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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It was a great big morning for the Great White Way: The nominations for the 66th Annual Tony Awards were announced on Tuesday with the adapted musical Once leading the pack with 11 nominations. Broadway vets Kristin Chenoweth and Jim Parsons read the names of the nominees, which included some of their fellow Hollywood elite like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield, who earned nominations for their work in the harrowing play Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. (Cynthia Nixon, James Earl Jones, John Lithgow, Frank Langella, Stockard Channing, and Mike Nichols are among the other notable nominees this year.)
Though Once, the stage interpretation of the beloved 2007 indie breakout, is out in front with 11 nominations (including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Choreography, and nods for its two leads Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti) The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Nice Work If You Can Get It follow closely with 10 each.
While it was no surprised that surefire things like the hit musicals Newsies and Follies earned Tony nods (8 each, to be exact) there were a few snubs and shockers. Most notable was the lack of a nomination for Evita star Ricky Martin in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (the show itself surprisingly only earned three nods total) and Samuel L. Jackson for his turn as Martin Luther King Jr. in the play The Mountaintop. But, perhaps the biggest surprise of the morning was that the troubled-from-the-start production Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark received two Tony nominations.
Here's the full list of nominees and recipients, including Hugh Jackman, who will be given the Special Tony Award:
Leap of Faith
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Other Desert Cities
Peter and the Starcatcher
Venus in Fur
Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Best Revival of a Musical
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
James Corden - One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones - Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Frank Langella - Man and Boy
John Lithgow - The Columnist
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda - Venus in Fur
Tracie Bennett - End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing - Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin - The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon - Wit
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein - Follies
Jeremy Jordan - Newsies
Steve Kazee - Once
Norm Lewis - The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Ron Raines - Follies
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jan Maxwell - Follies
Audra McDonald - The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Cristin Milioti - Once
Kelli O’Hara - Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes - Bonnie & Clyde
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Andrew Garfield, Death of a Salesman
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Linda Emond, Death of a Salesman
Spencer Kayden, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Cella Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Phillip Boykin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris, Evita
David Allen Grier, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Josh Young, Jesus Christ Superstar
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies
Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Jesse Mueller, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost
Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher
Best Direction of a Musical
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Diane Paulus, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
John Tiffany, Once
Best Book of a Musical
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Bonnie & Clyde
One Man, Two Guvnors
Peter and the Starcatcher
Rob Ashford, Evita
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
Steven Hoggett, Once
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
Daniel Ostling, Clybourne Park
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Bob Crowley, Once
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost the Musical
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies
George Tsypin, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
Best Costume Design of a Play
William Ivey Long, Don’t Dress for Dinner
Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Follies
ESosa, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca
Brian MacDevitt, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Christopher Akerlind, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Natasha Katz, Follies
Natasha Katz, Once
Hugh Vanstone, Ghost the Musical
Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
Scott Lehrer, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow
Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Clive Goodwin, Once
Kai Harada, Follies
Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Bill Elliott, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Martin Lowe, Once
Danny Troob, Newsies
Isabelle Stevenson Award
Special Tony Award
Actors’ Equity Association
Neil Patrick Harris who tweeted, "Tony nominations. The biggest day in the world for a very small faction of people" will host the show for the third time in his career. The 66th Annual Tony Awards will air live from the Beacon Theater in New York City on CBS on June 10 at 8 PM ET. Which shows and stars were you glad to see get Tony nominations? Who got snubbed? Sound off in the comments section below, Broadway babies!
Neil Patrick Harris To Host The 2012 Tony Awards
Hugh Jackman To Receive Honorary Tony Award
Once the Musical: Can an Indie Hit Become a Broadway Smash?
It's hard to believe there are only three more episodes of True Blood's fourth season. This upsets me for several reasons. 1. it means my favorite show is almost over, 2. I will have to wait a whole year before seeing these ridiculously good-looking characters again, and 3. this can only mean that summer is nearly over. Bad news all around. But before we begin mourning our beloved show, we still have a rapidly growing plot to finish out before the season's end -- and what a wicked season it's been.
HBO released the official loglines for the final two episodes and they are absolutely filled with spoilers of what to expect for the rest of the season. So, if you would rather be surprised and not know what's to come then stop reading, but if you're like me and are way too impatient to wait week after week for more answers, then check out the descriptions below:
SUNDAY, SEPT. 4 “Soul of Fire”
As the Wiccan-vampire standoff reaches a critical juncture, Sookie (Anna Paquin) summons her faerie powers to prevent Marnie (Fiona Shaw) from bewitching Bill (Stephen Moyer), Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) into a suicide march, while Jesus (Kevin Alejandro) casts a secret spell designed to un-bind Marnie/Antonia and break the witch’s deadly defenses. Sam (Sam Trammell) settles a score with Marcus (Dan Buran); Alcide (Joe Manganiello) confronts Debbie (Brit Morgan) about her allegiances; Andy (Chris Bauer) finds unexpected passion in the forest; Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) is consumed by the past.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 11 “And When I Die” (Season Finale)
It’s Samhain, Wicca’s greatest holy day, and spirits of the dead surface in Bon Temps, giving Sookie valuable allies to combat Marnie’s newest incarnation. Lafayette’s latest medium encounter imperils his relationship with Jesus; Jason (Ryan Kwanten) finds confession good for the soul, but not the body; Alcide makes a heartfelt appeal to the woman he loves; Terry (Todd Lowe) receives an unexpected visitor at Merlotte’s; Sam and Luna (Janina Gavankar) envision a storybook ending, for once; Nan (Jessica Tuck) wears out her welcome with Bill and Eric. Debbie confronts Sookie and Tara (Rutina Wesley) with deadly consequences, and the denizens of Bon Temps brace for a new crisis with a familiar face.
Looks like Bon Temps in for some double double, toil and trouble. Sookie better learn to get her fairy magic under control or else she's going to have no vampires brooding over her come next season. And who is this similar face? Will someone be returning to Bon Temps? Who could it be? Make your guesses before it's too late. These last few episodes are sure to be jam-packed with all our favorite True Blood themes: blood, sex, death, and nudity (not necessarily in that order). One thing is certain though -- something wicked this way comes!
Click on the image below for more photos of True Blood!
Source: TV Line
The Hollywood stars have filmed an commercial for the Stand Up To Cancer organisation to raise the profile of the disease and encourage the public to fight back.
Zellweger says, "It's up to me, it's up to you, it's up to all of us," while Lowe adds: "It's up to sons and daughters."
The ad, in which the stars write slogans on a white wall, will be shown in the U.S. Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake will also be involved with the campaign.
The pair stole the show at last year's (08) ceremony, scooping the top male and female honours in the comedy series categories, and hoped to repeat their success after landing a whopping 22 nods this year (09).
And Baldwin was delighted after he was declared the winner for the second time, accepting the trophy over Brothers & Sisters favourite Rob Lowe.
Taking the stage, the star joked, "I'll be honest with you. I'd trade this to look like him."
But United States Of Tara's Toni Collette was later named Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, depriving 30 Rock creator Fey of her second consecutive award in the category.
Collette beamed: "Wow, this is insanely confronting."
Fey redeemed herself moments later as she graced the stage to acknowledge her Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress on hit sketch show Saturday Night Live. That win was first announced at the Creative Arts Primetime Emmys ceremony last week (12Sep09).
She and her co-stars Baldwin and Tracy Morgan still have a chance to compete for Emmy gold in categories including the coveted category Outstanding Comedy Series, which they won in 2008.
The winners of the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards thus far are as follows:
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Jon Cryer - Two And A Half Men
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth - Pushing Daisies
Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange - Grey Gardens
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series: American Idol
Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series: Jeff Blitz - The Office
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Matt Hubbard - 30 Rock, The Reunion
Outstanding Made for Television Movie: Grey Gardens
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Ken Howard - Grey Gardens
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Series: Dearbhla Walsh - Little Dorrit
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: Andrew Davies - Little Dorrit
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Shohreh Aghdashloo - House of Saddam
Outstanding Reality-TV Competition: The Amazing Race
Outstanding Miniseries: Little Dorrit
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Brendan Gleeson - Into The Storm
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Toni Collette - United States Of Tara
Outstanding Host for a Reality Competition Show: Jeff Probst - Survivor
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.