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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The couple was married by Hollywood director Bill Purple on Friday (19Oct12) in Savelletri di Fasano, Italy in front of family and friends including U.S. funnyman Jimmy Fallon, music producer Timbaland, and Biel's former 7th Heaven co-star Beverley Mitchell.
But despite being surrounded by their celebrity pals, the SexyBack singer and the actress kept the nuptials as intimate as possible by exchanging handwritten vows by candlelight.
Timberlake tells People magazine, "(It was) very personal. (They were) filled with our love for each other and what this means for us. I can't let more than 10 minutes go by without some moments of comedy so they were funny and heartwarming."
Biel agreed with her groom, adding, "It was a mixture of laughter and tears during the ceremony. It was a rollercoaster."
The actress wed in a petal-pink Giambattista Valli couture gown while Timberlake sported a Tom Ford tuxedo he helped design.
It also emerged the bride walked down the aisle as her husband-to-be played guitar and performed a song he had penned especially for her.
Timberlake says, "It was an original piece I wrote specifically for the evening and for her... I figured if there was something I was going to be able to offer, it would be to sing her down the aisle. Grown men were weeping. Hopefully it's because I didn't sound bad."
After the ceremony, guests sat down at two large banquet tables, decorated with local flowers, for a four-course meal including steak, sea bass, affogato, an Italian ice cream treat, and almond and coconut cake.
The newlyweds then shared their first dance to Donny Hathaway's A Song for You, and guests rocked the night away to tunes spun by The Roots star ?uestlove.
Biel joked, "We were the last ones on the dance floor, which we felt was pretty appropriate."
The 57-year-old Ghost and Dirty Dancing star passed away in Los Angeles on Monday (14Sep09), confirms his publicist, Annett Wolf.
She says, "Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months."
Swayze went public with his pancreatic cancer battle in early 2008 and underwent regular bouts of chemotherapy as he repeatedly denied tabloid reports he was close to death after learning the cancer had spread to his liver.
In May 2008, Swayze slammed the media for spreading the false information, stating, "Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease and from the moment I was diagnosed, I knew I was in for the fight of my life. It's a battle, and so far, I've been winning. I'm one of the lucky few that responds well to treatment.
"It's upsetting that the shoddy and reckless reporting from these publications cast a negative shadow on the positive and good fight I'm fighting. For me, my family, and those close to me, it amounts to downright emotional cruelty. That makes me angry when hope is so precious."
He was dealt a setback in January (09) when he contracted pneumonia, and new claims of Swayze's deteriorating health surfaced again in May (09), when the National Enquirer alleged the actor had stopped chemotherapy after suffering a lung infection.
The publication reported the star went against doctors' advice to undergo life-saving surgery to remove part of the infected lung, refusing the risky procedure in favour of living out his final days pain-free.
Born in Houston, Texas, Swayze moved to New York to train as a professional ballet dancer before taking the lead role of Danny Zuko in the Broadway production of hit musical Grease.
He had bit parts on TV in shows like M*A*S*H and then broke into movies with a leading role in Francis Ford Coppola's cult hit The Outsiders in 1983.
But it was Swazye's role as dance instructor Johnny Castle in 1987's Dirty Dancing that catapulted him into the Hollywood A-list.
He also established himself as a recording artist, performing the song he co-wrote for the movie's soundtrack, She's Like The Wind, which earned him a top 10 hit in the U.S.
He matched his Dirty Dancing success three years later in Ghost, opposite Demi Moore, and also found big screen acclaim in cult movies Point Break and Road House.
In 1991, he was named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive - and tested his hunk status in 1995 by playing a drag queen on a road trip in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, which earned him his third Golden Globe nomination.
The new century brought him small parts in films like Donny Darko and he wrapped up his career with a lead role in TV cop drama The Beast, which he concluded as be battled cancer.
One of his most moving appearances came during the Stand Up To Cancer fundraiser a year ago (Sep08), when he made an emotional appeal for donations to further cancer research, saying: "I dream that the word 'cure' will no longer be followed by the words 'it's impossible.' Together, we can make a world where cancer no longer means living with fear, without hope, or worse."
The actor is survived by his high school sweetheart, Lisa Niemi, who he wed in 1975.
When infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) gets captured in late 19th century Arizona the plan is to transport him to a train en route to Yuma prison(leaving at 3:10 of course). But in the 1800s bringing someone to justice is as arduous as it sounds especially since horses are the only mode of transportation and their carriages the only place to house a prisoner. Across “town ” rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is struggling mightily to support his wife (Gretchen Mol) and kids (Logan Lerman and Benjamin Petry) following a drought and needs to build a well for his family. So when he receives a nominal financial offer to help transport the notorious felon he jumps at it dutifully and desperately. While on the trail that leads to the train station no amount of physical or verbal threat is too much for Wade to break free of with ease. But when it comes to the law-abiding rancher for whom Wade has a certain respect his escape becomes much more complicated than getting out of handcuffs. 3:10 to Yuma’s pairing of Batman and Cinderella Man is perfect in concept and execution and watching the two stars is more than a sight to behold—it is transfixing like watching any two longtime professionals make something difficult look easy. It’s the first of two such powerhouse pairings for Crowe this fall—he co-stars with Denzel Washington in November’s American Gangster—and if this small sample size is any indication big-name costars bring out the best in him. Crowe evokes the kind of real humanistic villain that could only exist in a Western and by playing Wade with equal parts amiability and evil the Oscar winner turns in what is probably his most purely charismatic performance to date. Bale’s character on the other hand—and per usual—is loath to crack a smile a quality the actor has mastered. The Yoda of dialect Welsh-born Bale also has no difficulty switching over to Ol’ West speak but it’s the way he conveys the rancher’s stoicism and will that makes him even more credible. Among the supporting turns Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) stands out as a cranked-up trigger-happy member of Wade’s gang and stalwart Peter Fonda is perfectly cast as a tough ‘n’ gruff bounty hunter. When director James Mangold turned Johnny Cash’s life story into Walk the Line it was the romantic version of a much darker tale. For 3:10 to Yuma a remake of the beloved 1957 Glenn Ford-starrer Mangold gives the Western the same treatment. In attempting to reel in today’s action-happy audience Mangold waters down the drama and speeds up the pace. Minor tweaks for this modern update equal a bit of a departure from true Western style with the dialogue for example as snappy as one of today’s action comedies. But it’s all in good fun. The Old West looks completely authentic and the unforgettable ending is perhaps made possible by the director’s innocuous first two acts. Even so his efforts and those of the screenwriters (Derek Haas Michael Brandt and Halstead Wells who wrote the original) aren’t enough to perform CPR on the Western—not that it’s fair to rest the fate of entire dying genre in their hands.