Actor Tom Hanks has teamed with executives at U.S. cable network HBO to present an all-star concert, which will be televised on America's Veteran's Day next month (11Nov14).
The Captain Phillips star will executive produce the Concert for Valor, which will air live from the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and feature performances from Eminem, Jamie Foxx, Dave Grohl, Metallica, Rihanna, Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood and the Zac Brown Band. Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg and Hanks will also make special appearances.
Announcing the joint venture with Hanks, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler says, "We are honored to play a small role to help raise awareness and support for our service men and women. "Their immeasurable sacrifice deserves our nation's gratitude. This event will not only celebrate their service, but help remind Americans of the many challenges they face on and off the battlefield."
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Here’s the sole compliment I will pay Into the Storm: it let’s you know right away what you’re getting into. The very first minute of the movie introduces fans to the sort of grim, nihilistic, aesthetically repugnant and substantially barren horror that maintains throughout the hour and a half to follow, saving only the extent of its special effects for later… and trust me, it’s not worth the wait.
While we’ve been debating the toxicity of “destruction porn” since before Man of Steel, but surely we can point to entries in the disaster genre that don’t feel like soul-mincing works of large scale snuff — we can point to this summer’s Godzilla, for instance. But for every thematically dense project like the aforesaid, we have a half-dozen Into the Storms: movies that, somehow, pass off the most mangled constructions of mindless, banal, uninspired, grotesque unpleasantness as entertainment.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
We are asked to believe that there are characters in this movie: Richard Armitage insists that he’s a father of two, a disappointingly joke-free Matt Walsh tells us that he’s a storm chaser and a documentarian, and Sarah Wayne Callies introduces herself as a meteorologist of some kind. But we never get more than a résumé recitation from each character; we never earn an understanding of what any of them would do when faced with mortal danger, what they would think about, who they would want to be with.
So, really, we’re not given much of a story. Sure, there are tidbits mentioned about Armitage’s strained relationship with his two sons (Max Deacon and Nathan Kress), about Walsh’s obsessive devotion to his work, about Callies’ desire to make it home to her five-year-old daughter (ugh, the pandering). But these don’t feel like character beats, but rather like bits of data. Nothing within these characters exists beyond what we are explicitly told about them. As such, they wind up feeling less like people to whom we’re anchored and more like chunks of debris being tossed around between tornadoes.
And that’s what’s so ugly, unenjoyable, and dangerous about this movie: it’s dehumanizing. It prefers the thrills of demolition to the pathos inherent in accessing what this demolition might be doing to real people. But even in its misguided mission does Into the Storm fail: it’s not thrilling. Not fun. Not cool to look at. It is, in all conceivable ways, a disaster.
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La Bamba star Lou Diamond Phillips is to make his Australian stage debut in the royal role that helped launch his theatre career almost 20 years ago. The actor will replace Jason Scott Lee in the Melbourne production of The King & I.
A torn calf muscle has forced Lee to withdraw from the show.
Reports suggest Phillips flew in to start rehearsals on Monday (30Jun14), and he'll hit the stage as the King of Siam, opposite Lisa McCune, on 10 July (14).
Phillips made his Broadway debut as The King in 1996, opposite Donna Murphy. Phillips played the role for more than 550 performances and won a Theatre World Award. He was also nominated for both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award.
The actor cannot wait to hit the stage when the show opens, stating, "I am honoured to once again inhabit the role of The King... I have great passion and respect for the role and am especially excited to bring my interpretation to a new continent."
The news comes a day after it was announced Japanese actor Ken Watanabe would be making his Broadway debut in a revival of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical about the real-life relationship between the King of Siam and a British schoolteacher, who he enlists to tutor his wives and children.
Robin Williams is one of the funniest people on the planet. His dizzying rapid-fire delivery style and stream of consciousness rants have been wowing live audiences for nearly 40 years. He's found kindred spirits in fellow performers as diverse as Jonathan Winters, John Belushi, and Billy Crystal… delighting in their ability to play his comedic games at his own high level. Why is it, then, that Williams seems to have so much trouble being funny in movies? Go ahead and think about the last time that you really laughed hard at one of his films. It's okay, we'll wait.
Well, There Was That One…
The go-to answer for a lot of people is Mrs. Doubtfire, which was released 21 years ago and boasts as many melodramatic moments as it does comedic ones. The same is true for two of the actor's other '90s hits, Jumanji and The Birdcage. When Williams goes the straight comedy route in films like Old Dogs, RV, or Club Paradise, the result is never in line with his talent and abilities. The fact is that Williams' funniest cinematic role was probably one where we never actually saw him: as the Genie in Disney's Aladdin.
Flair for the Dramatic
With The Angriest Man in Brooklyn being released, in which Williams plays a bitter borough resident who finds out that he only has 90 minutes to live, the discrepancy is being reinforced once again. Williams is far better — and garners far more acclaim — when he's putting his Julliard training to use on the dramatic side. He notched Oscar nominations for his roles in The Fisher King, Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society, and took home the award for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting. He's won acclaim for darker roles in projects like One Hour Photo and Insomnia, as well.
In many of his dramatic roles, Williams has a unique ability to add funny moments admidst the seriousness… like his D.J. patter in Good Morning, Vietnam. In actuality, that's what makes him appealing as a dramatic actor… his panache for showing a glimpse of Comedy while wearing Tragedy.
Perhaps we're just being selfish in wishing that Williams would find a film role that would unleash his comedy id the way that Mork & Mindy did during his early days on television, where it seemed as though he might in fact burst with energy.
He's not the only comedian that has had difficulty figuring out a way to channel a stage persona onto the big screen. Richard Pryor and George Carlin, two of the most influential stand-up comedians ever, both struggled to find roles that played to their strengths. Much like Williams, his idol Jonathan Winters slid between characters so quickly that a movie script was too confining.
From a comedy standpoint, Williams has always been at his best when he's free to go anywhere his muse takes him in a given moment and, with the exception of Aladdin, that's hard to capture in a film. Difficult as it may be, it's also not impossible. Two of Williams' contemporaries — Steve Martin and Bill Murray — have been able to shift between comedies and dramas effectively in their film careers.
It might be that he needs a filmmaker that isn't afraid of Williams and his scattershot approach to really showcase him properly in a movie. You get the feeling that Mel Brooks would've known what to do with Williams in his heyday, but there are still active directors like Todd Phillips and Seth MacFarlane that have proven to be unafraid of most anything.
It would just be a shame if future generations are strictly left with Williams' HBO concert specials to prove just how funny he can be.
American Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. performed together for the first time during the U.S. talent show's star-studded season finale. The 13th season of the singing competition came to an end on Wednesday night (21May14) and to celebrate the crowning of a new winner, the trio, alongside former judge-turned-mentor Randy Jackson, joined forces to sing a medley, marking the first time in the show's history that all the judges took the stage to perform together.
With Connick Jr. on the piano, Urban on guitar, Jackson on bass, and Lopez providing vocals, the supergroup sang a mash-up of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors and Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way. Earlier in the show, Lopez took the stage solo to perform her latest single, First Love.
The night was filled with other superstar performances, including sets from KISS, Demi Lovato, Paramore, John Legend, Jason Mraz, Lady Antebellum, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, Darius Rucker, Aloe Blacc, and season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, who all shared the stage with this season's finalists.
In another Idol first, host Ryan Seacrest showed off his vocal skills by belting out Richard Marx's hit Right Here Waiting, and was joined by Marx himself for a memorable duet.
Caleb Johnson, 23, who had previously auditioned for the programme twice before, was named this year's (14) American Idol, beating 17-year-old Jena Irene to the title.
Beloved Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King & I is returning to the New York stage in 2015. The show will open at the Lincoln Center Theater with veteran thespian Kelli O'Hara, who is currently starring in Broadway's The Bridges of Madison County, rumoured to be among the cast.
Based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, the musical premiered on the Great White Way in 1951, and went on to become the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history.
The show was revived on Broadway in 1996, with Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips in the lead roles. The production won a Best Revival Tony Award.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
In the era of the World Wide Web, the story for Home Alone would go something like this: young Kevin wakes up and realizes that his family is nowhere to be found. Wanting to make sure that they haven't disappeared, he grabs his iPad, checks Buzz's Twitter feed which says, "On the way to the airport. Can't wait to check out Paris babes!" Relieved, Kevin brings up FaceTime to contact his mother and let her know that he was left behind. She takes a cab back to the house, goes onto the airline's website to change their flight and the two of them fly out a short while later to enjoy Christmas. The end.
When British scientist Tim Berners-Lee drew up his proposal in 1989 for what would become the World Wide Web, he was just hoping to share information within the scientific community. Instead, 25 years later the Web has changed daily life for most people in ways that are too numerous to list. The rise of the Web also did something else that wasn't anticipated… it changed movies.
From a practical standpoint, the entertainment industry has taken full advantage of the Web. Every new movie release has a web presence for marketing purposes. Websites like Netflix and Amazon deliver streaming films. There are sites to tell you when movies are playing, that rate them, that show trailers and that sell movies. Thanks to Kickstarter, there are even websites that help finance productions.
What the Web has also done is changed the way that filmmakers have to tell their stories. Besides Home Alone, there are a variety of plot points that had to be abandoned once the Web became an omnipresent part of life. Sam's family in Sixteen Candles wouldn't have forgotten her birthday, because they all would've gotten Facebook reminders. Dr. Richard Kimble doesn’t have to go all over Chicago to find his wife's killer in The Fugitive; he just needs access to Google. Ferris Bueller would've been busted as soon as his parade antics went viral on YouTube. In Sleepless in Seattle, Jonah would've just brought up Annie's profile on the Baltimore Sun website and said "See, she's pretty!" Die Hard basically wouldn't have a plot left… same with My Cousin Vinny and numerous others.
Screenwriters and directors now have to account for the Web (and cell phones), when plotting out their stories. Want to update Romeo & Juliet? Have fun trying to work around the leads not e-mailing, Skyping or texting. Want to remake The Usual Suspects? Better have an answer for why that picture of Keyser Soze isn't available on any law enforcement websites.
Anyone wishing to tell a story with farcical elements has to work harder than ever to create the ruse, because no part of it can hinge on information that is readily available on the Web. If the character could look it up on Wikipedia, it's kind of hard to explain why they wouldn't just do that.
While some have skirted the issue by finding the few corners of the world that technology hasn't reached — think Babel — a number of filmmakers have instead sought solace in the past. Whether it's Ben Affleck with Argo, David O. Russell with American Hustle, Quentin Tarantino with Django Unchained or J.J. Abrams with Super 8, big name directors are opting to tell stories from before the dawn of websites as a way around dealing with the issue. Of the nine Best Picture nominees this year, four were set before 1990… and two of the others took place in the middle of the ocean (Captain Phillips) and in space (Gravity).
Of course, one of the other nominees showed a different path that filmmakers can now explore to tell new and interesting stories. Spike Jonze's Her made technology a character all on its own. Instead of just altering the ways that filmmakers tell stories — and studios produce and market movies — maybe over the next 25 years of its existence the World Wide Web will become a movie star in its own right. Hey, it's not any more farfetched than the various John Hughes plot devices from the '80s that the Web has rendered obsolete.
The ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009 and used as inspiration for Tom Hanks' Captain Phillips drama has hit headlines again after two Americans were found dead onboard the vessel in the Seychelles. Police in the Indian Ocean island are investigating the deaths of security officers Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy, whose bodies were discovered on the Maersk Alabama on Tuesday (18Feb14).
Both men worked for the U.S.-based Trident Security firm to provide protection to sailors travelling near the coast of Somalia, where pirate attacks are common.
Authorities have yet to reveal the cause of death, but officials from the U.S. Coast Guard have also launched their own probe into the incident.
The Oscar-nominated Captain Phillips movie is based on the real-life events of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking drama, during which Captain Richard Phillips, portrayed onscreen by Hanks, was taken hostage by pirates. Barkhad Abdi played pirate leader Adbuwali Muse, a role which won him the Best Supporting Actor honour at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) film awards on Sunday (16Feb14). He is also shortlisted for the same prize at the Oscars next month (02Mar14).
Weinstein Company via Everett Collection
Even though director Spike Jonze missed out on scoring a nomination for directing for his futuristic love story Her, he does have the distinction of being connected to three films going up for Oscars this year. So, what other actors and filmmakers took part in multiple Academy Award nominated films this year?
Louis C.K.: Blue Jasmine, American HustleThe hapless FBI supervisor with a story about ice fishing in American Hustle, and an adulterer in Blue Jasmine.
Kristen Wiig: Despicible Me 2, HerWiig played the other end of a phone sex hotline with very particular needs in Her, and Gru's new girlfriend in Despicable Me 2.
Matthew McConaughey: The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers ClubMcConaughey played Jordan Belfort's seedy stockbroker inspiration in The Wolf of Wall Street, and the bigot turned aids crusader Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.
Carey Mulligan: Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great GatsbyMulligan played the "beautiful little fool" Daisy from The Great Gatsby, and Llewyn Davis' Spurned ex-girlfriend in Inside Llewyn Davis.
Leo Dicaprio: The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall StreetDicaprio played the despicable cocaine hoover Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, and the dreaming and pining Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.
Tom Hanks: Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. BanksHanks played the Stalwart and powerfully empathetic Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips, and a smoke-free Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.
Amy Adams: American Hustle, HerAdams played the British accent wielding con-man Sydney Prosser in American Hustle, and Theodore's bestie in Her.
George Clooney: August: Osage County, GravityClooney played the endlessly charming astronaut, Matt Kowalski in Gravity, and was a producer for August: Osage County.
Cate Blanchett: Blue Jasmine, The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugBlanchett played a wealthy socialite in free-fall in Blue Jasmine, and the mystical elf leader Galadriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Spike Jonze: Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, Jackass Presents: Bad GrandpaJonze produced and directed Her, co-wrote Bad Grandpa (surprisingly), and played a stockbroker in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Catherine Keener: The Croods, Captain Phillips, Jackass Presents: Bad GrandpaKeener played a protective cave-mother in The Croods, Richard Phillip's wife in Captain Phillips, and apparently, she was in Bad Grandpa.
Benedict Cumberbatch: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, August: Osage County, Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a SlaveThe winner with four Oscar-nominated credits to his name this year is Benedict Cumberbatch. The actor played a dragon with a hoarding problem in The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug, KHAAAAAAN! in Star Trek Into Darkness, and the bungling "Little Charles" Aiken in August: Osage County, and the least evil slave owner in 12 Years A Slave.
American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years A Slave look set to dominate the 2014 Academy Awards. The movies will go head-to-head for Best Picture along with Captain Phillips, Nebraska, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, Her and The Wolf of Wall Street.
British stars Christian Bale (American Hustle) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) both scored a mention for Best Actor, while American Hustle's Amy Adams will go head-to-head with Gravity's Sandra Bullock for Best Actress.
Other actresses nominated in the category are Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Judi Dench (Philomena) and Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).
Last year's (13) winner of the Best Actress trophy, Jennifer Lawrence, will compete for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Hustle, while Bradley Cooper landed a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in the crime caper.
12 Years A Slave co-stars Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender also picked up nods for their supporting roles, while the film's director Steve McQueen and American Hustle's David. O. Russell both landed nominations for Best Director along with Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron.
Speaking shortly after the nominations were announced, British moviemaker McQueen told the BBC, "(I am) just very excited - nine nominations. A lot of them (the Oscar nominees are) British. I am just so excited. We worked very hard and are very privileged to receive these nominations."
While O. Russell admits he is thrilled that all four of his film's main actors picked up nods, adding, "It's all four actors... you always worry as sort of the captain... that one of your great performers is not going to get recognised... they all put so much into it and they did it together so it's nice that none of them got left out."
American Hustle and Gravity both scored 10 nominations, while 12 Years A Slave landed nine.
The nominations were announced by actor Chris Hemsworth and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Thursday (16Jan14), and the winners will be unveiled during the Los Angeles prizegiving on 2 March (14).
The full list of nominees is as follows:
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
David O. Russell - American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Alexander Payne - Nebraska
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
Actor in a Leading Role:
Christian Bale - American Hustle
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
Actress in a Leading Role:
Amy Adams - American Hustle
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Judi Dench - Philomena
Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
Actor in a Supporting Role:
Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years A Slave
Jonah Hill - The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
Actress in a Supporting Role:
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska
Before Midnight - Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips - Billy Ray
Philomena - Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
12 Years A Slave - John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street - Terence Winter
American Hustle - Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine - Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club - Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
Her - Spike Jonze
Nebraska - Bob Nelson
Animated Feature Film:
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
The Grandmaster - Philippe Le Sourd
Gravity - Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis - Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska - Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners - Roger A. Deakins
American Hustle - Michael Wilkinson
The Grandmaster - William Chang Suk Ping
The Great Gatsby - Catherine Martin
The Invisible Woman - Michael O'Connor
12 Years A Slave - Patricia Norris
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
20 Feet from Stardom
Documentary Short Subject:
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
American Hustle - Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips - Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club - John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa
Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger
12 Years A Slave - Joe Walker
Foreign Language Film:
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Missing Picture
Makeup And Hairstyling:
Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger
Music - Original Score:
The Book Thief
Saving Mr. Banks
Music - Original Song:
Alone Yet Not Alone by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, from Alone Yet Not Alone
Happy by Pharrell Williams, from Despicable Me 2
Let it Go by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Frozen
The Moon Song by Karen O, from Her
Ordinary Love by U2, from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
The Great Gatsby
12 Years A Slave
All Is Lost
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness.