Controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is to finally leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London two years after claiming political asylum there. The Australian journalist, who was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in 2013 drama The Fifth Estate, has been holed up in the building since 2012 in a bid to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden on rape and sexual assault allegations.
Authorities in the U.S. also want to question him in connection with his exposure of sensitive and controversial military secrets on his website.
During a press conference held at the embassy on Monday (18Aug14), Assange confirmed he is now poised to come out of hiding, telling reporters, "It has now been two years since I was granted political asylum in this embassy... I've not been charged with an offence in the U.K. or in Sweden and there has been no public indictment related to my work in the U.S... Being detained in... this embassy for two years which has no outside area, therefore no sunlight... it is an environment in which any healthy person would find themselves soon enough with certain difficulties."
He went on to confirm he is preparing to leave the building but dismissed rumours his exit has been prompted by health troubles, adding, "I am leaving the embassy soon, but perhaps not for the reasons the... press... are saying at the moment."
Assange was previously represented by George Clooney's lawyer fiancee Amal Alamuddin, who was his attorney during his extradition fight with Swedish authorities in 2011.
Prince William welcomed a bevy of stars including Cate Blanchett, Kate Moss and Emma Watson to Windsor Castle for a charity gala on Tuesday night (13May14). The Duke of Cambridge invited over 200 notable figures into the royal residence in support of London's The Royal Marsden hospital, of which he is president.
Among the famous faces who filed into the benefit at Queen Elizabeth II's residence were Blanchett, Moss, Watson, Cara Delevingne, Benedict Cumberbatch, photographer Mario Testino, Helena Bonham Carter and singer Emeli Sande, who also performed at the event.
Fashion designer Ralph Lauren was the toast of the evening, with the prince revealing the style guru is funding a new state-of-the-art breast cancer research facility at the hospital.
The fashionable evening had one noticble absentee, however - Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge had stayed at home with their son, Prince George.
During the event, Bonham Carter admitted she was nervous about meeting Prince William again after a previous embarassing encounter.
She told reporters, "The Duke and I met before, along with the Duchess, before they were married, when I was staying on Mustique (island). I got very drunk at one point and I was determined to ask him to be a godfather to my daughter. He quite wisely said no. I admire him. He has got the same grace as both his parents."
Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is reportedly courting Katie Holmes to play the cunning wife of U.S. Revolutionary War general-turned-traitor Benedict Arnold in a new film. The movie will be a big screen adaptation of The Traitor's Wife, the historical novel written by former New York governor George Pataki's daughter Allison, about the infamous U.S. military man who turned his back on his country and joined the British during the fight for American independence in the late 18th century.
Pataki has reportedly thrown her support behind the idea of the Batman Begins actress starring in the film and made her feelings known to Holmes during a reception for the book in New York on Friday (21Mar14).
A source tells the New York Post, "(Allison said), 'If you want the role, it's yours. I will endorse it'."
Weinstein is reportedly one of 33 producers vying for the rights to the film.
Weinstein Company via Everett Collection
Even though director Spike Jonze missed out on scoring a nomination for directing for his futuristic love story Her, he does have the distinction of being connected to three films going up for Oscars this year. So, what other actors and filmmakers took part in multiple Academy Award nominated films this year?
Louis C.K.: Blue Jasmine, American HustleThe hapless FBI supervisor with a story about ice fishing in American Hustle, and an adulterer in Blue Jasmine.
Kristen Wiig: Despicible Me 2, HerWiig played the other end of a phone sex hotline with very particular needs in Her, and Gru's new girlfriend in Despicable Me 2.
Matthew McConaughey: The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers ClubMcConaughey played Jordan Belfort's seedy stockbroker inspiration in The Wolf of Wall Street, and the bigot turned aids crusader Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.
Carey Mulligan: Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great GatsbyMulligan played the "beautiful little fool" Daisy from The Great Gatsby, and Llewyn Davis' Spurned ex-girlfriend in Inside Llewyn Davis.
Leo Dicaprio: The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall StreetDicaprio played the despicable cocaine hoover Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, and the dreaming and pining Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.
Tom Hanks: Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. BanksHanks played the Stalwart and powerfully empathetic Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips, and a smoke-free Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.
Amy Adams: American Hustle, HerAdams played the British accent wielding con-man Sydney Prosser in American Hustle, and Theodore's bestie in Her.
George Clooney: August: Osage County, GravityClooney played the endlessly charming astronaut, Matt Kowalski in Gravity, and was a producer for August: Osage County.
Cate Blanchett: Blue Jasmine, The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugBlanchett played a wealthy socialite in free-fall in Blue Jasmine, and the mystical elf leader Galadriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Spike Jonze: Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, Jackass Presents: Bad GrandpaJonze produced and directed Her, co-wrote Bad Grandpa (surprisingly), and played a stockbroker in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Catherine Keener: The Croods, Captain Phillips, Jackass Presents: Bad GrandpaKeener played a protective cave-mother in The Croods, Richard Phillip's wife in Captain Phillips, and apparently, she was in Bad Grandpa.
Benedict Cumberbatch: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, August: Osage County, Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a SlaveThe winner with four Oscar-nominated credits to his name this year is Benedict Cumberbatch. The actor played a dragon with a hoarding problem in The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug, KHAAAAAAN! in Star Trek Into Darkness, and the bungling "Little Charles" Aiken in August: Osage County, and the least evil slave owner in 12 Years A Slave.
A radio comedy featuring the voice of British star Benedict Cumberbatch has scored two nominations for the 2014 BBC Audio Drama Awards. Cabin Pressure will compete for the titles of Best Scripted Comedy and Best Scripted Comedy (Studio Audience) at the third annual London prizegiving on 26 January (14).
Other highlights among the nominees include Doctor Who: Dark Eyes, which is shortlisted for Best Online or Non-Broadcast Audio drama, and Simon Russell Beale, who has landed a nod for Best Actor in an Audio Drama for his work in Copenhagen.
The veteran thespian will be up against Lee Ross (King David) and Joseph Millson (The Real George Orwell: Jura), while Carly Bawden (The Color of Milk), Christine Bottomley (My Boy) and Marcia Warren (Tony and Rose) will fight for the Best Actress trophy.
Among the nominees for the Best Supporting Actor categories are Shaun Dooley (The Gothic Imagination: Frankenstein), Geoffrey Bretton (Imaginary Boys) and Eastenders soap star Lacey Turner (The One About the Social Worker).
Give Martin Freeman an empty room and he'll give you comedy. The best parts of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — an admittedly mishandled movie in large — involved his subdued grimaces, his Chaplinian waddling, and the way he carried himself with equal parts neurosis and snark in every scene. If there is one primary misstep of An Unexpected Journey's terrifically improved sequel, The Desolation of Smaug, it is the spiritual absence of Bilbo Baggins.
Freeman's good-natured but disgruntled Hobbit takes a backseat to the Dwarf team in this chapter of Peter Jackon's three-part saga, distributing the heavy lifting among the front lines of the bearded mooks. Thankfully, we're not shafted with too much "Thorin's destiny" backstory, instead focusing on the trek forward, through far more interesting terrain than we got last time around. The Dwarves voyage through a trippy woodland that'll conjur fond memories of The Legend of Zelda's unnavigable forest levels and inside the borders of Lake-town, a man-occupied working class monarchy that is more vivid and living than any place we have seen yet in the series. And while Unexpected Journey's goblin caverns might have been cool to look at, none of the quests in Desolation feel nearly as close to a tangential detour. Every step the Dwarves take is one that beckons us closer to the central, increasingly engaging story.
Desolation is not entirely without its curiosities. While Gandalf's mission to meet the Necromancer serves to connect the Hobbit trilogy to the Lord of the Rings movies, the occasional cuts over to the wizard's pursuits are primarily distracting and just a bit dull. Although we're happy to welcome the Elf race back into our Middle-earth adventures, it's easy to imagine a version of this story that didn't involve side characters like Legolas and Kate... I mean, Tauriel... and still felt whole (perhaps even more cohesive). The latter's love affair with hot Dwarf Kili seems like a last minute addition to the canon, and one not built on anything beyond the cinematic rule that two sexually compatible attractive people should probably have something brewing alongside all the action.
But the most egregious of crimes committed by Desolation is, unquestionably, the shafting of Bilbo Baggins to secondary status. Yes, he proves himself a savior to his fellow travelers four times in the film, but long stretches of action go by without so much as a word from the wide-eyed burglar. When he finally takes center stage in his theatrical face-off with Smaug — an exercise in double-talk reminiscent of Oedipus outsmarting the Sphinx — the film picks up with a new, cool energy, with a chilling fun laced around the impending doom of their back-and-forth. We've been waiting since the first frames of Unexpected to see how the dragon material will pay off, and it does in spades... albeit in the final third of Desolation, but with equal parts gravitas and fun, to reunite us with our Tolkien passions once more.
Benedict Cumberbatch's dragon doesn't do much to subvert expectation — he's slithering, sadistic, vain, manipulative, and vaguely Londonian. But tradition feels good here. Smaug's half hour spent toying with the mousey Bilbo (who does get a chance to showcase his aptitude at small-scale physical comedy here) is terrific in every way.
Its Hobbit problem aside, Desolation proves itself worthy of Bilbo's past proclamation. "I'm going on an adventure!" more than pays off here, in the form of mystifying boat rides, edge-of-your-seat efforts in dragon slaying, and the most joyful action set piece we've seen in years. Twelve Dwarves, twelve barrels, and one roaring river amounts for enough fun to warrant your trip to the theater for this latest outing into Middle-earth.
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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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The Weinstein Company
If you're a film fan, you're probably aware of this Christmas' August: Osage County. The film is produced by George Clooney, who will be joined by stars Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, and Dermot Mulroney for a live Q&A moderated by John Horn. Horn will be discussing the making of the film and incorporating fan questions posted on The Weinstein Company's Facebook page.
Whether a fan of the team behind the camera, in front of the camera, or the emotionally devestating play upon which the film is based, everyone can think of something to ask. Feel free to query how Clooney is faring in his recently declared fued with Leo DiCaprio, or to ask Margo Martindale what it's like to simultaneously star on three television shows (The Millers, The Americans, and Masters of Sex), making her the second busiest cast member (after Benedict Cumberbatch). Meryl Streep will sadly not be in attendance, but why not ask what exactly she's doing instead? Ask one and all what it was like working with producer Jean Doumanian, the woman who was responsible for both Saturday Night Live's nadir and discovering Eddie Murphy.
Or, go ahead and ask about whether or not the darkly comic tone of the play will remain, how the cast managed with the Oklahoma dialect, or anything else about this Oscar hopeful. While we can't imagine how a film can improve on the wonderful play, which used the theatricality of over-the-top performances to its advantage, perhaps Clooney and the Weinstein Co. were able to pull together a cast and crew who understood at its heart what this story is about. It's hard to convey familial relationships, and absolutely impossible to do so if everyone involved is at anything but the top of their game. August is a tough play, a long play, and one that so relied on the immediacy of theater that even with all the starpower in the world behind it, it still feels like a gamble. But one we're excited to take, and to find out more about!
Check out the live video below and again, write your questions to The Weinstein Company's Facebook page. The Q&A begins at 8 PM Pacific Time and 11 PM Eastern Time.
Funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen stunned guests at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' Britannia Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday (09Nov13) when he pretended to murder an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman. His macabre skit began with actress Salma Hayek introducing the elderly woman as Grace Collington, the "oldest surviving actor to have worked with Charlie Chaplin in a silent movie."
The 87 year old then attempted to present madcap Brit Cohen with the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy, but he pushed her off the stage and Collington appeared to fall face down.
Audience members gasped as the elderly lady lay motionless as Cohen began with his acceptance speech.
He said, "Grace Collington is the oldest - sorry, was the oldest... I dedicate my award to her."
As the old lady's lifeless body was carried out of the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom, Cohen added, "It's obviously a tragedy, but on the bright side what a great way to go. She'll probably make the Oscars In Memoriam section... Anyway, tonight is not about her. It's about me."
Not everyone got the joke and host Rob Brydon had to assure guests that Collington was fine.
Other award recipients included Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ben Kingsley, director Kathryn Bigelow and George Clooney, who was feted with the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film.
Hollywood star George Clooney was the toast of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' (BAFTA) Britannia Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday (09Nov13) as he picked up one of the evening's top prizes. Julia Roberts was on hand to present her former Ocean's Twelve co-star with the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film, and she took the opportunity to crack a few jokes at the expense of her longtime pal.
She told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, "I'm normally in my second REM (sleep) cycle by now so let's get this done (honouring) George Clooney, or as my daughter calls him, George Looney... There are two obvious reasons why I was chosen to do this: one, Brad Pitt was out of town. Two, Matt Damon, he's in town but he was unavailable."
Roberts added, "I consider George a friend. We have worked together in many capacities. We have acted together a few times. He's been my producer and my director, all of which he is immeasurably gifted at. He's handsome, he's talented, he is an exemplary humanitarian and a gifted prankster."
Accepting his trophy, Clooney gushed about the Pretty Woman star: "It has been such a pleasure to watch the woman you have become. It's very hard for me to be just straight nice because she'll get me later. But (she is) just an amazing mother, an amazing wife and a great, great friend. It's really an honour to have her here."
Other big winners at the ceremony included filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, who received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing, and Sir Ben Kingsley, who took home the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Entertainment. Funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen was honoured with the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy, and actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Idris Elba were presented with the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year and Britannia Humanitarian Award, respectively.