Kiss star Gene Simmons has revealed that he and Paul Stanley turned their backs on the chance to perform at the upcoming Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony after learning museum bosses only wanted to honour the original members of the group. The bass player tells Entertainment Weekly Radio that he and Stanley spoke to former bandmates Ace Frehley and Peter Criss after learning they had been inducted at last, and the foursome had agreed that they would all accept the honour, but the current KISS line-up, featuring Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, would perform at the Barclays Center ceremony in New York on 10 April (14).
But then Hall of Fame officials made it clear they only wanted the original line-up onstage.
Simmons says, "Paul and I got on the phone and called Ace and Peter: 'Hey, congratulations. It was an honour to stand alongside you then and we’ll be proud to stand alongside of you at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to accept the award'. And they were gracious and happy... and we went off our separate ways (sic).
"And then we found out the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will only be honouring the original line-up, with Ace, Peter, Paul and myself, and we said, ‘Oh, OK then, we won’t be playing there. We’ll just accept the award. Thank you very much'. And they go, 'What are you talking about?’ and I said, ‘Well, you have a group like the Eagles, who continue to be our contemporaries... and every member that has even been in the Eagles has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but you’re only gonna honour the first line-up that was together for seven years? We’ve been around 40 years!'
"Tommy and Eric have been in the band 20 years - two and a half times longer than Ace and Peter. You’re going to slap them in the face and we’re supposed to get... get up onstage and do it? No, that’s not going to happen."
He adds, "Imagine you’re being invited to be inducted at an award ceremony and you get to bring only the first person you ever went out with in your life. The one, your beloved right now? She can’t come, or he can’t come. They get to stay home, they don’t get honoured'... That’s not going to fly."
KISS will be inducted alongside Peter Gabriel, Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt and Hall & Oates, among the Class of 2014.
Relativity Media via Everett Collection
It's easy to compare 3 Days to Kill to Luc Besson's flagship franchise Taken. The film itself practically encourages those comparisons, what with the older man who reluctantly returns to a life of killing for the good of his daughter. The hero's quest of hunting down international criminals in a stunning foreign locale is punctuated by all of the explosions and gore your heart could desire. Neither 3 Days screenwriter Besson nor director McG are attempting to blaze a trail or reinvent a wheel. They're simply attempting to create a film that will keep you entertained for two hours, and on that front, at least, they succeed.
Stepping into the Liam Neeson role this time around is Kevin Costner as Ethan Renner, who is either an assasssin or a spy that works for either the CIA or the Secret Service (it's not really all that important in the end), forced to walk away from the job after he is diagnosed with cancer (or maybe a brain tumor). In an attempt to spend his remaining months bonding with his estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld), he moves to Paris to settle down. Of course, that's when Vivi (Amber Heard), a CIA agent/spy/assassin arrives, along with an experimental new drug that could extend Ethan's life, which she will happily pass along... if he takes out their two most wanted criminals within three days.
From there, the film veers wildly between graphic fight sequences, with enough chaos and destruction to equal both Taken movies, and the story of Ethan and Zoey’s growing relationship. Much of the plot is confusing and barely explained – Ethan and Vivi vaguely work for the CIA, although they're unconcerned by the devastating destruction they leave in their wake. The drug is “experimental,” but how it helps or why it’s only available through a giant purple syringe is waived away by the presence of a stack of “research.” Ethan only has three days to complete his mission, but seems to hang around Paris for a lot longer. The villains are wanted by the government for being tangentially involved with a “dirty bomb.” There's a shoehorned-in subplot about family of African immigrants squatting in Ethan's apartment. But despite the fact that so many of these elements never find a way to coalesce into a coherent whole, once the body count starts to rise and the buildings start to fall, it's easy to simply ignore all of that in favor of massive explosions.
When the film works, Ethan's job and his relationship with Zoey blend together in a way that gives 3 Days to Kill some much needed heart and humor — like when he's interrupted in torturing a target by her constant phone calls — but when it doesn’t, the transitions between Ethan taking out the criminals he's hunting and his slightly cloying bonding experience with Zoey can be jarring. As Ethan, Costner is a serviceable action hero; he growls threateningly and stares fondly at Steinfeld when the script calls for it, but for the most part, he appears to be phoning it in. Of course, for this kind of film, that’s all he really needs to do, but it means that by the time the credits roll, much of his performance is already forgotten. As Zoey, Steinfeld does her best with the material, and makes some of the more emotional scenes between herself and Costner affecting. However, even she can’t save the father-daughter plot of the film from becoming trite and stale at times, and so her scenes mostly feel like a quick breather in between the rounds of graphic violence.
Relativity Media via Everett Collection
Heard feels out-of-place as Vivi, who is introduced as the buttoned-down second-in-command to the head of the CIA, but then proceeds to spend the rest of the film speeding around Paris in sports cars, and prancing about in a wardrobe of leather, corsets, and high heels. Costner is clearly in an older-man action film, but Heard is in another film entirely, one in which she’s a sexy super spy single-handedly taking down international criminals. Despite the fact that she’s mostly there to provide exposition and to look pretty, there are moments where you almost wish that she was the focus of 3 Days to Kill instead — or, at the very least, that one of the many subplots had been dropped in favor of expanding her character.
And yet, despite all of the unanswered questions and the weird disparities in tone, 3 Days to Kill is a surprisingly entertaining film. The fact that one of the best fight sequences in the film takes place in a supermarket, while Ethan and an unnamed hitman grapple behind a deli counter, means that it's ridiculous enough to keep you engaged, but it's still able to amp up the tension when it needs to. And when you need a break from watching people come perilously close to being decapitated, there's a well-timed visual gag already lined up. It hits all of the notes required of a cheesy action film, and even though it gets far too bogged down in sentiment at times, it's still got enough heart to add a little substance to the flimsy plot.
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3 Days to Kill does exactly what it needs to, and little more. It doesn't want to make you think — in fact, it actively encourages you not to — and it doesn't try to accomplish anything that will stay with you after the credits have rolled. All 3 Days to Kill wants is to keep you amused for a few hours, with a few explosions and some mindless fun. In the end, that's sometimes that's all you really need out of a movie.
Swedish heavy metal stars Katatonia are on the search for a new guitarist after parting ways with bandmate Per 'sodomizer' Eriksson. The rockers reveal creative differences and logistical issues following Eriksson's move to Spain last year (13) have prompted the group to find a replacement after four years together.
A statement released by the band reads: "A difference in views on the band's current operative as well as last year's decision from Per to permanently live in Barcelona have made his involvement in the band too problematic, both for him and for the remaining band members. They part ways as good friends."
A replacement has yet to be announced, but Katatonia have assured fans the line-up change won't affect its upcoming tour - Bruce Soord, from Wisdom of Crowds, will stand in as a special guest for the shows.
One of the most famous and iconic actresses of all time, and quite possibly the most beloved child star in cinema history, Shirley Temple Black passed away on Monday evening in her home at the age of 85. Over the course of her career, she sang, danced and acted in over 50 films, and after retiring from movies at the age of 22, she enjoyed a long and stories career as a diplomat. She was elected as a UN representative by President Nixon, and served as a US Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia. Temple was also the first woman to hold the position of Chief of Protocol for the United States. In the 1970s, she overcame breast cancer, and became the first prominent woman to speak openly about the disease through a series of radio, print and television announcements she made. In a press statement, her family remembers her as "an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife of fifty-five years."
Temple accomplished a great deal over the course of her life, both professionally and personally, and is regarded as one of the greatest screen stars in cinema history. We remember her life and career by taking a look back to all of the iconic Shirley Temple moments throughout the years. She made her screen debut at the age of three, in the film Red Haired Alibi, but her break out role came two years later, in 1934, when she starred in Stand Up and Cheer! The studio was apparently so impressed with her performance that they began promoting her well ahead of the film's release, and in a matter of months, she was a star.
She reached international fame with her performance in the film Bright Eyes, which was the first movie developed specifically as a starring vehicle for her. The film features what came to be known as Temple's signature song, "On the Good Ship Lollipop."
Over the course of her career, Temple starred in several films with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, one of the most well-respected tap dancers in film history, and her personal idol. In their film Little Colonel, they became the first interracial couple to dance together onscreen, and though their "staircase dance" was often cut from showing in the South, today it is regarded as one of the most famous dance sequences in cinema.
In 1935, at only six years old, she was the first ever recipient of the Academy's Juvenile Award, which honored performers under the age of 18 who for their "outstanding contributions to cinema." In the same year, she placed her handprints outside of the Grauman's Chinese Theater.
In 1939, at the peak of her fame, Temple starred in The Little Princess. Her performance made studios think that she could easily translate into a teenage actress, and wanting to protect their investment, Fox refused to lend her to MGM for The Wizard of Oz. It was her last major hit film for five years, during which time she took a break from acting in order to focus on her education.
In 1944, she signed a four-year contract with producer David O. Selznick, and enjoyed a small career renaissance with two hit films, Since You Went Away and I'll Be Seeing You. However, Selznick soon lost interest in Temple's career in favor of developing projects for Jennifer Jones, and after several more films flopped, she retired from movies in 1950 at the age of 22.
Temple made her return to show business in 1958, after two marriages and three children. She hosted and narrated Shirley Temple's Storybook, a children's program which animated fairy tales. The show was well-received by audiences, although there were a great deal of technical problems, so it was re-worked and re-broadcast in 1960 as The Shirley Temple Show. Despite being beloved by children, it wasn't able to hold its own against the major television sitcoms of the day, and was canceled in 1961.
After a long and storied career as a diplomat, which included a failed run for office in 1967, Temple was celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 for her significant contributions to the arts.
In 2006, she received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award at the age of 77. She was honored by Jamie Lee Curtis and Dakota Fanning, and the ceremony was her final public appearance.
In addition to her other accolades, Temple has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a statue of her was erected on the Fox studio lot in 2002. She will forever be remembered as one of the greatest film actresses of all time, as well as for her political career, and for being one of the kindest, most talented, and most beloved stars in Hollywood.
2014 Getty Images
Sunday nights are generally a good night for television fans – between HBO’s lineup of addicting shows, Downton Abbey’s continued dominance of British dramas, and whatever major sporting event is on, there’s plenty to watch, and usually, it’s relatively easy to space out your viewing schedule for the evening. However, this Sunday was surprisingly packed with must-watch shows and events, all of which you just know your friends and co-workers are going to be talking about all day.
It was impossible to watch everything that aired on Sunday night as it was premiering, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel left out of the conversation. We’ve rounded up the buzziest shows of Sunday night, and given you everything you need to know about what went down, and how to fake it until you’re able to catch up on everything properly. You can thank us later.
THE WINTER OLYMPICS
You Watched this If: You like bragging about your awesome ski weekend, and you’ll usually talk about the condition of the “powder” on the mountain. What Happened: There were three big medal events on Sunday night: team figure skating, women’s slopestyle snowboarding, and men’s downhill alpine skiing. Russia won their first gold of the Olympics in the team skating, thanks to winning performances from vet Evgeni Plushenko and new superstar, 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya. Gracie Gold took home the silver in the individual women’s short program, and Charlie White and Meryl Davis won the pair’s ice dancing, but neither of those victories were able to help the U.S. earn better than a bronze medal. Meanwhile, Jamie Anderson won the first ever women’s slopestyle gold medal, and her fellow American Sage Kotsenberg did the same in the men’s competition on Saturday; however, gold medal favorite Bode Miller placed a disappointing eighth in the men’s downhill. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: Ashley Wagner Is Not Impressed, the sequel to 2012’s Olympic meme McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed. Expect it to appear in your Twitter feed at least once a day for the next two weeks. How To Fake It: “How insane is that 15-year-old skater? Although, I thought Gracie Gold’s score could have been a bit higher. And Meryl and Charlie have that pairs gold in the bag.” “I just really feel like Jamie Anderson and I could be friends. She seems so cool, and she’s super talented.” “Can you believe what happened to Bode Miller?”
THE BEATLES 50TH ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE
You Watched This If: You don’t listen to the Top 40 drivel on the radio, you listen to “real music.” What Happened: Musicians from all different genres got together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, the Eurythmics reunited, as did Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr for a few of their greatest hits. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: The return of Pharell’s giant Grammys hat – the event was filmed the day after the awards, in the midst of the hat jokes. How to Fake It: “Doesn’t Dhani Harrison sound just like George?” “Who decided to have Pharell and Brad Paisley sing together?” “I know ‘Hey Jude’ is overplayed, but it was cool to see everyone sing it with Paul and Ringo.”
You Watched This If: You constantly feel as if nobody appreciates your creative genius. What Happened: Hannah took a job in the advertising department of GQ, which prompted her to worry about her selling out, and wasting her talents in a pointless corporate environment. Adam got a call back for an acting gig that he swears he doesn’t want, Marnie and Ray are becoming closer, despite embodying everything the other despises, Shoshanna is missing Ray and is forcing herself into a relationship with a guy she met at school who she thinks is incredibly dumb, and Jessa… didn’t do much of anything this week. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: How much they can't stand Hannah. Also how Marnie continues to be the worst. Wow, your friends really hate Girls.How to Fake It: “I kind of hate to admit this, because she’s super self-involved, but I kind of get where Hannah’s coming from.” “Ugh, Marnie is so annoying, but Allison Williams is so pretty.” “Did you know that Shoshanna’s new guy is played by Zosia Mamet’s real-life boyfriend?”
You Watched This If: You truly believe that everything from the UK is vastly superior to its American equivalent, and you won't listen to anyone who says otherwise. What Happened: Lady Edith considered terminating her unexpected pregnancy, but changed her mind at the last minute after seeing how the procedure affected other women at the clinic. Lady Mary has decided to be less “aloof,” and fed some pigs with Charles, and she helped secure Thomas the position of Robert’s valet while he’s in America. Anna continues to pretend she was attacked by a random thug, but Bates has figured out who was really behind the assault on his wife, and he’s probably going to kill him. And the Dowager Countess continues to be sassy and wonderful. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: Can you believe that Downton Abbey actually broached an abortion storyline? How To Fake It: “Oh, poor Edith! I really want something nice to happen to her for a change.” “I’m glad Bates is going to protect Anna, but I don’t know if I can sit through another Bates-is-a-murderer-storyline.”
You Watched This If: You’re just really into the McConaughssance, okay? What Happened: Rust and Marty discover that Ledoux is working for the Iron Crusaders, a biker gang that Rust infiltrated during his time undercover. He decides to go undercover again, steals cocaine from evidence to help sell his act, and he agrees to take part in a robbery in order to win over his contact. Unfortunately, the robbery goes wrong, and Rust is forced to run, calling in Marty for backup. Meanwhile, Marty’s ex-girlfriend showed up at his house and revealed everything to Maggie, who promptly kicked him out. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: That twist of an ending. Let’s be real, it’s all anyone will be talking about. Be prepared for people to declare it the “hands down, best episode of television ever!” How to Fake It: “How crazy was that ending? I couldn’t believe it when it all went south and Rust was caught in the middle of the whole thing. I can’t wait for the next episode, I need to find out what happens next!”
THE WALKING DEAD
You Watched This If: You are, somehow, still holding out for this show to get good again.What Happened: Rick and Carl hole up in an abandoned suburban house, growing tense over the latter's budding contentiousness. Michonne has acid flashbacks and slaughters an entire herd of zombies. There's a big can of pudding.What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: How much Carl sucks, and Michonne's nightmarish memory of her pre-apocalyptic days.How to Fake It: “F**king Carl.”
Warner Bros via Everett Collection
I bet J.K. Rowling wishes she had a Time Turner.
It seems that she would get a lot of use of the device that her characters used to hop through time in The Prisoner of Azkaban, because the author seems to have some lingering regrets about the choices that she made in her original novels. In a joint interview with Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson at Wonderland Magazine, Rowling admitted that she feels that Hermione should have been paired with Harry, and not Ron."I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That's how it was conceived, really," Rowling says in the interview. "For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron."
Now the debate of Ron and Hermione vs. Harry and Hermione has waged on the Internet forever (or since like 2000), but those discussions were always tempered by the satisfying story that Rowling's writing laid out for the Hermione and Ron romance. But this newest revelation throws a wrench into those debates, and will probably anger many of the Harry Potter faithful, a fact with which Rowling is very well aware. "I know, I'm sorry," she adds. "I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I'm absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people's hearts by saying this? I hope not."
We understand why Rowling feels the need to comment on her regrets. Anyone who fancies him or herself an artist knows the never-ending cycle of loving and hating the things that we create all too well. But there’s something to be said about letting your art stand on its own. Even if while looking back, you see things that you wish were different, those things may be the very reasons that people fell in love with your creation in the first place. Rowling seems to have a problem with letting her story go. We first saw this when she announced that Dumbledore was gay soon after the release of the final Harry Potter book. We’re all for this conceit, but if she wanted to make that point, she should have let her writing do the work for her, and have the the trust in her readership to come to their own conclusions. And now we have the author once again working her way back into the original story and commenting how things should be different then how she originally wrote them, and that does a disservice to her work, and to her readers. And it's not because we don't like the changes that she wishes she made, but because it shows a lack of faith in her story.
If she keeps adding and suggesting changes to her original novels, then soon enough, Harry Potter resembles an unsightly patchwork quilt, full of amendments, second guesses, and reworked stitches that crowd the original fibers. Something that that has been corrected over and over again until it’s not the thing you loved anymore but some kind of Frankenstien-like mess. When reading the novels, there's always going to be a cloud of "what should have happened" hanging over what the author actually wrote.
Furthermore, there was something marvelous about the gangly red-headed sidekick winning the heart of the hypercompetent girl, and if that was J.K. Rowling’s original design, then it was the right one. It feels like sacrilege to suggest it should be different. It’s the most developed relationship in all seven novels, and if Rowling is feeling that Harry got the short shrift in the relationship department, she probably could have developed his relationship with Ginny more, rather then suggesting that Ron and Hermione were wrong for each other.
Rowling needs to take a step back and let her art stand on it’s own. Harry Potter didn't trap the world under it’s spell because it’s bad or incomplete. It’s not perfect, but then again nothing is. The blemishes are what gives something character, and while it might be maddening to revisit your work and constantly be reminded that what you see as faults, others see as gospel. The story, as read by millions across the globe, are now the definitive version of the characters, That sequence of events is what lives in the hearts of fans, and to say that this should have happened this way, or this should have happened that way sort of cheapens it. Worst of all, it's tantamount to saying that the things fans love are missteps or mistakes that shouldn’t have happened that way in the first place.
But we do get it. Art, no matter how far reaching and ubiquitous, how far it pervades every molecule of the global popular culture consciousness, is still a very personal thing that first came to life in the mind of a woman living in a tiny flat in Edinburgh. She obviously has a strong connection to her work, but she also needs to let her art speak for itself. It's more than good enough to stand on its own. Trust us, Rowling.
Despite the plot getting a little convoluted for a while, this season finale was very satisfying and entertaining. It made up for a lot of past missteps and brought back the amazing Stevie Nicks. She begins the episode lip-synching singing the Fleetwood Mac hit “Seven Wonders.” This opening scene is shot like every Nicks fan’s wet dream of a music video. The girls are practicing for the Pepsi Challenge selection of the Supreme, finally doing actual magic and wearing shawls.
The test begins. If you’re keeping track, Madison Montgomery is the witch who has performed most of the seven wonders this season. They breeze through telekinesis and concilium. Then the girls travel to hell. This is where it gets dicey because everyone returns but Misty Day. She gets trapped in a biology class resurrecting a frog, then dissecting it forever and her body gets turned to ash. Way to bring the room down, writers! Misty is such an amazing and beautiful character; having her die is a let down since she’s had so little screen time all season.
The three surviving girls move onto transmutation (which continues to be incorrectly used in place of teleportation). They play tag while teleporting all around the estate, until Zoe lands on a fence and becomes Britney Speared. Rule #1 of teleportation is look where you’re going. Coincidentally, Rule #2 is don’t teleport with scissors. Queenie tries to perform vitum vitalis to revive her but fails. This makes no sense since Queenie had no trouble last episode. Madison refuses to revive Zoe in hopes she’ll get crowned Supreme. It looks like she’s primed to be another Fiona Bad Goode.
While Zoe is decomposing, Myrtle convinces Cordelia to perform the wonders for herself. Finally, the huge twist we’ve been waiting for. Of course she passes with flying colors, and then in the test of divination, Cordelia beats out Madison. Here’s where it gets interesting. Kyle, mad with grief, kills Madison while Cordelia is reviving Zoe. Zoe rises and Cordelia awakens with her eyes healed, the picture of “glowing radiant health.” Now, like the end of Total Recall, we will never know if Madison was the supreme or if it was Cordelia all along. Since Madison is dead, does Cordelia’s royal blood make her the next Queen Bee? Or was she the Supreme all along? This is the kind of writing the show should be focusing on rather than molester-y mothers and a graphically violent trip through slavery. It also seemed for a while that even the writers didn’t know who the next Supreme was going to be. It seems strange since Zoe and Queenie are the only witches with unique powers.
Cordelia channels Barack Obama by instituting an Affordable Care Act inspiring change. She tells the Muggle world about witches. She gives an interview with a nice little nod to feminism and gay rights. It’s sweet but doesn’t quite make up for the racism-adjacent choices for storylines this season. She elects Zoe and Queenie as her Council. Myrtle proves to be more than a theremin-playing loon by volunteering to be burned at the stake for committing murder. She wants to force Cordelia to stand on her own and to uphold their laws. This is such a great scene despite the fact that these two characters have history but have had so few scenes together.
The balance is restored…almost. Jessica Lange returns for a nice and satisfying goodbye scene worthy of her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. A dying Fiona returns in one last futile attempt to become the Supreme. She begs for Cordelia to kill her but she flatly refuses and they each get a stirring monologue. When they share a hug the balance is restored. Cordelia gets her mother's powers and Fiona is banished to white trash hell for all her poor choices. There’s really great symmetry. Denis O’Hare returns for a brief moment to pass on his mantle of butler to Kyle. Cordelia channels Professor X and becomes headmistress of a school that finally has students.
Wednesday night treated America to President Barack Obama's fifth State of the Union address, a speech lined with criticism of our country's immigration system, economic policies, and established plans about how to move forward regarding the Middle East crisis. But towards the tail end of the speech, the Commander-in-Chief spouted a moment of levity, proving himself to be (at the very least) this generation's president when he tossed in a television reference. And no, not a square one, like Bush Sr.'s castigation of The Simpsons — Obama made a Mad Men joke.
"Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work," the president said. "She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode. This year, let’s all come together — Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street — to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds."
The proclamation invoked a sweeping applause in house and throughout the country — there's nothing like a good new media allusion to drive home a point. But less is more, in this case. We have it on good (fake) authority that Obama had to edit out a few other television references from the first draft of his latest SOTU...
- "Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates — through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors — from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall. And if you think that's impressive, let me tell you about a simple chemistry teacher who turned himself into a billionaire by pioneering his own crystal meth empire..."
- "Today in America ... a farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after 12 long years, is finally coming to an end... just like How I Met Your Mother. Thank God, am I right? Seriously, that show feels like it's been on forever. Come on, Ted, finish the story already."
- "Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren't working at all. I mean, look at Marnie. She can't even hold a job at Ray's coffee shop — and no, Boehner, it doesn't count as a spoiler if it's been 48 hours since the episode aired!"
- "Tonight, I ask every business leader in America to join us and to do the same — because we are stronger when America fields a full team. Even if you get a lousy draft, you can always propose an eight-way trade. That's what Ruxin has taught us."
- "These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away. But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today. And if Francis Underwood can convince all of those people to keep their mouths shut about that murder... dammit, Boehner, it's been like a year, catch up already!"
- "What Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer — and every job seeker. So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. Like spying, and killing, and planting bugs in Senators' offices in the name of Mother Russia ... you guys get it? That's a The Americans joke. Because I said "Americans." They're spies. You guys watch that show? No? It's pretty good."
- "My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might — but because of the ideals we stand for, and the burdens we bear to advance them. And that's why we are the most a-mah-zing country in the world ... God, I miss Happy Endings."
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When Saturday Night Live announced that Colin Jost would replace the departing Seth Meyers as Cecily Strong's co-anchor of Weekend Update, the news was met with a giant, "Huh?" It isn't that there's anything wrong with Jost — along with Meyer he was one of SNL's head writers and he's a funny follow on Twitter — but the show already has 16 other cast members. Did anyone not already performing on the show really need to be brought in?
In short, no. While some cast members like Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan and Vanessa Bayer already have Weekend Update roles with recurring characters, there are plenty of others that deserved a shot at joining Strong behind the desk. These five would've made more sense than moving Jost over from the writer's room.
There's never been a minority cast member that has anchored Update. Pharaoah's Shaquille O'Neal impression has been put to good use during Update appearances, but it is also entirely expendable. Having Pharoah do his take of African-American broadcasters like Bryant Gumbel or Lester Holt set against Strong's Midwesterner would've provided a completely new dynamic for a segment that's been around for nearly 40 years.
Wheelan comes from a background in stand-up comedy and so far the SNL writers haven't shown that they know what to do with him. Dennis Miller, Norm MacDonald and Colin Quinn were all stand-up comedians that didn't look right anywhere on the show but behind the Update desk, so there would've been precedent. The one time that Wheelan has looked comfortable this year was on Update doing a routine instead of a character.
Bennett has already shown that he can milk comedy out of a serious persona — it's the basis of his well known AT&T "It's Not Complicated" Ads. Putting Bennett with Strong might have allowed for the kind of disdainful byplay that Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin used in the 1970s to keep the Update segment popular (and from disappearing) after Chevy Chase left. A little tension on Update isn't a bad thing.
Other than hiring Zamata, the show hasn't done anything with its lone African-American female. Pairing Strong and Zamata together would've been even more groundbreaking for the show than if Pharoah had been given a shot. We haven't seen Zamata interact with the other cast members enough yet to know about chemistry, but the dual female anchors could've become Tina & Amy 2.0.
Mooney's main contribution to the show since joining the cast has been doing digital shorts with his fellow Good Neighbor alum Bennett. The shorts have typically been more odd than the standard SNL fare which seems to come directly from Mooney. Strong has shown that she's adept at doing the straight Update news jokes, but having Mooney's looniness around to counter that might have been fun.
U.S. Dramatic/U.S. Dramatic/Premieres
Every year, film enthusiast from across the land journey to the hinterlands of Utah to partake in the Sundance Film Festival. A yearly event which can only be described as the holy pilgrimage og independent film. This year's festival is full of great films, but these ten works are the standout favorites that have garnered the most critical attention.
BoyhoodEveryone was sitting on the edge of their theater chairs to see the results of Richard Linklater’s wildly ambitious project Boyhood, which shot over 12 years and charts the life of a child from ages 6 to 18. It seems like the dozen years it took to make Boyhood were well worth it with with words like "masterpiece" popping up every so often in the rabble of critical praise. The film finds transcendance in the small and ordinairy moments that make up childhood, and the film's relatability is one of it's strongest merits Frequent Linklater collaborator Ethan Hawke and actress Patricia Arquette play the boy's parents. Though some critics are saying that the film is a tad too long, most agree that it is a one of a kind experience not to be missed.Best Review Quote: "Boyhood shines in its engrossing, experiential understanding and it’s a special achievement that should be cherished and acknowledged." - Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
Kumiko the Treasure Hunter A strange, whimsical story about a young woman who becomes obsessed with a movie and is unable to separate it from reality, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter stars Rinko Kikuchi as Kumiko, a shy office worker who sets out to recover the suitcase that Steve Buscemi’s character buries in North Dakota at the end of Fargo. Based on an urban legend, the film has been described as a “spirited and sad adult fairytale [that] will surely baffle as many viewers as it enchants.” Directed by David Zellner and co-written with his brother Nathan, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter is an artsy indie film that balances the absurdity of its premise with a grounded, human performance from Kikuchi that has been greatly praised by critics. It might be one of the odder films featured at this year’s festival, and it’s unlikely to win over a mainstream audience, but with Kikuchi at the center, it’s definitely a film worth looking up. Best Review Quote: “It’s a marvelous role for Kikuchi, who has the intensity of the great silent film stars, and who’s fascinating to watch even when Kumiko is doing nothing more than sitting solemnly by the window of her apartment eating ramen noodles as a rain begins to fall.” - Scott Foundas, Variety
Life Itself This full-figured portrait of the late Roger Ebert delves into the well-lived life of the most famous and celebrated film critics of all time, and critics, some of which are his former peers, are praising its depiction of the late and great critic. The film is by turns, an unflinching and joyful appreciation of the man’s life, from it’s successful highs to its cancer-stricken lows. The film is being praised for it's sensitivity and brevity, but also for not shying away from Ebert's flaws, namely his alcholism and lust for women.Best Review Quote: "There was a thunder in Ebert's heart, and that was his love for movies, and he wanted to tell the world about films, both big ones and small. James should be high-fived every day of his life for telling the real story of Roger Ebert." - Chase Whale, The Playlist
Listen Up Philip The titular Philip is an insufferable jerk, a narcissistic author who spends much of the film insulting and berating the people around him and spending most of his time obsessed with himself and his novels. With Jason Schwartzman in the lead role, the film has been a critical favorite at the festival, with Schwartzman imbuing the right amount of charm to keep the hero from being completely unwatchable, and a sharp story that provides insight into the overbearing protagonist and the people in his life. The film has also been praised for its creative use of literary conventions, such as a voice-over narration that outlines what’s going on in Philip’s head, and chapters that shift the focus to the other characters, so that the audience can experience the story in the same novelistic way that Philip does. It’s not a film that will easily appeal to everyone, but the incredibly positive reviews should help earn the film plenty of attention and recognition.Best Review Quote: “Importantly, the protagonist disappears for a sizeable chunk of the film’s mid section (a device Perry borrowed from William Gaddis’ novel, Recognitions) and we learn as much about him in absentia as we do from being in his overwhelming presence.” - Emma Myers, IndieWire
Love Is Strange Bursting with truths that are both painful and fun yet all too real, Love Is Strange offers a portrait of love and separation. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina portray an older gay couple that gets married after 39 years of living together due to New York's changing same sex marriage laws, but vows are tested in earnest when financial hardships suddenly divide the couple. Critics are enamored with the loving authenticity that’s layered at the film’s heart, and were impressed with the heartfelt performances from the two leads.Best Review Quote: "Throughout the picture ... you understand the miracle and good fortune of finding love, and recognize the great changes in tolerance American society is currently (albeit slowly) undergoing." - Jordan Hoffman, Film.com
Obvious Child This year’s festival featured a number of films centered around a woman in her mid-to-late 20’s whose life is falling apart, but none of them stood out more than Obvious Child, the feature-length debut of writer-director Gillian Robespierre. An abortion rom-com, the film stars Jenny Slate as Donna Stern, an aspiring stand-up comic who becomes pregnant after a one-night stand, and is faced with the reality of being vastly unprepared for the sudden turn her life has taken. Critics have praised Obvious Child not only for doing away with the standard romantic comedy clichés and dealing with taboos head on, but also for handling the subject matter with realism and heart. Slate has also gotten praise for her performance, and should be able to break away from her short run on Saturday night Live in favor of being recognized as a solid actress in her own right. Best Review Quote: “There’s none of the expected movie-of-the-week scenes here—Slate never has an actorly monologue about her predicament, just a series of laugh-so-you-don’t-cry wisecracks […] And yet when Donna is laying sedated on an operating table and gravity sends her tears down her cheeks towards the clinical cold tile floor, you can recognize that her decision may be decisive, but it isn’t unfelt.” - James Rocci, The Playlist
The Raid 2: BerandalThe sequel to the Indonesian smash-hit actioner is getting acclaim from every inch of the festival for it’s wonderfully orchestrated yet absurdly violent fight scenes. Critics say that the film is a delight for genre fans who have a hunger for bloodletting, though the more squeamish members of the public should probably pack a sick bag if they want to make it to the end credits. The film is being called more ambitious than its predecessor, and some critics are divided if the larger emphasis on story and drama does the film and favors, but most agree that the sequel is a visceral and pulse-quickening follow up that certainly lives up to the first outing.Best Review Quote: "This orgy of broken bones and vicious badassery makes its cult predecessor look like a peevish bitch-slap." - David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
The Skeleton TwinsIf Will Forte's turn in Nebraska wasn’t proof enough; Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are also striving to prove the dramatic acting chops of SNL vets with their well-received performances in the comedy-drama The Skeleton Twins. The pair play twins that are both suffering through bouts of depression, and the two characters struggle to regrow the sibling relationship that distance and shared pain had witherd away. Both Hader and Wiig are being praised for their nuanced performances as the duo confidently master the film's nicely balanced tone, which flutters between comedy and drama, but doesn't feel forced or jarring.Best Review Quote: "Hader and Wiig can play serious, can weave humor into their realistic performances, but what separates them from other actors and directors who attempt dangerously tired material is a foundation of collaboration. It’s easy to buy that they’re brother and sister because the rapport is established." - Matt Patches, Vanity Fair
The Voices Perhaps the most eccentric film premiering at Sundance this year, The Voices star Ryan Reynolds as a factory worker who is encouraged by his pets, a well-meaning dog named Bosco and a manipulative and evil cat named Mr. Whiskers, to commit murder. Described as a horror-thriller-comedy, the film does its best to do away with both genre conventions and horror film tropes in favor of a weirdly entertaining psychological drama that puts the audience on the same side as its mentally ill, serial killer hero. Critics have given Reynolds, who provided voices for Bosco and Mr. Whiskers in addition to playing the lead, rave reviews, praising his ability to commit to the character’s wilder moments while still keeping the film grounded and restrained. With such an insane premise, a compelling, committed performance and excellent direction from Marjane Satrapi – artist and director behind both the graphic novel and film Pesepolis – The Voices has all of the key ingredients to become a cult favorite, and quite possibly, even a mainstream success. Best Review Quote: “The film’s combination of psychological drama -- cue the childhood trauma -- with blood-splattered limb-cutting, talking heads in the fridge and talking pets on the couch is a risky one that finally works because [screenwriter Michael R.] Perry and Satrapi find the right tonal mixture for the material, with Jerry’s reality recognizable yet strangely heightened from the start (all the overly joyous pinks in the factory should have been a give-away).” - Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter
Whiplash Starring Miles Teller as an aspiring jazz drummer who is willing to give up everything in order to become one of the greats, and J.K. Simmons has his tyrant of a music teacher, who motivates his students through fear and torrents of insults, Whiplash is a film about the question of whether or not it’s worth it to dedicate everything you have in the name of art. The film earned rave reviews when it premiered on opening night, and critics have said that it boasts career making and defining performances from Teller and Simmons, respectively. It’s not the kind of music film that will leave audiences with a warm fuzzy feeling, but with two explosive leading men and a director who lived through it himself, Whiplash became the most attention-grabbing film to premiere at Sundance. Sony snapped up distribution rights on opening night, which means it’s definitely a film to look forward to in the coming year. Best Review Quote: “For those seeking perfection, one tiny slip threatens to jeopardize the ensemble as a whole. As a result, Fletcher’s strategy is to humiliate the stragglers in front of the entire group — the sort of abuse more commonly associated with locker rooms and war movies, whose high stakes [director David] Chazelle brings to bear on this more civilized arena.” - Peter Debruge, Variety
A "Survival Specials" documentary focusing on the life of Africa's dwarf mongoose, held as living in the most highly organized society of all the small mammals. The program also explores the mongooses' incredibly sophisticated communications system.