Rabu, 15 Januari 2014

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

One more time with feeling

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Sequels seem to be the trend for 2014. Here are the top 10 picks for the year.

22 Jump Street

Big, dumb cop (Channing Tatum) and squat, dorky cop (Jonah Hill) return to wreck more havoc. 21 Jump Street, a reboot of the TV show that made Johnny Depp's name, saw detectives Jenko and Schmidt pretend to be high school students in order to bust a drug ring. This time – in grand old comedy tradition – they're going to college.

Dumb And Dumber To

Dumb fun 20 years on as Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return to the roles that made them decapitate a canary, upset a sea bass and pee over each other – all in the name of laffs! The Farrelly Brothers are back ferrying this one through a plotline that sees Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) track down one of their children in order to get them to agree to a life-saving kidney transplant. Will be dumb, but surely, no dumber than Dumb And Dumberer.

Toilet humour: After 20 years, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return to the roles that made them decapitate a canary, upset a sea bass and pee over each other all for the sake of comedy.

Toilet humour: After 20 years, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return to the roles that made them decapitate a canary, upset a sea bass and pee over each other all for the sake of comedy, in Dumb And Dumber To.

300: Rise Of An Empire

Props from the off for not doing a Jump Street and calling the thing 301. Swords, sandals, sex and slaughter come together in a gushing, rushing stream of sweat, blood, and errrr ... tears as the mighty Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) hacks his way through armies of musclebound meatheads and the odd demi-God or two. Based on Frank Miller's unpublished graphic novel, Xerses, and directed by Noam Murro, who snatches the baton from 300 director Zack Snyder.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Andy Serkis returns to the role that – in a just world – would have won him an Oscar nomination. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes sees revolutionary ape leader Caesar (Serkis, doing his finest mo-cap) train his band of super-intelligent simians in guerilla warfare. They're preparing for an attack from a human population decimated by the plague-like disease that became virulent at the end of 2011's Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Among the victims of the sickness: James Franco and John Lithgow, who will not return for the sequel.

The Expendables 3

Sly Stone recruits a new generation of action heroes as his fearless band of hard-headed mercenaries is hunted down by their former ally, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). The new blood includes such fresh names as Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Harrison Ford. There will be explosions and gunplay, fist fights and high kicks. Then aspirin, bed rest and many, many ice packs.

The Raid 2: Berandal

The trailer states The Raid 2: Berandal's purpose. Just over a minute of furious fist-fighting cut together with scenes of beautifully realised, horribly stylised gore. Welsh writer-director's Gareth Evans's first Raid film kept the fighting locked in an Indonesian tower block. The Raid 2 offers an open world, with Iko Uwais's good cop Rama is out on the town taking the fight to the gangsters. Let's hope – given the bigger target – it hits just as hard.

Join Hiccup and Toothless as they go on another round of adventure in How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Join Hiccup and Toothless as they go on another round of adventure in How To Train Your Dragon 2.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Dragons and vikings – always bringing each other down in Dreamworks Animation's smart, funny first film – finally learn to live without fighting tooth and scale for dominance. Yet as Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, explore new lands they realise that not all humans are quite as willing to live and let lizard live. Featuring the voices of Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

A second clutch of story strands from Frank Miller's future noir graphic novels. Miller will again collaborate with Robert Rodriguez, who has co-written the screenplay and will direct. Sin City survivors Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba and Mickey Rourke will be joined by out-of-towners Joseph Gordon Levitt, Eva Green and Josh Brolin for stories of knocked-down heroes, broken dames and lonely, grisly deaths.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One

Dooo-Deeee-Doooo-Doooooo. The Mockingjay, Part One flits into view as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her band of Panam proto-revolutionaries take on the Capitol. The games are off. The fight is real. There's no glitz nor glamour left to win. Just a grubby scrum for ascension. Makes you wonder where Stanley Tucci's radioactive game show host is going to fit in. Mockingjay, Part 2 follows in 2015.

The Hobbit: There And Back Again

Are we there yet? Peter Jackson's gargantuan adaptation of JRR Tolkien's skinny kiddies' book reaches its third and final chapter. Bilbo and his boys have found the evil dragon Smaug, who's lolloped avariciously over their treasure. Can they best the giant and reclaim their prize? Will Bilbo finally find the courage to do more than whimper and hide? And will we stay awake until the end this time? The answers lie at the end of many more hours in Middle Earth. – Guardian News & Media

Blockbuster man

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Jeremy Renner talks film, fatherhood and franchises.

While the past year has introduced Modesto native Jeremy Renner to fatherhood, don't expect the actor to begin starring in children's movies anytime soon.

The two-time Academy Award nominee returns to the big screen in another decidedly adult feature, the acclaimed crime caper American Hustle. Set in a swirling world of corruption and cons, the film is loosely based on real-life FBI operations of the late 1970s and early 1980s run in New Jersey.

The fictional account follows a con man, his mistress and wife (Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, respectively) who work with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to target a powerful mayor (Renner).

"I don't think my daughter will see any movies I do for a long, long time," Renner said in a phone interview from New York. "(Parenthood) is not going to change what I do. It changes how much I do. I am certainly very cognitive now of where things shoot; I don't want to be away from my family like I was for the past several years on the franchise run."

Renner, 42, and his ex-girlfriend welcomed a baby girl, Ava Berlin Renner, in March. Still, the actor said kiddie films don't fit his personality. "I don't have a very Disney spirit, anyway," he joked.

Both Renner and Scarlett Johansson will return as Hawkeye and Black Widow, respectively, in the second instalment of The Avengers.

Renner and Scarlett Johansson will reprise their roles in The Avengers.

Indeed, his track record is spiked with drama, action and darker roles, from his breakout performance in the 2002 indie Dahmer to his Oscar-nominated turn as a bomb squad sergeant in 2008's The Hurt Locker and his place in the 2012 mega-blockbuster The Avengers.

Now, as slick political operative Carmine Polito, Renner gets caught between the cons and the feds in American Hustle. Renner said it was the film's Oscar-nominated director, David O. Russell, who attracted him to the role. Russell has helmed such films as Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook.

"I am a big fan of his, the quirkiness of his movies, and I love his perception of human behaviour and character," Renner said. "There was no character when I signed up. But the way he spoke of the character got me to do it."

There also was the stellar cast Russell assembled. Each of the leading stars has at least one Academy Award nomination, Renner included.

"It's always a lovely thing to do and a learning opportunity to work with people like that," Renner said. "It felt pretty easy working together. It was not an easy movie to shoot. It was a 180-page script. It's not a movie studios make these days – a dense script and a dense story. But there's a lot going on, which makes it very exciting for audiences to watch.

Heroic return: Jeremy Renner will be back as Hawkeye in the second instalment of The Avengers which is slated to begin shooting in early 2014.

Heroic return: Jeremy Renner, who stars in The Avengers, says that kiddie films do not fit his personality.

"For us to make sense of it requires a lot of work throughout the day. We were improvising and making stuff up all the time. But working with such talented people is easy."

The cast includes Lawrence, 23, who won an Oscar for her last collaboration with Russell, Silver Linings Playbook, and has become a media darling of late thanks to her starring role in The Hunger Games franchise and her down-to-earth public persona.

"She is very, very grounded especially from such a young woman," Renner said. "She's got really great parents, a lot of her is because of them. She's a very grounded girl, but also from youth, trust and natural gift, she's also pretty fearless. She's pretty much like you'd think she'd be – a really sweet, sweet gal, a wonderful person. When you work with her, it's just, 'Let's just do this.'"

Next up for Renner will be a return to some big-name roles. He'll be back as Hawkeye in the second instalment of The Avengers, slated to begin shooting in early 2014, and then he has both another Bourne and Mission: Impossible movie in the works after that. It will be the first repeat performances for Renner. Coming back to those blockbuster roles poses its own challenges.

"It's exciting and exhilarating and daunting," he said. "I'm very excited for the idea of these things actually happening. I know they are happening at some point. But I don't think I'll really believe it until I'm actually on the set doing it. You know, I've been in this business for so long, there are lots of ways things can go. Those are all months and months, ahead for me. You probably know more than I do."

While the logistics and details of billion-dollar franchises like The Avengers and Bourne may be out of Renner's hands, he is taking control of his own destiny in other ways. His recently formed production company, The Combine, will release its first film the fourth quarter of 2014.

(From left) Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Rohm, Christian Bale and Renner in American Hustle.

(From left) Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Rohm, Christian Bale and Renner in American Hustle.

Renner also stars in the drama Kill The Messenger, which is the true story of a San Jose Mercury News reporter who became the target of a smear campaign after exposing a CIA scandal.

"I saw (the movie) this morning in editing and we're working away on getting that finished up," he said. "That's a pet project for us – me and the production company I started. It's our first movie out of the gate. I'm very proud of what we've done so far."

Renner said his work in franchise films affords him the luxury to focus on smaller projects, like Kill The Messenger. The movie also stars Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia and Rosemarie DeWitt.

"It's the brand, the kind of movies I really want to be doing consistently outside of the franchise work," Renner said. "It's a true story. There is an exciting world here, a world that is very interesting and still worthy of being on a big screen. TV is so good now, we thought, why not do a TV show, but for film? That's kind of where we're going with the company."

Yet a return to regular TV probably isn't in the cards for Renner. While he has dabbled with the medium, starring in 2009 in the short-lived cop show The Unusuals and appearing on everything from Angel to CSI and House, he said committing himself to small-screen stardom is too difficult on his schedule. – The Modesto Bee/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Romancing a tech world

Posted: 15 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

In director Spike Jonze's new movie, Her, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix get reaquainted.

You don't see many meaningful, honest and non-sexual friendships between men and women depicted on screen.Usually, they'll hook up, break up or some combination thereof.

But not in Spike Jonze's Golden Globe-winning Her (the film won Best Screenplay at the recent Golden Globe Awards), which stars Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix as two college buds who both become involved in the most impactful relationships of their lives: with computer operating systems.

And while they act as each other's support, nothing romantic ever passes between the two humans.

"That would have been weird. Say that to Joaquin and watch his face crumble," jokes Adams.

"Spike really does have really beautiful friendships with women, very much like the friendship with Theodore and Amy. I don't know the last time I've seen that. These are college buddies. There's a great love for each other."

The actors, both 39, co-starred in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2012 drama The Master, but didn't share many scenes together.

Screenwriter Spike Jonze, who wrote Her, won the best screenplay award at the 71st Golden Globe Awards earlier this week. AFP

Screenwriter Spike Jonze, who wrote Her, won the best screenplay award at the 71st Golden Globe Awards earlier this week. — AFP

"We did not really have a relationship on The Master. When we met on (Her), I met Joaquin. I see Joaquin. I know Joaquin. And he's beautiful. We got to sit in a room and just talk," says Adams.

And they wound up getting to know each other, says Jonze.

"As soon as they met (on Her), they had this history and turned it into this friendship," says Jonze.

"Amy in rehearsal came in like a force. Me and Joaquin are talking and she's like, 'What are we doing?'"

Indeed, in person, the two actors are contrasts. She's crisp and sparkly, unfailingly polite and eloquent. He's more introverted but also sweet, carrying this reporter's heavy bag without asking and cracking unexpected jokes at his own expense.

Phoenix is known to be press-averse, but he's actually not. His girlfriend, DJ Allie Teilz, has accompanied him while he does press, and he hugs her in between interviews.

"We were just doing these TV interviews. I did them with Amy and I haven't done those in probably six years. It wasn't that bad," he says.

Phoenix says he wishes he could promote a film after it opens, so audiences have no pre-conceived ideas about anything related to the project.

But, he acknowledges, "There's a part of me that's an idealist."

It's also why he immersed himself so fully in a movie that on paper seems a stretch.

Phoenix has few emotional scenes with an actual person.

And yet, somehow, he makes his intimate conversations with a voice (courtesy of Scarlett Johansson) seem real.

"At some point, it just becomes the norm. I don't know that there was this one moment. It was a slow process. We never judged the character. Spike and I never sat back and said he was a weirdo. We played it so straight. Humans are amazing, how we adapt to situations," says Phoenix.

How does Phoenix pick his projects, which have no through-line in terms of theme or genre?

"I don't know. I have a feeling and I can't articulate what that is. I just look for the feeling I want in something, that I have to do this. Is this an experience I want to have?" he says.

The three-time Oscar nominee made the biggest headlines of his career for his disastrous 2009 interview with David Letterman, and his reputed spurning of acting in favour of a rap career.

His brother-in-law Casey Affleck directed what was revealed to be a faux-documentary combined with performance art, I'm Still Here, which was released in 2010 and shredded by critics.

Was Phoenix surprised by the reaction to it?

"It was going to have this life no matter what we said or did. But there's something terrifying about it because you want to work again, and you don't want your personality and people's perceived ideas to affect your future work. We expected it somewhat," he says, with a shrug.

Adams, meanwhile, calls herself a workhorse and a perfectionist.

She has carved out a quiet, under-the-radar life for herself in Los Angeles, with her fiance Darren Le Gallo and daughter Aviana, three.

"I tell people that I think I have an invisibility cloak," she jokes.

At home, she is focused on her daughter, and tries to keep her phone away as much as possible when she's being a parent.

"I try to set it down. When I'm done with work, I'm her mum. I don't want there to be a crossover. It's going to happen, but I want to keep that separate as much as possible," she says.

There's something so sincere and frank about Adams, who next plays Lois Lane again in Batman vs. Superman, which starts shooting in 2014. She says she's thankful that the big-ticket production will distract her from any awards fixation.

Given the success she's had in 2013 (American Hustle is also an awards contender), how does she remain regular and accessible?

"Do I seem normal? I started normal, or so I think – I've waited on tables and I've temped and I've worked like a normal 20-year-old. I had two jobs in high school. It forms a different work ethic. We're all the same. I love what I do and I find it special to me, but I don't think I have an elevated status. Why does that make me better than you?" she says.

"When people are unpleasant, I tend to kill them with kindness. I take it on as a personal challenge. I will melt you! It beats being jaded." – USA Today/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

> Her opens in cinemas nationwide today.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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