Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry ruled the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum in Inglewood, California on Sunday (24Aug14), by picking up the biggest honours. The Roar hitmaker took home the first Moonman trophy of the night for Best Female Video for Dark Horse and was joined onstage by rapper Juicy J who appeared on the track.
Cyrus, who returned to the prizegiving a year after causing a stir with her raunchy routine with Blurred Lines singer Robin Thicke, was all about the message this year, choosing to use her Video of the Year acceptance speech for Wrecking Ball to pay tribute to homeless youths.
The pop star sent a man named Jesse to accept the prize on her behalf for the "1.6 million runaways and homeless youths in the United States, who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now."
He continued, "I know this because I am one of these people... If you want to make a powerful change in the world right now, please join us and go to Miley's Facebook.com page. A dream you dream alone is only a dream, but a dream you dream together is reality."
Beyonce was feted with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award and wowed the crowd with a show-stopping performance featuring a medley of hits from her self-titled album, including Partition, Flawless and Drunk in Love.
After her stunning set, which brought the audience to its feet, she was presented with the accolade by daughter Blue Ivy and husband Jay Z, who called his wife "the greatest living entertainer."
Beyonce tearfully accepted her award, saying, "I'm so full. Thank you, I have nothing to say, but I'm filled with so much gratitude. I just thank God for this moment and I love y'all so much. Blue I love you, my beloved I love you, my fans I love you, MTV I love you, goodnight."
The moment appeared to be her bid to once and for all end divorce rumours.
Ed Sheeran and Fifth Harmony were also big winners, taking home the Best Male Video and Artist to Watch awards, respectively.
Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J kicked off the ceremony with Grande singing her hit Break Free, followed by Nicki Minaj giving a jungle-themed performance of her new track Anaconda.
Jessie J then started off the trio's new hit song Bang Bang, but Minaj suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction when she did not complete her quick-change in time and was forced to hold the front of her dress together so as to not expose her bare breasts as she returned to the stage.
Other performance highlights included Sam Smith with his hit song Stay With Me and Maroon 5, who made their VMAs debut with a performance of Maps outside of the venue.
Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora also hit the The Forum stage for their first-ever live performance of Black Widow.
There was also a couple of serious moments in among the festivities - Robin Williams, who passed away earlier this month (Aug14), was remembered and rapper Common asked for a moment of silence for Missouri teenager, Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on 9 August (14), sparking the ongoing unrest in the state.
The 2014 MTV VMAs winners at press time were:
Video of the Year - Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
Best Hip-Hop Video - Hold On (We're Going Home) by Drake featuring Majid Jordan
Best Male Video - Sing by Ed Sheeran
Best Female Video - Dark Horse by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J
Best Pop Video - Problem by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea
Artist to Watch - Fifth Harmony
Best Rock Video - Royals by Lorde
Best Lyric Video - Don't Stop by 5 Seconds of Summer
MTV Clubland Award - Stay the Night by Zedd featuring Hayley Williams
Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award - Beyonce
A track on the new Michael Jackson album Xscape reportedly features lyrics about sexual abuse. The song, titled Do You Know Where Your Children Are?, is one of the eight previously unheard tracks recorded before the singer's death in 2009.
The lyrics tell the story of a 12-year-old girl who runs away from home and turns to prostitution. Jackson reportedly sings, "She wrote that she is tired of step-daddy using her/ saying that he'll buy her things, while sexually abusing her."
The phrase "Save me from this living hell" is said to be repeated several times throughout the track, prompting speculation among fans that Jackson wrote the song about the battle to clear his name after he was accused of child molestation.
The King of Pop was cleared of all charges following a trial in 2005.
Xscape will be released on 13 May (14).
Farrah Fawcett's son Redmond O'Neal has opened up about the devastating loss of his mother for the first time since her death, revealing they did not speak to each other in her final weeks. When the Charlie's Angels actress passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2009, her son was months into serving a prison sentence stemming from drug charges.
Redmond, who was released from jail in 2012, has now spoken out about the death of his mother, confessing their lack of contact in her final weeks has devastated him.
He tells U.S. entertainment news show Extra, "One minute she was alive and well, everything was good, and then bam! My dad was telling me she died... I was in jail at the time. I didn't even get to say 'bye to her.
"For the last four months she was living, I didn't even get to talk to her. She was bedridden, incapable of getting on the phone... The good thing is she didn't know I was in jail. My dad kept that from her."
Redmond also admits it was hard to deal with reading about his mother's death - on the same day Michael Jackson passed away - in newspaper reports while behind bars, adding, "It was in the paper, like front page. That was hard, too. I got all these inmates in the dorm, I was in reading this newspaper. She's on the front page, she and Michael Jackson... I remember, and I got mad 'cause Michael Jackson had a bigger page."
O'Neal's famous dad has also spoken out about his pride that his son is fighting to stay clean: "I'm very proud of him. I know his mother was there for him and helped him jump some hurdles, and now I've got him and he's exactly what I wanted. There's a lot of his mother in him, so it's almost as if she's around."
NBC Universal Media
Life mirrors art, right?
Just a few short days ago, pre-production on Quentin Tarantino's upcoming western flick The Hateful Eight was running like clockwork. The director was courting Oscar nominee Bruce Dern for the lead, and setting the foundation for what was supposed to be his next film. But just like that, the picture's dead, friendships are broken, and words like "betrayal" and "revenge" are hanging in the air like a low fog.
In one of those instances of behind the scenes drama that threatens to be more interesting than the actual film could possibly be, The Hateful Eight is being shelved indefinitely because the script was leaked across Hollywood, and Tarantino is not a happy camper. Tarantino contacted Deadline to release his anger; and reading through Tarantino's accusations and the mobster-like language that dots his writing, it sounds like the director is in the middle of writing one of his own screenplays. This whole situation feels like some sort of meta-filmmaking revenge tragedy that has all the same themes and trappings of Tarantino's best work. So which of Tarantino's previous films best resemble the director's current predicament?
The BetrayalAccording to Tarantino, he gave out copies of his script to members of his trusted inner circle, but one of the copies landed in the hands of an agent who then proceeded to leak Tarantino's latest work all over Tinseltown and the director is furious. But it's not the fact that every corner of the film world is getting a glimpse at the script that has the filmmaker fuming, it's the fact that one of his trusted compatriots betrayed him. Just like The Bride in Kill Bill, Tarantino was hurt by those he trusted most, and now he wants scalps.Film: Kill Bill Vol. 1
The WhodunnitThe line-up of suspects includes some of Tarantino's most trusted actors, including the two stars of Tarantino's breakout hit Resevoir Dogs. The director told Deadline, "I gave it to one of the producers on Django Unchained, Reggie Hudlin, and he let an agent come to his house and read it. That’s a betrayal, but not crippling because the agent didn’t end up with the script. There is an ugly maliciousness to the rest of it. I gave it to three actors: Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth. The one I know didn’t do this is Tim Roth. One of the others let their agent read it, and that agent has now passed it on to everyone in Hollywood." So Tarantino has himself narrowed the field down to two suspects: Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern, though personally, we wouldn't count out Tim Roth so easily since the last time we trusted Roth in a Tarantino film, it turned out to be a huge mistake. The fact that Michael Madsen and Tim Roth are both suspected of being the script leaker gives the mystery more than a passing resemblance to the plot of Resevoir Dogs. Hopefully everyone still has their ears when this is all said and done.Film: Reservoir Dogs
The HostageThe smoking gun is still out there. Smoldering in some Hollywood basement is the leaked script in question, and one of these actors is holding the evidence hostage. Now there are loads loads of hostage situations littered throughout Tarantino's filmography. There's the famous diner scene at the tail end of Pulp Fiction that made Samuel L. Jackson a household name, and then there's Reservoir Dogs, which unfolds like full feature length hostage situation, as the group of thieves try to suss out who the fed is among them. Tarantino's hosage situations don't always end on a bloodness note, so lets hope he gets the script quickly before heads start to roll.Films: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs
The RevengeQuentin Tarantino has already inacted the greatest revenge of all by canceling The Hateful Eight altogether. With this crafty gambit, not only did the suspected leaker lose out on a future project, and the opportunity to work with Tarantino, but the filmmaker proves that he's so much bigger than that one film. Tarantino states that "he has 10 where that came from" and can just as easily move on tot another project without too much heartache. Living well is the best revenge indeed. As the Bride would agree, revenge is a dish best served cold.Film: Kill Bill Vol. 2
The SaviorFans of Tatantino that are worried that they'll never get to see a more traditional take on the western with the Hateful Eight shouldn't fret too much. Tarantino says that there might still make the film once things cool down: “I could totally change my mind; I own the f**king thing. But I can tell you, it’s not going to be the next thing I do. It’s my baby, and if the muse calls me later to do it, we’ll do it. I was thinking about the idea of maybe publishing it before I made it, but now that deal happens for sure, and I’m not doing it next.” Just like Django, who trained and fought to save his wife from the clutches of the treacherous Calvin Candie, The director might be convinced to save the project in the future before riding off into the sunset.Film: Django Unchained
Give Martin Freeman an empty room and he'll give you comedy. The best parts of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — an admittedly mishandled movie in large — involved his subdued grimaces, his Chaplinian waddling, and the way he carried himself with equal parts neurosis and snark in every scene. If there is one primary misstep of An Unexpected Journey's terrifically improved sequel, The Desolation of Smaug, it is the spiritual absence of Bilbo Baggins.
Freeman's good-natured but disgruntled Hobbit takes a backseat to the Dwarf team in this chapter of Peter Jackon's three-part saga, distributing the heavy lifting among the front lines of the bearded mooks. Thankfully, we're not shafted with too much "Thorin's destiny" backstory, instead focusing on the trek forward, through far more interesting terrain than we got last time around. The Dwarves voyage through a trippy woodland that'll conjur fond memories of The Legend of Zelda's unnavigable forest levels and inside the borders of Lake-town, a man-occupied working class monarchy that is more vivid and living than any place we have seen yet in the series. And while Unexpected Journey's goblin caverns might have been cool to look at, none of the quests in Desolation feel nearly as close to a tangential detour. Every step the Dwarves take is one that beckons us closer to the central, increasingly engaging story.
Desolation is not entirely without its curiosities. While Gandalf's mission to meet the Necromancer serves to connect the Hobbit trilogy to the Lord of the Rings movies, the occasional cuts over to the wizard's pursuits are primarily distracting and just a bit dull. Although we're happy to welcome the Elf race back into our Middle-earth adventures, it's easy to imagine a version of this story that didn't involve side characters like Legolas and Kate... I mean, Tauriel... and still felt whole (perhaps even more cohesive). The latter's love affair with hot Dwarf Kili seems like a last minute addition to the canon, and one not built on anything beyond the cinematic rule that two sexually compatible attractive people should probably have something brewing alongside all the action.
But the most egregious of crimes committed by Desolation is, unquestionably, the shafting of Bilbo Baggins to secondary status. Yes, he proves himself a savior to his fellow travelers four times in the film, but long stretches of action go by without so much as a word from the wide-eyed burglar. When he finally takes center stage in his theatrical face-off with Smaug — an exercise in double-talk reminiscent of Oedipus outsmarting the Sphinx — the film picks up with a new, cool energy, with a chilling fun laced around the impending doom of their back-and-forth. We've been waiting since the first frames of Unexpected to see how the dragon material will pay off, and it does in spades... albeit in the final third of Desolation, but with equal parts gravitas and fun, to reunite us with our Tolkien passions once more.
Benedict Cumberbatch's dragon doesn't do much to subvert expectation — he's slithering, sadistic, vain, manipulative, and vaguely Londonian. But tradition feels good here. Smaug's half hour spent toying with the mousey Bilbo (who does get a chance to showcase his aptitude at small-scale physical comedy here) is terrific in every way.
Its Hobbit problem aside, Desolation proves itself worthy of Bilbo's past proclamation. "I'm going on an adventure!" more than pays off here, in the form of mystifying boat rides, edge-of-your-seat efforts in dragon slaying, and the most joyful action set piece we've seen in years. Twelve Dwarves, twelve barrels, and one roaring river amounts for enough fun to warrant your trip to the theater for this latest outing into Middle-earth.
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The 2014 Sundance Film Festival lineup for the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary competition and the out-of-competition NEXT section is officially here, and damn are we excited.
As the festival has evolved and grown, so has the long list of actors and directors who have eagerly jumped on board to be a part of the indie film scene, which means that the lineup of actors for the upcoming event is looking pretty solid. In 2014 we can look forward to seeing the works of those like Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon, John Slattery, Aaron Paul, Kristen Stewart, and Mark Ruffalo, and comedians such as Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Lena Dunham, Jenny Slate, Aubrey Plaza, Amy Sedaris, and more.
The festival will run from Jan. 16 to 26 in Park City, Utah and will include 118 features. Still to come are the lineups for Slates for Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, New Frontier, Premieres and Documentary Premieres, and the new Sundance Kids category.
Check out the lineup so far (via Vulture):
Camp X-Ray / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Peter Sattler) — A young woman is stationed as a guard in Guantanamo Bay, where she forms an unlikely friendship with one of the detainees. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Payman Maadi, Lane Garrison, J.J. Soria, John Carroll Lynch.Cold in July / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Mickle, Screenwriters: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici) — After killing a home intruder, a small town Texas man's life unravels into a dark underworld of corruption and violence. Cast: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici, Wyatt Russell.Dear White People / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Justin Simien) — Four black students attend an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over an “African American” themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in postracial America while weaving a story about forging one's unique path in the world. Cast: Tyler Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon Bell.Fishing Without Nets / U.S.A., Somalia, Kenya (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey, David Burkman) — A story of pirates in Somalia told from the perspective of a struggling, young Somali fisherman. Cast: Abdikani Muktar, Abdi Siad, Abduwhali Faarah, Abdikhadir Hassan, Reda Kateb, Idil Ibrahim.God's Pocket / U.S.A. (Director: John Slattery, Screenwriters: John Slattery, Alex Metcalf) — When Mickey's stepson Leon is killed in a construction "accident," Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body. But when the boy's mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please, and a debt he can’t pay. Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro.Happy Christmas / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Joe Swanberg) — After a breakup with her boyfriend, a young woman moves in with her older brother, his wife, and their 2-year-old son. Cast: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg.Hellion / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kat Candler) — When motocross and heavy metal obsessed, 13-year-old Jacob's delinquent behavior forces CPS to place his little brother Wes with his aunt, Jacob and his emotionally absent father must finally take responsibility for their actions and each other in order to bring Wes home. Cast: Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner, Jonny Mars, Walt Roberts.Infinitely Polar Bear / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Maya Forbes) — A manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by attempting to take full responsibility of their two young, spirited daughters, who don't make the overwhelming task any easier. Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide.Jamie Marks is Dead / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Carter Smith) — No one seemed to care about Jamie Marks until after his death. Hoping to find the love and friendship he never had in life, Jamie’s ghost visits former classmate Adam McCormick, drawing him into the bleak world between the living and the dead. Cast: Cameron Monaghan, Noah Silver, Morgan Saylor, Judy Greer, Madisen Beaty, Liv Tyler.Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter / U.S.A. (Director: David Zellner, Screenwriters: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner) — A lonely Japanese woman becomes convinced that a satchel of money buried in a fictional film is, in fact, real. Abandoning her structured life in Tokyo for the frozen Minnesota wilderness, she embarks on an impulsive quest to search for her lost mythical fortune. Cast: Rinko Kikuchi.Life After Beth / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Baena) — Zach is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend, Beth. When she mysteriously returns, he gets a second chance at love. Soon his whole world turns upside down... Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser.Low Down / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Preiss, Screenwriters: Amy Albany, Topper Lilien) — Based on Amy Jo Albany's memoir, Low Down explores her heart-wrenching journey to adulthood while being raised by her father, bebop pianist Joe Albany, as he teeters between incarceration and addiction in the urban decay and waning bohemia of Hollywood in the 1970s. Cast: John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Flea.The Skeleton Twins / U.S.A. (Director: Craig Johnson, Screenwriters: Craig Johnson, Mark Heyman) — Estranged twins Maggie and Milo coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront the reasons their lives went so wrong. As the twins' reunion reinvigorates them, they realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship. Cast: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Boyd Holbrook, Joanna Gleason.The Sleepwalker / U.S.A., Norway (Director: Mona Fastvold, Screenwriters: Mona Fastvold, Brady Corbet) — A young couple, Kaia and Andrew, are renovating Kaia´s secluded family estate. Their lives are violently interrupted when unexpected guests arrive. The Sleepwalker chronicles the unraveling of the lives of four disparate characters as it transcends genre conventions and narrative contrivance to reveal something much more disturbing. Cast: Gitte Witt, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Stephanie Ellis.Song One / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kate Barker-Froyland) — Estranged from her family, Franny returns home when an accident leaves her brother comatose. Retracing his life as an aspiring musician, she tracks down his favorite musician, James Forester. Against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s music scene, Franny and James develop an unexpected relationship and face the realities of their lives. Cast: Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Rosenfield.Whiplash / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Damien Chazelle) — Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity. Cast: Miles Teller, JK Simmons.
Appropriate Behavior / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Desiree Akhavan) — Shirin is struggling to become an ideal Persian daughter, a politically correct bisexual, and a hip, young Brooklynite, but fails miserably in her attempt at all identities. Being without a cliché to hold on to can be a lonely experience. Cast: Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson, Halley Feiffer, Scott Adsit, Anh Duong, Arian Moayed. World Premiere.Drunktown's Finest / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sydney Freeland) — Three young Native Americans—a rebellious father-to-be, a devout Christian woman, and a promiscuous transsexual—come of age on an Indian reservation. Cast: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Francis. World Premiere.The Foxy Merkins / U.S.A. (Director: Madeleine Olnek, Screenwriters: Lisa Haas, Jackie Monahan, Madeleine Olnek) — Two lesbian hookers work the streets of New York. One is a down-on-her-luck newbie; the other is a beautiful—and straight—grifter who's an expert on picking up women. Together they face bargain-hunting housewives, double-dealing conservative women, and each other in this prostitute buddy comedy. Cast: Lisa Haas, Jackie Monahan, Alex Karpovsky, Susan Ziegler, Sally Sockwell, Deb Margolin.A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ana Lily Amirpour) — In the Iranian ghost town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, depraved denizens are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire. Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Dominic Rains, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnó, Milad Eghbali. World Premiere.Imperial Dreams / U.S.A. (Director: Malik Vitthal, Screenwriters: Malik Vitthal, Ismet Prcic) — A 21-year-old, reformed gangster's devotion to his family and his future are put to the test when he is released from prison and returns to his old stomping grounds in Watts, Los Angeles. Cast: John Boyega, Rotimi Akinosho, Glenn Plummer, Keke Palmer, De'aundre Bonds. World Premiere.Land Ho! / U.S.A., Iceland (Directors and screenwriters: Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz) — A pair of ex-brothers-in-law set off to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth through Reykjavik nightclubs, trendy spas, and rugged campsites. This bawdy adventure is a throwback to 1980s road comedies, as well as a candid exploration of aging, loneliness, and friendship. Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Nelson, Alice Olivia Clarke, Karrie Krouse, Elizabeth McKee, Emmsjé Gauti. World Premiere.Listen Up Philip / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Alex Ross Perry) — A story about changing seasons and changing attitudes, a newly accomplished writer faces mistakes and miseries affecting those around him, including his girlfriend, her sister, his idol, his idol's daughter, and all the ex-girlfriends and enemies that lie in wait on the open streets of New York. Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, Josephine de La Baume. World Premiere.Memphis / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tim Sutton) — A strange singer drifts through the mythic city of Memphis, surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolf pack of kids. Under a canopy of ancient oak trees and burning spirituality, his doomed journey breaks from conformity and reaches out for glory. Cast: Willis Earl Beal, Lopaka Thomas, Constance Brantley, Devonte Hull, John Gary Williams, Larry Dodson. World Premiere.Obvious Child / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Gillian Robespierre) — An honest comedy about what happens when Brooklyn comedian Donna Stern gets dumped, fired, and pregnant, just in time for the worst/best Valentine's Day of her life. Cast: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, David Cross, Gabe Liedman, Richard Kind. World Premiere.Ping Pong Summer / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Tully) — 1985. Ocean City, Maryland. Summer vacation. Rap music. Parachute pants. Ping pong. First crushes. Best friends. Mean bullies. Weird mentors. That awkward, momentous time in your life when you're treated like an alien by everyone around you, even though you know deep down you're as funky fresh as it gets. Cast: Susan Sarandon, John Hannah, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris, Robert Longstreet, Marcello Conte. World Premiere.War Story / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Jackson, Screenwriters: Kristin Gore, Mark Jackson) — A war photographer retreats to a small town in Sicily after being held captive during the conflict in Libya. Cast: Catherine Keener, Hafsia Herzi, Vincenzo Amato, Donatella Finocchiaro, Ben Kingsley. World Premiere.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITIONAlive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett) — Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia—many of them alone in nursing homes. A man with a simple idea discovers that songs embedded deep in memory can ease pain and awaken these fading minds. Joy and life are resuscitated, and our cultural fears over aging are confronted. All the Beautiful Things / U.S.A. (Director: John Harkrider) — John and Barron are lifelong friends whose friendship is tested when Barron's girlfriend says Barron put a knife to her throat and raped her. Not knowing she has lied, John tells her to go to the police. Years later, John and Barron meet in a bar to resolve the betrayal.CAPTIVATED The Trials of Pamela Smart / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Jeremiah Zagar) — In an extraordinary and tragic American story, a small town murder becomes one of the highest profile cases of all time. From its historic role as the first televised trial to the many books and movies made about it, the film looks at the media’s enduring impact on the case. The Case Against 8 / U.S.A. (Directors: Ben Cotner, Ryan White) — A behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, the film follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.Cesar's Last Fast / U.S.A. (Directors: Richard Ray Perez, Lorena Parlee) — Inspired by Catholic social teaching, Cesar Chavez risked his life fighting for America’s poorest workers. The film illuminates the intensity of one man’s devotion and personal sacrifice, the birth of an economic justice movement, and tells an untold chapter in the story of civil rights in America. Dinosaur 13 / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Miller) — The true tale behind one of the greatest discoveries in history. Day One film.E-TEAM / U.S.A. (Directors: Katy Chevigny, Ross Kauffman) — E-TEAM is driven by the high-stakes investigative work of four intrepid human rights workers, offering a rare look at their lives at home and their dramatic work in the field. Fed Up / U.S.A. (Director: Stephanie Soechtig) — Fed Up blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history. The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz / U.S.A. (Director: Brian Knappenberger) — Programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz achieved groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing. His passion for open access ensnared him in a legal nightmare that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Ivory Tower / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Rossi) — As tuition spirals upward and student debt passes a trillion dollars, students and parents ask, "Is college worth it?" From the halls of Harvard to public and private colleges in financial crisis to education startups in Silicon Valley, an urgent portrait emerges of a great American institution at the breaking point. Marmato / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Grieco) — Colombia is the center of a new global gold rush, and Marmato, a historic mining town, is the new frontier. Filmed over the course of nearly six years, Marmato chronicles how townspeople confront a Canadian mining company that wants the $20 billion in gold beneath their homes. No No: A Dockumentary / U.S.A. (Director: Jeffrey Radice) — Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter on LSD, then worked for decades counseling drug abusers. Dock's soulful style defined 1970s baseball as he kept hitters honest and embarrassed the establishment. An ensemble cast of teammates, friends, and family investigate his life on the field, in the media, and out of the spotlight. The Overnighters / U.S.A. (Director: Jesse Moss) — Desperate, broken men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local Pastor's decision to help them has extraordinary and unexpected consequences.Private Violence / U.S.A. (Director: Cynthia Hill) — One in four women experience violence in their homes. Have you ever asked, “Why doesn't she just leave?” Private Violence shatters the brutality of our logic and intimately reveals the stories of two women: Deanna Walters, who transforms from victim to survivor, and Kit Gruelle, who advocates for justice. Rich Hill / U.S.A. (Directors: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos) — In a rural, American town, kids face heartbreaking choices, find comfort in the most fragile of family bonds, and dream of a future of possibility. Watchers of the Sky / U.S.A. (Director: Edet Belzberg) — Five interwoven stories of remarkable courage from Nuremberg to Rwanda, from Darfur to Syria, and from apathy to action. WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
52 Tuesdays / Australia (Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenplay and story by: Matthew Cormack, Story by: Sophie Hyde) — Sixteen-year-old Billie’s reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother reveals plans for gender transition, and their time together becomes limited to Tuesdays. This emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility, and transformation was filmed over the course of a year—once a week, every week, only on Tuesdays. Cast: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Del Herbert-Jane, Imogen Archer, Mario Späte, Beau Williams, Sam Althuizen. International Premiere.Blind / Norway, Netherlands (Director and screenwriter: Eskil Vogt) — Having recently lost her sight, Ingrid retreats to the safety of her home—a place she can feel in control, alone with her husband and her thoughts. But Ingrid's real problems lie within, not beyond the walls of her apartment, and her deepest fears and repressed fantasies soon take over. Cast: Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Vera Vitali, Marius Kolbenstvedt. World Premiere.Difret / Ethiopia (Director and screenwriter: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari) — Meaza Ashenafi is a young lawyer who operates under the government's radar helping women and children until one young girl's legal case exposes everything, threatening not only her career but her survival. Cast: Meron Getnet, Tizita Hagere. World Premiere.The Disobedient / Serbia (Director and screenwriter: Mina Djukic) — Leni anxiously waits for her childhood friend Lazar, who is coming back to their hometown after years of studying abroad. After they reunite, they embark on a random bicycle trip around their childhood haunts, which will either exhaust or reinvent their relationship. Cast: Hana Selimovic, Mladen Sovilj, Minja Subota, Danijel Sike, Ivan Djordjevic. World Premiere.God Help the Girl / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Stuart Murdoch) — This musical from Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian is about some messed up boys and girls and the music they made. Cast: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Cora Bissett, Pierre Boulanger. World Premiere.Liar's Dice / India (Director and screenwriter: Geetu Mohandas) — Kamala, a young woman from the village of Chitkul, leaves her native land with her daughter to search for her missing husband. Along the journey, they encounter Nawazudin, a free-spirited army deserter with his own selfish motives who helps them reach their destination. Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Geetanjali Thapa, Manya Gupta. International Premiere.Lilting / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Hong Khaou) — The world of a Chinese mother mourning the untimely death of her son is suddenly disrupted by the presence of a stranger who doesn't speak her language. Lilting is a touching and intimate film about finding the things that bring us together. Cast: Ben Whishaw, Pei-Pei Cheng, Andrew Leung, Peter Bowles, Naomi Christie, Morven Christie. World Premiere.
Lock Charmer (El cerrajero) / Argentina (Director and screenwriter: Natalia Smirnoff) — Upon learning that his girlfriend is pregnant, 33-year-old locksmith Sebastian begins to have strange visions about his clients. With the help of an unlikely assistant, he sets out to use his newfound talent for his own good. Cast: Esteban Lamothe, Erica Rivas, Yosiria Huaripata. World Premiere.To Kill a Man / Chile, France (Director and screenwriter: Alejandro Fernandez Almendras) — When Jorge, a hardworking family man who's barely making ends meet, gets mugged by Kalule, a neighborhood delinquent, Jorge's son decides to confront the attacker, only to get himself shot. Even though Jorge's son nearly dies, Kalule's sentence is minimal, heightening the friction. Cast: Daniel Candia, Daniel Antivilo, Alejandra Yañez, Ariel Mateluna. World Premiere.Viktoria / Bulgaria, Romania (Director and screenwriter: Maya Vitkova) — Although determined not to have a child in Communist Bulgaria, Boryana gives birth to Viktoria, who despite being born with no umbilical cord, is proclaimed to be the baby of the decade. But political collapse and the hardships of the new time bind mother and daughter together. Cast: Irmena Chichikova, Daria Vitkova, Kalina Vitkova, Mariana Krumova, Dimo Dimov, Georgi Spassov. World Premiere.Wetlands / Germany (Director: David Wnendt, Screenwriters: Claus Falkenberg, David Wnendt, based on the novel by Charlotte Roche) — Meet Helen Memel. She likes to experiment with vegetables while masturbating and thinks that bodily hygiene is greatly overrated. She shocks those around her by speaking her mind in a most unladylike manner on topics that many people would not even dare consider. Cast: Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Meret Becker, Axel Milberg, Marlen Kruse, Edgar Selge. North American Premiere.White Shadow / Italy, Germany, Tanzania (Director: Noaz Deshe, Screenwriters: Noaz Deshe, James Masson) — Alias is a young albino boy on the run. His mother has sent him away to find refuge in the city after witnessing his father's murder. Over time, the city becomes no different than the bush: wherever Alias travels, the same rules of survival apply. Cast: Hamisi Bazili, James Gayo, Glory Mbayuwayu, Salum Abdallah. International Premiere.
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
20,000 Days On Earth / United Kingdom (Directors: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard) — Drama and reality combine in a fictitious 24 hours in the life of musician and international culture icon Nick Cave. With startlingly frank insights and an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, this film examines what makes us who we are and celebrates the transformative power of the creative spirit. World Premiere.Concerning Violence / Sweden, U.S.A., Denmark, Finland (Director: Göran Hugo Olsson) — Concerning Violence is based on newly discovered, powerful archival material documenting the most daring moments in the struggle for liberation in the Third World, accompanied by classic text from The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. World Premiere.The Green Prince / Germany, Israel, United Kingdom (Director: Nadav Schirman ) — This real-life thriller tells the story of one of Israel’s prized intelligence sources, recruited to spy on his own people for more than a decade. Focusing on the complex relationship with his handler, The Green Prince is a gripping account of terror, betrayal, and unthinkable choices, along with a friendship that defies all boundaries. World Premiere.
Happiness / France, Finland (Director: Thomas Balmès) — Peyangki is a dreamy and solitary eight-year-old monk living in Laya, a Bhutanese village perched high in the Himalayas. Soon the world will come to him: the village is about to be connected to electricity, and the first television will flicker on before Peyangki's eyes. North American Premiere.Love Child / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director: Valerie Veatch) — In Seoul in the Republic of Korea, a young couple stands accused of neglect when "Internet addiction" in an online fantasy game costs the life of their infant daughter. Love Child documents the 2010 trial and subsequent ruling that set a global precedent in a world where virtual is the new reality. World Premiere.Mr leos caraX / France (Director: Tessa Louise-Salomé) — Mr leos caraX plunges us into the poetic and visionary world of a mysterious, solitary filmmaker who was already a cult figure from his very first film. Punctuated by interviews and previously unseen footage, this documentary is most of all a fine-tuned exploration of the poetic and visionary world of Leos Carax, alias Mr. X. World Premiere.My Prairie Home / Canada (Director: Chelsea McMullan) — A poetic journey through landscapes both real and emotional, Chelsea McMullan’s documentary/musical offers an intimate portrait of transgender singer Rae Spoon, framed by stunning images of the Canadian prairies. McMullan’s imaginative visual interpretations of Spoon’s songs make this an unforgettable look at a unique Canadian artist. International Premiere.The Notorious Mr. Bout / U.S.A., Russia (Directors: Tony Gerber, Maxim Pozdorovkin) — Viktor Bout was a war profiteer, an entrepreneur, an aviation tycoon, an arms dealer, and—strangest of all—a documentary filmmaker. The Notorious Mr. Bout is the ultimate rags-to-riches-to-prison memoir, documented by the last man you'd expect to be holding the camera. World Premiere.Return to Homs / Syria, Germany (Director: Talal Derki) — Basset Sarout, the 19-year-old national football team goalkeeper, becomes a demonstration leader and singer, and then a fighter. Ossama, a 24-year-old renowned citizen cameraman, is critical, a pacifist, and ironic until he is detained by the regime's security forces. North American Premiere.SEPIDEH – Reaching for the Stars / Denmark (Director: Berit Madsen) — Sepideh wants to become an astronaut. As a young Iranian woman, she knows it’s dangerous to challenge traditions and expectations. Still, Sepideh holds on to her dream. She knows a tough battle is ahead, a battle that only seems possible to win once she seeks help from an unexpected someone. North American Premiere.We Come as Friends / France, Austria (Director: Hubert Sauper) — We Come as Friends views colonization as a human phenomenon through both explicit and metaphoric lenses without oversimplified accusations or political theorizing. Alarmingly, It is not a historical film since colonization and the slave trade still exist. World Premiere.Web Junkie / Israel (Directors: Shosh Shlam, Hilla Medalia) — China is the first country to label “Internet addiction” a clinical disorder. Web Junkie investigates a Beijing rehab center where Chinese teenagers are deprogrammed. World Premiere.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Mary J. Blige has accused music industry bosses of making money from misery, insisting they fail to protect stars struggling to deal with fame and fortune. The No More Drama singer has opened up about the loss of pop icons Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, lashing out at those behind the scenes who should have helped guide them through superstardom.
She also claims her own team stood by and watched when she sunk into alcoholism and depression in the 1990s - because she was making them a fortune in album sales.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Blige says, "She (Whitney) was such a gift from God, such a star - her voice was like no other. Same with Michael Jackson: two such amazing gifts. And no one was there for them.
"You have thousands of people around you because you're this big star, but no one around you really cares. I saw a tragic situation coming for me and I looked around and saw that nobody cared, not really.
"They were happy for me to suffer, to drink myself to death, as long as they were getting what they needed. The industry makes its money on people's demise.
"The way I was living, I should have been dead... All the money and fame in the world couldn't change what was going on in my heart. That's how messed up I was, and how depressed I was. I was drinking, I was doing drugs, so I couldn't even feel or see anything, and that made it alright for the moment, until I had to come down and look for some more."
Recently, Charlie Hunnam backed out of the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey and it seems like there are two camps about it: those who think it was a smart move on his part and those that think he shot himself in the foot.
Hunnam is riding a wave of some popularity - he was one of the main stars in this summer's high-tech movie Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy is back on the air for its sixth season. He's in the limelight and is considered one of the up-and-coming young actors. While he claimed it was the workload of his TV schedule that caused it, some speculate that he was worried about the amount of sexuality in the movie - including some possible full frontal. That's kind of odd, because he skirts that line nearly every episode of Anarchy with some very naughty scenes.
The British-born actor, while happy to be famous to some degree, might have been very wary about being put under the magnifying glass like Robert Pattinson was for his work on Twilight. He would possibly be typecast... though how he could go from being solely known as badass biker Jackson Teller to this would be a bit of a leap. Especially since there is a very good chance Pacific Rim 2 will be made. He would still have a lot more options that Pattinson did - and having to appear a lot less sparkly.
The other line of thought is that this movie could damage someone who has already an established amount of credibility and would be better for actors who are hungry and ready for exposure (literally). It's one thing to doff your clothes on the small screen, it's entirely another to be in your birthday clothes on a giant screen in a movie theater. Hunnam might have worried about living that one down.
This could be a truly enduring movie, though, since it is based on such a huge bestseller and Hunnam could have been one of the world's biggest names out there had he gone through with the movie. Then again, just by putting his name out there and being initially cast, that's a lot of recognition right there. His name made the tabloids not once but twice, and he can now ignore the people who signed Internet petitions for him to be jettisoned.
However this all turns out, I have a feeling that Hunnam is going to come out on top. So to speak.
Okay, it's a bold statement, but I stand by it: 1984 was the year that Top 40 radio achieved perfection. Spurred by the twin successes of MTV and Michael Jackson's Thriller, radio playlists were fully shaken out of the doldrums they'd been in since the disco slump of 1979. Colorful and photogenic British new wave and synth pop acts had been making slow inroads into the Billboard Top 40 since Gary Numan's "Cars" back in early 1980. But the UK pop stars of the day were making overt plays for the American airwaves, and established stateside artists ranging from Prince and Bruce Springsteen to Billy Joel and Tina Turner were responding with some of their biggest-selling albums. And in the middle of it all, two newcomers named Cyndi Lauper and Madonna Ciccone were offering very different -- although equally interesting -- new takes on what it meant to be a female pop star. Here, in chronological order by the week they debuted on the chart, are a baker's dozen of 1984's biggest and best. We could have chosen at least as many more.
Tina Turner -- "Let's Stay Together" (chart debut February 18, reached #26)
In one of the first cases of a vintage R&B star being brought back by younger musicians, a thoroughly washed up Tina Turner was recruited by Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh of the electro-pop trio Heaven 17 to record vocals for a song by their side project the British Electric Foundation. That track led to a hit single with a stark but impassioned synth-driven take on the Al Green classic "Let's Stay Together." That single's U.K. chart success led Capitol Records to sign Turner to an album deal, resulting in the massive-selling Private Dancer LP. She had bigger songs later in the year, including the career-defining #1 "What's Love Got To Do With It," but this smaller hit still sounds the best.
Tracey Ullman -- "They Don't Know" (chart debut March 17, reached #8)
British actress and comedian Tracey Ullman later became a beloved TV figure (not least because she gifted us with The Simpsons), but this note-for-note cover of the late Kirsty MacColl's brilliant 1979 girl-group homage was the first we ever heard of either of these talented women. Literally: that explosive "BABY!" that slams home the final verse is MacColl's powerful voice, not Ullman's charming but thin instrument. And yes, that's Paul McCartney at the end: Ullman was co-starring in his big-budget vanity project Give My Regards To Broad Street when the video was filmed.
Billy Joel -- "The Longest Time" (chart debut April 7, reached #14)
After a string of albums that seemed like increasingly naked attempts to be taken seriously as a songwriter, Billy Joel made the best album of his career just by going back to the '50s R&B and pop singles that had been his first musical love. An Innocent Man had bigger hits, like "Tell Her About It" and "Uptown Girl," but perhaps the best was this doo-wop homage that doubled as an atypically sincere love song for his then-new sweetheart Christie Brinkley. Both his later albums and the marriage went south, but whadaya gonna do? To their credit, Joel and his touring band were unafraid to look like complete ninnies in this silly video taking place at a high school reunion.
Madonna -- "Borderline" (chart debut April 14, reached #10)
After the dancefloor-centric singles "Everybody," "Burning Up" and "Holiday," Madonna proved her pop suss with this incredibly hooky single. It's as easy to move to as any of her other early tracks, but the beat was de-emphasized by the bell-like synth riffs and addictive synth-bass pulse. Brazilians call the sense of aggreeable melancholy on display here saudade, and it gives "Borderline" an elegance that her next couple of singles, "Lucky Star" (the video of which was extremely important to my 14-year-old self for obvious reasons) and "Like A Virgin," would lack.
Cyndi Lauper -- "Time After Time" (chart debut April 21, reached #1)
The goofy "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" made it seem like Cyndi Lauper was going to follow Nena's "99 Luftballoons" into the annals of one-hit-wonders, but this heartbreaking ballad made it clear that despite her perhaps-questionable fashion sense, she was a genuine talent. She's So Unusual was jam-packed with hits ranging from "She Bop," the most overt hit about female masturbation until DiVinyls' "I Touch Myself," to a gorgeously minimal cover of Jules Shear's "All Through the Night." But "Time After Time" was the only one awesome enough that no less than Miles Freakin' Davis recorded it.
Night Ranger -- "Sister Christian" (chart debut April 21, reached #5)
All together now: MOTORIN'! The archetypal power ballad, "Sister Christian" was the song that made it okay for girls to like poodle-haired dudes in spandex and mascara. Although this means Night Ranger were therefore partially responsible for some of the worst hits of the pre-"Smells Like Teen Spirit" era, the song's use in the supremely bizarre home invasion scene in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights almost makes up for "When I See You Smile" by Bad English.
Duran Duran -- "The Reflex" (chart debut April 28, reached #1)
The original mix of "The Reflex" that opened Duran Duran's third album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, was kind of a botch, sluggish and overlong. For the single, the Durans enlisted Chic's Nile Rodgers (yes, the same dude who made Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" so awesome) to remix the song from top to bottom, and his tighter, punchier and more inventive take scored the band their first American #1 hit. As primitive as it seems now, this video looked positively state of the art in the spring of 1984. It was mildly controversial in the halls of Levelland Junior High, as I recall: the sequence that starts around 3:20 was rumored to suggest...um, y'know...it's a giant wave of white fluid hitting audience members in the face, you figure it out.
Bruce Springsteen -- "Dancing in the Dark" (chart debut May 26, reached #2)
Born in the USA was lavishly praised from nearly all corners critically, but living in a small west Texas town at the time, I distinctly remember a lot of Springsteen's biggest fans around me finding "Dancing in the Dark" an overt slap in the face. Powered by a nagging synth riff and a booming, Phil Collins-like four-on-the-floor snare, it sounded like a "f---y little disco song" to the "Born To Run"-loving jocks. I found his willingness to listen to recent musical trends rather encouraging, but I was mostly just into the video for the really cute girl he pulls out of the audience at the end, who a decade or so later turned out to be Courteney Cox.
Dan Hartman -- "I Can Dream About You" (chart debut June 2, reached #6)
A primo piece of Hall and Oates-style '80s blue-eyed soul from a writer-producer who'd had a minor disco-era hit called "Instant Replay," "I Can Dream About You" was somewhat notorious at the time for its video. Not the one above, which was rarely if ever shown on MTV, but the actual clip that MTV had in heavy rotation at the time, which is seen in the TV screens in this version. That clip was a scene from the now-forgotten teen-angst flick Streets of Fire, in which a doo-wop quartet (including future indie director Robert Townshend and Forrest Gump costar Mykelti Williamson) lip-syncs Hartman's vocal. To this day, there are probably people who adore this song who have no idea that it was sung by a baby-faced white guy with a really bad perm.
Prince and the Revolution -- "When Doves Cry" (chart debut June 9, reached #1)
Nearly three decades later, it can be hard to remember just how weird this song sounded when it first hit the airwaves with a burst of Hendrixian feedback and some mumbled chanting. As skeletal as it is undeniable (ever notice that it doesn't have a bass line?), "When Doves Cry" was the song that confirmed that Prince was even weirder, and even more talented, than we had thought. As a musician, anyway: Purple Rain is a strong contender for the coveted title of Worst Film With The Greatest Soundtrack.
John Waite -- "Missing You" (chart debut July 21, reached #1)
The thing about John Waite, who had been the leader of a short-lived rock band called The Babys before he went on to a solo career (and who later was the frontman of the aforementioned Bad English), is that there's this weirdly cynical vibe about him. You just can't believe a word the guy sings. Ironically, that's what makes the chorus "I ain't missing you at all" work as well as it does: a more empathetic singer wouldn't put across the paradox nearly so well.
Bananarama -- "Cruel Summer" (chart debut August 11, reached #9)
Back in the pre-internet 1980s, it sometimes took literally years for a British hit single to attract enough of an American audience to hit the U.S. charts. Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" was the "Blurred Lines" of the summer of 1983 in their native land, but unless you were the kind of person who haunted the import section of your local record shop, it was a little over a year later before it reached your ears. Even though it had been the opening track on the trio's self-titled second album, released in the spring of 1984, it hadn't been London Records' first choice for an American single off the album. That honor went to "Robert De Niro's Waiting," a bouncy little tune that underneath its happy-go-lucky surface appears to be about the post-traumatic stress of a sexual assault victim.
George Michael -- "Careless Whisper" (chart debut December 22, reached #1)
When George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley started Wham!, the duo meant for their music to be a cynical commentary on Thatcherite economic policy. Seriously: go listen to their first single, "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)." Or better yet, don't: it's absolute rubbish. When a song as fluffy as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" is a huge improvement over your prior output, it's clear that you started from a bad, bad place. But that first American hit's follow-up "Careless Whisper" (released as a George Michael solo single everywhere but the US, where it was somewhat confusingly credited to "Wham! featuring George Michael") was the first indication of Michael's Elton John-like talent. And you can't fault that sax solo: it just encapsulates the 1980s, doesn't it?
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A documentary as shot by British journalist Martin Bashir who was given unprecedented access to Michael Jackson and his private life for an 8 month period. The topics covered include Jackson's children, his relationships with children through the years including his molestation accusation, public perception of him, and his career in general.