20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
The past 15 years have done a number on American suburbia. In 1999, a simpler and sweeter time, Sam Mendes used American Beauty to pull back the curtain on the subculture’s sinister core. In 2014, Gone Girl serves a similar purpose, but shoulders a heavier load: today is far more readily sinister, malevolent, desperate, and disgusting than the pre-9/11 era captured in Mendes’ Oscar winner.
So, naturally, we turn to David Fincher.
Just as Gone Girl is 2014’s equivalent to Clinton Era American Beauty, the new film is 50s Fincher’s answer to the mid-30s-Fincher product Fight Club. In exploring the disappearance of writer Amy Dunn (Rosamund Pike), the film’s story spotlights the diabolical wire rigs behind her relationship with husband Nick (Ben Affleck) — and, by extension, the ugly truths fueling or anchoring any modern marriage (hell, if people this pretty have problems…).
The novel adaptation claims stake in the genres of mystery, horror, psychological thriller, relationship drama, and — hell, for sure — black comedy, having a ton of twisted fun as both an elaborate whodunit and a socio-psychological term paper on contemporary gender politics.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Affleck is a hoot as the rigidly dislikable Nick, a charmless cad who can look shlubby even with a mile-long shoulder width. Pike, too, is a treat, batting around banter in perfect company with Fincher's dreamy eye to produce a heightened reality that hits visceral levels. But the supporting cast is Gone Girl's claim to fame. As a hard-nosed detective, Kim Dickens is electric enough to escape the limiting nature of her audience surrogate character; right beside her is an almost wordless Patrick Fugit, whose stoic body language manages a laugh every time. And yes, believe it: Tyler Perry is pretty good.
But what is probably most impressive about the movie — a factor that, to some, might actually prove most frustating — is its comfort with keeping certain things nebulous. At the risk of anticlimax, Gone Girl occassionally favors implications over answers, suggesting to the audience that its conversation extends the parameters of its plot.
Never lilting in its energy thanks to an unorthodox structure and feverish editing, Gone Girl is as broadly enjoyable as it is clever. Fincher manages with middle age what he mastered with fading youth, in 2014 what Mendes tried in '99. It's all very frightening, all too provocative, and all one mess of a good time.
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British singer Sam Smith looks set to win big at the 2014 Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards after scoring four nominations on Tuesday (23Sep13).
The Money On My Mind hitmaker received a nod in the Best Song category for his hit Stay With Me and Best Album for his debut disc In The Lonely Hour, as well as Best Male Act and Best R 'n' B Soul Act nominations. He will compete against stars including British rapper Tinie Tempah and Fuse ODG in the Best Male category, while Rita Ora, Jessie J, Katy B and Robert Pattinson's rumoured girlfriend FKA Twigs will battle it out for Best Female Act.
Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran is among the artists who will compete against Smith in the Best Song category, with his track Sing going up against Stay With Me.
Beyonce, Chris Brown, Drake, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj and Pharrell Williams are among those competing for the Best International Act trophy.
British hip-hop duo Krept & Konan also picked up four nominations, closely followed by FKA Twigs with three.
The singer/songwriter, real name Tahliah Barnett, is also up for the coveted Mercury Prize this year (14). Actor Idris Elba received a MOBO Inspiration Award at the nominations party on Tuesday morning. The rest of the winners will be announced at London's Wembley Arena on 22 October (14).
Katy Perry looks set to dominate in Scotland at the upcoming MTV Europe Music Awards in Glasgow after scoring a massive seven nominations.
The pop superstar topped the list when the nominations were announced on Tuesday (16Sep14) - just two days before Scots go to the polls to vote on independence from the U.K. - landing two nods for her hit track Dark Horse, including Best Song and Best Video. Perry will compete against her chart rivals Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj for the Best Female title, and she will face Problem hitmaker Grande again in the Best Pop category along with Miley Cyrus, One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer.
The Firework hitmaker will also compete for Best Live, Best Look and Biggest Fans.
The awards will be handed out at a ceremony in Glasgow on 9 November (14). The list of main nominations is as follows:
Katy Perry - Dark Horse featuring Juicy J
Ariana Grande - Problem featuring Iggy Azalea
Eminem - The Monster featuring Rihanna
Pharrell Williams - Happy
Sam Smith - Stay With Me
5 Seconds of Summer
5 Seconds of Summer
Katy Perry - Dark Horse featuring Juicy J
Iggy Azalea - Black Widow featuring Rita Ora
Kiesza - Hideaway
Pharrell Williams - Happy
Sia - Chandelier
The Black Keys
Fall Out Boy
Lana Del Rey
Thirty Seconds To Mars
5 Seconds of Summer
DJ Calvin Harris has scored his fifth number one single on the U.K. music charts with Blame. The track, featuring English singer John Newman, has beaten Lilly Wood & Robin Schulz's Prayer in C to the top of the charts.
Harris' previous number one singles include I'm Not Alone, Sweet Nothing, Under Control and Summer.
He also featured on two other top songs; Dizzee Rascal's Dance Wiv Me and Rihanna's We Found Love.
Rounding out the top five are Sam Smith's I'm Not the Only One, Taylor Swift's Shake It Off and Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora's Black Widow.
Meanwhile on the albums chart, Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant has scored this week's (ends14Sep14) highest new entry with Lullaby And The Ceaseless Roar.
Plant's 10th solo album debuted at number two behind Smith's In The Lonely Hour.
Ed Sheeran's X, Royal Blood's self-titled Mercury Music Prize-favoured eponymous album and George Ezra's Wanted On Voyage sound out the new top five.
Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry ruled the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum in Inglewood, California on Sunday (24Aug14), by picking up the biggest honours. The Roar hitmaker took home the first Moonman trophy of the night for Best Female Video for Dark Horse and was joined onstage by rapper Juicy J who appeared on the track.
Cyrus, who returned to the prizegiving a year after causing a stir with her raunchy routine with Blurred Lines singer Robin Thicke, was all about the message this year, choosing to use her Video of the Year acceptance speech for Wrecking Ball to pay tribute to homeless youths.
The pop star sent a man named Jesse to accept the prize on her behalf for the "1.6 million runaways and homeless youths in the United States, who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now."
He continued, "I know this because I am one of these people... If you want to make a powerful change in the world right now, please join us and go to Miley's Facebook.com page. A dream you dream alone is only a dream, but a dream you dream together is reality."
Beyonce was feted with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and wowed the crowd with a show-stopping performance featuring a medley of hits from her self-titled album, including Partition, Flawless and Drunk in Love.
After her stunning set, which brought the audience to its feet, she was presented with the accolade by daughter Blue Ivy and husband Jay Z, who called his wife "the greatest living entertainer."
Beyonce tearfully accepted her award, saying, "I'm so full. Thank you, I have nothing to say, but I'm filled with so much gratitude. I just thank God for this moment and I love y'all so much. Blue I love you, my beloved I love you, my fans I love you, MTV I love you, goodnight."
The moment appeared to be her bid to once and for all end divorce rumours.
Ed Sheeran and Fifth Harmony were also big winners, taking home the Best Male Video and Artist to Watch awards, respectively.
Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J kicked off the ceremony with Grande singing her hit Break Free, followed by Nicki Minaj giving a jungle-themed performance of her new track Anaconda.
Jessie J then started off the trio's new hit song Bang Bang, but Minaj suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction when she did not complete her quick-change in time and was forced to hold the front of her dress together so as to not expose her bare breasts as she returned to the stage.
Other performance highlights included Sam Smith with his hit song Stay With Me and Maroon 5, who made their VMAs debut with a performance of Maps outside of the venue.
Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora also hit the The Forum stage for their first-ever live performance of Black Widow.
There was also a couple of serious moments in among the festivities - Robin Williams, who passed away earlier this month (Aug14), was remembered and rapper Common asked for a moment of silence for Missouri teenager, Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on 9 August (14), sparking the ongoing unrest in the state.
The 2014 MTV VMAs winners at press time were:
Video of the Year - Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
Best Hip-Hop Video - Hold On (We're Going Home) by Drake featuring Majid Jordan
Best Male Video - Sing by Ed Sheeran
Best Female Video - Dark Horse by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J
Best Pop Video - Problem by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea
Artist to Watch - Fifth Harmony
Best Rock Video - Royals by Lorde
Best Lyric Video - Don't Stop by 5 Seconds of Summer
MTV Clubland Award - Stay the Night by Zedd featuring Hayley Williams
Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award - Beyonce
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea's summer just got hotter - the Problem collaborators have dominated the new Billboard Hot 100 with three mentions apiece. While MAGIC!'s Rude scored a sixth week at number one, Grande and Azalea enjoy a run of hits including top 10 debuts for Break Free and Black Widow, the Australian rapper's Rita Ora-flavoured tune.
Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass climbs to two on the new chart, while Sam Smith's Stay With Me drops to three.
The Grande/Azalea takeover begins at four with the former's Break Free, which climbs into the top five from 18, while Azalea's former number one, Fancy, slides to five.
The girls of summer also land hits at seven (Problem), eight (Black Widow) and 10 (Bang Bang).
Only 12 acts, including Grande and Azalea, have claimed at least three top 10 spots on the Hot 100 in the same week, but this week marks the first time in the Hot 100's 56-year history that two acts have tripled up in the top 10 simultaneously.
We've been clamoring for a female superhero film for years now. Principal focus in this call to arms has been on Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the purveyors of the best superhero flicks on the lot, and Warner Bros/DC Comics, what with Wonder Woman on their roster. But we've overlooked Sony, the company that lays claim to the Marvel property Spider-Man. As it turns out, per Deadline, the Amazing Spider-Man films might spawn the next female-centric superhero movie... but we're wondering if this will be a project worthy of that superlative.
Back in the early aughts, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 set the bar high for superhero cinema. After the much maligned third chapter in Sam Raimi's Peter Parker series, fans diverted attention to the Avengers pictures and Christopher Nolan's Batman films, hoping to find all their comic book wishes met within said parameters. Then came Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2... which more or less validated this specified cynicism, turning over middling reviews and no small sum of fan backlash. But Marc Webb's features aren't devoid of charm. The shining light in both movies, in fact, is the sort of character that usually gets shafted, and big time: the "girlfriend."
Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's (Andrew Garfield) friend and young love, with far more moxy and character than are usually attributed to women in superhero films. Although we get venerable players like Natalie Portman and Liv Tyler playing the ladyfriends of Marvel heroes, agency is a palpable absentee; Gwyneth Paltrow, the strongest of the lot as Pepper Potts, only really conjured up some vigor for the third Iron Man movie. And female superhero Scarlett Johansson still hasn't gotten her long overdue starring feature.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
While the DC side of the game is notably lacking in the same kind of pizzazz on the whole, its women can be noted as especially bland. Lois Lane, both versions of Rachel Dawes, and even Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle are particularly dull characters who function primarily as appendages of their respective heroes... even if one of 'em did run down an asthmatic Tom Hardy.
And yet Sony, perpretating movies that are altogether less impressively crafted than those of its competitors, gives us an interesting, courageous, and likable character in Stone's Gwen Stacy. She's funnier, smarter, braver, and more reasonable than her counterpart Peter, a rarity for a genre of film that prefers to use women as damsels in distress and set dressing. Beyond just being a more vivid presence in these films, Stacy actually contributes to both the plot — she is the most important factor in any one of Peter's actions and decisions — as well as the ultimate takedown of the central villain. In the end, she's more of a sidekick, a hero in her own right, than a girlfriend figure.
We don't know what sort of character Sony will put forth with its undisclosed superheroine film, but we're glad that they're the ones taking this step forward. But this isn't a free pass to further put off a Black Widow movie, Kevin Feige. Everyone needs to get in on this action!
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5 Seconds Of Summer, Australia's answer to One Direction, have topped the U.S. albums chart with their self-titled debut. With 259,000 sales, the release scores the third biggest first week of the year (14) - and the quartet becomes the first act to rocket to the top of the Billboard 200 with a 250,000-plus-selling debut since American Idol star Chris Daughtry's namesake band Daughtry shot to number one in 2006 with 304,000 sales.
5 Seconds of Summer also become the first Australian act to debut at number one with a first full-length album. The band is the first Australian group to hit number one since AC/DC's Black Ice spent two weeks atop the countdown in 2008.
Meanwhile, the Frozen soundtrack is refusing to leave the top five after over 30 weeks - it rises three spots to two on the new Billboard 200, and last week's number one, 'Weird Al' Yankovic's Mandatory Fun, falls to three.
Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour and the latest Kidz Bop Kids compilation round out the new top five.
On the singles chart, MAGIC!'s Rude spends a third week at number one, a spot ahead of Iggy Azalea's record-breaking chart-topper Fancy. Sam Smith's Stay With Me rounds out the top three for a second week.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
The Fault In Our Stars and TV series Orange Is The New Black were the big winners at the 2014 Young Hollywood Awards on Sunday (27Jul14), scooping three honours each.
The teen romance film picked up the Favourite Flick accolade at the annual prizegiving, which celebrates the achievements of the entertainment industry's young stars. The movie's main star, Ansel Elgort, won Fan Favourite - Male and was also awarded Best On-Screen Couple with co-star Shailene Woodley.
The prison-based TV series was crowned the most Bingeworthy TV Show while Danielle Brooks, who plays Tasha 'Taystee' Jefferson in the show, won Breakthrough Actress and Pablo Schrieber won the We Love to Hate You trophy for his evil character George 'Pornstache' Mendez.
Troubled pop star Justin Bieber also took to the stage in Los Angeles to be honoured with the Champ of Charity Award, for his humanitarian work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Other winners included Ed Sheeran, Chloe Grace Moretz and British singer Sam Smith. The ceremony, hosted by Kelly Osbourne, will be televised in the U.S. on Monday (28Jul14).
Pop parody king 'Weird Al' Yankovic is having a laugh at the top of the U.S. album chart after debuting his latest collection of comedy tunes at the top of the Billboard 200. The 54 year old's new release, Mandatory Fun, has rocketed to number one, giving the star his first chart-topper.
Weird Al took to his Twitter account on Wednesday (23Jul14) to alert fans to the news, writing, "It's official. MANDATORY FUN enters the Billboard album chart this week at #1. Wow. WOW."
He added, "If you'd told me 30 years ago this would happen, I never would've believed it. If you'd told me 2 WEEKS ago, I never would've believed it.
"I'm so pleased everybody is enjoying the album, and I'm enormously grateful for everyone's support. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU."
Mandatory Fun is Weird Al's 14th studio album, and features comedy takes on hits like Pharrell Williams' Happy (Tacky) and Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines (Word Crimes), but the highlight is his reimagining of Iggy Azalea's Fancy, which Yankovic has turned into a handyman anthem, called Handy.
He promoted the new album by releasing eight music videos in eight consecutive days, and recently hinted the new release may be his last: "I hate to draw lines in the sand and say this is absolutely the last album, but it sure looks that way. It's the end of my record deal."
Jason Mraz's Yes! debuts at two on the new countdown and rockers Rise Against enter at three with The Black Market.
Meanwhile, pop/reggae group MAGIC! land a second week at the top of the Hot 100 with Rude.
Iggy Azalea's Fancy and Sam Smith's Stay With Me are unmoved at two and three on the new singles countdown, while Ariana Grande's Problem and Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz round out the top five.