There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
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]
The former Sabrina, The Teenage Witch star and her husband Mark Wilkerson will welcome the third addition to their family this autumn (12) and Hart was joined by friends, including fellow actresses Soleil Moon Frye, Yvette Nicole Brown, Kellie Martin, and her Melissa and Joey TV co-star Taylor Spreitler, at The Little Door restaurant in Los Angeles last week to mark the occasion.
Guests granted her kind-hearted request and brought unwrapped presents for donation to Operation Shower, which provides gifts for parents-to-be in the U.S. military.
Hart tells People.com, "After two precious babies and a successful career, I didn't want people to spend money on me and the baby. We wanted to help out families that needed a hand and decided to donate baby goods to military families."
And Hart admits she can't wait to meet her new baby - because this time she and her husband have decided to keep the tot's sex a secret.
She tells People.com, "We always wanted the mystery the other two times around but the first time we gave into pressure from everyone and curiosity, and the second time our ultrasound technician gave it away before we had a chance to stop them.
"I'm anticipating meeting this baby more than the other two before. I can recognise every little movement this time and I'm already in love."
Hart and Wilkerson, who wed in 2003, are also parents to sons Mason, six, and Braydon, four.
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.
You have to figure Los Angeles will be home to some of the most spectacular talent the wide world of So You Think You Can Dance has to offer. It’s where you go to get discovered. These people are supposed to be the best of the best. It’s show biz. This, after all, is where J. Lo came to make her mark! (And we all know she is the true barometer for exceptional talent.)
With the help of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Mary Murphy and Nigel hand out a few tickets to Vegas, but none to a dancer anywhere near as fascinating as last week’s showstopper.
The highlights of the night are 18-year-old Jasmine Mason and her brother Marshea, who has auditioned for the last three seasons of the show. Six weeks before their auditions (six weeks!), they were in a massive car accident when a car pulled out into the street and forced them into oncoming traffic. Marshea was pronounced dead when the EMTs arrived, but he miraculously emerged from a coma after two days to make a full recovery.
First up is Jasmine, whose jazz routine to "I'd Rather Go Blind" is somewhat distractingly sexual yet incredibly graceful, putting her enviable flexibility on full display. All of the floor-writhing is very Mimi from Rent for me, but she has so much alluring maturity in her movement, despite being only 18.
After raving about her beauty and her spectacular hair, the judges send Jasmine straight through to Vegas -- and then it's Marshea's turn. It’s still hard to comprehend how he can possibly be competing in a dance competition when he was in a coma – a coma! – six weeks ago, but he's controlled, graceful and in incredible shape. He gets a well-deserved ticket to Vegas without any commentary from the judges.
By far the most entertaining audition of the night is that of Jonathan Anzelone, who waited four years for his second audition after embarrassing himself in Season 4 and could probably star in a workout video or 10 if this dancing thing doesn’t work out. In Season 4, Jonathan famously stripped in the confessional booth before arguing with the judges when they tried to criticize him. Needless to say, he didn’t make it, and now, he tells Cat he's a changed man. Ooh la la, I have stopped listening. He is genetically superior to 99 percent of the population of the world.
"The Italian Stallion" charms Nigel and Mary before embarking on an crazy-impressive break dancing routine that shows off his ridiculous flexibility and his balance -- he practically walks on his hands for a good 15 seconds, but does it gracefully -- and he bounces on his butt with his legs fully split! And it doesn't hurt him! And he repeatedly flexes his butt muscles while doing the “Bootylicious” dance! I ignore the fact that he bizarrely ends his routine by pulling back his tank top and flashing a nip.
Here, we have a rather large dilemma: While Jonathan is obviously talented and is an excellent contortionist, is he truly a dancer? Mary thinks he deserves a chance at Vegas, but Nigel thinks he still needs to prove he can truly dance, not contort, at choreography. JTF is the tiebreaker, and he agrees with Nigel, but let's be honest: Jonathan deserves to go through based on attractiveness alone. Unfortunately, though, the standards for SYTYCD are higher and he doesn’t make the cut after choreography.
The most irritating audition of the night is that of the Ninja Twins, or "Ninjas with Attitude," as Nigel calls them. These guys are two years too old to be on the show and yet we still are forced to sit through their 10-minute audition package, only to see Nigel commend their talent before sending them packing.
The self-professed Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie duo performs an impressive classical routine to "Man in the Mirror,” and while they're good, they're not as in sync as they should be if they’re competing to be the top dancing duo in the country. But the Cirque de Soleil-esque two-man cartwheel at the end of their routine wins me over.
Alas, no Vegas. Glad I was exposed to that.
Most befuddling audition goes to 27-year-old circus performer David Matz, who is determined to shatter the negative stereotypes associated with the circus. He shows up with what looks like a giant metal hula hoop and performs a variety of acrobatics beside it, inside it, with no hands, with no feet, and watching him is making me dizzy so I'm going to stop.
What he does inside that hoop is truly remarkable; it's beautiful and graceful and you can only imagine the type of athleticism it requires. But does David have the dancing talent that can transcend circus performance? Can he compete in other genres?
The judges send him to choreography to find out, but he excuses himself after a mere 40 minutes, telling the cameras that he can’t keep up.
Next: And the runner-up for best sob story is...The second-best sob story of the night goes to Sam, a cute blond who looks exactly like Dr. McSteamy from Grey’s Anatomy and begins weeping halfway through her sit-down with Cat. Six months ago, her mom kicked her out of their home because they didn't get along. Mom couldn't handle living with her, so her best friend took her in and she's determined to prove everything will be alright in the end with a haunting routine that shows off her flexibility, her balance and her composure. There's a certain sorrow she portrays when she dances that’s immediately recognizable and very poignant.
Nigel, however, tells her that she's a pre-transformation Natalie Portman in Black Swan -- she needs to learn how to feel the routine rather than simply perform it. Sam is sent through to choreography, where she becomes the only (highlighted) dancer from tonight’s episode to make it through to Vegas.
The most unique audition of the night goes to the martial arts-trained Cole Horibe, who's finally coming to terms with the fact that his dancing looks like martial arts. Nothing to complain about, as far as I'm concerned: He's graceful and fluid, yet still incredibly unique. He incorporates plenty of impressively fast high kicks and break dance spins into a fast-paced routine based on a stoic warrior character. After Nigel makes the token Bruce Lee joke, he sends Cole through to Vegas.
Most gimmicky and weird audition goes to Stephen Jacobson, a member of the Cincinnati Ballet who skips onstage dressed like many of an East Coast bro, with his button-down shirt totally undone and his khakis rolled up to the knees. He embarks upon a routine he describes as "ballet, but not classical," which he says he threw together at the last minute. Annoyingly, it shows. He doesn't really do much except ham at the audience, glide, pantomime and jump every few seconds -- and Nigel stops him in a blind rage, telling him he should be shot for choreographing such an inane routine.
Though it’s obvious that Stephen has talent, the gimmicks make it hard to tell, but it's his lucky day, because the judges give him a second chance. He redeems himself with a beautiful, graceful, truly classical routine to "I Surrender," and he gets a standing ovation and an instant ticket to Vegas.
Most boring audition of the night goes to 18-year-old Megan Branch... or not. What is billed as a standard, sob-story ballet audition morphs into a gorgeously modern, part-street, part-classical routine, set to something Goldfrappy. It shows off perfect technique and balance, and my only regret is that they don’t give her more airtime. She is one of the best of the night – one of the most talented, for sure. She’s also one of the only dancers you just can’t stop watching.
All of the judges are enchanted by Megan’s beauty and her likeability, and they send her straight through to Vegas.
My favorite thing about the night? Cat’s fabulous maxi dress at the one-hour mark.
What was your favorite? Was there anyone who compared to last week’s Exorcist? Were you as enchanted by the Italian Stallion as I was?
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The former Sabrina The Teenage Witch star is expecting her third child with her husband Mark Wilkerson.
The star is a busy mum to six-year-old Mason and Braydon, four, and got herself as healthy as possible after deciding to try for another baby.
She says, "I was in really good shape before I got pregnant with this one. I tried to set myself up. For about a year I made sure I took the right vitamins and didn't take artificial sweeteners. I did take some precautions.
"I feel like it's going to be a strong baby (but) if the kicks get stronger, I don't know if I can handle it."
Earlier this week (begs17Apr12), the former Sabrina The Teenage Witch star, 36, confirmed reports she was expecting her third child with her husband Mark Wilkerson - but not everyone was as ecstatic about the pregnancy news as she was, and on Thursday (19Apr12) she was forced to take to her Twitter.com page to calm fans' fears that her unborn baby would delay plans for a new season of the popular family show.
She tweets, "To all the fans concerned about Melissa&Joey will be affected by my baby bump;don't be! We finished Season 2& start 3 after baby arrives!"
Season two of Melissa & Joey is due to premiere on 30 May (12).
Hart and Wilkerson wed in 2003 and are already parents to sons Mason, six, and Braydon, three.
Melissa Joan Hart is gearing up to become a mother... again. The Melissa & Joey star (who turned 36 this morning), announced on Twitter on Tuesday that she and her husband Mark Wilkerson are expecting child number three sometime later this year.
“(Early) Happy Birthday to me! And baby makes 3!” the actress posted. She also shared a pregnancy photo of herself surrounded by her hubby and their two boys Braydon Hart, 4, and Mason Walter, 6 — who both sweetly have their hands on her belly.
Maybe the stork will bring Hart's new baby through a ladder in the window.
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The former Sabrina The Teenage Witch star, who turns 36 on Wednesday (18Apr12), recently told Life & Style magazine she and husband Mark Wilkerson were interested in adopting a child - but it appears they're going the natural route first.
She told the publication, "We definitely want to add to our family. We're interested in adopting as well. We're just starting to explore that."
Hart and Wilkerson wed in 2003, and they had their first child, Mason, in 2006. They welcomed their second son, Braydon, in 2008.