Veteran actress Mary Steenburgen threw herself into vocal lessons in preparation for her role as a lounge singer in new movie Last Vegas, because she feared her voice wouldn't be up to scratch. The Help star, 60, admits she hadn't really put her voice to the test in more than two decades when she signed on to join Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline in the comedy, so she decided to seek a little professional help to perfect her part.
Ted Danson's wife says, "I play a lounge singer in a tiny, kind of pathetic little lounge with about two people in there listening to me and it was a fascinating experience because really, I don't consider myself a singer and I've done very little singing.
"I've sung once in a movie in the '80s and then I kind of forgot about it. I did write music, so I'm a little musical, but it was scary to start something new at my age so (I had) lots of singing lessons and all that."
Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline and Robert De Niro showed off their culinary skills while promoting their new movie Last Vegas on Friday (01Nov13) by taking part in a cooking segment on U.S. breakfast show Today. The Oscar winners helped to make a baked pumpkin recipe and a beef tenderloin dish.
Getting the likes of Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline in one film should be a recipe for a rousing success, and in many ways throughout Last Vegas, the casting is very successful. The main cast gives everything actors can really contribute to a film, and they excel as well as they can with what they're given. But the film shows that, at the end of the day, the script is king, and Last Vegas falters because its dreadfully weak writing hinders some fun performances.
Like another Vegas comedy, to which comparisons are unavoidable, the film centers around a bachelor party. Billy (Douglas) is trying to hold onto his youth with the grip of an iron vice. He's engaged to a much younger woman and decides that his wedding is the perfect time to rekindle his relationship with his three best friends, a group friendship that has frayed over the years. Archie (Freeman), Paddy (De Niro) and Sam (Kline) pack up to experience a weekend full of geriatric high jinks before Billy's wedding. Each of the four characters travels to Vegas with a certain amount of baggage stowed away in the carry-on compartment, and it's all related to aging, but the resolution to all of these character threads ends way too predictably. The first resolution to each of their stories that swirls around in your head while watching will undoubtedly be the one that pops up on screen before the credits roll.
One of the biggest sins Last Vegas makes is that it's just not all that funny, and the problem lies in the script. The film seems content with telling the same joke about old people over and over again, ad nauseam. It can barely mine humor from any other source besides the characters' advanced ages, pounding that theme into your head like a pulsing jackhammer. Jokes are fired at a machine gun pace, but so many of them fall ridiculously flat. Even when the cast is able to sell some of the feeble punchlines, they still aren't very clever or memorable. If anything, it makes it clear to see why these actors are as celebrated as they are. They all posses a serious amount of charm that bounces across the screen and makes the duds clank a little less loudly.
In fact, any enjoyment to be had from Last Vegas stems solely from the performances of the principal men, and sultry lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). All five actors possess a natural chemistry that carries the film's limp material around long after the script has forgotten how to be clever. They all have an excitable energy that permeates the rest of the film, but energy means little when they aren't saying anything particularly interesting. During the film, you're never quite bored or offended, but you're never excited either. It just chugs along in a miasma of general competence but not much else.
Last Vegas isn't quite dead on arrival but it's no a spring chicken either. Its high points ride on the backs of its stars' finely aged charisma, and much of the pleasing aspects that exist in Last Vegas would still be intact if the film just consisted of the actors sitting in a room, chewing the fat with each other without a script or direction. At the very least, they would have fewer stupid things to say. What happened in Vegas probably should have stayed there.
Metallica rockers James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich have confessed they are huge fans of teen singer Justin Bieber, branding themselves "Beliebers". The Boyfriend hitmaker and self-professed Metallica superfan posted a cover of the group's song Fade to Black online earlier this year (13), and it has caught the attention of the members of his favourite band.
When asked if the admiration was mutual, frontman Hetfield told Q magazine, "Are we Beliebers? Yes."
Drummer Ulrich adds, "I think the kid's really talented and obviously to go through what he's going through at that early age must be a mindf**k. So the fact that he still goes out there and does it, I admire that and I think he's super talented, so I guess I am kind of a Belieber."
And Bassist Robert Trujillo also continues the Bieber lovefest, saying, "As long as he stays out of trouble, I'll be a Belieber."
Universal via Everett Collection
Iconic director Robert Zemeckis is set to helm the film adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's popular children's novel The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. The story follows a china rabbit, the titular Edward Tulane, who lives a happy but vain life under the ownership of a young girl named Abilene, until he falls overboard while her family is vacationing on the RMS Queen Mary. After spending 297 days on the ocean floor, he goes on a life-changing journey where he is owned by a fisherman's family, a hobo and his dog, and a young girl with pneumonia. The film will be produced by Wendy Finerman, who previously produced Zemeckis' biggest hit, Forrest Gump.
Based on the plot of the novel, it's likely that Zemeckis will choose to make the film using motion capture animation, which has become somewhat of a signature for him. However, the three films he has made using motion capture — The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol — all received mixed reviews, with the most common criticism being that although the films are visually stunning, the animated characters look fake onscreen and make audiences uncomfortable. This may work against Zemeckis, as like The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol, this film is aimed at children, and if they are scared by the way the characters are animated, it could keep them from seeing the film, resulting in poor box office returns. However, the technology for motion capture has improved greatly, even since A Christmas Carol's 2009 release, primarily due to its common use in video games, which means that Zemeckis and the team behind Edward Tulane might be able to fix those animation issues in order to create an experience that appeals to audiences of all ages.
The other major criticism that Zemeckis' motion capture films have received is that the filmmaker's focus on the animated world results in a weaker storyline. The easiest way for the director to address this is by ensuring that Edward Tulane has a solid script behind it. Things already look good for him on that front, as the original, beloved novel has won a variety of awards, and Jeff Stockwell, who has previously adapted Bridge to Terabithia, is tackling the script. Although Stockwell only has one major credit to his name, the film received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and fans of the original novel, which is a good sign that the film adaptation of Edward Tulane will receive a similar treatment.
Despite its issues, motion capture is probably the best way for Zemeckis to approach the project, as the story's rabbit protagonist makes it almost impossible to film entirely live-action. However, Finerman has revealed that the project is set to be "low-budget", which could impact Zemeckis' ability to use motion capture. His other option would be to mix live-action with animated characters, like he did in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. If he does choose to channel his other rabbit protagonist, it might allow him to inject more humor into the film, which could be the thing that was missing in his other motion capture ventures. Zemeckis' biggest hits, the Back to the Future series and Forrest Gump showed that the director is adept at blending humor with heart, which would keep the story from becoming too serious to properly entertain the children its aimed at. Although The Polar Express has since become regarded as a classic holiday film, it still appeals more to adults than to children, who prefer their holiday sentiment balanced with some hijinks. Perhaps the secret to making Edward Tulane a success - and therefore rescuing Zemeckis' animated efforts from being considered misfires across the board - is a bit of the madcap energy that made Roger Rabbit such an enduring icon.
Zemeckis himself has become a film icon, regardless of reviews or box office returns, which means that it will likely have no problem drawing interest from critics and audiences. His credits prove that he has a great deal of skill with films that center around compelling, often heartwarming characters, and so fans should expect Edward Tulane to appeal to the same parts of them that Forrest Gump did. And even though they weren't critical hits, his animated films are regarded as marking a turning point in the film industry, and have paved the way for other movies and video games to utilize the technology. All of which mean that Edward Tulane is likely to become another iconic film from the iconic director, even if everyone agrees that it's only okay.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robin Williams, Cher, Robert De Niro, and Ian Somerhalder were among the celebrities who got swept up in a Sharknado storm to spoof the popular TV disaster movie for a special Halloween (31Oct13) skit. The pre-taped segment for U.S. morning show Live! with Kelly and Michael featured Sharknado star Ian Ziering trying to help the Hollywood stars fend off killer sharks just like the movie, but no one survived the attack from the skies.
Actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been confirmed to play Quicksilver in the new Avengers film. The Kick-Ass star has been the rumoured frontrunner for the role since June (13), but a scheduling conflict with the Godzilla reboot movie, which Taylor-Johnson also stars in, almost derailed his chances of appearing in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
However, the issue has reportedly been worked out and Taylor-Johnson will take on the superhero role, according to TheWrap.com.
Quicksilver is the twin brother of the Scarlet Witch, who will be played by Elizabeth Olsen.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which also stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, is set to hit theatres in 2015.
Model and actress Liberty Ross has opened up about her husband Rupert Sanders' 2012 fling with Kristen Stewart, revealing it was the worst ordeal to go through. Sanders was photographed kissing his Snow White & the Huntsman leading lady in a car park, prompting both him and the actress to come forward and own up about their secret romance.
The truth subsequently caused the break-up of his marriage and Stewart's relationship with Robert Pattinson.
Ross reveals she found out about the affair hours before the photographs were made public, telling Vanity Fair magazine, "It was horrible. It was really the worst. I have no words to describe what we went through. But I think, for me, something always has to completely die for there to be a rebirth. And I feel like I'm going through a rebirth."
She reveals she called on a friend to help her avoid the media storm following the publication of the kissing photos and her husband's confession, adding, "I was able to be there (friend's home) completely secluded. I tried to keep as far away from it as I could and to understand that this is my family and it's the most precious thing to me."
Ross admits Sanders wanted to reconcile, but she was not keen on the idea.
She explains, "I'm not a quitter. I've done everything I could to be the perfect wife and mother and really support my husband. But I just didn't have any more to give. We were together for 16 years, and that, in itself, is really beautiful. And we've created two exceptional lives (children) together."
Ross filed for divorce in January (13) and has been dating record executive Jimmy Iovine.
Stewart and Pattinson reconciled after the cheating scandal, but split for good earlier this year (13).
There are some facts of life that are better left unknown, like that a giant meteor can obliterate all of humanity in seconds, or that George Bush ruled America for eight years. For the anxiety ridden among us, ignorance can most certainly be bliss.
The latest video from BuzzFeed reveals several of those troublesome little facts about human existence. For instance, did you know that at this very moment, 35 to 50 serial killers are currently walking on U.S. soil? And tell me again why we're paying the salaries of FBI agents?
Truth is, this big, beautiful planet of ours is filled with all types of mysteries. Now if only Robert Stack was still alive to solve them for us, the world would be a far safer place. Besides, that dude really knew how to fill a trench coat.
Hollywood director John Turteltaub once spent $1,200 (£800) on a Las Vegas stripper without getting a lap dance. Turteltaub directs Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman in buddy comedy Last Vegas but insists his own memories of life in Sin City are not pleasant.
The director enjoyed a civilised conversation with a dancer and even gave her a foot massage, but he was too scared of the venue's security officers to argue when he was presented with a huge bill.
He tells Variety, "I spent $1,200. Instead of getting a lap dance from a stripper, I rubbed her feet and talked about where she wants to go to college... I didn't want a lap dance. She sat down. I rubbed her feet. When I was done, they gave me a bill. What am I supposed to do? There are big scary men there."