Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Redgrave was feted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the first-ever European tribute to an actor.
Playwright David Hare hosted the event, entitled An Academy Salute to Vanessa Redgrave, and paid tribute to the veteran star, declaring, "Wherever you go in the world, people know and admire Vanessa Redgrave. There are not many consistently brilliant 50-year careers in the history of cinema, but hers is one of them."
Hare created three videos highlighting the 74 year old's work and other guests at the gala included Dame Eileen Atkins and Redgrave's daughter Joely Richardson.
Redgrave says, "I am simply amazed by this wonderful tribute. I am immensely grateful to the Academy and to all my colleagues, for thinking of me in this generous way."
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Tom Sherak adds, "Vanessa Redgrave's depth and range as an actress have earned her work the admiration of peers, critics and fans. We are delighted as an organisation to be celebrating her career this evening."
The evening's guests were similarly in awe of Redgrave - Jones, who stars alongside the actress in the current London production of Driving Miss Daisy, raves, "I love this woman. My wife understands. I stand in profound admiration of her courage, both on and off the stage."
Fiennes adds, "I'm honoured and delighted to participate in this celebration of Vanessa Redgrave. She is one of the greatest actresses, inspiring to work with on so many levels. She is unique."
Redgrave received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in Julia in 1977, and she has been nominated a further five times.
Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller and J.K. Rowling were pretty delighted when Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, admitted to and apologized for encouraging News of the World journalists to hack into people's phones and bribe police officers as a means of getting information to print in their successful tabloid magazine. And it's pretty safe to say they were particularly happy when on July 7th, 2011, the paper was shut down after being in print for the last 168 years. But even though the paper has been discontinued and several powerful individuals have been forced to resign from their jobs (such as the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Paul Stephenson), the investigation into News of the World's conduct continues: on July 15th, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised to launch an investigation to determine whether or not Murdoch's company, News Corporation (which has headquarters in the U.S.), had breached the Foreign Corruption Practices Act. Additionally, Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, ordered that Parliament continue to evaluate the ethics of current media practices. And in order to make sure no other publication tries to illegally obtain information the way Murdoch and his employees did, Grant, Miller, Rowling and 43 other public figures "who have, or may have, suffered as a consequence of press activity" will all hare their stories about how News of the World directly targeted them with P.M. Cameron.
Grant is expected to talk about how he recorded a conversation with Paul McMullan (a reporter and photographer for News of the World), who stated that British politicians were aware that reporters had been ordered to tap people's phone lines, and that every Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher had a very close relationship with Murdoch. Miller was one of the celebrities who had her phone hacked into and the content of her voice mail messages published. The tabloid apologized for their actions in June and when she took them to court, News Corporation awarded her 100,000 pounds (or $150,000). And finally, Harry Potter author Rowling will make remarks about how photos of her two-year-old son were published in News of the World, and how people should be able to protect their children from being publicly exposed, even if their parents are in the spotlight.
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Sources: Huffpo, TheMarySue, Wikipedia, Moviefone, TPM
The writer passed away in his sleep at his home in Bath, England on Tuesday (04Jan11), his agent has confirmed. He was 88.
King-Smith was one of Britain's best-selling kids authors and often used his love of animals to inspire some of his better-known works, including 1983's The Sheep-Pig, which was turned into a big screen hit with the release of Babe in 1995.
Another novel, 1990's The Water Horse, became a movie in 2007 starring Harry Potter actress Emma Watson and David Morrissey.
He wrote more than 100 books in the last three decades, among them The Invisible Dog, Harriet the Hare and The Witch of Blackberry Bottom, and was handed an Order of the British Empire honour in 2009 for his contributions to the literary world.
He is survived by his second wife Zona and his three children, as well as 14 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
The production, directed by David Cromer and produced by Tony winner Scott Rudin, will open next autumn, a spokesman for the production said on Friday (17Sep10).
Kidman will portray Alexandra Del Lago, the ageing, drunken movie star played by Geraldine Page in the original 1959 production, which co-starred Paul Newman as her character's lover, gigolo Chance Wayne.
Newman also starred in a film version of the play and in the last Broadway revival in 1975.
Kidman previously caused a sensation when she stripped for a brief scene in Broadway's The Blue Room in 1998. The David Hare play - her Broadway debut - drew mixed reviews, reports the New York Post.
Further casting details had not been released as WENN went to press.
The Damages star will play Mike, a past fling of McDormand's character Marge, in the new David Lindsay-Abaire play, about the hopes and struggles of making it in America.
The production will be directed by Tony winner Daniel Sullivan.
Donovan last appeared on Broadway in the 1999 production of David Hare play Amy’s View, which co-starred Judi Dench and Samantha Bond.
Good People is scheduled to begin previews on 8 February (11) with opening night set for 3 March (11).
Fans of true cinema are in for a treat with this next piece of news. City of God and The Constant Gardener director Fernando Meirelles will work with Academy Award nominated wordsmith Peter Morgan on 360, a tale of the sexual mores of various social classes. The script is inspired by Reigen, a play originally written in 1900 by Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler, who wrote the story that inspired Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
The play has been the subject of a few adaptations in the past, including 1950’s La Ronde, and more recently into 1998's David Hare-penned stage adaptation The Blue Room. This iteration will undoubtedly aim for a wider audience and will need a proper cast to warrant broad appeal. Meirelles, who's last film was the critically despised Blindness, needs a solid piece of work like this to get himself back into the good graces of the collective film community that is still sour over his take on Jose Saramago's brutal piece of literature.
With proper casting, this project could be a real winner. I'm already giddy at the prospect of two of the world's finest cinematic talents working together on material with such depth; big name stars willing to go to unexplored sexual and emotional territory will just heighten my anticipation for the film.
Morgan's next credit goes to Clint Eastwood's supernatural thriller Hereafter, due in theaters this December, while Meirelles has two independent dramas that he produced ready for release sometime this year: Rosa Morena, the story of a man's journey from Denmark to Brazil to get a child, and VIPs, which offers "a human look on the life of one of the biggest frauds in the world happened by important people in Brazil."
Casting has yet to be finalised, but Pegg will play Burke in the John Landis movie.
Burke and Hare earned notoriety in the 19th century for digging up the dead and selling off cadavers to British medical schools.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Claire is an attractive CIA operative and Ray is an M16 agent who simultaneously leave their Governmental spy activities in the dust to try and profit from a battle between two rival multi-national corporations both trying to launch a new product that will transform the world and make billions. Their goal is to secure the top-secret formula and get a patent before they are outsmarted. While their respective egomaniacal CEOs engage in an unending battle of wills and one-upmanship Claire and Ray start out conning and playing one another in a clever game of industrial espionage that is even more complicated due to their own long-term romantic relationship.
WHO’S IN IT?
Reuniting Closer co-stars Julia Roberts (as Claire) and Clive Owen (as Ray) turns out to be an inspired idea. They turn out to be the perfect pair oozing movie-star charm and electricity in this elaborate con-game that might have been the kind of thing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant might have made in the '60s (in fact they did in Charade). Roberts with that infamous hairstyle back the way we like it and Owen looking great in sunglasses prove they have what it takes to navigate us through this ultra-complex plot in which no one is sure who they can trust at any given moment. They play it all in high style and the wit just flows as the story skirts back and forth during the period of five years. The supporting cast is well-chosen with juicy roles for Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti (out of their John Adams duds) as the two CEOs going for each other’s throats. Giamatti who sometimes has a tendency to overdo it is especially slimy here and great fun to watch.
Big-star studio movies today rarely take risks and often talk down to the audience but in Duplicity writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) has crafted a complicated con-comedy that requires complete attention at all times just to keep up with the dense plot’s twists and turns. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a New York Times crossword puzzle and Gilroy and his top-drawer production team deliver a glossy beautiful-looking film that’s easy on the eyes hitting locations from Dubai to Rome to New York City.
Like any good puzzle it sometimes can be frustrating putting it all together and Gilroy’s habit of taking us back in time and then inching forward gets a little confusing even with the on-screen chyron pointing out where we are at any given moment. Stick with it though and you will be well-rewarded.
A scene near the end where the formula must be found scanned and faxed in a matter of minutes is sweat-inducing edge-of-your-seat moviemaking and it provides the ultimate opportunity for Roberts and Owen to take the “con” to the next level. Another where Roberts uses a thong to try and trick Owen into admitting an affair he never had is also priceless and gets right to the heart of the game-playing.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
Never. Stock up during the coming attractions. If you miss a moment of this entertaining romp you might never figure it all out.