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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A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Tonight on E! the Kardashian-themed programming returns to that happy place where everything matters a little too much, but not so much that we start to fear our Kardashians have been spending time at the local learning annex taking "Crying on Reality Television 101." Despite the whirlwind beginning of their relationship - they were married after a month of knowing each other - Khloe and Lamar is the most solid of the Kardashian love stories. And while the last two cycles of Kardashian programming have centered on one sister refusing to get married to the father of her child and the other marrying any one willing to hold her hand, Khloe and Lamar is a breath of fresh air. And that is our first of four reasons to tune into the premiere tonight.
1. Khloe and Lamar Can Be Entertaining Without Being Hyperbolic
After watching Kim throw herself the "wedding of the century" only to divorce Kris Humphries in a fiery display of "ugly crying" 72 days later, it's pretty fair to assume we're all pretty tired of the over-the-top nature of any series with the Kardashian brand. That's why it's a stroke of genius that E! followed up Kourtney & Kim Take New York with Khloe and Lamar. They're nuts, like night-vision-camera-in-their-secret-sex-den nuts, but they're honestly nuts - and in a way that doesn't cause our eyes to roll out of our heads. They have real people problems with an extra dash of reality TV seasoning - and after the last two series, that's exactly what we need.
2. The Season Will Follow Lamar's Move to the Dallas Mavericks
For the number of basketball players involved in the Kardashians' affairs, you'd think we'd hear more about the actual sport. This season of Khloe and Lamar promises to delve a little into the sports world as we witness Lamar struggling with the NBA lockout and later his transfer from the multi-championship-winning team, The Los Angeles Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks. Being a Laker has a certain cache to it, so you can imagine what this transition will be like for Mavericks forward.
3. Rob Gets a Job! (Sort of) And it Upsets Lamar?
This season also sees Rob Kardashian move out of his sister's house so he can pursue his then-job: being a contestant on Dancing With The Stars. It's not exactly the type of job that parents would put in their Christmas newsletter, but it works. And Rob's newfound independence strikes a chord with Lamar. Suddenly, Rob's not around for him to pal around with all the time - a factor only exacerbated by the fact that Lamar is twiddling his thumbs thanks to the NBA Lockout. Will the Bromance survive? (Let's hope so; it's one of the most enjoyable aspects of the series.)
4. Lamar and Khloe Are Just So Gosh Darn Likable
Perhaps their relatively down-to-earth qualities come from being in the shadows of superstars like Kim Kardashian and Lamar's former teammate Kobe Bryant, but the pair is delightfully normal. Even when they're broadcasting their (very active) sex life on television for all to see, it's got a lovely air of refreshing banality to it. This is just life for them. It's everyday. It's normal. Yet, they're so engaging in their version of normalcy. The fact that it's probably not the average definition of normal is what reels us in, but their charm is what keeps us tuned in.
Khloe and Lamar premieres Sunday, Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the premiere of Ice Loves Coco.
As wonderful an idea as it sounds, you can’t eat prime rib all of the time. Sometimes you have to settle for a McRib instead. Not as some kind of drunken imperative (though that’s usually the only way a McRib will touch my lips), but because your taste palette needs a diet that’s peppered with lesser foods in order to appreciate the finer meals life has to offer. I bring this up not to make you hungry, but to explain why the Syfy Channel exists and why you need it in your life.
Friends, you don’t need to roll your eyes at me every time I mention watching the Syfy Channel. Believe it or not, but I’ve been to this rodeo before. A smoker isn’t going to see a skull and crossbones on their pack and suddenly spit out their cigarette in disgust, and I’m not going to suddenly cancel my recording of Sharksaurus vs. Octorex because you’ve lifted the wool from over my eyes, pointing out what I already know. Just let me eat my McRib.
Plus, Syfy doesn’t exclusively make the TV equivalent of McRibs. Every now and then a prime rib slips past their quality assurance department. While I’ll start off by saying Haven, which is just starting its second season, isn’t Grade A prime rib, it’s at least a tasty impostor.
Who Made It: Haven is a loose adaptation of Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, and I do want to stress loose. The show has similar characters, but it’s a drastic expansion of the plot, as intended by series creators Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn (don’t hold their Shrek the Third writing credit against them).
Who’s In It: : The show’s core trio consists of: Emily Rose (a pretty gal who voices Elena Fisher in the Unchartedgames), Lucas Bryant (a soap opera-handsome chap who has bounced around from Canadian TV show to Canadian TV show) and Eric Balfour (the long-chinned star who was last seen in Skyline).
What’s It About: : Audrey Parker (Rose) is an FBI agent who winds up in the small Maine town of Haven working a fairly mundane case. Haven, however, is not a mundane town. There’s all kinds of craziness going on there thanks to a growing number of residents who are “troubled” by some manner of supernatural gift—one that they more often than not aren’t aware they even have. After befriending the town’s two most handsome men (one a cop and one a brigand) and discovering that her mother, who she never knew, has some kind of a tie to Haven, Agent Parker decides to stick around and discover what’s really going on.
Why You Should Watch It: : Like all shows of this nature, Haven season one started off using a very familiar “Monster of the Week” format. Each episode is about trying to figure out who is controlling the weather with their mind, or who is turning into a shadow and killing people, but all the while it’s slowly unraveling a far more interesting story about Agent Parker’s history and the long kept secrets that some of Haven’s residents have been harboring for years. It’s this material that makes Haven worth checking out.When it’s doing “Monster of the Week” material, it’s a fairly average supernatural show that’s a step up from Warehouse 13 but a step down from, say, Supernatural. But when it’s taking its story cues from Stephen King’s original story, which is about two aging newspaper writers who goad a young writing intern into uncovering a murder mystery that was abandoned when she was a kid, it’s addicting stuff with more than a few curveballs waiting in the wings. It’s light and fluffy in tone, yet satisfying and filling thanks to a cast that’s got genuine chemistry together. If you like pulpy mystery shows that are a fun distraction from the heavy (and yet not always healthier) dramas that tend to populate network TV, you can do worse than Haven. It’s not the kind of show you need to go out of your way for, but it’ll hit the spot when you casually happen across it.
Jesse Eisenberg shared with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show what it was like to work with the real Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday Night Live. And -- big surprise -- dude still needs to find a date for the Oscars, but he's in luck! All those girls he asked out back in the day, who were freaked out by his nerdiness, suddenly are big fans! And they say fame and fortune can't buy happiness. Psh.
Kobe Bryant chatted it up on Conan last night and talked about what it's like to be "Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles" -- which means, really, he's king of L.A; those punkass teenagers who work at In-N-Out better not mess up his burger, or else! Oh, and man, how awesome of a nickname is Black Mamba?
Samuel L. Jackson told Jimmy Fallon on Late Night about what it's like to be Nick Fury and surprisingly -- despite probably having the nerdiest audience in late night television -- there was a lack of geekgasms as he shared details about The Avengers.
Kate Walsh brought her "boyfriend kit" to the Late Show and David Letterman loved it so much, considering there's "no bigger homosexual" than him. And yup, he did decide to eat (yes, eat) some of the body cream.
Excuse me, but didn’t we just ask that celebrities (especially the Kardashians) refrain from reaping the benefits of unwarranted fame? Didn’t we demand it? We should have known the dollar would win out on this one; Khloe Kardashian and her husband Lamar Odom are officially signed on for a Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica style reality show for E!. Gross. (Although I will admit that Odom has earned his fame honestly as a forward for the Lakers; but on the other hand, I’m sure teenage girls wouldn’t know his name if it wasn’t for the Kardashian influence.)
Because no Kardashian can have a show without one of their siblings tagging along, Khloe’s brother, Rob, will also be a part of the show as he tries to forge a music career for himself – a.k.a. the Ashlee to Khloe’s Jessica Simpson. The good news is that the show will also focus a little more on Odom, who is far more interesting than his wifey, as he goes on the road with the Lakers – wait, does Kobe know about this?
In case you weren’t counting, this is the third spinoff of an already useless show – Keeping Up With the Kardashians. With that lovely revelation, we can resolutely say, Ryan Seacrest, (who is responsible for bringing the Kardashians into our lives) please, please, PLEASE stop. No more Kardashians, puhleese.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
The Oscar-winning actor's son will reportedly marry his publicist girlfriend Samantha Bryant in a ceremony in California over the weekend (08-09May10).
The 32 year old became engaged to the Manhattan-based P.R. executive last June (09), reports E! Online.
In the tradition of Batman Begins and Casino Royale the clock is rolled back on the legendary icons the D—the self-proclaimed greatest band in the world—as the curtain is pulled back on their secret origins and the demons that drive them are unveiled… OK so it’s not really that deep. Though the heavy metal/comedy combo of Jack/JB/”Jabeles” (Jack Black) and Kyle/KB/”Kage” (Kyle Gass) have long played hip clubs cut an album starred in their own short-lived HBO series and amassed a devoted cult of fans their first feature film reveals how the pudgy duo first meet form the band meet their first fan (Jason Reed as TV holdover Lee) go questing the fabled Pick of Destiny—a shard of Satan’s tooth turned into a guitar pick passed among rock’s most accomplished shredders—and ultimately smack down with the devil himself. Believe it or not it’s a love story. Thanks to their long professional partnership Black and Gass comprise two perfectly crafted sides of a very polished comedy coin: Black is the wild-eyed uncontrolled id Gass is the low-energy manipulative slacker and they meet in the middle with an equal amount of unchecked delusion about their musical ability and potential. They both deftly pull off the trickiest types of comedy: smart jokes in the guise of dumb characters and it’s nice to see Black—obviously the bigger film star of the two—share the funniest bits equally with Gass. Of course all of this hinges on the audience’s tolerance for the ambitiously clueless ego-cases (and moviegoers who only love Black for his tamer version of the same persona in School of Rock should be warned—this is the cruder ruder and more profane incarnation) but we admit we’ve long had a taste for the D. They boys carry they movie squarely on their shoulders though longtime D supporters Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller stand out in cameos—the first Stiller cameo in ages that’s both amusing and non-gratuitous! Also appearing in small bits: SNL’s Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler Oscar-nominee Amy Adams Colin Hanks hard rock hero Ronnie James Dio Foo Fighter Dave Grohl as Satan and an uncredited John C. Reilly though you’ll never ever recognize him when he’s onscreen. And kudos to whoever had the inspired notion to cast Meat Loaf as JB’s pious father and Troy Gentile as the young rockin’ JB (Gentile also played a junior version of Black in Nacho Libre). Helmer Liam Lynch who also collaborated on the screenplay with Black and Gass and directed their music video “Tribute ” understands the absurd world of the D completely and demonstrates a clever assured sense of straight-faced silliness. Indeed the first ten minutes of the film alone—a mini-rock opera in itself—announce him as a comedy director to watch. Although we’re sure the bandmates themselves would take full credit for the film’s success. After all they may not have made the greatest movie in the world but in D-speak they came up with a pretty rockin’ tribute version.