase in hard landscaping. I would urge them to look at increasing the number of mature trees on the site rather than reducing them."
Meanwhile, Thompson, who grew up in the area and lives on the same road as her actress mother Phyllida Law, accuses the company of "eco-savagery".
In a letter opposing the move, she writes, "I have lived in West Hampstead for many years and have watched as development has all but removed any green spaces and most of the life-giving trees from the area. I understood from the council that your development was set to include the trees that give pleasure and - vitally - oxygen to the area, but I now understand that you are planning to chop them all down. Please do not indulge in this act of vandalism and eco-savagery. Your development will be infinitely more attractive with the trees in place."
DC Comics via andertoons/Flickr
New Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara discussed a number of projects recently, including the new J.K. Rowling project and a desire to balance big budget franchise films with smaller, more modest features. But one moment that stood out was when talk turned to superheroes. Tsujihara spoke hopefully about moving beyond Batman and Superman, namechecking Wonder Woman. "We need to get Wonder Woman on the big screen or TV," he said. Sure, it's a great sentiment. But heroes like Green Arrow and police commissioner Jim Gordon are already heading to TV, even though Wonder Woman is inarguably a bigger name. So if they have the rights, the money, and the desire, what the heck is Warner Bros. waiting for?
When it comes to the superhero arms race, DC hasn't had a win since The Dark Knight came out in 2008. Testing an unknown character? Marvel wins by a landslide with the improbable rise of Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man. Recasting a hero? Marvel wins, with the (eventual) discovery of Mark Ruffalo as Hulk. A team movie with multiple heroes? Marvel's winning by two, with Avengers and Gaurdians of the Galaxy. So far, neither studio has been declared the "winner" when it comes to female heroes. But at least Marvel has Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow. At least Natalie Portman is pairing with Marvel to sponsor a contest to get girls more interested in science. What has DC/WB given us? Two solid attempts at making Catwoman a supporting character and one miserable attempt to give Catwoman her own film in 2004.
The saying goes, if you want something done well, you have to do it yourself. You know what — sometimes, if you want something done at all, you have to do it yourself. Sure, you can say, "The David E. Kelley Wonder Woman pilot was terrible. That's why it wasn't picked up!" But Green Lantern was an underbaked disaster, and you at least gave it the chance to try. (By the way, if earning over $200 million in box office for you is considered a failure, you may want to reexamine your average budget.) Don't outsource the task of adapting a uniquely inspiring and rewarding character to the big screen when you have an entire movie studio — and one that's been struggling for new content in the wake of Christopher Nolan — at your disposal. Not to mention the very same TV studio that produced the original Wonder Woman series! The one that wasn't half bad, and gave Wonder Woman the super-progressive-for-the-'70s cover as an Air Force pilot. Beyond that, there has been a steady stream of DC Animated Universe content featuring Wonder Woman that proves that the character can fly off the page just as easily as Superman. Actually, maybe that's a bad example, as both bigscreen Superman adaptations from the last 10 years were met with decidedly mixed reviews. Regardless, with all this talk around women, comics, superheroes, and franchises, it would be nice to see some action.
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There are plenty of reasons to get all worked up over Jim Carrey’s recent confirmation of Dumb and Dumber To. The sequel to the 1994 hit comedy from the Farrelly Brothers is officially in the works and they’ve already nabbed a huge cameo appearance in Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence. As Carrey prepares to revisit (and reinvent) one of his seminal slapstick roles, we can’t help but think of all the movies he’s starred in that aren’t necessarily the first films people associate with his extensive career. Lloyd Christmas, Ace Ventura, and The Cable Guy were great, but here are a few amazing characters whom you might have forgotten.
Truman Burbank, The Truman Show
Easily one of the best films of the '90s, The Truman Show was like a brilliant critique on reality television before reality television even took over the world. And Carrey’s performance of Truman Burbank – a man who unknowingly starred in his own show for his whole life – was one of his best. Naïve, desperate, laughable, and lovable, Carrey’s Truman Burbank was simultaneously the everyman next door and one in a million.
Andy Kaufman, Man On The Moon
Carrey took on iconic '70s comedian Andy Kaufman and wowed audiences everywhere as he brought to life Kaufman as Kaufman and Kaufman as his beloved characters Tony Clifton and Latka Gravas from Taxi. Like any good biopic, the resemblance between the actor and the subject became a little bit uncanny, and Carrey was so good at being Kaufman, it was almost uncomfortable to watch at times. For this, Carrey took home the 2000 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy/Musical.
The Grinch, Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas
When director Ron Howard brought a childhood classic to the big screen, he knew casting the lead role would be everything. Carrey’s rendition of The Grinch was brilliant in that it paid homage to the strange, sad green monster in Dr. Seuss’s original tale, even as it inspired a very contemporary feel in the would-be villain of Whoville.
Joel, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Teaming up with Kate Winslet (who also gave one of the best performances of her career), Carey played another everyman-type character, of an especially awkward nature. After falling in love with Clementine and then watching the relationship turn sour he attempts to have her erased from his memory altogether. Most of the movie takes place in the actual mind of Joel, and his fight to save the memories of the love of his life turned Carrey the comedian into Carrey, the romantic indie heartthrob...well, sort of and if only for a moment.
Carl, Yes Man
Before Zooey Deschanel was the New Girl she was riding on the back of a motorcycle with Jim Carrey in the 2008 film Yes Man. Another romantic comedy made more interesting with Carrey’s performance, Yes Man tells the story of an average guy who becomes extraordinary when he learns to just say yes. Believe it or not, this film was based on a true story, as detailed in British comedian Danny Wallace's book of the same name.
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Everything that makes the Internet awesome in one 7-minute superhero fan film! Our good friends at Forewarned Films have done it again! They managed to squeeze out amazing big budget effects on a 10 pizza budget. We've been showcasing the 'Broken Toy' web series on our YouTube channel: HollywoodStreams and now with this latest episode we've got some cool behind the scenes shots and exclusive sketches from preproduction. Made by three fanboys and one fangirl, Broken Toy is a funny, high-energy feature length film released episodically in 5-7 minute episodes. Driven by a passion for comics and deeply inspired by Jim Henson, (early) Lucas, and Del Toro's work on Hellboy, these indie filmmakers used practical effects and a six-foot puppet to create a really fun Hollywood blockbuster summer film…with no real budget. ForewarnedFilms And with only $100 per episode (spent mostly on pizza) and nooooooo experience with visual effects, what you see on the screen was entirely self-taught with the aid of lots and lots of tutorials and lots and lots of coffee. BROKEN TOY: Five pilots volunteered for a program to enhance reflexes, 4 died horribly. The last one is now running wild in a murderous rampage. Quinn is not a hero, he's not an anti-hero, he's merely a villain with a broken brain, unaware that "no, people cannot live without their lungs".
To check out the entire web series and watch it from Episode 1 visit the playlist on YouTube here.
ForewarnedFilms They run no ads. They have no sponsors. They aren’t asking for money. This is just some passionate filmmakers using what they have to create something fun for fans of the scifi superhero genre. I challenge anyone to watch the first few seconds and NOT say “Cool”.Check out the full gallery here!
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Kaley Cuoco's sister stepped out of the actress' shadow as she appeared on U.S. TV talent show The Voice on Monday (23Sep13). The Big Bang Theory star featured alongside her little sister Briana in an episode of the singing contest, which features Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine as judges.
In the clip, host Carson Daly gives Briana the good news that she has won a chance to audition for the judges.
Meanwhile, Kaley's Emmy-winning co-star Jim Parsons has admitted he's a big fan of Briana, telling Access Hollywood, "She is great (at) a lot of things. We give Kaley a lot of hell like, 'Oh so finally the world is going to see the really talented Cuoco!' Which is not true - we just want to give her s**t!"
Justin Timberlake is keen to go mean and green on the big screen as Batman's foe The Riddler. The singer/actor has applauded Ben Affleck's casting as the Caped Crusader in the Man of Steel sequel, revealing he has become a big fan of the Argo director and star after working with him on new film Runner Runner last year (12).
He tells U.S. radio network Fresh 102.7, "I worked with Ben last summer and I've seen his process. I think he's a brilliant filmmaker. I think he's an extreme talent so he could surprise a lot of people."
And if movie bosses are considering more Batman movies, there is one comic book role he would be interested in.
He explains, "I have no aspiration to ever be a superhero in a movie. Now (a) villain! I'll tell you the villain I want to play more than anything because I grew up loving Batman, funny enough, is The Riddler. The Riddler is my favourite villain.
"The Riddler was, like, a sociopath. He was proper crazy. So if I'm gonna play crazy, I'm wanna play proper crazy. I'm ready. The Riddler. Gimme a call!"
Jim Carrey and late TV veteran Frank Gorshin have both previously portrayed The Riddler onscreen.
Rockers Green Day have teamed up with a skateboard company to create a line of boards inspired by the band's latest multi-album release to raise money for charity. The American Idiot hitmakers have joined forces with Real Skateboards, one of the biggest board companies in the U.S., to benefit the Children's Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, California, where the sister of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong works.
Real Skateboards co-founder Jim Thiebaud is a long-time friend of Armstrong and collaborated with the band on the custom boards, which feature designs mimicking the graphics for their Uno!, Dos!, and Tré! album set.
Thiebaud tells the New York Daily News, "It's a true collaboration with Green Day. I've been friends with Billie Joe for more than 15 years. I grew up in Berkeley and Oakland... Skateboarding is an amazing platform. It's not just about pushing a board; you can use it to change the world... Billie Joe's sister works at Children's Hospital, and he suggested it. It's entirely Green Day. I'm just lucky to be a part of it."