Isnin, 23 September 2013

The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Early Oscar buzz for Oprah Winfrey


The talk show host earns critical praise in Lee Daniels' The Butler.

OPRAH. Oscar. Oscar. Oprah.

Yes, it might be a bit early to riff on David Letterman's ill-fated, Uma-Oprah 1995 Academy Awards monologue bit.

Then again, with Oprah Winfrey's movie Lee Daniels' The Butler sitting atop the box office with a 10-day take of US$52mil (RM166.4mil), and Winfrey herself earning solid critical praise for her first acting turn since 1998's Beloved, the conversation has already started, like it or not.

And, given the brand name in question, that debate will be spirited, intense and, to some extent, managed by Winfrey herself, as she has the built-in advantage of owning her own television channel and magazine.

"She's an overpowering presence in our culture. You can't pretend otherwise," film critic Leonard Maltin says. "But that's what makes her work in The Butler impressive. She succeeds in making you forget that she's Oprah Winfrey so you can accept and embrace the character she's playing."

That character, Gloria Gaines, is the conflicted, proud wife of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who serves seven presidents. Gloria grows discontented by the long hours required by her husband's job. "You and the White House can kiss my ...," she tells Cecil at one point. "I don't care what goes on in that White House. I care what goes on in this house."

Though Gloria isn't the title character, director Daniels affords her plenty of screen time – even when she isn't speaking. Often in group scenes where she has little to say, Daniels keeps the shot tight on Winfrey, affording her the opportunity to reveal the inner life of her complicated character.

"Those eyes are mesmerising," Daniels says, while admitting, at the same time, that not everyone seeing the rough cut of the movie shared his enthusiasm for those long close-ups of Winfrey.

"You know what it is? She's got Bette Davis eyes. They were hypnotic, and I was seduced."

Will Oscar voters be similarly beguiled? Academy members can be star-struck too, particularly when the talent in question comes from outside the usual circle of filmmaking friends and acquaintances.

Musicians have been the most-rewarded interlopers over the years, with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Phil Collins and Melissa Etheridge winning Oscars for original song over the last two decades.

And though he didn't technically win an Academy Award, Al Gore received a thunderous ovation when he took the stage after the documentary about his campaign to educate the public on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, won the Oscar.

Oprah Winfrey stars opposite Forest Whitaker (right) in The Butler.

Winfrey stars opposite Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels' The Butler.

On the acting side, Jennifer Hudson jumped from American Idol to Oscar-winner for her supporting turn in the 2006 movie musical Dreamgirls. Omnipresent music star Justin Timberlake received a for-your-consideration campaign for playing Napster founder Sean Parker in David Fincher's 2010 drama The Social Network, though he fell short of receiving a nomination.

Winfrey has been to the dance before, earning a supporting actress nomination for her high-spirited turn in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple in 1986. She further established her acting credentials, playing a former slave in Jonathan Demme's 1998 film adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. The movie – and Winfrey – received generally positive reviews but was a commercial disaster, earning just US$22.8mil (RM??) at the box office.

Since then, Winfrey's influence has continued to grow with multiple platforms – the Oprah Winfrey Network; O, The Oprah Magazine; Oprah Radio on XM; the website – which she has used to promote The Butler and, in theory, could continue to use to campaign for the movie and herself through the awards season.

As with any powerful figure whose name has become part of the pop culture vernacular (Oprahfication, anyone?), Winfrey has her detractors too.

All things equal in a contest like the Oscars where voters' personal tastes and biases enter the equation, envy sometimes plays a part. Several academy members last year privately said they wouldn't vote for Spielberg or his movie Lincoln because, in the words of one balloter, "he already has enough recognition for three lifetimes."

Daniels says he doesn't really understand that kind of thinking, but does remember initial skepticism among some members of the movie's cast and crew about Winfrey's acting ability.

"I think some of the actors came to the set with eyebrows raised," he says. "I didn't care. I knew where we were going and I knew she could deliver. And they found out too once they got in the room with her."

Should Winfrey end up nominated, the second happiest group would probably be ABC network executives, knowing Winfrey generally draws a crowd and would likely boost the show's ratings.

Some 72% of The Butler's opening weekend ticket-buyers said Winfrey increased the likelihood that they'd see the movie.

"She's the most powerful woman on the planet," Daniels says. "I don't want people thinking I'm an Oprah psycho-fan, even though I happen to be one. Sometimes, I'm still amazed she's in the movie." – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Lee Daniels' The Butler opens in cinemas nationwide on Sept 26. Pick up a copy of Star2 on Sunday for our cover story on Oprah Winfrey.

Feel the temperature rising in 'Inferno'


HONG Kong actors Sean Lau Ching Wan and Louis Koo will be turning up the heat when they come to town to promote their latest fire-fighting action movie Inferno.

The duo will be in Malaysia on Sunday, along with Malaysian-born Lee Sinje (The Eye) and Crystal Lee (Unbeatable), as well as director Oxide Pang.

Fans will get a chance to meet the stars and director in person at 7.30pm at the Upper Atrium, Level UG of Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya.

Fans will also get the chance to walk away with movie merchandise and prizes.

The stars and director will also be at GSC Paradigm Mall later for the movie's gala premiere.

In conjunction with the event, GSC Movies is collaborating with Fire Fighter and Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat Malaysia Negeri Selangor to organise a three-day Inferno movie and fire safety exhibition at the same venue from Sept 27 to 29.

Movie props and gallery, as well as fire rescue equipments will be on display, and shoppers can also participate in games, booth activities and fire safety demonstrations at the event.

Inferno is scheduled for nationwide release on Oct 3. For more information, visit and

Liam Hemsworth already has a new girl


The actor was photographed kissing a Mexican actress and model in Los Angeles.

LIAM Hemsworth has moved on ... just one day after his "shocking split" from singer-actress and twerk princess Miley Cyrus.

The Australian actor was photographed kissing Mexican actress/singer Eiza Gonzalez in a parking lot at her apartment complex in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Apparently, he dropped off some luggage for her...

The picture shows the two of them – him, dressed in workout clothes and a baseball cap; her, dressed in a sports bra and short – locking lips, with his arms around her waist. (You can check out the picture in the Us Weekly website.)

According to reports, Hemsworth and Gonzalez, both 23 years old, had met just three days earlier in Las Vegas. The Paranoia actor had gone to the Sin City without his then-fiancee, Cyrus, to watch a fight between boxing stars Floyd Mayweather Jr and Canelo Alvarez.

Apparently, Hemsworth's solo trip to Las Vegas was the reason why Cyrus, 20, "unfollowed" him on Twitter – he later unfollowed her, too.

Rumours are also rife that Cyrus has been sending Hemsworth text messages pleading for him to get back together with her.

Eiza Gonzalez

Actress/singer Eiza Gonzalez is a big star in Mexico.


Who's that girl?
Eiza Gonzalez Reyna is the daughter of former model Glenda Reyna. She started acting at a young age, landing the lead role in the Mexican telenovela Lola ... Erase Una Vez (Lola ... Once Upon A Time) when she as only 16.

Although she has mostly been involved in telenovelas in her home country, Gonzalez has also done some voice-over work for the Spanish version of movies like The Croods and Horton Hears A Who. Last year, she landed a starring role in a new telenovela called Amor En Custodia, which has become quite popular in Mexico and the United States.

Apart from that, Gonzalez is also an established singer, having released two Spanish albums.

Related story: 

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth call it quits


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