Mary Poppins star Karen Dotrice has finally watched the film nearly 50 years after she shot to fame as young Jane Banks. The British actress became well known for playing the magical nanny's young charge in the 1964 Walt Disney musical film opposite Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.
However, Dotrice, now 58, admits she had never watched the movie all the way through until last week (ends17Nov13) when she was invited to a screening to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the film's release.
She says, "The amazing thing is I've never actually seen Mary Poppins all the way through until last week at this 50th anniversary premiere. And it's absolutely a corker... I took my kids. They've never seen the film either... They were proud and I think they were a little bit shocked, actually, because that was their mum. I think it was a bit discombobulating, but they loved the film."
Dotrice insists the reason she never saw the whole film was because she was forced to leave the 1964 premiere early as she had to go to school the next day.
She adds, "I was a little girl and I had to go to school the next morning. My parents were very good at keeping (my) feet on the ground. I think I got away with not doing homework that night, but I had to go back to school so I only stayed for about a half an hour... I was sitting in between Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth. I just couldn't believe I was looking at real jewellery and real royalty. I wasn't watching the film at all."
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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Mary J. Blige was shocked into sobriety following the sudden death of fellow R&B superstar Whitney Houston last year (Feb12), revealing she was "crushed" by the unexpected loss of her friend. The Real Love hitmaker, who battled drug addiction during her youth, reveals the tragedy forced her to re-evaluate her lifestyle, prompting her to quit boozing and adopt a healthier diet in an effort to avoid a similar demise.
She tells Shape magazine, "Others may be able to drink and have a great time, but it doesn't work for me at this point. I haven't had a drink in a year and three months. I had quit for a long time but started again about five years ago. I'm off it completely once more, and now I feel stronger than ever.
"Whitney Houston's death really crushed me. I saw someone so incredibly talented just diminish, and I refuse to go out like that!"
Blige shows off her new bikini body on the cover of the magazine and credits her trainer, J.R. Allen, and a strict work-out plan for her toned physique.
As part of her exercise routine, Blige has also achieved her lifelong goal of learning how to swim.
She explains, "I never swam as a kid and that always bothered me. At first, it was very hard, but once I got in the water and figured out how to breathe, it was so liberating. Now it's helping me with every aspect of my life - personally and professionally. Conquering that fear was a huge boost to my confidence. I'm as proud of this accomplishment as I would be if I had graduated from college, which I never got to do."
And Blige is more than happy with the results of her hard work: "I had an 'aha!' moment recently after a swim. I was walking by a mirror and I saw my abs, and they were crazy toned, and my arms looked unbelievable - in a good way, I was thrilled and so proud of myself... When I'm fit, I can conquer the world. I love the way I look and feel right now and I am truly comfortable in my own skin."
Houston died in her hotel bathtub in February, 2012. Her passing was ruled an accidental drowning, combined with the effects of heart disease and cocaine use.
Mary J. Blige, Grace Jones and Boy George rubbed shoulders with the fashion crowd in London on Tuesday (19Nov13) at the launch of an exhibition in honour of tragic style journalist Isabella Blow. The stars descended on the U.K. capital's Somerset House, where Blow's outlandish outfits are on display.
The collection was purchased by socialite Daphne Guinness after the style icon's suicide in 2007, and heavily features pieces by her protegee Alexander McQueen, who also took his own life in 2010.
Guinness says, "The decision to put Isabella's wardrobe on display was a natural progression; it felt like what she would have wanted. I bought the collection because I couldn't bear for it to be dispersed; it was her life's work - her legacy. What better way of celebrating that legacy than allowing the world to view it?"
British royal Princess Beatrice, designer Jasper Conran, model Liberty Ross and Bond girl Gemma Arterton also attended the glamorous launch event. The exhibition runs until March (14).
Administrators of Rick James' estate have launched legal action to block a reunion by two members of the Mary Jane Girls, the 1980s girl group put together by the funk legend. The band was formed by James and went on to have hits with In My House, All Night Long and Candy Man.
Two of the group's stars, Kimberly 'Maxi' Wuletich and Cheri 'Candy' Wells-Chez, recently reformed for a small tour, but executors of James' estate insist the singers did not ask permission.
In a lawsuit, the estate administrators have asked a judge to ban the pair from performing under the name Mary Jane Girls, which they claim was owned by the late singer.
They are also asking for all profits from the tour.
James died in 2004 at the age of 56.
Gabrielle Union's basketballing beau Dwayne Wade is venturing on to the small screen with a semi-autobiographical sitcom based on his life as an athlete and single father. The Miami Heat superstar is following in the footsteps of his actress girlfriend and making his mark on television with his own show.
Wade has sold a half-hour comedy based on his New York Times bestselling book, A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball to U.S. network bosses at Fox.
The sitcom, titled Three the Hard Way, will chronicle a basketball star's struggled to balance his busy career with life as a single father to two young sons.
Union is also enjoying a little TV good luck in the U.S. - her drama Being Mary Jane was picked up for a second season before the first one even began airing earlier this year (13).
Lady Gaga / InterscopeDespite all the pretentious talk of 'putting art culture into pop music,' the majority of Lady Gaga's third studio album, ARTPOP, sticks to the same kind of EDM-lite blueprint that has defined the charts during her two-year absence. However, there are at least a handful of occasions where the 27-year-old offers something more in keeping with her self-hyped creative vision. Here's a look at five of the most leftfield moments from the 'reverse Warholian expedition.'"Aura"Recently used in the trailer for her big-screen debut Machete Kills, album opener "Aura" begins with an intriguing Spaghetti Western-style intro and an even more intriguing murder confession before disappointingly veering off into generic dubstep territory."Jewels N' Drugs"Gaga has flirted with rap before on hook-ups with Kid Cudi and Wall-E, but she's never approached it with as much gusto as on "Jewels N' Drugs," a trap-hop collaboration with Too Short, T.I. and a warp speed-breaking Twista which will no doubt utterly bewilder most of her Little Monsters."My ARTPOP could mean anything"After clubbing everyone over the head with her artistic intentions, Gaga now claims that the real message behind ARTPOP is entirely open to interpretation on the album's slightly contradictory title track."Mary Jane Holland"Gaga certainly hasn't been afraid to admit to her experiences with illicit substances in the past but she takes it to new levels on a rave-pop pro-weed anthem which almost makes Snoop Dogg appear anti-drug."Dope"Despite vowing to give up her vices in order to save her relationship, Gaga sounds suspiciously inebriated as she bizarrely slurs her way through the album's obligatory Broadway-style ballad.
Child star-turned-fashion designer Ashley Olsen has been elected onto the board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The star runs clothing labels including The Row and Elizabeth and James with her twin sister Mary-Kate.
Katharine Mcphee's fling with Smash director Michael Morris is over, according to a U.S. report. The pair hit headlines after they were snapped kissing in Los Angeles last month (Oct13), promoting speculation about the state of Morris' marriage to actress Mary McCormack.
Singer/actress McPhee, who is believed to have split from her actor/producer husband Nick Cokas earlier this year (13), is now said to have called time on her short-lived relationship with Morris.
A source tells People.com, "Katharine is no longer seeing Michael - at least for now."
Meanwhile, the status of star's own marriage to Cokas remains up in the air. The insider adds, "Katharine still has no plans to move forward with divorce at the moment, though they are not living together."
Emma Thompson showed off her singing skills by performing several tracks from Mary Poppins at a special Los Angeles lunch celebrating the launch of her new film Saving Mr. Banks. The British actress plays author P.L. Travers, who wrote the original books about the magical British nanny, in the new movie, which focuses on Walt Disney's campaign to land the rights to the tale so he could adapt it for the big screen.
Thompson paid tribute to the beloved 1964 movie musical by performing a number of songs from its soundtrack, including A Spoonful of Sugar, in front of a glitzy crowd at the The Four Seasons restaurant on Tuesday (12Nov13).
She told reporters she relished playing the highly-strung Travers, adding: "We're all so b**ody well brought up. There is something authentic about her irritability, which I loved."