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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A number of Pierce Brosnan's former co-stars have reached out to the actor following the death of his daughter. Charlotte Brosnan lost her three-year battle with ovarian cancer on Friday (28Jun13), and the former Bond star released a statement on Monday night (01Jul13) paying tribute to the 42 year old for fighting the disease with "grace and humanity, courage and dignity".
In the hours after his announcement, Brosnan's Remington Steele co-star Stephanie Zimbalist paid her respects, writing in a message on Facebook.com, "Sad news to announce. Please join us in sending love, prayers and sympathy to Pierce Brosnan and his family for the death of his daughter Charlotte."
Olivia Munn, who starred alongside Brosnan in 2011's I Don't Know How She Does It, wrote in a post on Twitter.com, "My deepest condolences to Pierce Brosnan and his family for the loss of his daughter to ovarian cancer."
Actor Robert Davi, a longtime pal of Brosnan's, added, "Just been informed - my friend Pierce Brosnan has lost his daughter to an illness - my prayers and love go out to him and his family."
Charlotte was the daughter of the actor's first wife, Cassandra Harris, who also died of ovarian cancer in 1991. Brosnan adopted Charlotte and her brother Christopher after their father passed away in 1986.
Pierce Brosnan hasn't stepped into James Bond's shoes for over a decade, but you wouldn't know it when you meet him. The Irish actor — who turns 60 this month, but doesn't seem to age — seems to be carrying on the suave legacy of Bond. Especially when it comes to his affinity and appreciation for women.
Hollywood.com caught up with Brosnan to discuss his latest film Love Is All You Need and when it came to the subject of his co-star, Danish actress Trine Dyrholm (whom Brosnan says has "the Meryl Streep touch" to her craft), he put it simply: "I've been blessed with all the leading ladies I've been with, they've all been rather gorgeous and beautiful and I love women." When it came to the subject of his Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier, he put it simply: "I've worked with some great directors from Barbra Streisand to Susanne Bier to when I did Remington Steele, there were some fine lady directors on that show. I love working with women. I love women. There's just an ease and a grace." Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan.
But, it wasn't just his fondness for working with talented females like Dyrholm and Bier that drew him to a project like Love Is All You Need. The film a glossy but heartfelt romantic drama about a hairdresser named Ida (played by the vivacious Dyrholm who gets naked, literally and metaphorically), a cancer survivor whose husband has been cheating on her, and Philip (Brosnan, in what Bier describes as "one of his most touching performances"), a hard-working businessman and widower. Philip and Ida meet at their respective children's nuptials at a picturesque French villa and the two begin fall in love. "It goes right up there on the shelf with, dare I say, Mamma Mia," Brosnan says of the film, which taps into similar theme of finding yourself — and, of course, love —at any age.
Another one of the film's emotional cores — dealing with a devastating loss — is one that hits especially close for Brosnan. In 1991, Brosnan lost his first wife Cassandra Harris to ovarian cancer. They had one son together, Sean, as well as her children from a previous marriage Charlotte and Christopher. (Brosnan remarried in 2001 to his wife Keely Shaye Smith, with whom he has two sons with, Dylan and Paris). "All of that life pain that I went through — somewhat publicly, somewhat privately — is in the past but I can certainly identify and draw upon it," he says of playing a part like Love Is All You Need's Philip, a man who is still dealing with his pain.
"This character and this movie and this script found me at the right time in my life to be able to sit still and explore my own tragedies, my own pain, my own loss, what it's like to be a single parent," Brosnan continues. "In the hands of Susanne Bier, you surrender to that and allow yourself to go there. It just made sense. Her style of direction is very quiet and specific, strongly so at times. But there's great liberation in there because of the cinematic style that she uses. There were many emblems within the story: fatherhood, being a widower, being a single parent, a man of business, being alone, being middle-aged, dealing with time, time past, time present, time future."
And time, it seems, has since been kind to Brosnan. Not just in terms of his rugged good looks, but finding peace and comfort within himself and his career. "I painted myself into a corner sometimes I feel with the style of performance I'd given or the kind of actor I was trying to create when I came to America with Remington Steele," Brosnan admits. "As you get older there's a loosening of the ties to the ego and the posturing of who you are and how you behave. There's an ease within my own being now and there's a confidence, simple as that really, with performing... there's a great joy in being an older actor now. You have to adapt to your age and your years. It's nothing but humble gratitude of having come down the road so far."
Then again, it's hard not to be humbled with gratitude when you have labor of love projects like the big screen adaptation of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down (in which he stars alongside Aaron Paul, Toni Collette, and Imogen Poots, whom he refers to as "The Quartet...we were joined at the hip") and, of course, Love Is All You Need. Love, being the key word.
"It all melded together from day one," Brosnan recalls, adding, "[my cast and director] embraced me with such a warmth and generosity and I, in return, did the same and we just hit the ground running. The experience of filming on a day-to-day basis was nothing but joy. It's criminal how much fun we had. It was a magical summer." Who knew Bond was such a softie?
Love Is All You Need opens in limited release on May 3.
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More: 'Love Is All You Need' Director Susanne Bier: 'It's Kind of Disgraceful There Aren't More Female Directors 'Love Is All You Need' Trailer — WATCH 10 Actors Who Almost Played James Bond
“True power comes from within,” Emily said in the typically sullen voiceover that stated the theme of Revenge’s midseason premiere. I disagree. True power doesn’t come from within. True power must be taken. Just like how I took this Revenge recap away from Kelsea Stahler!
Okay, not really. Kelsea handed off Revenge to me, your new recapper Christian Blauvelt, because she’s taking over our American Idol recaps in a few days.
I formerly cataloged all the sudsy drama in the Hamptons in my Revenge recaps for EW.com, so here I am, at your service. It's fitting that I'm taking over with this particular episode, because Revenge itself seemed interested in hitting its own reset button this week.
“Power” began with Daniel Grayson being accosted by Helen Crowley, the smirking, dark-suited, stiletto-heeled mistress of the Americon Initiative who seems like a cross between the Evil Queen on Once Upon a Time and Cora on Downton Abbey.
She told Daniel that if he kept digging around in the more shadowy corners of Grayson Global, he might find a fortune, just like he did when he discovered his company’s claim on NolCorp.
Daniel wasn’t the only one whose turf was being encroached upon by sinister forces. Jack had just given Faux-Manda a seaglass necklace as a wedding present—it was something new, borrowed, and blue!—when she told him that she thought the Ryan brothers were bad news. No kidding.
Jack had all but discovered as much himself, but when you consider that Amanda, who likes to pal around with strippers from a club called the Beaver Dam, thinks the Ryan brothers are bad news, that means they’re really bad news.
Declan had also sniffed out their villainy and gotten Charlotte—who’s decided to take up residence with the wharf rat on the Amanda—to distract Nate, or as I like to call him Mr. Starbuck (it is Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Trucco, after all), while he snooped around among the goods they were stowing in the back of the Stowaway.
Charlotte was talking to Mr. Starbuck about how damaged people can be by their experience in prison, and Nate agreed, saying that he himself had spent a nickel in the slammer in his youth. He had been left holding the bag for his associates who were “purveyors of recreational curiosities.” Declan discovered that such curiosities could now be found in the back of the Stowaway, in the form of coke-stuffed coffee beans. You know, for when you really need a buzz.
Yup, the Ryan bros were using their bar as a front for their true moneymaking enterprise.
While the reputation of the Porter boys was about to be ruined forever, Victoria and Conrad sought to salvage what was left of theirs. As is often the case, a charity fundraiser would prove useful for that objective.
Remember, what Bert Cooper said on Mad Men: “Philanthropy…that’s true power.” (He said it a lot more cynically that it may come across in print.) They wanted to invite Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Barnes and his wife, Patricia, to their house for dinner to discuss a fundraiser for their not-for-profit, the Liberty Foundation, an org that investigates claims of wrongful convictions.
It would make sense for Victoria to pledge a huge sum to the Liberty Foundation since Conrad himself had been wrongly accused of a crime. “If they sold stock in irony, I’d be richer than the Sultan of Brunei,” said Conrad, who really is getting all the best lines these days.
NEXT: Nolan forgets that no one has said “bros before hos” since 2002, and Aiden comes face to face with the Initiative.
Of course, this bit of charitable giving would work neatly into Emily’s own plans. Turns out, Barnes was the presiding Judge at her father’s trial.
And she had a letter that her father received from someone with “unparalleled access” to the court that alleged corruption and jury tampering, possibly from Judge Barnes himself, that assured David Clarke's wrongful conviction. Unfortunately, that letter was unsigned.
Now that he and his wife would be visiting Grayson Manor, Emily would be able to get out her red marker for some payback. Hell yeah, it’s crossing-out-headshots time!
Luckily, Emily would have one-on-one access to Barnes because Victoria wanted one-on-one access to her.
She paid a visit to Casa Clarke to suggest that Emily re-declare her love for Daniel, because her son had become drunk with power, ambition, greed, and anger ever since their breakup, and Victoria wanted him to become the kind of man he’d aspired to be when he was with Emily.
She thinks he only turned to Grayson Global to drown his heartbreak. It was just the opening Emily needed. She and Aiden quickly staged a loud, very public breakup at the restaurant where they knew Daniel would be. Conrad was there too, having sauntered in like a sleepy cat in plaid shorts and a yellow golf shirt. They were both very much aware of Emily and Aiden’s fireworks, and, like the gentleman he used to pretend to be, Daniel extended consolation to his old fiancée.
Remember, Aiden was denied a place on the Grayson Global board, so Emily still had the best shot of infiltrating the company from within…but to do so would require rekindling her romance with Daniel. Aiden would continue to try to get back into Daniel’s good graces, himself, but Nolan wisely noted that “Bros before hos only works if he’s not still in love with the ho, bro.” Emily would be the ho in this situation.
Speaking of recent hostile-takeover victim Mr. Ross, Daniel wanted Nolan to hack into the Grayson Global database using his tech expertise and look for rogue programs. Aha! Now he had the access they needed to investigate the company’s ties to the Initiative, and neither hos nor bros were needed.
He found surveillance video of Helen Crowley making a phone call and leaving a voice password: ingredi, the Latin word for “enter.” Aiden called the number that Nolan showed him Crowley had dialed, and who picked up? Crowley herself! She had been awaiting this call from Aiden all along, and now she was inviting him to meet her at an abandoned building.
When he arrived, he discovered that she’s the kind of woman who’s typically flanked by snipers and says things like “You’re in deep, Mr. Mathis. I hope you know how to swim.” She told him that they still have his sister, Colleen, and she’s alive. But if he continues his investigation, he will never see her again. Cold.
But though the scene was moodily suspenseful, rather than feeling worried for Aiden I just kept wishing Helen Crowley were played by Kate Mulgrew.
NEXT: Patricia Barnes has an alarming rate of equestrian-related injuries, and Declan proves that young people on TV can only eat breakfast food.
At the Grayson dinner party for Judge Barnes and his wife Patricia, Emily tried to provoke a reaction. She had deduced that the author of the letter to her father was Barnes’ old court clerk, James Palmer.
A court clerk who died three days after the guilty verdict was rendered...in a subway accident. Pretty mysterious.
But even more mysterious was Patricia’s odd reaction when Emily asked the Judge if he’d ever lost any sleep over one of his verdicts. “No, that would be my job,” Patricia said.
Immediately, her husband grabbed her hand. And not in a loving way. In a fierce, controlling way. He then declared that they would leave. At once. If his suggestion to Conrad “I think a man of your acumen, wealth, and guile belongs in politics” didn’t already label Barnes a villain, that hyper-controlling gesture hinted at a greater darkness.
Emily wasn’t going to let that go, so she investigated Patricia’s history of injuries by downloading her medical records. She had a long spate of broken bones, all of which occurred after 10:00 p.m. and which she attributed to horseback riding. Hmm.
So what should Jack and Declan do about the fact that their bar is a front for drugrunners? Well, luckily Porter the Elder had a friend in the Montauk PD.
And maybe if he called that friend and asked him to suddenly raid the Stowaway all their problems with the Ryan brothers would be solved. Problem was, Mr. Starbuck had already seen Declan sniffing around their stash, so he merely moved the drugs, and an unlicensed gun, out of the bar and onto the Amanda. That was where Charlotte was making a breakfast dinner for Declan. (Walter White Jr. has already shown us that young people on TV only ever eat breakfast foods.)
I suspect Declan was hungry for something else, though, so Charlotte said she would help him relax. Of course, the best way to relax is to cuddle up with your girlfriend...then have drug-sniffing dogs from the K9 unit of the DEA burst in. The cops quickly found the drugs, and Declan found himself in handcuffs, though not in handcuffs the way he might have wanted.
If only Amanda had been there with her tire iron. Not surprisingly, Jack had to play the hero and he immediately declared that those drugs were his, not Declan’s, even though they didn’t belong to either and were obviously planted there by the Ryans.
Thirty seconds more and Jack could have tried to explain as much to the coppers. But why be logical when you’re trying so hard to be noble? It’s just like the question facing Revenge’s writers regarding this storyline: why be entertaining when you can doggedly pursue a tedious subplot nobody cares about?
At the fundraiser, Emily went to apologize to Patricia. By “apologize” I mean make Patricia feel even more guilty by saying that Amanda Clarke gave her this letter her father had received from an unknown insider at his trial saying he’d been the victim of jury tampering.
And because she’d been torn away from her father, Amanda spent her youth in a series of foster homes, some of which were abusive environments…just like how Patricia is being abused. The guilt and the regret was simply too much for her. Patricia threw out the speech she had written extolling her husband and instead said that he’d rigged the verdict in the David Clarke case.
And if that weren’t enough, she then dramatically took off her coat, to reveal her arms all black and blue. Those bruises could only have come from her husband. Just like that Judge Barnes’ all-but-guaranteed spot on the Supreme Court vanished.
After all, as Patricia herself had put it, “The greater the power, the greater the chance for abuse.” Oh, and it was she who was the insider who wrote that letter to David Clarke. Her husband thought it was poor James Palmer, and Palmer ended up paying the ultimate price.
NEXT: Does this mean Revenge is hitting the Reset Button? And, if so, is moving forward by looking backward really an effective long-term plan for the show?
So Emily ended up putting a red X over the judge’s face. This was one of the more cathartic, satisfying bits of vengeance she’s ever enacted, because it not only meant exposing and disgracing a tyrant, it meant empowering a woman who’d been silenced for too long.
And to make it even better, Barnes was played by the third 24 alum we’ve seen on Revenge this season (after James Morrison and Joaquin de Almeida), Geoff Pierson, who played President Keeler, the doomed Commander in Chief who was assassinated on Day 4 when Air Force One was shot down by terrorists.
Of course, Conrad was immediately spinning his involvement with the Liberty Foundation, saying how thankful he was that Barnes had been exposed for the man he really was.
But it was because of the Grayson connection to this debacle that Daniel decided the company needed a new director of its philanthropic endeavors: Emily. And instead of discussing salary, he sealed his job offer—and her acceptance—with a kiss. A kiss which Aiden saw. Remington Steele, as Nolan called him (Nolan’s become the Hamptons’ turned-up-collar version of Sawyer), will not be a happy man.
Oh, speaking of Nolan, his old CFO/lover, Marco, is indicating that he wants to reignite his relationship with him. Despite helping to turn NolCorp over to Grayson Global and thinking that Nolan accepted money from a terrorist.
Apparently, this Marco may actually want to help Nolan bring down Grayson Global, and he gave him a flashdrive with a program, Carrion, that he said had some of the most powerful coding he’d ever seen.
Nolan, who’d designed it and abandoned it, called the program “cyber plutonium.” But it could be an effective weapon against their enemies. Yep, we’ve got ourselves a new MacGuffin.
The implication of “Power” is clear. Revenge’s writers are, in their own way, trying to hit the reset button on the show. They have Emily brandishing a red marker, putting X’s over photos of her targets’ faces. And they have her romantically entangled with Daniel once again.
It’s just like Season 1, folks! Forget about that dead-end storyline with Ems’ mother.
We’re moving forward by looking backward. The question is, is that a viable strategy? Will repetition of what worked in its early days help us slough off our frustration with Season 2? I’m not entirely convinced, especially since the least compelling Season 2 storyline of all, the Porter boys’ Montauk dock-bar politics, is still alive and well.
I’m hoping, though, that Revenge will prove me wrong. Share your thoughts in the comments below, and see you next week!
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Vivian Zink/ABC]
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The James Bond star, whose last high-profile stint on TV came in 1980s crime show Remington Steele, has signed up to star in a new thriller series about a private detective, based on the experiences of real life investigator Logan Clarke.
Brosnan will not play the lead in the show, but will take on a smaller part, according to Deadline.com.
The currently unnamed project will be penned by former ER writer/producer Jack Orman, while the former 007 will act as an executive producer.
The show, which revolved around comedian Ray Romano's fictitious family life, currently airs in over 170 countries around the world - and Russian TV tsars are hoping to remake the series as a local favourite.
Roberts tells WENN, "They thought the person to play my role should be something like Cher. I don't know what that's gonna be like and can't wait to see that.
"They claim they're inviting the original cast to Russia for the premiere. I hope I can go and I'm gonna get a Cher wig.
And Roberts admits the now defunct comedy has some pretty powerful fans: "I got a call from Pierce Brosnan, who I worked with on Remington Steele, and he said, 'Oh Doris, I'm in the dentist's chair and I'm watching you on Everybody Loves Raymond and I'm laughing my head off.'".