Actress Kaley Cuoco treated her parents to an early Christmas present on Monday (23Dec13) by presenting them with a brand new car. The Big Bang Theory star had the Lexus SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) delivered to her family home in Sherman Oaks, California just before the festive holiday, complete with a big red bow, and gave mum Layne and dad Gary the shock of their lives as they stepped outside their house and laid eyes on the pricey present.
Photos of the big surprise show Cuoco's mother with her mouth open in awe, while her father, holding a glass of champagne, is depicted smiling as he points at the new car in disbelief.
Cuoco has plenty to celebrate this Christmas - she recently became engaged to tennis star Ryan Sweeting.
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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
"You just cost us the race, bro!" "I don't think you understand this is for a million dollars." "FASTER FASTER FASTER MY GOD CAN YOU UNDERSTAND MY HAND GESTURES?!?" Screaming at a foreign cab driver — an indelible part of The Amazing Race experience! And one that, more often than not, ultimately amounts to a minor hiccup en route to the episode's Pit Stop mat.
Except, like, last night, when faulty navigation* steered the otherwise well-ahead Brittany and Caitlin away from their destination and into ELIMINATION. It's hard, sometimes, to assess what leads to what: Is it slow driving that leads these teams to scream at the poor guys doing it? Or is whatever transportation predicament a pair might find themselves in some karmic rebalancing for previous complaining they may have done? Reality show science is of course not far enough along yet to study these independently, but we wait for the day when we'll know for sure. Until then: Bye Caitlin and Brittany! And hello the rest of this recap!
*By car and by foot. Indonesian cab drivers' sense of direction is only ever symptomatic of a larger problem.
Where last we left out racers, they had just checked into Surabaya, Indonesia — a bustling city of labyrinthine marketplaces and balloon animals. Abbie and Ryan had come in first with Gary and Will narrowly escaping elimination, many hours behind. Everyone else was, logically, in between. It turns out timing would make all the difference this leg, with the moment each team left the mat defining their ultimate place (and stress level). So we're going to do something a little different here, and follow independently the two tiers of teams who gave the Indonesian leg its bifurcated feel. And, to make this as easy as possible, we're calling them A-SQUAD and B-SQUAD.
—James and Jaymes
—Trey and Lexi
—Abbie and Ryan
—Josh and Brent
—James and Abba
By their own admittance, A-Squad had sort of a super-fun time both in Surabya and Bangil! And why wouldn't they? Each team navigated the Road Block — balancing and serving 20 plates of food — with ease, then made their way to the Surabaya Gubeng Station for a 7:55am train to their next destination. They chit-chatted. They agreed (though sans Rockers) to not U-Turn each other. What would be the point? These and other hypotheticals were lazily pondered during an A-Squad leg so relaxing the most dramatic moment came when Jaymes (talker?) and James (non-talker?) struggled to fit into their bicycle. One might argue that James and Abba are playing with fire by deliberately "doing their own thing," but that would be a silly argument. A-Squad is doing just fine!
Three hours behind them, however, B-Squad presented a much different picture. Natalie and Nadiya narrowly missed out on the first train, and were joined by Caitlin and Brittany, Gary and Will, and Rob and Kelley. Fully aware of the Double U-Turn ahead and the fact that being anywhere near the back meant probably getting U-Turned, teams were extra motivated to barrel through the Detour. Their first option: "Lion's Head," which required teammates to don 40-pound lion's head ceremonial masks while performing simple dances during a parade. OR "Egg Head," in which local cooks forced a lit coconut onto your head and used it to scramble some farm-fresh eggs. It's considered an art form in Indonesia, a fun fact I'll be sure to use when egging my neighbors' house on Mischief Night.
The bulk of the teams — A- or B-Squad (™) — went with Lion's Head, which actually turned out to be the faster task. Funny how that works out sometimes. Watching at home, you're convinced you know the "right" challenge a team should tackle. But often the one you considered a sure thing turns out to be anything but (I won't eat haggis! I WON'T!) and the perceived impossibility (I just stacked this pyramid of edible champagne flutes!) is easily overcome. Life is just wacky that way.
The U-Turn board was passed up and passed up until Rob and Kelley, those crazy-in-love Monster Truckers, stopped messing around and picked Substitute Teachers/Best Friends Gary and Will to U-Turn. Can those guys catch a break? The sad trombone following them all over Southeast Asia is getting exhausted, frankly. To their credit, they didn't freak out at the news of their U-Turn. Thousands of miles of WOMP WOMPS had actually made them almost Zen about their place in things. It's with that spirit that they set about tackling their second detour, Egg Head.
Meanwhile, in traditional Amazing Race cross-cutting fashion, we saw Caitlin and Brittany flailing about. First in the park where "Egg Head" was held, lost as they searched for the next clue box. Then in multiple forms of transportation, not one of which had a driver who seemed familiar with the terrain ("It's frustrating when a guy from this country cannot speak English," said Brittany). It started to become apparent, though, that this was maybe more than false editing — that the girls were struggling to the point that they might, even with the U-Turn buffer, be the ones heading home.
Gary and Will finished their eggs. Caitlin and Brittany got lost. Gary and Will found a cab. Caitlin and Brittany cursed the country of Indonesia. Gary and Will inched toward the Pit Stop. Caitlin and Brittany… snuck up behind Gary and Will, overtaking them by bicycle. Gary and Will paid their driver to speed up. Caitlin and Brittany found themselves taking a wrong turn. Gary and Will disembarked. Caitlin and Brittany launched fireballs out of their eyes. Gary and Will came in eighth place. Caitlin and Brittany exploded.
…No one actually exploded. Our eliminated team was cordial in defeat (if not their post-race talking heads!) while Phil, ever-feeling Phil, struggled to hold back his tears. Is Phil Keoghan perhaps the most empathetic person to have ever lived? One senses he carries the entirety of The Race in his heart, from Season 1 on. Like the Giver with an arched eyebrow. Eight teams remain and, with a non-elimination leg bound due any episode now, we're bound to start learning the subtle differences between our relatively boring front-runners. We have certainly spent enough time getting to know Gary and Will.
[Image Credit: CBS]
Amazing Race Recap: Taksi Driver
Amazing Race Recap: 'The Best Way For Me to Beat the Communists Was to Play Ping-Pong'
Amazing Race Season Finale React: A Record-Breaking Episode
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
The Little Britain funnyman hit the milestone over the weekend and decided to indulge in some quality time with his gorgeous wife, model Lara Stone, and showbiz pals, including Noel Gallagher, Natalie Imbruglia, Holly Valance and Gary Barlow.
The famous group descended on the luxury seafood restaurant Scott's in London's affluent Mayfair area, and popped Champagne and downed oysters.
However, missing from the party was Walliams' comedy partner Matt Lucas - who was appearing on stage nearby for a production of Les Miserables.
Frost became firm friends with Moss in the late 1990s and the pair was at a concert together in Los Angeles in 2000 when she went into premature labour.
Her husband Jude Law and sister Holly rallied around to ensure Frost made it to hospital in time - but wild woman Moss had a detour in mind.
In her upcoming autobiography, Crazy Days, Frost reveals, "Seven weeks before my due date we went to a gig with a group of friends, including Kate and my sister Holly, when I started feeling contractions. 'Sadie, I think we need to go the hospital,' Holly said.
"She and Jude helped me to the waiting limo, with Kate rushing in, determined to be with me at the birth. As we headed towards Santa Monica, Kate spotted a convenience store.
"'Stop!' she shouted to the driver. 'We're going to need supplies.' The limo stopped and the others dived out to buy champagne and cigarettes before rushing on to the hospital.
"While waiting at the hospital, Jude put some Bob Marley on and sat and ate bananas because he was so nervous, while Holly and Kate paced about the hall. Almost seven hours later, on October 25, 2000, our daughter Iris Tallulah was born."
Iris was a little sister for Frost's two sons - Finlay, from her marriage to Gary Kemp, and Rafferty. The actress and Law later welcomed son Rudy to the family before their divorce in 2003.
Ben Affleck is just another one of the celebrity names that appears in Hollywood madam Jody 'Babydoll' Gibson's list of former clients.
Gibson has named several Hollywood stars, including Bruce Willis, Gary Busey and Sex Pistol Steve Jones in her autobiography, Secrets of a Hollywood Super Madam.
In promotional material for the book, Gibson writes, "This book is about my life servicing the rich and famous and their sex, sex, sex! From Ben Affleck's steamy night with a hot blonde to Bruce Willis' wild time when the champagne flowed."
Gibson claimed the Good Will Hunting actor spent time with a prostitute named Alyssa in a Jacuzzi.
While Affleck is yet to comment on the book, Willis has angrily denied the story through his lawyers, insisting, "The story is a complete fabrication."
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
When career thief Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and his six partners in crime pull off a brilliant gold bouillon heist from a palatial digs in Venice they toast their perfectly executed plan with champagne at the foot of the icy Italian Alps. But the celebration quickly turns sour when one of them turns out to be a backstabber. With the help of Stella (Charlize Theron) a professional safe and vault technician the group plots to get revenge--and their stash back. After a yearlong stakeout they trace the double-crosser to Los Angeles where he is living in the lap of luxury. The Italian Job is an update of the 1969 classic of the same name but unlike recent remakes it is fresh and thoroughly entertaining. Like the original the film revolves around a traffic jam of massive proportions orchestrated to facilitate the heist of an armored truck carrying some $27 million worth of gold bars. But apart from that--and the fattened-up BMW Mini Coopers--the two actioners have little else in common. The plot which is slightly predictable is much more straightforward and focuses less on the planning of the heist and more on the characters and their quirks.
Although Wahlberg (The Truth About Charlie) has a headlining role in The Italian Job he does not hog the spotlight and is comfortable allowing the supporting cast to steal the film's thunder. As the gang's cool-headed leader Charlie levels out the others' wacky personas. Seth Green (Austin Powers in Goldmember) as Lyle the group's computer genius impressively flexes his comedic muscles and delivers some of the movie's funniest lines as well as in a running gag about Shawn Fanning (who makes a cameo appearance as himself) stealing his music downloading program in college while he was "napping." Jason Statham (The Transporter) is perfectly cast as Handsome Rob the team's expert driver and suave womanizer who does not say too much but certainly gets things done. Rounding out the crew are Mos Def (Brown Sugar) as explosives expert Left-Ear Edward Norton (25th Hour) as the insider man Steve and Theron (Trapped) as the brilliant and beautiful safecracker Stella. The actors bring uniqueness to their roles and form a dysfunctional yet balanced group of smooth criminals.
It is never easy to remake a classic; especially one that has entire fan clubs devoted to it. But director F. Gary Gray who helmed the melodramatic A Man Apart delivers a thoroughly enjoyable movie with engaging characters and fast-paced action sequences involving almost every form of transportation possible. The boat chases through the beautiful and historically protected Venice canals are exhilarating and Gray manages to make them believable despite restrictions on boating speeds imposed by city officials. Stateside the Mini Coopers take center stage. In this modern remake the Mini is the vehicle of choice because its compact size allows Charlie and his crew to go where no other car can and they take full advantage of it. They expertly maneuver their Minis--one red one white one blue--through subways the Los Angeles River and inner-city traffic. (It will break the hearts of car enthusiast to know that out of the 32 Minis BMW handed over only three stayed pristine throughout the shoot). The best thing about this fast-paced flick is that it does not take itself too seriously and takes you along for the ride.