If you were wondering what Hollywood will look like in the next five or 10 years, look no further than this talented group of young actors. Their impressive performances have put them on the map, and it doesn't look like they'll be going anywhere anytime soon. With a talent pool that includes film festival darling Ezra Miller, serious drama actor Dane DeHaan, and quirky ingenue Juno Temple, the future of film has never looked brighter.
Mackenzie FoyYou probably know her as Bella and Edward's half-human, half-vampire baby, Renesmee, from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, but Mackenzie Foy also appeared in this summer's The Conjouring with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Next up, she'll star in the coming-of-age movie Wish You Well with Ellen Burstyn and Josh Lucas, and is signed on to voice a character in the film adaptation of French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's famed novella The Little Prince. Not bad for a 12-year-old.
Dane DeHaanAfter churning out haunting and powerful performances in the supernatural thriller Chronicle and cop thriller The Place Beyond the Pines, Dane DeHaan is officially on our radar. He's also appeared alongside Hollywood heavyweights in Lawless and Lincoln. Currently, DeHaan is bringing his Beat Generation movie, Kill Your Darlings, to the film festival circuit. DeHaan plays darkly alluring musician Lucien Carr opposite Daniel Radcliffe as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Both the film and DeHaan's performance have earned rave reviews from critics. Next up, he'll star in Reese Witherspoon's dark murder drama Devil's Knot. We're sensing a theme for this talented young actor.
Bella ThorneAt just 15, Bella Thorne is already a seasoned pro in the industry. She's been making appearances on TV and in film since she was only 6 years old. Since 2010, she's starred on the Disney Channel dance show Shake It Up, which helped her score a record deal with Hollywood Records. Next up, she'll star in the film adaptation of popular kids book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day alongside Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell.
Ezra MillerAfter his star-making performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin, everybody was talking about Ezra Miller. The movie was a hit at Cannes and Miller became an indie sensation overnight. He saw success again when he starred in last year's film adaptation of beloved teen novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Next up, you can catch Miller as Léon Depuis in Sophie Barthes's adaptation of Gustave Falubert's masterpiece Madame Bovary.
Juno TempleJuno Temple has had steady work since her childhood, appearing in acclaimed movies like Notes on a Scandal, Atonement, and The Other Boleyn Girl. Recent movies have shown that Temple is more than comfortable with her sexuality, such as Dirty Girl, Jack and Diane, a horror romance about two women who are lovers, and the Linda Lovelace biopic Lovelace, in which Temple plays Linda's best friend. Next up, Temple will appear in Malificent with Angelina Jolie, and the highly anticipated sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
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]
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.
Linda Ronstadt ejected by Vegas casino
Singer Linda Ronstadt was thrown out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas Saturday night after she dedicated a performance of "Desperado" to filmmaker Michael Moore and his latest documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. Aladdin spokeswoman Sara Gorgon told Reuters the dedication angered some Aladdin guests, who booed, spilled drinks, tore down posters and demanded refunds, while about a quarter of the 4,500 people in the audience left before the performance had finished. A statement issued by the Aladdin said Ronstadt had been escorted out of the hotel just after her performance and said the performer would "not be welcomed back." The statement added Ronstadt was hired to entertain the guests of the Aladdin, not to promote political views. Ronstadt was unavailable for comment, but in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal before the show Ronstadt was quoted as saying she hoped the casino gig would be her last. "I keep hoping that if I'm annoying enough to them, they won't hire me back," she said. Her next performance will be at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles.
Britney swigs ginseng, not whiskey
Britney Spears is threatening to sue the New York Post after the paper printed an image of the pop star drinking from a tiny bottle on its cover Thursday, with the front-page headline "Britney Hits the Bottle" and an inside headline that read "Boozer Britney: Daylight Bottle Blonde." The story claimed Spears was drinking was Glenlivet whiskey. Spears said she is actually drinking a vial of the herbal supplement ginseng, which she bought from a Venice, Calif., liquor store on July 12. According to MTV News, the singer is prepared to sue the Post unless the paper prints an immediate retraction. The paper argues it twice gave Spears the chance to dispel the whiskey story but said her rep she declined to comment each time.
Advocacy groups challenge Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" slogan
The political advocacy groups MoveOn.org and Common Cause filed a petition Monday with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming Fox News' use of the slogan "Fair and Balanced" constitutes deceptive advertising. The groups claim that Fox News' reports are "deliberately and consistently distorted and twisted to promote the Republican Party of the U.S. and an extreme right-wing viewpoint." FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris said in a statement late yesterday that the petition has little chance. "There is no way to evaluate this petition without evaluating the content of the news at issue. That is a task the First Amendment leaves to the American people, not a government agency." A Fox News spokeswoman told The Associated Press: "While this is clearly a transparent publicity stunt, we recognize all forms of free speech and wish them well."
Waco finally gets Fahrenheit 9/11 print
Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 is set to open Friday at a theater in Waco, Texas, about 20 miles west of President Bush's Crawford ranch. Fahrenheit 9/11, which has grossed $93.8 million to date, opened nationwide June 25 but theaters in Waco--the largest city closest to Bush's home--have yet to show the film about Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The AP reports Moore contacted the newspaper after a column last month pointed out his documentary wasn't showing in Waco, and urged the filmmaker to send a copy. Since the film opened last month, the closest place Waco residents could see it was in the town of Temple, about 35 miles south.
Andre 3000, Silverstone named sexiest vegetarians
On a lighter note, Andre 3000 of the Grammy-winning hip-hop duo OutKast has been voted the "World's Sexiest Vegetarian" in PETA's annual online poll. The 30-year-old rapper shares the honor with 27-year old Alicia Silverstone. According to the AP, more than 12,000 votes were cast in the annual poll run by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Silverstone and Andre 3000 beat out other contenders not normally known for their eating habits, including John Cleese, Prince and "Weird Al" Yankovic. Previous winners include Tobey Maguire, Lauren Bush and Shania Twain.
Nelly becomes part owner of Charlotte Bobcats
Rapper Nelly is now part owner of the NBA's North Carolina expansion team the Charlotte Bobcats. Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Haynes Jr., said he looks forward to learning the business of professional sports and becoming active in the Charlotte community. "Of the many dreams that I have fulfilled in life, being an NBA owner is certainly one of the biggest achievements," Nelly said in a release issued by the Bobcats. "To be able to make this move with Bob Johnson and to be a part of the first-ever minority owned professional sports franchise in history is a great opportunity." Nelly joins an ownership group that includes former NBA player and executive M.L. Carr; Felix Sabates, owner of NASCAR racing teams, and Hugh McColl Jr., former CEO of Bank of America.
Napster signs agreement with universities
Napster 2.0 online music service announced Monday it has signed agreements with Cornell University, The George Washington University, Middlebury College, the University of Miami, The University of Southern California and Wright State University to offer students its digital song subscription program beginning in the fall. Similar to deals Napster struck earlier this year with Penn State University and the University of Rochester in New York, the universities will receive access to unlimited streaming and song downloads at a discount but will be free to set the price students must pay for the discounted access, the AP reports. Penn State and the University of Rochester provide Napster service to their students at no extra charge. If students wish to burn songs to a CD, they will still have to pay Napster's regular 99-cent charge for a permanent download or $9.99 per album.