Rapper Ludacris will be honoured with the President's Award at the Broadcast Music, Inc. R&B/Hip-Hop Awards in Los Angeles next month (Aug13). The Area Codes hitmaker will be feted in recognition of his achievements in songwriting and his global influence over the past 16 years of his career.
Announcing the news, BMI Vice President Catherine Brewton says, "We are proud to be honouring Ludacris with our President's Award. He is a hometown hero to the city of Atlanta, who has had a remarkable career in music, film and television.
"His consistency in the industry, as well as his outreach in the community proves he is more than deserving of the BMI President’s Award."
The 36-year-old MC has sold seven million records worldwide, picking up three Grammy Awards. He has also made a name for himself as an actor, starring in films such as Crash and the Fast & Furious franchise. And now he's a TV talent show judge after joining the all-star panel on U.S. show Rising Star.
Ludacris joins a roster of other acclaimed artists who have received the President's Award, including will.i.am, Adam Levine, Carlos Vives, Taylor Swift and Pitbull.
The back half of Saturday Night Live's Season 38 had hit a slump. Starting in January, the series booked promising host after promising host (Jennifer Lawrence, Adam Levine, and Christoph Waltz, to name a few), only to leave us wondering why we promised ourselves we'd stay home on Saturday night to watch them crash and burn.
The series, seemingly aware that their winter was becoming a bit too dead, got themselves back on track in early March when they recruited MVP Justin Timberlake to hit a comedic homerun. And it seems they intend on rounding the bases yet again with second-time host — and, let's face it, future five-timer — Melissa McCarthy, who returns to the series Saturday night with musical guest Phoenix.
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With both a sitcom (Mike & Molly) and a movie (June 28's The Heat) to promote, you'd best believe the comedienne will bring the same level of dedication that led to memorable SNL moments like these:
So, that's right: Do do do do do, we're gonna be lovin' McCarthy on SNL. But will you be tuning in this week? Talk about the episode here, and be sure to return Sunday morning for our full recap. There will be puppies. (No, there won't be. Sorry.)
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If you've caught any of the promotion material for the upcoming movie Warm Bodies, there's a chance you might have offered one heck of an eyeroll. The new film seems to hearken back to another Summit Entertainment franchise — a completely separate story about a mortal girl's forbidden love for a member of an undead race. Among the likes of upcoming properties more deserving of the connotation (such as Beautiful Creatures and The Host), Warm Bodies has earned the branding of "the new Twilight Saga." But the truth is far from it.
Delivered by writer/director Jonathan Levine (who helmed the stellar dramatic comedy 50/50), Warm Bodies is far more of a send-up of the YA interspecies romance, approaching the genre with a tongue-in-cheek, sometimes wacky attitude. With comedy coming from stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer and supporting players Rob Corddry and Analeigh Tipton, Warm Bodies looks to please not only fans of the Twilight Saga, but probably a lot of those who wouldn't touch those movies with a ten foot pole.
And you can blame all your misconceptions on the trailer, the posters, all the material so far released. But Warm Bodies is hardly a unique case. There are plenty of other films guilty of misleading marketing.
End of Watch
Trailer: Fast-paced, shakycam crime thriller.
Movie: Pensive look into the comical and dramatic lives of two police officers.
The Family Stone
Trailer: Wacky holiday comedy where the whole family embarks upon their usual high jinx!
Movie: Slow and serious (too slow and too serious, actually) drama about clashing cultures in a moreover bland family unit. Also, a secret cancer movie.
Trailer: High intensity crime epic.
Movie: Sweet, patient, melancholy romantic drama that happens to have some brutal killings peppered throughout.
The Fifth Element
Trailer: Nonstop thrill-ride of serious action and science fiction.
Movie: Kooky, goofy imaginarium of sci-fi half-ideas, delivered with a hearty sense of humor by cartoonish characters.
I Love You, Phillip Morris
Trailer: Another screwball comedy for Jim Carrey, this time where he's a convict who falls for a fellow male inmate (isn't that crazy?!)
Movie: A touching, often heartbreaking (but yes, still funny) love story about a tragically broken man and the love of his life.
Trailer: Supercharged, edge-of-your-seat, sky-high-octane thriller about a plane crash.
Movie: Drama about a dude with a drug problem.
Burn After Reading
Trailer: Slapstick galore in this Coen Brothers comedy — another Hudsucker? This time with Brad Pitt in a track suit?
Movie: A weird, dark, cerebral, terribly imposing (but wholly interesting) take on the government, greed, and gym memberships.
Trailer: A found footage horror movie about a first date gone horribly wrong.
Movie: A documentary about the dishonest afforded by Internet relationships. You might say that the trailer for this film catfished us! (But don't say that. It's silly.)
Trailer: A film about Anne Hathaway
Movie: A film that has Anne Hathaway in it for like, 5 minutes
[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
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Our favorite fright fest, American Horror Story, has more twists and turns than a game of cat's cradle in a wind storm. But it's still made of slightly predictable tropes, some cribbed from traditional genre fare and some all of it's own. Here's an accounting of what happened in last night's episode based on the scariest thing of all: math. The spoiler-phobic should beware.Dead Bodies: 6 (zombies, Sister Mary Eunice, Dr. Arden)
Times a Person Was Spanked/Slapped/Hit: 8 (restarting his heart, slapping Kit, throwing Sister Mary against he wall, kicking Dr. Arden, the Monsignor against the bannister)
Times We Had to Listen to "Dominique" by the Singing Nun: 0
Times We Had to Listen to "Judy Judy Bo Bootie:" 1
On a Scale of One to a Million How Awesome Was That: 1,000,001
Cigarettes Smoked: 2
Loaves of Bread Kneaded: 3
Sister Jude's Freakouts: 3 (avoiding electroshock therapy, on the juke box, when Mother Superior visits)
Shots of that Creepy Crawly Bug Microchip Thing: 0
Aliens: 2 (Grace's baby and Pepper)
Consecutive Weeks with an Escape Attempt: 10
Successful Escape Attempts: 1 (Bad Santa)
Sex Acts: 1 (Sister Mary Eunice and the Monsignor, which was kind of rape)
Flashbacks/Backstories: 1 (The Name Game)
Adam Levine Sightings: 0
Consecutive Weeks Without the Modern Story: 4
Unsanitary Medical Procedures:
Bad Boston Accents: 2 (the guard who keeps saying "open the daw", another awful gaurd)
Uses of the Word "Pinhead": 1
Times We Saw That Amazing Francis Conroy as the Angel of Death: 2
Serial Killers Released from Storage Closets without Any Explanation Given: 1 (Dr. Thredson)
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: FX]
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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
This shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone. Walt Disney Pictures has decided not to move forward with producing an adaptation of Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski's upcoming illustrated novel Oblivion, says Variety. The studio made a deal with the filmmaker last August after the book bowed at the San Diego Comic-Con, when Tron was tracking big and looked like it was going to be the start of another huge franchise for the Mouse House.
Fast forward a few months. The film's $398 million haul was good enough to draw profit but was hardly the hit that Disney thought it had on its hands, and thus, Kosinski's stock at the company has cooled momentarily. He's still attached to helm a remake of its 1979 sci-fi family film The Black Hole, but it looks like he'll shop Oblivion (which was possibly retitled Horizons) around at other studios with producer Barry Levine of Radical Publishing (who helped develop the book) first. For those unaware of what this ambitious tent pole is about, the story is set in a future in which the Earth's surface has been irradiated beyond recognition and the human survivors live above the clouds, safe from the alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface-drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off a chain of events that forces him to question everything he believes.
William Monahan (The Departed) and Karl Gajdusek (upcoming Trespass) worked on the script, which means that it's probably pretty good. Given the visual flair of Kosinski's Tron, I've got no reason to believe that this original project won't be cool; it just needs a home. There's a huge market for big science fiction these days, so I can't imagine a studio not going for the property. Disney may regret letting this one go in the long term...