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.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As grand as the themes of good and evil, needs and deservings, power and responsibility and such forth are, superhero movies are generally pretty straightforward in premise: hero stops villain from wreaking havoc. As off-putting as this kind of simplicity might sound, it's usually the right way to go. If you pack enough substance into your characters and adhere your plot to these linear margins, you can actually wind up saying a healthy amount (and having a lot of fun). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets half of this formula down pat. Although Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is still a moreover undistinguished identity, his emotional magnitude (re: his relationship with Gwen Stacy) is enough to keep him valid through the storm of lunacy that is his second feature. And it's not even that lunacy that holds him back. The problem isn't how wild his conquests are, how silly some of the action sequences feel, or how absolutely bonkers his villains turn out to be. It's all the other stuff (and yes, if you can believe it, there's a ton more going on in this movie than what I've already mentioned — that's the issue). All the plot twists, tertiary mysteries, ominous flashbacks, abject reveals, and weightlessly sinister pawns in this brooding game that, save for its fun with the baddies, takes itself way too seriously. All that stuff that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 thinks is necessary to make Peter Parker matter? It actually does just the opposite.
Peter is at his best when he's playing Tracy and Hepburn with the girlfriend he's perpetually disappointing (the eternally charming Emma Stone), or trying to win back the favor of the only remaining parental figure from whom he's rapidly slipping away (Sally Field, reminding us why she's a household name), or angling to connect with the mentally unstable engineer who just wants people to notice him (Jamie Foxx working his comic shtick with a frightening zest). We have the most fun with Peter when he's playing the simplest games, and we connect best with him on similar ground. But Peter and company, at the behest of The Amazing Spider-Man franchise's Sandman-sized aspirations, spend so much time exploring new avenues: the secrets surrounding the death and work of Richard Parker, the behind-the-curtains operations of OsCorp, the nefarious goings on in the waterside penitentiary Ravencroft.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As a result of the grand stab at world building, there is just so much stuff that Peter has to wade through in this movie, dragging the likes of Gwen and his boyhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, mastering angst, menace, and upper-class privilege all at once) into the dark crevasses of narrative waste. With so many diversions into the emotionally vacant, deliberately joyless explorations of Parker family origin stories, secret brief cases, and underground subways — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rivals Captain America: The Winter Soldier in complexity, but forgets the necessary ingredient of fun — we barely have enough energy left when the good stuff hits.
And in truth, the good stuff isn't really good enough to sustain us through all the duller periods. Garfield and Stone do have laudable chemistry. Foxx is a hoot as Peter's maniacal new foe, especially when paired with the grimacing DeHaan. And the action, while often straying from any aesthetic authenticity, is nothing shy of neat-o. It's all passable, occasionally worthy of a hearty smile, but rarely anything you'll be definitively pleased you took the time to see.
But beyond coming up short in the micro, the film's regal downfall is its scope. With so much to do, both in accomplishing its own necessary plot points and setting up for those to come in future films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn't seem to take time to make sure it's having fun with its own premise. And if it isn't having fun, we won't be either.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
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).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
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."
You don't arrive at the Grand Budapest Hotel without your share of Wes Anderson baggage. Odds are, if you've booked a visit to this film, you've enjoyed your past trips to the Wes Indies (I promise I'll stop this extended metaphor soon), delighting especially in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his most recent charmer Moonrise Kingdom. On the other hand, you could be the adventurous sort — a curious diplomat who never really got Anderson's uric-toned deadpan drudgings but can't resist browsing through the brochures of his latest European getaway. First off, neither community should worry about a bias in this review — I'm a Life Aquatic devotee, equally alienating to both sides. Second, neither community should be deterred by Andersonian expectations, be they sky high or subterranean, in planned Budapest excursions. No matter who you are, this movie will charm your dandy pants off and then some.
While GBH hangs tight to the filmmaker's recognizable style, the movie is a departure for Anderson in a number of ways. The first being plot: there is one. A doozy, too. We're accustomed to spending our Wes flicks peering into the stagnant souls of pensive man-children — or children-men (Moonrise) or fox-kits (guess) — whose journeys are confined primarily to the internal. But not long into Grand Budapest, we're on a bona fide adventure with one of the director's most attractive heroes to date: the didactic Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes mastering sympathetic comedy better than anyone could have imagined he might), who invests his heart and soul into the titular hotel, an oasis of nobility in a decaying 1930s Europe. Gustave is plucked from his sadomasochistic nirvana overseeing every cog and sprocket in the mountaintop institution and thrust into a madcap caper — reminiscent of, and not accidentally, the Hollywood comedies of the era — involving murder, framing, art theft, jailbreak, love, sex, envy, secret societies, high speed chases... believe me, I haven't given half of it away. Along the way, we rope in a courageous baker (Saoirse Ronan), a dutiful attorney (Jeff Goldblum), a hotheaded socialite (Adrien Brody) and his psychopathic henchman (Willem Dafoe), and no shortage of Anderson regulars. The director proves just as adept at the large scale as he is at the small, delivering would-be cartoon high jinks with the same tangible life that you'd find in a Billy Wilder romp or one of the better Hope/Crosby Road to movies.
Anchoring the monkey business down to a recognizable planet Earth (without sacrificing an ounce of comedy) is the throughline of Gustave's budding friendship with his lobby boy, Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori, whose performance is an unprecedented and thrilling mixture of Wes Anderson stoicism and tempered humility), the only living being who appreciates the significance of the Grand Budapest as much as Gustave does. In joining these two oddballs on their quest beyond the parameters of FDA-approved doses of zany, we appreciate it, too: the significance of holding fast to something you believe in, understand, trust, and love in a world that makes less and less sense everyday. Anderson's World War II might not be as ostensibly hard-hitting as that to which modern cinema is accustomed, but there's a chilling, somber horror story lurking beneath the surface of Grand Budapest. Behind every side-splitting laugh, cookie cutter backdrop, and otherworldly antic, there is a pulsating dread that makes it all mean something. As vivid as the worlds of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise might well have been, none have had this much weight and soul.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
So it's astonishing that we're able to zip to and fro' every crevice of this haunting, misty Central Europe at top speeds, grins never waning as our hero Gustave delivers supernaturally articulate diatribes capped with physically startling profanity. So much of it is that delightfully odd, agonizingly devoted character, his unlikely camaraderie with the unflappably earnest young Zero, and his adherence to the magic that inhabits the Grand Budapest Hotel. There are few places like it on Earth, as we learn. There aren't many movies like it here either.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com