The former White House Press Secretary to U.S. President Ronald Reagan has died at the age of 73. James Brady, who served in office from 1981 to 1989, suffered serious injuries in 1981 after overzealous Jodie Foster fan John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate Reagan in Washington D.C.
Hinckley, Jr. hit the leader in the chest and arm, while also injuring three others, including Brady, who was left partially paralysed by the shooting, confining him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Brady subsequently became an outspoken campaigner for gun control.
His recovery from the shooting became the basis for Emmy-winning TV movie Without Warning: The James Brady Story in 1991, with Beau Bridges in the lead role.
Brady died on Monday (04Aug14). His cause of death has yet to be made public.
Angelina Jolie and Daniel Day-Lewis have been recognised by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in her Birthday Honours List. The actress has been named an honorary dame, while fellow Oscar winner Day-Lewis will be knighted.
Jolie learned of the honour in London this week (beg09Jun14), while she was co-hosting an international summit on sexual violence.
She won't be entitled to use her new royal title because she is not a British or Commonwealth citizen, but she joins fellow Americans Steven Spielberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former President Ronald Reagan, who have previously received honorary titles from the Queen.
Among the soldiers, charity heroes, civil servants and entrepreneurs to receive honours, Day-Lewis will be able to add 'Sir' to his name after becoming a knight for "services to drama".
The Lincoln star admits he was, "entirely amazed and utterly delighted in equal measure" to discover he had made the list.
There were also damehoods for Booker Prize-winning novelist Hilary Mantel and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, while beloved actress Dame Maggie Smith, who portrays the Dowager Countess of Grantham on TV's Downton Abbey, was made a Companion of Honor, and becomes one of only 65 people "of distinction" in the U.K., and Homeland star Damian Lewis has been named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
He says, "I decided to do the very un-British thing of accepting the compliment."
Author Hunter Davies, actress Phyllida Law and musician Talvin Singh also received OBEs, while physicist Thomas Kibble and pianist Andra Schiff have been honoured with knighthoods.
Also making the annual honours list is singer and DJ Cerys Matthews and actor John Barrowman, who have both been awarded Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medals (CBEs).
An overzealous Jodie Foster fan who attempted to assassinate former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981 has been given conditional release from a mental institution.
John Hinckley, Jr. was confined to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1982 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the shooting, which left Reagan with bullet wounds to the chest and arm. Three others were also injured, including the leader's press secretary James Brady, who has been paralysed ever since.
The 58 year old had been undergoing psychiatric treatment at the facility for more than three decades, but his attorneys recently told a judge he is in "full remission" from his depression and psychotic disorder, and he has since been allowed to leave the medical centre for 17 days each month to spend time with his mother Jo Ann in Williamsburg, Virginia unsupervised, according to the National Enquirer.
Hinckley, Jr. was motivated to carry out the attack by his obsession with Foster and her 1976 movie Taxi Driver, in which lead character Travis Bickle, portrayed by Robert De Niro, attempts to rescue a 12-year-old prostitute, played by the former child actress. He claimed he wanted to emulate Bickle, who, in the movie, tries to shoot a U.S. senator who is running for president.
Hinckley, Jr. also had a history of trailing Foster around the U.S. and even bombarded her with letters and phone calls in 1980, when she was a student at Yale University in Connecticut.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Wednesday night treated America to President Barack Obama's fifth State of the Union address, a speech lined with criticism of our country's immigration system, economic policies, and established plans about how to move forward regarding the Middle East crisis. But towards the tail end of the speech, the Commander-in-Chief spouted a moment of levity, proving himself to be (at the very least) this generation's president when he tossed in a television reference. And no, not a square one, like Bush Sr.'s castigation of The Simpsons — Obama made a Mad Men joke.
"Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work," the president said. "She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode. This year, let’s all come together — Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street — to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds."
The proclamation invoked a sweeping applause in house and throughout the country — there's nothing like a good new media allusion to drive home a point. But less is more, in this case. We have it on good (fake) authority that Obama had to edit out a few other television references from the first draft of his latest SOTU...
- "Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates — through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors — from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall. And if you think that's impressive, let me tell you about a simple chemistry teacher who turned himself into a billionaire by pioneering his own crystal meth empire..."
- "Today in America ... a farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after 12 long years, is finally coming to an end... just like How I Met Your Mother. Thank God, am I right? Seriously, that show feels like it's been on forever. Come on, Ted, finish the story already."
- "Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren't working at all. I mean, look at Marnie. She can't even hold a job at Ray's coffee shop — and no, Boehner, it doesn't count as a spoiler if it's been 48 hours since the episode aired!"
- "Tonight, I ask every business leader in America to join us and to do the same — because we are stronger when America fields a full team. Even if you get a lousy draft, you can always propose an eight-way trade. That's what Ruxin has taught us."
- "These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away. But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today. And if Francis Underwood can convince all of those people to keep their mouths shut about that murder... dammit, Boehner, it's been like a year, catch up already!"
- "What Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer — and every job seeker. So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. Like spying, and killing, and planting bugs in Senators' offices in the name of Mother Russia ... you guys get it? That's a The Americans joke. Because I said "Americans." They're spies. You guys watch that show? No? It's pretty good."
- "My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might — but because of the ideals we stand for, and the burdens we bear to advance them. And that's why we are the most a-mah-zing country in the world ... God, I miss Happy Endings."
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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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When it comes to imagining a totalitarian state, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire errs on the side of glamour. Yes, it's gritty, but pretty/gritty. And it is pure fiction. There is no living chronicle to hold it up against.
Although that doesn't always help. When Warren Beatty made Reds — a telling of the Russian Revolution based on journalist John Reed's chronicle Ten Days that Shook the World — he managed to glamorize that as well. Including the ending: the film was made in 1981, before Ronald Reagan had his way with the Iron Curtain. Reds managed to make it into the can with its idealism fully intact.
Still, it makes an interesting contrast to Catching Fire, which is also about the struggle over they ways idealism can sometimes play itself out. Both films are about also about love, and the ways love can be tested during times of political struggle.
Director Lee Daniels set his sights sky-high when casting new movie The Butler as he wanted U.S. President Barack Obama in a starring role. The historical drama tells the story of real life White House butler Eugene Allen, re-named Cecil Gaines in the movie, who served under eight consecutive U.S. Presidents including Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
The film boasts an impressive cast list including Forest Whitaker as Gaines, Alan Rickman as Reagan and John Cusack as Nixon, and Daniels reveals he wanted to cast Obama as himself.
He tells website Thegrio.com, "(I wanted) Obama.... (But) I was too afraid to ask him. (Even if I had) I think that he was in the middle of something called the election. It would have been weird if I had somebody playing Obama. I couldn't have anybody playing Obama but Obama."
The role of Obama eventually went to Orlando Eric Street.
The Longest Day and Spies Like Us star Steve Forrest has died, aged 87. The actor, who also played Lt. Dan 'Hondo' Harrelson in 1970s TV action series S.W.A.T., passed away on 18 May (13).
Forrest spent almost six decades on the big and small screen, appearing in TV classics like The Virginian, Bonanza and Gunsmoke.
Born in Huntsville, Texas, he was the youngest of 13 children.
After serving as a sergeant in the Army during World War II, during which he fought at the Battle of the Bulge, Forrest moved to Los Angeles to study at UCLA.
He graduated in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in theatre arts and became a stagehand at the La Jolla Playhouse, where he was discovered by movie legend Gregory Peck, who helped him land a screen test with MGM.
By 1953, the young actor had started to make a name for himself thanks to his acclaimed role opposite Jane Wyman in So Big.
His early films also included Prisoner of War, opposite Wyman's husband Ronald Reagan, Rogue Cop and It Happened to Jane. He also played Elvis Presley's half-brother in 1960's Flaming Star, and then he became a household name when he teamed up with John Wayne in The Longest Day in 1962.
Forrest will also be remembered for roles in the movies North Dallas Forty, Mommie Dearest, and 1985's Spies Like Us, in which he played a villain opposite Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd.
His success was international - Forrest also starred in BBC crime drama The Baron, the first colour series on U.K. TV.
In his final role in 2003, he played a truck driver in the movie remake of his hit TV series S.W.A.T.
Fans of Ac/Dc have launched a $77,500 (£50,000) fundraiser to generate cash for a monument honouring late frontman Bon Scott in his hometown in Scotland. Sculptor John McKenna was commissioned last year (12) to design a statue commemorating the star, real name Ronald Scott, and devotees of the band have ramped up funding for the project in Kirriemuir.
Local community group DD8 Music has launched a campaign on fundraising website Kickstarter.com, and organisers aim to raise $77,500 for the monument.
DD8 committee member John Crawford tells Classic Rock magazine, "Kirriemuir was the home town of a little lad called Ronald - who was to grow up and become the world's best-known frontman.
"We believe Bon deserves a statue. We've commissioned John McKenna to create a life-sized statue which will capture three things: his personality, his stage presence and his Scottish roots. We're appealing to the greatest fans in the world to come together and make this project a reality. We want the statue to be from the fans, for the fans."
Scott, 33, died in 1980 after suffering acute alcohol poisoning.