Acclaimed British songwriter Charlotte Gordon Cumming had a life-saving kidney transplant after she nearly died from eating poisonous wild mushrooms. The 55 year old, who is married to The Horse Whisperer author Nicholas Evans, almost lost her life after her partner accidentally picked a batch of deadly webcaps from a forest and served them up during dinner in 2008.
She was left in need of dialysis treatment after suffering kidney failure and had to undergo a transplant operation, and her writer husband underwent similar surgery in 2011 after his daughter Lauren donated an organ.
Cumming now admits they are both lucky to be alive, telling Britain's Daily Record newspaper, "To get to the other side of the transplant and to feel well again is simply extraordinary. I can truly say I feel immensely grateful."
The kidney was donated by Cumming's friend, Serena Tucker, and she credits her pal with saving her life, adding, "Serena has given me a second chance at life... I can't put into words what it feels like when someone steps up like that because they really are saving your life. I am humbled and blessed."
The year is 1988. The place is a rural stretch of Texas highway, recently ravaged by wildfire. And the protagonists are two road workers faced with the task of repainting the yellow lines down the middle of the road.
David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche is an odd little film. Paul Rudd plays Alvin, the uptight but romantic boss of the two-man road crew. Equipped with wilderness skills and an appreciation for the centrality of solitude, Alvin embraces his time in the great outdoors, composing long missives to his girlfriend Madison in which he muses on the beauty and tranquility of Mother Nature. Emile Hirsch plays Madison's dimwitted little brother Lance, a sex-obsessed party animal who's less enamored with wonders of nature and more interested in going into town to get laid.
Sporting overalls (and in Rudd's case, a fantastic mustache), the odd couple work, bicker, and eventually bond over the course of their menial summer job. It's a meditative, character-driven story — if we can even call it a story at all. Rather, Prince Avalanche more like a portrait of these mismatched road workers, set against the backdrop of an eerily desolate Texas landscape. The haunting score by post-rock band Explosions in the Sky adds a new dimension to the beautiful bleakness.
Prince Avalanche is a loose remake of the 2011 Icelandic film Either Way, and watching the movie, we couldn't help wonder if the original presented a special something extra that Green's version failed to achieve. As noted earlier, the poetic film lacks a real plot, getting swept away in long montages of burnt-out forest set to a delicately dramatic score.
Yet for all its lack of storyline, we can appreciate this much about the film: the offbeat characters have realness about them. There's a hidden depth to the simplicity of Hirsch's immature horndog character. One of his most memorable scenes is Lance's extended monologue, as he recounts his failure in the pursuit of sexual escapades during two nights out in town. Crying over his wreck of a weekend, it's unclear if the situation is meant to be sad or funny. This awkward tension between sympathy for his tears and humor over the absurdity of his sorrows cuts close to the bone of real life.
Another poignant scene is Alvin's encounter with an elderly woman who visits the ruins of her charred house, searching in vain for old memories in the ashes. It's only at this point in the film that we understand the real tragedy of the disaster that brought Alvin and Lance to this place. Given the rawness of this scene, it's hardly surprising to learn that this woman is not an actress and the house is not a set. She is a real person whose home was destroyed in the forest fire that struck Bastrop County, Texas in 2011.
Prince Avalanche is a truly original film with an endearing spirit that's hard to describe. The oddball characters and their uncomfortable situations will remain with you for days to come. Still, at times the endless quiet and footage of natural landscape, while contemplative, is a bit monotonous. Much like driving down an old highway, watching the yellow lines go by.
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Hollywood stars including Juliette Lewis, Bette Midler and Mia Farrow have voiced their sorrow following the death of actress Karen Black. The 74-year-old Easy Rider star passed away on Thursday (08Aug13) after a battle with cancer, and the news came as a blow to her many famous friends and fans.
Natural Born Killers star Lewis, who was a longtime friend, helped spearhead a fundraising campaign to pay for Black to go to Europe to receive a revolutionary new treatment, and she has been left devastated by her pal's death.
In a post on Twitter.com, she writes, "Karen Black was my mentor and a 2nd mother to me. She inspired everyone she came in contact with. Her spirit/strength my luv (sic) is beyond words."
Actress/singer Midler also paid tribute to the late star, adding, "Karen Black, brilliant, unpredictable, dead at 74..." and Farrow posted a link to a video montage of Black's work, with the caption, "Wonderful Karen Black rest in peace."
Other stars to offer tributes include actress Martha Plimpton, Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, and Rainn Wilson, who called her a "vital, courageous person and actress".
Director Seth Gordon has been forced to walk away from the Horrible Bosses comedy sequel due to scheduling conflicts. The filmmaker was due to reunite with actors Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day this autumn (13) to begin production on a follow up to their 2011 hit, but he pulled out of the movie on Wednesday (07Aug13), according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Studio executives at New Line Cinema are determined to press ahead with Horrible Bosses 2, but are now scrambling to find a replacement for Gordon to keep the project on track for its planned 2014 release.
Director David Gordon Green is bringing celebrated author Laura Ingalls Wilder's books to life on the big screen as part of a new film project. The Pineapple Express filmmaker reveals he has been reading the writer's 1932 childrens novel Little House in the Big Woods in preparation for a movie adaptation, although few other details about the film are known.
Filling out the Culture Diary section for New York Magazine, in which stars share a week in their lives with readers, he writes, "Read Little House in the Big Woods. I'm developing a new film based on the old Laura Ingalls Wilder books."
Wilder's books were based on her early childhood with her pioneering family at their woodland home near the village of Pepin, Wisconsin. Her stories have spawned numerous TV series and movies over the years, with actress Melissa Gilbert famously portraying the writer in Little House on the Prairie, which aired on television around the globe in the 1970s and 1980s.
Wilder died in 1957, aged 90.
Cult rockers Explosions In The Sky have been commissioned to score Al Pacino's new movie Manglehorn. The Texas-based group recently teamed up with composer David Wingo to soundtrack David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche. Green is also the director of Manglehorn.
Sting has stepped in to help save a neglected swimming pool in the area where he grew up. The music legend has made a donation towards a $7.5 million (£5 million) project to reopen a pool in Tynemouth, north east England, around five miles (eight kilometres) from Sting's hometown.
The outdoor pool, built in 1925, has been closed since the late 1980s, and Sting reportedly took a group of schoolchildren there during his pre-fame days as a teacher.
His contribution gave the project a major boost as it helped the campaign group achieve an official status as a charity.
A post on the Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool's Facebook.com page reads, "We're announcing the beginnings of our community fundraising program, and we're immensely proud to confirm that Sting has given his support to the project with a financial contribution that propelled us towards our goal of reaching charitable status!"
Mary Lynn Rajskub is reprising her role as Chloe O'Brian in the upcoming 24 TV series. The actress has signed on to play the tech-savvy character opposite Kiefer Sutherland in 24: Live Another Day.
The original 24 producer/director Howard Gordon has also announced he'll be returning for the drama, which is scheduled to hit TV screens early next year (14).
Rajskub, who joined the original series in its third season, says, "I am thrilled to be working with Howard and the writers again - and, of course, Kiefer! There's a lot more room to grow in my character. I'm going to start sharpening my computer skills now."
Whitney Houston's mother has reached out to the tragic singer's daughter in a heartfelt open letter, urging the 20 year old to rethink her marriage plans. Cissy Houston and Bobbi Kristina Brown fell out after the gospel singer wrote a book about her daughter, which her granddaughter called "disrespectful" - and now they rarely speak.
Cissy is now trying to mend her relationship with Brown by offering her relationship advice in the form of a letter she has released to media outlets.
In the statement, grandma hopes the 20 year old will one day read her book, Remembering Whitney, and "understand that I just wanted to let the world see some of My Nippy".
But she also risks pushing her granddaughter further away by addressing her engagement to Nick Gordon, which Bobbi Kristina confirmed in July (13).
Cissy writes, "Krissi, all I want for you is your good health and your happiness. Do I want you to get married in the near future? No, I don't. I think you're too young and I wish you'd wait. But that's because I'm Grandma. I'm supposed to worry about you. I'm supposed to wonder if Nick or ANY man is good enough for you. My Baby's Baby."
James Mcavoy's new movie Filth was almost mothballed as executives failed to rase enough funds - until Sting's producer wife Trudie Styler stepped in. The Wanted actor stars as sleazy police officer Bruce Robertson in the big screen adaptation of Irvine Welsh's 1998 novel of the same name but the film nearly fell at the first hurdle as the production was still $1.05 million (£700,000) short of its budget when shooting was about to start.
Director Jon S. Baird even poured his own money into the project but he and his colleagues were still forced to spend their festive holidays desperately ringing around to secure the final funds, and they almost gave up hope until Styler stumped up the rest of the cash.
He tells Britain's Daily Record, "That was a tough Christmas. I thought I'd lost all my money and we were bashing phones on Christmas Day (25Dec12) and Boxing Day (26Dec12), trying to save our movie. (But Styler) saved the day."
In return for her movie-saving funds, Baird even cast Styler in a small role in the film - as a madam in a Hamburg, Germany brothel which McAvoy's character visits.