If you're an Elizabeth Banks fan, you've probably been waiting for the day when more people would start talking about Elizabeth Banks. Because, let's be real, she is awesome. Ever since she became our favorite porn star ever, we've been waiting for her to kinda, sorta take over the world. And while her world domination may be not be imminent just yet, 2014 is looking like a pretty big year for her.
Last month saw the release of Little Accidents, an indie movie based on director Sarah Colangelo's 2008 award-winning short film. Banks will star alongside Chloë Sevigny in this story of a small American coal town that experiences some major changes when a teenage boy goes missing. In The Lego Movie Banks will voice the part of tech-savvy tough girl Wyldstyle, and if you've seen the trailers, you know she's in good company with folks like Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, and Morgan Freeman voicing characters as well.
In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, she'll be reprising her role is the ever-amazing Effie Trinkett. But before that, she'll be taking on one epic Walk of Shame with Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds director Steven Brill. In case you lost count, that's five new movies so far. Not a big deal.
Before the year's end, Banks will also co-star in Love & Mercy, a biopic about Beach Boys songwriter and singer Brian Wilson, playing Wilson's wife and former model Melinda Ledbetter. She'll close out the year with a seventh project, Every Secret Thing, in which she stars alongside Diane Lane and Dakota Fanning. The movie is based on the crime novel of the same name, and Banks plays a detective who becomes heavily invested in the case of a missing child. This particular film is getting lots of buzz as it represents the first time Frances McDormand will act as producer on a project.
But perhaps the biggest news of the year for Banks is that she's making her directorial debut with the highly-anticipated Pitch Perfect sequel. Not that there was anything the matter with the first time around, but we'd really like to see E. Banks work her magic on the next one.
Suffice it to say it'll be a busy year for the mom of two, but we think she can handle it. The real question is whether or not we'll be able to handle all of these amazing projects, and still find time to hang out on her awesome website.
Yes, yes will.
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Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
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Spike Jonze doesn't waste any time introducing us to the technology at the center of Her. "An operating system that can mimic human sentience?" a dangerously lonely Joaquin Phoenix wonders after catching glimpse of an ad in a transit station. "Don't mind if I do!" (He doesn't actually say that, don't worry.) But by the time we're meant to believe that such a world can seamlessly integrate characters like Scarlett Johansson's automated voice Samantha into the lives of living, breathing men and women like Phoenix's Theodore, we're already established residents of this arresting, icy, quivering world the filmmaker has built. We meet Theodore midway through his recitation of a "handwritten letter" he penned on behalf of a woman to her husband of many years. That's his job — tapping into his own unique sensititivies to play ghostwriter for people hoping to adorn their spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and children with personal notes of personal affection. Theodore is no independent contractor; he's part of a thriving company, and we almost get the feeling that the folks on the receiving end of these letters are in the know. Before we ever encounter Samantha, we're embedded in the central conceit of the movie: emotional surrogacy is an industry on the rise.
What makes Jonze's world so palatable is that, beneath its marvelously eerie aesthetic, this idea is barely science-fiction. Theodore, humbled and scarred by a recent divorce from lifelong love Catherine (Rooney Mara, who contrasts Johansson by giving a performance that, for a large sum of the movie, is all body and no voice), accesses the will to go on through interractions with video game characters and phone-sex hotlines. But the ante is upped with Samantha, the self-named operating system that Theodore purchases to stave off loneliness, deeming choice a far less contorting one than spending time with old pals like Amy (Amy Adams)... at first.
Samantha evolves rather quickly from an articulate Siri into a curious companion, who is fed and engaged by Theodore just as much as she feeds and engages him. Jonze paces his construction of what, exactly, Samantha is so carefully that we won't even catch the individual steps in her change — along with Theodore, we slowly grow more and more enamored and mystified by his computer/assistant/friend/lover before we can recognize that we're dealing with a different being altogether from the one we met at that inceptive self-aware "H-hello?" But Jonze lays tremendous groundwork to let us know this story is all for something: all the while, as the attractions build and the hearts beat faster for Samantha, we foster an unmistakable sense of doom. We can't help but dread the very same perils that instituted one infamous admission: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."
But Jonze's sci-fi constructs are so cohesively intertwined with his love story that our dread doesn't exactly translate to an anticipation of HAL's hostile takeover. Her wedges us so tightly between Theodore and Samantha that our fears of the inevitable clash between man and machine apprehend a smaller, more intimate ruin. As Samantha's growth become more surprising and challenging to Theodore, to herself, and to us, the omens build for each.
And although all three parties know better, we cannot help but affix ourselves to the chemistry between Theodore and Samantha, and to the possibility that we're building toward something supreme. A good faction of this is due to the unbelievable performances of Phoenix — representing the cautious excitement that we all know so painfully well — and Johansson, who twists her disembodied voice so empathetically that we find ourselves, like Theodore, forgetting that we have yet to actually meet her. The one castigation that we can attach to the casting of Johansson is that such a recognizable face will, inevitably, work its way into our heads when we're listening to her performance. It almost feels like a cheat, although we can guarantee that a performance this good would render a figure just as vivid even if delivered by an unknown.
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In this way, Her is as effective a comment on the healthiest human relationships as it is on those that rope in third parties — be they of the living, automated, or greeting card variety. In fact, the movie has so many things to say that it occasionally steps on its own feet, opening up ideas so grand (and coloring them so brightly) that it sometimes has trouble capping them coherently. Admittedly, if Spike Jonze had an answer to some of the questions he's asking here, he'd probably be suspected of himself being a super-intelligent computer. But in telling the story of a man struggling to understand what it means to be in love, to an operating system or not, Jonze invites us to dissect all of the manic and trying and wonderful and terrifying and incomprehensible elements therein. Just like Samantha, Her doesn't always know what to do with all of its brilliance. But that might be part of why we're so crazy over the both of them.
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Nick Offerman consistently delivers, whether it's in his new book, Paddle Your Own Canoe, in late night appearances, or in Reddit Q&As. He rarely wavers from his sexy, masculine woodsman persona, one that resembles, but doesn't mimic, that of his Parks and Rec character Ron Swanson. Find out what Offerman had to say at his much anticipated Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). And man, does this guy enjoy dropping the S-bomb.
The manliest sentence he can write: "I give you my word."
On the biggest similarities and differences between himself between himself and Ron Swanson: "Most like - Tammy 2 [played by real-life wife Megan Mullally] turns me into a rutting sex ox. Least Like - Ron's in the dark ages, whilst I'm up to date with all the kids "kool" lingo, like "neato fresh" and "funky bitchin'"."
His perfect Sunday: "June 22, 1986"
Some parenting advice to a new father: "I have not raised a child, but I believe the fact that you're asking questions and paying attention are very good signs. Love your bairn, try to gently steer him/her towards handtools and away from CNC driven woodworking, which is basically robot craftsmanship. Make sure he/she knows to raise the grain before finish, especially in walnut. When the time is right, introduce charcoal/wood as the clear alternative to gas. Simply put: Give a s**t."
His greatest achievement: "Making my wife scream with a desperate, ragged orgasm that tore her vocal chords and we had to go to the hospital."
On his famous giggle: "I do not giggle, nor ever engage in any activity that could be described as 'adorable.' I sometimes utter a manly guffaw when I see something like football of ultimate fighting. Is that what you meant?"
The men he would kiss on the lips if he had to: "I suppose Meatloaf's lips would be flavorful with bacon and beef. Although I'm tempted to say some homophobic asswipe like Swaggart or Limbaugh, because I would bring them around to the good guys' side with one smooch. I'm that good."
His secrets to marital success: "Have a great sense of humor, be respectful and always communicate fairly, and engage in a s**tload of 69. Appropriate amount of Lagavulin to have on hand? 1-2 shelves."
On redheads: "Redheads are the greatest. Rupert Grint? Forget about it!!"
Something he's never told anyone else: "I have 7 testicles."
The best scotch and whiskey to eat with a steak: "What an incredibly fortunate time and place we live in, to have the extreme luxury in our lives of pondering which scotch is best paired with a steak, a query that presupposes the possession of both steak and whisky. I suppose my answer would have to be 'the best scotch/whisky to eat with a steak is America.'"
The Parks and Rec star who makes the cast laugh the most: "Pratt, easy [Chris Pratt]. Lots of mad talent in the ensemble, and Amy is in a league of her own, like the league of Tina and Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon, but Pratt has the wildcard flavor to make us all s**t little green apples."
The best way to start chatting up a girl: "speak."
How to fix loose metal knobs on a drawer:"Remove knob. Drill slightly larger hole. Glue in a piece of dowel pre-cut to size. Drill new hole. Enjoy an intoxicant. You can also jam a bunch of toothpicks in the hole with glue, then trim them flush after the glue dries, but that method is much less elegant."
His best life advice: "I always tell people to figure out what it is they love to do, and then find a way to get paid to do it. I've been a lot happier in my life getting paid a little bit to do what I love (like acting in theater) than when getting paid a lot to do something I hate."
His favorite adverb: "Verily."
The secret to his facial hair: "No secret. I was lucky enough to have been born with some bracken-like whiskers. If you do not share that fortune, I suggest you cultivate an interesting hair coif or perhaps some pleasing accessories, like a driving cap."
On his recent visit to Scotland on Parks and Rec: "Ah, Scotland! My first time indeed, saw me traipse clear up to Islay, where I had a Swansonian number of wee drams. Also some middle-sized drams. Many of the long, wide shots of Ron on the cliffs would reveal tears of joy and gratitude streaming down my cheeks, were you to zoom in tightly enough, as the beauty and charm of that fair isle had me utterly besotted. The folks at Lagavulin were top-drawer, and I was as giggly as a pig in s**t. A very giggly pig. Also, sheep tend to appreciate my scent. It's flattering at first, but then their nuzzling can begin to bruise."
Read the rest of his charming, and highly sexual, interview here.
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Vivid Entertainment boss Steve Hirsch has obtained footage of the couple's bedroom antics from "a reputable third party" and is seeking to sell the adult video, which he has branded "extremely erotic".
But the porn mogul will face a court fight from Jones and Shannon - the stars have consulted their lawyers in a bid to stopping Hirsch from profiting from their steamy sex lives.
He tells TMZ.com, "I understand that the guy from Vivid saw footage with Karissa and I in it. We have spoken to our legal team and they will be dealing with this ASAP."
It's not the first sex tape scandal the couple has been involved in - Shannon recently accused reality TV star Spencer Pratt of taking a home video from her property which "contains private material" involving the glamour model and her boyfriend.
Shannon's lawyer has sent a letter to the Hills star alleging he is in possession of a film that was "taken from (Karissa)" and "contains private materials" involving the glamour model and her boyfriend Sam Jones.
The Playboy star is threatening to launch a lawsuit against Pratt unless he returns the footage, reports TMZ.com.
Shannon was also embroiled in a sex tape scandal involving Pratt's estranged wife Heidi Montag last month (Aug10) - Pratt revealed he is in negotiations to sell racy footage of the two women in a clinch to internet porn giant Vivid Entertainment.
Sad plastic fame-whore and generally damaged person Heidi Montag has agreed to sit down with Vivid Entertainment "Porn King" Steve Hirsch to talk about selling her sex tape with husband Spencer Pratt, TMZ has learned.
Hirsch will be flying down to Costa Rica - where Montag was recently photographed with her (ex?) hubby - to meet with the former Hills reality star and make her an offer on the tape, including a possible "back-end deal" if she refuses his initial offer. Sounds like great material for a sequel, if you ask me!
Ever since their supposed "breakup," speculation has abounded that the couple's well-publicized drama was merely a not-at-all-subtle and mostly pathetic attempt to garner enough interest to get the ball rolling on another reality show deal.
Either way, I'll leave it up to you to decide which is more heartbreaking from a human interest standpoint: a fake breakup, fake divorce, and fake battle over an alleged sex tape (involving a threesome with Playboy Playmate Karissa Shannon!) to get money and attention, or a real breakup that ends with the tragedy that is two people being degraded by the fleshy naked presence (shudder) of Spencer Pratt for a multimillion dollar payoff?
Everything about this is sad, sad, sad. Don't people know you can download celebrity sex tapes for free online? That's really the saddest part of this. Who are these hypothetical people who are going to pay money to see Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt having sex? Old people who don't know how to use computers? This is an issue of grave national importance.
Spencer Pratt revealed he is in negotiations to sell the footage of his wife having sex to Internet porn giant Vivid Entertainment last week (ends20Aug10), and now TMZ.com reports one extract features Hugh Hefner's girlfriend Shannon.
Sources tell the website Pratt came upon the footage while searching through boxes of belongings at his Malibu, California home.
The busty model tells TMZ.com that such a tape does exist - buts she doubts Pratt has it.
And, if he does go through with his plans to sell the sex film as part of a deal with Vivid Entertainment boss Steven Hirsch, she has threatened to sue.
At press time, Shannon had not made an official comment on the sex tape.