Sports icon David Beckham has paid tribute to South American soccer legend Alfredo Di Stefano, who has died just days after his 88th birthday.
The Argentine star, hailed as one of the greatest players of all time, suffered a cardiac arrest in Madrid, Spain on Saturday (05Jul14), a day after he celebrated his birthday. He was placed in an induced coma by doctors but passed away on Monday (07Jul14).
Famous for his record-breaking stint with Spanish side Real Madrid during the 1950s, di Stefano remains the club's second highest goalscorer of all time.
Now Beckham, who played for the team between 2003 and 2007, has spoken out to pay his respects to one of soccer's greats.
In a post on his Facebook.com page, he writes, "Sad to hear of the passing of Alfredo di Stefano. I was fortunate to get to know him, he was a true gentlemen and Real Madrid legend. For every player, it was not only a privilege to play for the club, but it was made even more special as he was part of the family and its history. He was one of the real greats in football. Descanse en paz (rest in peace)."
Reality TV star Rob Kardashian skipped his sister Kim Kardashian's wedding to Kanye West in Italy on Saturday (24May14), according to a U.S. report. The Stronger rapper tied the knot with the mother of his daughter North West at Forte di Belvedere in Florence, Italy after partying with friends and family in Paris, France on Friday night (23May14).
However, the bride's brother was seen arriving at Los Angeles International (LAX) Airport on Saturday, with reports suggesting he flew back to the U.S. from Paris after deciding not to attend the ceremony. Kardashian refused to comment on why he had chosen to skip the wedding when photographers at LAX quizzed him upon his arrival.
Crooner Jerry Vale has died aged 83. The singer passed away at his home in Palm Desert, California on Sunday morning (18May14). A spokesperson for his family claims he had been in declining health for some time.
Vale, real name Genaro Louis Vitaliano, was discovered in his teens while performing at supper clubs in New York City, and went on to record more than 50 albums throughout his career.
The singer was best known for his popular tunes including Al-Di-La and a version of America's national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, which was commonly played at sports events for years.
Vale also appeared as himself in two Martin Scorsese-directed classics, Goodfellas and Casino, and also made a cameo in an episode of The Sopranos in 2002.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Rita, and their two children.
A letter in which iconic poet Allen Ginsberg admits "communism just doesn't work" is to go up for auction later this month (Apr14). The note was penned by Ginsberg during a trip around Europe in 1981, and he tells a pal how he has spent months travelling around Eastern Bloc nations he dubbed the 'Red Lands'.
He writes that Hungary was beset by "dreary bureaucracy" and confesses that he preferred "Socialist Austria" because it was "free & independent minded".
In the letter to fellow poet Diane di Prima, he wrote, "Hungary-Austria-Switzerland-Germany - made little money but saw a lot - Red Lands not good, Hungary pretty dreary bureaucracy - I guess communism just doesn't work. Socialist Austria seems pretty free & independent minded. Lots of yakking & snow & ice & cold & Poetry & movies... Love Allen.''
The note will be auctioned online via Nate D. Sanders on 29 April (14), with bidding starting at $250 (£156).
Actor Wen Zhang shattered social media records in his native China on Monday (31Mar14) for all the wrong reasons after posting an online apology to his wife for cheating on her. He took to Weibo, China's popular Twitter-like service, to write a heartfelt note to actress Ma Yili about his romance with his TV co-star Yao Di - and the post attracted 2.5 million comments in just 10 hours.
His lengthy apology was also retweeted more than one million times - another record for Weibo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Wen Zhang wrote, "I have brought this upon myself. A mistake is a mistake. This has nothing to do with anyone else.
"Today, I am willing to accept all the consequences. I've let down Ma Yili and our children. My mistake does not deserve to be forgiven, and it will be difficult for me to make amends for all the harm I've caused. But I want to do it. I have to do it. This is what I'll do for the rest of my life."
Ma Yili, who is pregnant with the couple's second child, responded, "Being in love is easy, being married is not. It is to be cherished."
Belgian jazz legend Toots Thielemans is retiring at the age of 91 after ill health forced him to scrap a concert in Antwerp for the second time in three months. The harmonica master, who enjoyed a 70-year career, announced the news on Wednesday (12Mar14), on the eve of his planned show at the city's De Roma venue. Two other gigs scheduled to take place in Antwerp have also been axed.
His agent, Veerle Van de Poel, reveals Thielemans "no longer feels strong enough to be sure of completing a concert".
She adds, "So as not to disappoint his fans, he has decided to cancel all his concerts. (He) wants to benefit from a rest richly deserved. He can look back on a beautiful and very successful international career."
Born Jean-Baptiste Frederic Isidore Thielemans, the musician landed his big break in 1950, at the age of 28, when he was invited to join Benny Goodman on tour in Europe.
He later moved to the U.S. and worked with jazz great Charlie Parker, before collaborating with the likes of Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson.
Thielemans has suffered from ailing health in recent years, but he celebrated his 90th birthday in 2012 by embarking on a world tour.
After the retirement announcement, Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo reached out to Thielemans via Twitter.com, writing, "Thank you Toots. You gave us many magic moments!"
Belgian opera director Gerard Mortier has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 70. The star died at his home in Brussels on Saturday (08Mar14).
Mortier, who was known for his avant-garde approach to opera, rose to fame in the early 1980s, when he served for three years as general director of Belgium's Rola Theatre of the Mint.
He later headed Austria's Salzburg Festival for a decade from 1991, and took charge of the Paris Opera from 2004 to 2009.
Mortier took on the role of artistic director at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain in 2009, and won high praise for a production of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte, directed by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.
He also spearheaded an opera version of 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, which premiered at the Teatro in January (14).
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo announced the news of Mortier's death on Sunday (09Mar14), hailing him as a "visionary and generous personality", while French President Francois Hollande also paid tribute, stating, "He never stopped fighting, until the end of his strength, for culture in Europe."
The woman who inspired Federico Fellini's classic film La Dolce Vita has died. Exotic dancer Aiche Nana passed away at a hospital in Rome, Italy on Wednesday (29Jan14) aged 78.
The Turkish beauty caused a stir in a Roman restaurant in 1958 by performing a striptease for revellers. The party was raided by police but not before photographer Tazio Secchiaroli caught her display on film.
The pictures were published days later, and inspired Fellini to make his 1960 movie about the love life of a gossip columnist. He paid homage to Nana in a strip scene featuring Nadia Gray.
Nana went on to land several small acting roles in Italian movies such as 1977's Viva Italia! and Marco Ferreri's Storia di Piera in 1983.
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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Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was left stunned when Robert De Niro made a surprise appearance at a lecture he hosted in India last week (08Nov13). The two actors were among the speakers during the annual THINK festival in Goa, where leading members in several disciplines are invited to give talks about their respective industries, but Bachchan didn't expect to spot the Oscar winner in the crowd at his lecture, listening to his every word.
Taking to Twitter.com after the event, Bachchan wrote, "Just finished my conversation at THINK..exciting and exhilarating .. and in the audience Mr Robert Di Nero (sic)!! (Stumped for words !)".