Paramount via Everett Collection
Three sleepless nights and a coffee-fueled morning after Labor Day, and I'm still waiting for the kicker. The reversal, the twist, the big reveal that Jason Reitman — a talented filmmaker and prodigious wordsmith who managed such sophisticated character material in each of his previous movies — wasn't actually telling the story I understood it to be. That I missed something altogether, some nectar of honesty buried beneath layers of theatrical pie crust. Owing to the respect I have for Reitman, his starring players Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, and a few fellow film critics who saw beauty in Labor Day, I'll keep on entertaining the idea that I overlooked the picture's authenticity. But for now, I've got to give benefit of the doubt to my senses — hey, we all have deadlines — and concude: this movie is full of s**t.
This is no victimless crime, as Labor Day sets us up in the household of depression- and anxiety-ridden Adele (Winslet) and her 12-year-old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), promising a tale we never get to hear. The film jumps right into the former's struggles with stinging mental illness and what appears to be a blossoming Oedipus complex in the latter — in The Wonder Years-style narration delivered by a flu-ridden Tobey Maguire, Henry proudly affirms that his mother is his whole life: he gives her back rubs, runs her baths, takes her on dates, and asserts himself her ad hoc husband to eradicate the loneliness that cripples her so (Clark Gregg plays Henry's absent father, a "Buck up, sport" type dad who lives across town with his "better" family). On one of their monthly outings to the Piggly Wiggly, or whatever — the film takes place in a 1987 that you'd swear was actually 1959 — Adele and Henry happen upon Frank (Brolin), a blood-soaked menace on the lam who makes tacit threats at Henry's safety to convince the rattled mother to allow him room and board until he can make a spring for the border.
And then, of course, they fall in love. Once Frank is settled into Adele's spacey Massachusetts two-story, he reveals himself the perfect man who fixes leaks, tends gardens, bakes pies, and whisks the shaken woman out of her decaying shell. It's clear why she takes to him — Frank is a heaven-sent gender reversal of the Natalie Portmans and Kirsten Dunsts and Zooey Deschanels who have fallen from the sky to turn things around for their broken beaus with spontaneity and singing and hamster funerals and cupcakes. In Frank's case, pies. I really can't overemphasize the position of the pies in this movie. They're everywhere.
Past the point of keeping Frank hidden from those pesky neighbors, it doesn't really serve as much concern to Adele — or, far less forgivably, to the movie itself — that he's an escaped con who threatened her son's life in order to earn a place to hide from the cops. Labor Day is not interested in redemption or excuse for Frank; it goes so far as to insist that we're wrong for distrusting him in the first place. But no. This guy, for all his redeeming qualities, is a problem.
Paramount via Everett Collection
Labor Day is even less interested in honing the authenticity of its other adult lead, Adele, who earns Frank's attention for no discernible reason other than that she seemed vulnerable enough to con into taking him back to her place. After that? Guilt, maybe. A knight-in-shining-armor syndrome that keeps him attracted to such an open wound. Just as Frank lives up to the one-dimensional angelicism of the aforementioned heroines of modern cinema, Adele is the counterpart to their boyfriends. Vacant and passive, just waiting to be saved by people who have nothing going on inside of them other than the drive to play savior. On top of that, she's got a pretty volatile emotional illness in full swing. But it's nothing love can't cure, right?
With so much wrong to cover in regards to the movie's central love story, I haven't even gotten to Henry yet: the good-natured, sexually curious middle schooler through whom the story is told. Although Henry at least has a real relationship with Frank, who stands in as dad and teaches him to play baseball, fix a car, and — of course — bake pies, every one of the boy's interesting conceits that is teased by the movie gets tossed out in favor of... well, that's the million dollar question. We're introduced to Henry through what appears to be a complex relationship with his mother, whom he views in part as a wife — without payoff, or even exploration, this is just some odd and incomplete stuff with which to open a movie. His distrust of Frank is entertained, but discarded almost immediately thereafter. Just about everything that might serve as character work for Henry is dealt with in the film's 3-minute epilogue. Spoilers: there are pies involved.
If it weren't for the severity of the characters' flimsiness, you might not risk an occuluar injury from all the eye rolls provoked by the ridiculous plot maneuvers this movie cranks out. We're talking doors left ajar, oblivious bank tellers, and the idea that James Van Der Beek can be accepted as a police officer materializing at the summit of the film's dramatic climax. All this, not to mention some atrociously goofy dialogue, feels like it was rescued from Nicholas Sparks' waste basket — only in glimmers of Jason Reitman's usual shtick through a loquacious tertiary character (Brighid Fleming playing "Psuedo Juno") who institutes far more narrative turns than she really should are you reminded of whose movie you expected to be watching.
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And these slight reminders might be why Labor Day is such an aggressive failure: it had potential. At the onset of the film, we thought we were diving into something juicy. When things get more ridiculous than you can accept, you convince yourself that it's all going to pay off with an honest, deconstructive revelation. But three days later, I'm still looking for what I missed. The disclosure of the true activity behind the false, theatrical curtain. But there doesn't seem to be anything there: just flat characters, an ill-conceived romance, dead-end arcs, and so many motherf**king pies.
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Drew Barrymore will host the 24th annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles later this month (20Apr13). Former U.S. leader Bill Clinton is set to receive a special honour at the event, while presenters will include Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Tobey Maguire, Elle Fanning and Charlize Theron, and Kelly Rowland will perform.
Clinton will be honoured with the Advocate for Change Award.
Barrymore received the Vanguard Award at the 21st annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles in 2010.
The Jerry Maguire star talked about the 16 year old's struggle with autism during a segment taped for U.S. series Doctors, and admitted she and husband John Travolta blamed several factors for his condition.
She says, "(Jett) was autistic. He had seizures and when he was very young, he had Kawasaki syndrome (an autoimmune disease). I strongly believe as a mother, as does my husband, that there are certain contributing factors that lead to autism and some of it is very much the chemicals in our environment and in our food."
Jett suffered a fatal seizure after hitting his head in a bathtub while on a family vacation in the Bahamas, and Preston believes autism contributed to the tragedy.
She fears complications from her "fast and hard" labour and taking antibiotics while breast feeding may have caused him to develop autism.
Preston's episode of Doctors airs in the U.S. on Wednesday (21Nov12).
Travolta surprised Preston and a couple of her pals with a trip to Paris last month (Sep12) to celebrate her 50th birthday and the Jerry Maguire star admits she had the time of her life.
She tells People.com, "Last month, Johnny (Travolta) flew all my girlfriends and their husbands and our family to Paris for four days for my birthday party and we just had the best time ever. Absolute perfection."
The actress officially marked the major milestone on 13 October (12) by taking in a performance by Streisand in Brooklyn, New York, and the Way We Were hitmaker made the concert experience extra special for the birthday girl by congratulating Preston in the middle of her set.
She adds, "I can't even put into words the experience because she was so magnificent. She said happy birthday to me (from the stage). It was the best concert I've ever been to in my life, just magic. It was truly an amazing birthday."
Preston also received special gifts from her kids - one-year-old Benjamin made her a painting of "little dots and lines" and 12-year-old Ella gave her a photo album.
Meanwhile, her close friend Kirstie Alley sent her a basket of homemade healthy treats from her weight-loss programme Organic Liaison: "She sent me a box of unbelievably delicious sweets - Rice Krispie treats, homemade jams, coconut macaroons, you name it I plowed right though it!"
Photographer Robin Layton has compiled a collection of heartfelt tributes from celebrities to their pooches for A Letter To My Dog to raise funds for animal rights organisation The Humane Society of The United States.
Sharing her special bond with three-year-old Bear, who Preston rescued after the tragic death of her son Jett in 2009, the Jerry Maguire star writes, "You found me when I needed you most. I looked in your eyes and felt I'd known you before. I feel I know who helped guide you to us... Your sweetness helped heal my heart.
"Some say we rescued you... I think it was the other way around."
Also adding messages and photos of their furry friends are The Nanny's Drescher, who posed with her Pomeranian Esther, and TV host Winfrey, who can be seen kissing her Golden Retriever Luke.
Actress Kristen Chenoweth, Kathy Najimy and Will Smith's daughter Willow also contributed to the book project.
As a society, we pretty much love watching our favorite Hollywood celebrities do practically everything. Eating, drinking, fighting, kissing — you name it, we love seeing it. But every so often there comes a time when even the most dedicated entertainment enthusiasts (aka celeb stalkers) find themselves at a crossroads... where they've seen too much and finally experience the mythical celebrity TMI moment. It happens to the best of us, and if it hasn't yet, then it's about to.
Check out our latest gallery of some of Hollywood's most embarrassing beach moments, and while you're spread out on the beach over this beautiful 4th of July, be sure to keep those private moments just that — private. Because you never know who might be watching.
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The Jerry Maguire star gave birth to son Benjamin in 2010, and credits the tot with helping her cope with the tragic loss of her 16-year-old son Jett, who died after suffering a seizure on a family vacation in 2009.
Now Preston, who turns 50 in October (12), has opened up about her family life in a candid TV chat with Amanda de Cadenet, admitting she would love to get pregnant again - even though motherhood over age 40 is associated with increased health risks.
She says, "I always wanted to have more kids. I feel like I would even have another child, but it might be pushing it.
"I'm not afraid to love and to love deeply. My kids help me with that. They open up your heart so much. There's nothing like the love of a child... it's the greatest thing ever."
Preston, who is also mum to 12-year-old daughter Ella Bleu, tells DeCadenet that although she'll never fully recover from the "unfathomable" pain she suffered after losing her teenage son, she is enjoying life again.
She explains, "I've had enormous loss. Nobody should have to lose a child. It's unfathomable. But I'm here to say that you can get through it. You can live again. You can want to live again...
"Everybody grieves in their own way. I felt at times like I was drowning. It felt like a sea of wet blankets. And then I just peeled them off, layer by layer, so that I can now say, 'I want to live.' I love life. My life is beautiful and amazing."
Travolta and the actress recently started a family game, based on their favourite U.S. cooking shows Cupcake Wars and Cookie Wars, and now they compete to bake the best treats with their friends and family members serving as judges.
But Preston confesses her skills aren't exactly up to par, telling People magazine, "Johnny always wins!"
The Jerry Maguire star has dropped 42 pounds (19 kilograms) since giving birth to her son Benjamin in November, 2010 - thanks in part to her pal Kirstie Alley's weightloss diet plan Organic Liaison - but the actress and former model insists she's not letting her new healthy lifestyle prevent her from having fun.
And while Preston admits her new hobby isn't exactly good for her waistline, she says, "I love food... Do I get sad when I have a third chin? Absolutely. But I don't have an obsession with weight. Life's too short."
World War II was one of the most important events, not only in American history, but in the overall record of human events. Hollywood has not been shy about using the medium of film to tell the innumerable great stories of WWII and the ones we know well have had more than their fair share of cinematic interpretations: the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, and the Normandy Invasion, just to name a few. However, there are quite a few stories that go largely overlooked and this week, one film being released in theaters strives to change that.
Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails (produced by none other than Star Wars mastermind George Lucas), tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. This elite group of the first African-American Air Force pilots, who faced a great deal of racism as they came through training, rose beyond their hardships and proved to be some of the most successful fighters in the Air Force. The film stars, among others, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terence Howard. While most people still remember Cuba from his Oscar-winning role in Jerry Maguire and Terence Howard from the likes of Hustle and Flow and Iron Man, there are plenty of up-and-coming young actors in the film on whom we highly recommend you keep an eye as their careers are poised to soar as high as the bombers they pilot in the film.
If you were among those lucky enough to experience the surprise hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes in theaters last summer, then you’ll probably have no problem recognizing David Oyelowo. He played the treacherous Jacobs, the head of the company handling the drug tests on the apes. Oyelowo also appeared in 2011’s runaway hit The Help, which has already won a number of awards, the riveting BBC mini-series Five Days, and will next appear in Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy alongside Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman.
The first thing that will strike you about Nate Parker is his staggering resemblance to a young Denzel Washington; there is something about his smile and his strong jaw line that warrants the comparison. It is therefore fitting that Parker appeared with Denzel in the 2007 drama The Great Debaters; based on a true story. That same year, Parker appeared in Pride, also based on a true story, alongside his Red Tails costar Terence Howard. With those two films under his belt, along with another war epic entitled Tunnel Rats, it’ll be interesting to watch him take on a war drama on a much larger scale.
Michael B. Jordan
Though he shares his name with an NBA legend, Michael B. Jordan owes much of his acting career to a different icon. Jordan was discovered by Bill Cosby, who cast him in an episode of his 1999 TV series Cosby. From there Jordan landed roles in two phenomenally successful series: The Wire and Friday Night Lights. He also had a long-running spot on All My Children for which he was nominated for three Image Awards as well as a Soap Opera Digest Award for Favorite Teen. Jordan will next been seen in found footage superhero drama Chronicle.
Twenty-five-year-old Elijah Kelley is what has traditionally been referred to as a triple threat; he acts, he sings, and he dances. He got a chance to show off his dancing chops in the 2006 drama Take the Lead starring Antonio Banderas. He then got to show off his pipes in the 2007 remake of Hairspray. In addition to being such a versatile talent in front of the camera, Kelly has proven to be quite the philanthropist off screen. He’s set up a foundation in his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia to help local children achieve their dreams.
If you aren’t familiar with Shaffer Chimere Smith Jr. the actor, you may be better acquainted with his hip-hop alias Ne-Yo. He’s been topping charts and blowing up radio stations since his first album ‘In My Own Words’ dropped in 2006. As to his crossover into acting, he’s appeared 2007’s Stomp the Yard as well as last year’s sci-fi epic Battle Los Angeles. After Red Tails, Ne-Yo will next be seen in Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds.
We Bought a Zoo opens with the voice of Dylan Mee (Colin Ford) narrating glimpses of his journalist father Benjamin's (Matt Damon) worldly adventures. Ben's been embedded with violent dictators covered with killer bees and flown through the eye of a hurricane but as Dylan explicitly states "nothing prepared him for this one"—the "this one" being the titular purchasing of a zoo on the brink of closure. Director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire Almost Famous) has never been one for subtly but that's never been the goal. We Bought a Zoo drops the cynicism wears its heart on its sleeve and doesn't mind laying it on thick in an effort to move you which it does—whether you like it or not.
Six months after his wife's death Ben still doesn't have a grasp on how to be a good parent. He struggles to throw together bagged lunches for his daughter Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) watches Dylan downward spiral into school expulsion reluctantly accepts lasagnas from the sympathetic family friends and grieves over iPhoto montages of a life that once was. Every corner of his home conjures up familial memories prompting Ben to hightail it out of town. After a desperate house hunt Ben sets his sights on a stunning country home that comes with one twist: it's the home to lions and tiger and bears (oh my!).
Along with its diverse collection of fauna Ben's new zoo sports a colorful cast of staff members including Peter MacCready the temperamental Scottish maintenance man Robin the laid-back handyman with a monkey on his shoulder and Kelly the young committed animal handler (Scarlett Johansson). Ben inspires his team with motivational speeches (and signed checks) and together they work to rebuild and reopen the park.
We Bought a Zoo explores its themes of loss and renewal on the surface with cartoony characters hammy dialogue and a score by Jónsi of Sigur Rós that steers you towards an emotional destination. But it all works thanks in large part to Matt Damon's charm and a general air of niceness to the whole package. Damon is one of the few stars capable of playing a Regular Joe. Watching him have his butt kicked by zoo chores is delightful while he adds true gravity to the dramatic moments. Whether he's butting heads with his morose son in a screaming match or tearing up over his inescapable past Damon digs deeper than Crowe and Aline Brosh McKenna's (The Devil Wears Prada 27 Dresses) screenplay. The rest of the cast manages to elevate the material too—Johansson keeps herself down to Earth; Thomas Haden Church as Ben's skeptical brother Duncan knocks every joke out of the park; And the young Elle Fanning inspires once again as Kelly's bubbly tween cousin who falls for the disgruntled Dylan (although no one seems to have a problem with a 12-year-old spending her days working/living at a zoo; her parents are completely out of the picture).
The movie doesn't take unexpected turns or make profound statements but it succeeds in its goal of tugging the audience's heartstrings. The world of We Bought a Zoo is one where everything works out if you persevere have hope and open yourself up to love. That's not reality but rather inspirational thinking. Perfect for the holiday season.