Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Thursday was a sad day in Hollywood and the world over as we had to say goodbye to highly revered film critic Roger Ebert. Ebert, who had been battling thyroid cancer since 2002, stepped down from his duties at the Chicago Sun-Times just yesterday. Given the statement he made on Wednesday that he would continue reviewing movies of his choice, it was shocking to learn that cancer took Ebert's life so soon.
RELATED: Roger Ebert Dies At 70
In the wake of Ebert's death, Hollywood is taking to Twitter to remember the amazing man who was the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. See what the stars are saying about Ebert's death below.
Roger, I hope you're in an infinite movie palace, watching every film the great directors only dreamed of making. RIP, @ebertchicago
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 4, 2013
Roger Ebert R.I.P. See you at the movies.
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) April 4, 2013
I started watching/reading @ebertchicago in 1984. He was a good man & a fierce advocate for great film. #RIPEbert
— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) April 4, 2013
Roger Ebert. Millions of thumbs up for you. RIP
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) April 4, 2013
Film critic Roger Ebert dies at 70 after battle with cancer - @suntimes bit.ly/13V3yIt via @breakingnews SO FAST! Praying 4 his fam
— Carson Daly (@CarsonDaly) April 4, 2013
Sad news today, Roger Ebert has passed away. bit.ly/10feETU #breaking #brking
— maria menounos (@mariamenounos) April 4, 2013
Hail hail, a moral genius of great depth and understanding has passed from this realm.
— Roseanne Barr (@TheRealRoseanne) April 4, 2013
RIP Roger Ebert
— David Katzenberg (@DavidKatzenberg) April 4, 2013
So sad to read passing of Roger Ebert. He will forever bewatching movies with Gene Siskel. Thumbs up to him!
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) April 4, 2013
Reading Roger Ebert's reviews as a kid was instrumental in determining what I did w my life. He will be sorely missed.
— Justin Long (@justinlong) April 4, 2013
Roger Ebert was an excellent writer, a gifted artist, and as nice a guy as you'll ever meet.Sad he's gone.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) April 4, 2013
Thanks Mr. Ebert.
— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) April 4, 2013
Dear Roger- you were a true friend to my me and my family. Thank you. Your voice will never be silenced. #rogerebert
— virginia madsen (@madlyv) April 4, 2013
we lost a thoughtful writer, i remember my first review from him, pi (i got his and siskel's thumbs) it was a career highlight. #rogerebert
— darren aronofsky (@DarrenAronofsky) April 4, 2013
Shocked and truly, deeply saddened at the loss of the great Roger Ebert. A legend. His voice will be missed.
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) April 4, 2013
RIP and goodbye Roger Ebert. You sent me such nice emails over the years. I loved your twitter feed, enjoyed your reviews. Thank you.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) April 4, 2013
My thoughts & prayers go out to my friends & colleague Roger Ebert & his phenomenal wife Chaz. Love and strength to you both @ebertchicago
— Leonard Maltin (@leonardmaltin) April 3, 2013
Sad to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert, he was a grand man & in my opinion the dean of American film critics-he will be sorely missed
— Larry King(@kingsthings) April 4, 2013
RIP the inspiring Roger Ebert. One of the greats.
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) April 4, 2013
Just heard about the death of Roger Ebert. He was a nice, nice man. I truly liked him - I'm very sad.
— Joan Rivers (@Joan_Rivers) April 4, 2013
I Miss My Dear Friend Roger Ebert.Roger Was One Of The 1st Major Movie Critics To Support My Joints,Especially Malcolm X And DTRT.-R.I.P.
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) April 4, 2013
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
[Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]
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All right Gleeks, we need to talk. Let’s reminisce together for a moment.
Remember way back when in season two when we got our first glimpse of the Dalton Academy Warblers? We saw a sea of navy blue and crimson suits swaying back and forth while Darren Criss, adorable smile and all, sang a beautiful musically-stripped down version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” Every girl and their gay best friend flooded the Internet with their “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” of admiration for this thing called a cappella and we’ll admit we too were thrilled by its resurgence as the new cool trend.
Although a cappella, is far from being considered “new,” there is something awe-inspiring about music that requires no instruments or synthesizers, only the sounds that can be naturally created through our mouths. So imagine our genuine squeals of excitement when we learned that there is a new movie out that has linked the unique skills of a cappella singing with a group of highly relatable (and not to mention attractive) new characters.
Pitch Perfect combines the underdog essence of Glee, the high stakes spirit of Bring It On, the snarky yet quotable-ness of Mean Girls and the 80’s-loving nostalgia that Easy A was built upon. Basically the musical geniuses who created Pitch Perfect have grabbed bits and pieces from our favorite DVD-worthy movies and remixed them into a refreshingly harmonious new flick.
From the hilarious audition scene, the new staple in practically every teen movie, to Torrance Shipmans’s cheer-tastic inspired "aca"-isms, (i.e. Aca-cuse me? Hands in aca-bitches! Aca-awkward…) Pitch Perfect creates a flawless big-screen option for the millions of Glee lovers out there. This movie not only acknowledges our guilty pleasures, it encourages them! Case in point: When the Bellas, aka the musical heroines of the film, sing Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” you can't help but smile. We can thank the summer of 2009 for bringing forth the song that is so bad it almost hurts, yet every one knows it’s nearly impossible not to belt out those oh-so catchy lyrics when we’re driving alone in our cars.
For those of you that are still holding an aca-grudge and are worried that this movie is trying to steal Glee’s thunder, by all means please read on. This movie is not Glee. However, it does celebrate all the quirky and fun characteristics that have made the FOX show a mega-hit over the past three years. Pitch Perfect contains an entire season’s worth of the excitement surrounding sectionals, regionals and nationals, but neatly jam-packs the drama into 112 minutes. The soundtrack features a perfect blend of top 40 hits with a few well-placed gems from the 80’s and 90’s sprinkled throughout. In addition, the film showcases 7 brilliant mashups, a musical feat that all Glee fans can appreciate and enjoy.
Gleeks will come to the theaters for the concept but they’ll stay and smile because of the characters. But not to worry, there are no McKinley copy-cats in this cinematic adventure. We can assure you that you won’t be sitting in the theater thinking to yourself, “Oh there’s Kurt…I guess she’s the “New Rachel”… And seriously that girl is acting just like Brittany!” Instead you will find a healthy blend of grounded yet charismatic college students who have banded together in hopes of being the best. Yes, that does sound a little Glee-esque, but the characters are much more complicated then that.
The movie centers on Beca (Anna Kendrick) an edgy, and slightly snarky aspiring deejay who would much rather be scrumming it in Los Angeles than getting a free-ride to the college where her dad teaches. After being forced to partake in an extracurricular activity, Becca decides that joining the Barden Bellas, an all-girl a cappella group, is the lesser of many evils.
The Bellas feature a typical ragtag group of gals who, after a rough start, come together to be sensational. Gleeks, think The Troubletones but with a college twist. (Oh yeah, it’s that good!) Every one of the Bellas has their little something that makes her special. Chloe (Brittany Snow) is the keeper of the peace, Stacie (Alexis Napp) is the sex-crazed E! enthusiast, Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) is the soft-spoken psycho, Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) is the girl who likes girls, and leading the pack is the tyrannical Aubrey (Anna Camp) who should really take the phrase “say it, don’t spray it” more seriously. Oh and who could forget Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson)? The self-proclaimed best singer in Tasmania who enjoys mermaid dancing, bikini carwashes and stealing the spotlight.
Leading the Bella’s cross-campus rivals, The Treblemakers, is Bumper (Adam Devine) a highly sarcastic, self-obsessed, burrito thrower and Jesse (Sklar Astin) the swoon-worthy new addition to the group who is down to earth and oozes loveable yet dorky charm. Oh and in case you were ever wondering what happened to Superbad’s McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in his college years, this movie has the hilarious answer. When the two groups go head-to-head multiple times through-out the film, many Lima lovers will wish the New Directions would have more interaction with their rivals because the result is side-clutching, can’t catch your breath laughter. All in all, Pitch Perfect is a wonderful celebration of music and is pure movie-going pleasure. Curious viewers can consider this new insta-classic to be in the same key as Glee, but keep in mind Pitch Perfect is strumming on a completely separate, yet equally delightful chord.
Pitch Perfect opens in select theaters Friday, September 28 and everywhere else October 5.
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
[Photo Credit: Universal]
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Whether you were watching from the comfort of your home with envy/relief that you weren't there or dancing amongst the thousands of sweaty and unbearably trendy music fans (including spotted celebrity attendees like Josh Hutcherson, Katy Perry, Fergie, Emma Roberts, Aaron Paul, Joe Manganiello, Joshua Jackson, Vanessa Hudgens, Colin Hanks, Paris Hilton, and David Hasselhoff) that made the pilgrimage to Indio, California, the first weekend of the 2012 Coachella was one that had to be seen to be believed. With a powerhouse line-up that included the likes of Radiohead, Pulp, Gotye, Florence + the Machine, The Black Keys, Santigold, Feist, and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg, whose cameo-filled set (including, yes, the late Tupac Shakur) has everyone talking, here's the best and the worst of what Coachella has had to offer so far.
Blame it on Friday the 13th that Coachella's first day (April 13) got off to a soggy start when the festival grounds were hit with rainstorms, but that still didn't dampen the spirits of eager concertgoers. Friday's eclectic line-up ushered in buzzed-about sets from Neon Indian, M83, The Arctic Monkeys, and the aforementioned Pulp, who have reunited to play their first shows in the United States since 1998. (Before heading westward to Coachella, the Brit rockers played two sold-out shows in New York City last week.)Watch Pulp's Coachella performance of their crowd-pleaser "Common People" below:
The high energy from Friday's sets spilled over into Saturday, whose headliners Radiohead wowed festival-goers for nearly two hours with a set list that included "Karma Police," "Bloom," and "Paranoid Android" (their entire concert is available to watch on YouTube in case you missed it) capped off a day that included solid turnouts from Bon Iver, David Guetta, Kasabian, and Community star Donald Glover (better known to the rap community as Childish Gambino) who performed with a broken foot during his set. Watch his NSFW "You Know Me" performance with special guests Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown:
But there was no hip hop performance more talked-about (or any other set, for that matter) than when rap legends Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg late Sunday night. While earlier standouts had included a fresh-off-their-SNL debut Gotye and a surprise performance from Rihanna during her "We Found Love" collaborator Calvin Harris' set, the introduction of hologram Tupac (move over, Will.i.am) closed out the first weekend of Coachella in a most unbelievable fashion.
Towards the latter end of their 23-song set, which featured appearances from the likes of Eminem, 50 Cent, and Wiz Khalifa, Coachella's most unexpected guest, a hologram of the late Tupac Shakur took to the stage to perform "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" alongside the rap superstars. A voice used for the video game-like image of the Shakur, who died in 1996, addressed the crowd, "What the f**k is up Coachella?" before beginning the song. Innovative? Tasteless? More fodder for conspiracy theorists? Watch the the resurrection of Tupac as a hologram from Sunday night's Coachella below and decide for yourself:
It's hard to imagine how, or what, will top hologram Tupac Shakur when the music acts from this past weekend are scheduled return on Friday for the festival's second weekend. But at this point, when it comes to Coachella it's probably best to expect the unexpected. Were you at Coachella this weekend or did you watch from home? Will you be heading to this weekend's concerts? Which performance(s) blew you away and which ones were you underwhelmed by? Did hologram Tupac trip you out? Seriously though, what just happened? Sound off in the comments section!
[Photo credit: YouTube]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.