Author Salman Rushdie has been named the recipient of the 2014 Pen Pinter Prize. The 67-year-old writer will be presented with the award at the British Library in London on 7 October (14). Previous recipients of the Pen Pinter Prize include Sir Tom Stoppard, Sir David Hare and Carol Ann Duffy, the U.K.'s poet laureate.
Leslie Knope might be passionate about Pawnee, Indiana, but Amy Poehler is apparently a big fan of Sweden. The actress has teamed up with her brother, Greg Poehler, to executive produce a new sitcom, Welcome to Sweden. Originally commissioned by the Swedish channel TV4 as their first English-langauge series, the show was created by and will star Greg, in his acting debut. NBC has acquired the rights to broadcast the show in the US, which means that there is a double dose of Poehler heading to our televisions.
The autobiographical comedy centers around Bruce, an accountant from New York who falls in love with Emma (Josephine Bornebusch), and follows her back to her home country of Sweden. Welcome to Sweden will have a partly Swedish cast, including Lena Olin as Emma's mother, and will film in Sweden, New York and Los Angeles. On the American side of things, Bruce's parents will be played by Illeana Douglas and Patrick Duffy, and the show will feature cameos from Aubrey Plaza, Will Ferrell, Gene Simmons, and, of course, Amy Poehler.
Hearing about these two siblings teaming up can't help but make us think that surely a crossover between Parks and Recreation and Welcome to Sweden is bound to happen at some point. It could work out surprisingly well, too — after all, Leslie is a politician, so maybe she needs to travel to Sweden to accept another award or to take her Model U.N. skills international. And since Bruce is an accountant, it's completely possible that he and Ben were friends in college, or that he worked with Ben and Chris before the move to Pawnee. Perhaps Tom hires him to help manage the finances for Rent-A-Swag now that Ben is busy working for Sweetums. He might even have become friends with Andy while he was running that non-profit in London, and, of course, there's always the possibility that Bruce is one of Donna's ex-boyfriends. Now, all the Poehlers have to do is make one of those suggestions a reality.
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Oscar-winning screenwriter Sir Tom Stoppard has been named the recipient of the 2013 PEN Pinter Prize. The Shakespeare in Love wordsmith will pick up the honour at the British Library in London on 7 October (13).
The accolade was established in 2009 in memory of British Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter and has previously been awarded to screenwriter Sir David Hare and poet/playwright Carol Ann Duffy.
After he was announced as this year's (13) winner, Stoppard revealed Pinter, who passed away in 2008, was one of the reasons he went into writing, adding, "I had the sense not to attempt a 'Pinter play', but in other respects, as the years went by, he became and remained a model for the kind of fearless integrity which PEN exists to defend among writers."
The 76 year old will share the award with an "international writer of courage", chosen by him.
It's not that Movie 43 is shocking or "edgy " or whatever any of the writers or directors would like to convince you. If you want to actually puke or cry or be shocked you can go to Rotten.com like the rest of us Internet miscreants. The Cinema of Transgression films by Nick Zedd and Richard Kern have more artistic value than Movie 43 and are generally more interesting. Which is saying a lot because Zedd's films can get pretty boring. You can only see Annie Sprinkle make out with a man who's listed as Ray the Burn Victim for so long... although I feel terrible for writing because everyone needs love. Sorry Ray.
Movie 43 has 12 directors and 17 writers credited with this anthology of shorts modeled according to producers Peter Farrelly and Charlie Wessler in the spirit of Kentucky Fried Movie. Surprisingly none of those writers or directors go by the name Alan Smithee. It's not even totally clear which were written and directed by whom; the production notes are "hilarious first hand [sic] accounts from those who were a part of and were witnesses to the creation of MOVIE 43."
Kate Winslet and Halle Berry and Richard Gere were tricked into participating which is supposed to make their "outrageous" shorts all the more titillating. One of the larger problems of Movie 43 is that it relies on this handful of mega-stars and on our reactions to them and their off-screen personas all in lieu of genuine comedy onscreen. Would it be funny if some schmuck on YouTube played a Steve Jobs-like character who didn't understand why his company's iBabe music player — which looks like a naked woman but has a coolant system with a fan between its legs — was mangling users? No it wouldn't. And it's definitely not any funnier because it's Richard Gere playing him.
What's most offensive about Movie 43 isn't the scatological humor but how shoddily the whole thing was put together. (To be honest I did nearly walk out during the Anna Faris/Chris Pratt short about her desire to be pooped on. I also nearly barfed during Salo. Because poop.) In quite a few of the shorts half of the actors' heads are cut out of frame. Their heads are literally cut off of the screen in a movie that was professionally filmed by accredited cinematographers. Now it could have been the theater projecting the film that was having the problem but that's not really my concern. My concern was mainly that a handful of paying customers (including myself) were sitting through a studio movie where the top of actors' heads aren't in frame.
The self-referential wraparound for the movie is embarrassing for everyone involved including the viewer. Dennis Quaid plays a disheveled crazy writer who holds a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) hostage until the exec agrees to buy his movie pitch. His pitch is the series of shorts which the exec obviously thinks is a terrible idea... because it is. This is like adding insult to injury because the creators know what they've made is crap. Even the studio exec that they themselves wrote thinks the premise of Movie 43 is crap and has to be held at gunpoint to bring the idea to his boss. This idea that you will have wasted 90 minutes of your life on — minutes you could have spent watching YouTube videos of people squeezing their own cysts or having botflies removed from their bodies or yes making out with burn victims.
Complain all you like about stodgy critics who have no sense of humor and don't get "the kids" today and all that but it seems that Peter Farrelly and the group of people who forced this towards theaters (with little to no help from most of the stars or writers or directors) are the ones who are completely out of touch. With anything. Including humor.'s>
Beloved television legend Larry Hagman, 81, passed away Friday, November 23. Hagman—best known for his iconic roll as J.R. Ewing in both the original Dallas and its TNT reboot—touched many lives throughout his accomplished career. At the news of his passing many celebrities are sending out their remembrances and condolences to the acclaimed actor through Twitter.
Although many touching tributes have been sent to Hangman and his family, Barbara Eden’s personal Facebook message to her I Dream of Jeannie co-star is one of the most beautiful and heartfelt of them all. The actress writes, “Larry was the center of so many fun, wild, shocking… and in retrospect, memorable moments that will remain in my heart forever.”
You can read Eden’s moving message in its entirety, and then check out the sweetest celebrity tweets to Hangman below.
It was truly an honor to share the screen with Mr. Larry Hagman.With piercing wit and undeniable charm he brought ... tmi.me/B6G6s
— Jesse Metcalfe (@jessemetcalfe) November 24, 2012
Very sad to hear that Larry Hagman has died. His JR Ewing character was the greatest TV villain of them all. Wonderful actor. #RIP
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 24, 2012
One winter as Larry Hagman's neighborhe'd invite our kids to join his parade on the beach.He'd march in caftan w/flute.Joyful soul
— Tom Brokaw (@tombrokaw) November 24, 2012
I'm shocked.Larry Hagman was a dear man who had an incredible career.He helped me to stop smoking.He really was a very special person.
— Larry King(@kingsthings) November 24, 2012
RIP Larry Hagman. Thank you for being such an entertaining actor and giving us such happy memories.
— Elizabeth Hurley (@ElizabethHurley) November 24, 2012
OH NO! Rest in peace Larry Hagman. Between Dallas and I Dream of Jeannie, you were huge part of my childhood. You will be missed JR. Prayers
— Adam Shankman (@adammshankman) November 24, 2012
OMG Larry Hagman died. What a sweetkind soul. I was fortunate enough to meet him. What an icon Heaven is receiving. #ripjrewing
— Scott Baio (@ScottBaio) November 24, 2012
A wonderful interview with the great Larry Hagman. RIP. The Rollicking Life of Larry Hagman: nyti.ms/prKr8e
— Martha Plimpton (@MarthaPlimpton) November 24, 2012
RIP #LARRYHAGMAN. JR. MAY YOU REST IN PEACE!! PRAYERS OUT TO THE FAMILY!!!
— Dot-Marie Jones (@dotmariejones) November 24, 2012
Larry Hagman made tv we will remember forever as J.R. But I will also treasure his charm and devotion to family, friends. Rest in peace.
— Julie Chen(@JulieChen) November 24, 2012
So sad to lose such a wonderful dear bigger than life friend. Larry Hagman was one of a kind and will be with us all forever.
— Linda Gray (@Linda_Gray) November 24, 2012
Very sad to hear about larry hagman. He was the best tv baddie and from people who met him all said he was a great guy. He will be missed.
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) November 24, 2012
So sad to hear about Larry Hagman's passing. A picture of me with "J.R." from years ago: instagr.am/p/L1HerRSZAG/
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) November 24, 2012
R.I.P Larry Hagman! What a legacy! Peace!
— boygeorge (@BoyGeorge) November 24, 2012
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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.
Michael Clarke Duncan, the beloved The Green Mile star known for his hulking stature and intimidating voice, has died at the age of 54. Duncan's fiancée Omarosa Manigault first reported the news to the Associated Press.
A rep for Duncan, Joy Fehily, confirmed the news to Hollywood.com in a statement: "Michael Clarke Duncan passed away this morning in Los Angeles, said his fiancée, Reverend Omarosa Manigault. The Oscar-nominated actor suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered. Manigault is grateful for all of your prayers and asks for privacy at this time. Celebrations of his life, both private and public, will be announced at a later date."
Character actor Duncan's résumé is populated with roles in well-known and beloved films: in addition to his Oscar-nominated turn in The Green Mile, he also enjoyed a memorable part in the 1998 hit Armageddon, and a larger role in the dark comedy The Whole Nine Yards.
A Chicago native, Duncan always had a dream of acting, and most notably worked as a body guard for the likes of Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and Notorious B.I.G. until quitting the line of work after the death of B.I.G. in 1997. While working on his major movie debut in Armageddon, Duncan developed a friendship with actor Bruce Willis, which led him to securing the part of John Coffey in The Green Mile. Duncan's comedic timing coupled with his action-star prowess made him a staple in other films, including Daredevil, Planet of the Apes, The Scorpion King, Sin City and Kung-Fu Panda.
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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.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.