Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ne-Yo Expecting First Child With Girlfriend

Ne-Yo Expecting First Child With Girlfriend


Ne-Yo has confirmed to Ebony Magazine that he and his girlfriend, Monyetta Shaw, are expecting a child together. It will be the first child for the rapper-songwriter. “It’s a New Year’s baby,” he added, as the child is due in January.

During the interview, Ne-Yo also said that he’s “very, very excited” to be expecting his first child. However, the two don’t know the child’s gender yet, as the baby was curled up in the womb during the first ultrasound.

While Ne-Yo is also preparing to release his latest album, ‘Libra Scale,’ he also told the magazine “I’m ust in a really good place right now.” However, the baby news comes after one of his former girlfriends became pregnant in 2005 and named the baby Chimere, after Ne-Yo’s middle name. The rapper believed he was the father at first, but testing later determine he wasn’t.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Farrah Fawcett Cancer-Research Foundation Open

Farrah Fawcett Cancer-Research Foundation Open


In honor of the first anniversary of Farrah Fawcett’s death, a cancer-research foundation was dedicated in her name, Popeater.com is reporting. Her partner, Ryan O’Neal, his daughter Tatum and his son with Fawcett, Redmond, were part of a small gathering on June 25 at the offices of the Farrah Fawcett Foundation.

Alana Stewart said her friend started the foundation, which funds alternative cancer research and treatment methods, during her own struggle with cancer. The foundation is also designed to help improve the quality of life of those who are stricken with cancer.

“If I can carry on (Farrah’s) mission for the foundation, it’s an honor for me,” Stewart also said. She added that Fawcett felt she could help a lot of people, and started the foundation to give those stricken with the disease inspiration.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Mena Suvari Marries For Second Time in Italy

Mena Suvari Marries For Second Time in Italy

Mena Suvari married concert producer Simone Sestito on June 26 in Vatican City, PEOPLE is reporting. The ‘American Pie’ actress and her fiancee had a private church ceremony, with a private reception following outside of the city.

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Will.i.am's Possessions Stolen From Bentley

Will.i.am's Possessions Stolen From Bentley

Burglars stole $10.000 worth of Will.i.am’s possessions in L.A. on June 21, TMZ is reporting. The burglars broke into the Black Eyed Peas’ singer’s unattended Bentley in the Hollywood Hills, an area filled with celebrity homes and their cars. They stole everything that was in the Bentley, including jewelry.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Micmacs Movie Review


Micmacs Movie Review

To simply call the new Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie ‘Micmacs’ non-stop madness, the English translation of its French title ‘Micmacs à tire-larigot,’ is an understatement. The action-slapstick comedy stars such supporting actors as Andre Dussollier, Nicolas Marie and Julie Ferrier, who Jeunet compared to the Seven Dwarfs. Lead actor Dany Boon also spontaneously added traces of Charlie Chaplin to his character Bazil in this movie about getting vengeance and revenge against those who have morally-corrupt actions.

The movie starts off during Bazil’s childhood, when he was orphaned after his father was killed by a mine that exploded in the Moroccan dessert. The movie then cuts to Bazil as an adult, working in a video store, when he gets hit by a stray bullet during a freak accident.

After undergoing surgery (during which the doctors leave the bullet in his head) and being released from the hospital, Bazil loses both his home and his job. After living on the streets for a couple of months, he is taken in and ‘adopted’ by a group of scavengers who live in a salvage yard. Along with his diverse group of new friends, who include Calculator, Slammer and Elastic Girl, Bazil is determined to take revenge on the weapons companies that caused his misfortunes.

Before watching ‘Micmacs,’ it’s hard to image a comedy being focused on a main character who is determined to take revenge on weapons manufactures. It’s easy to believe that Bazil would go about executing his self-imposed mission in a more serious manner. Since the movie was also made and set in France, it was also questionable if the French’s need for revenge would translate well to Americans.

But once the movie starts to play, all questions are swept aside. With their diverse and descriptive nicknames, just like the Seven Dwarfs, as Juenet calls them, each of Bazil’s new friends perfectly fit into his scheme of revenge, and they all bring a natural wit to their parts. Buster, for example, is proud of the fact that he’s a human cannonball who’s made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, and Elastic Girl, who can stretch and bend like rubber, and fits into the most unexpected places. The group also has good chemistry as they agree to take in and help Bazil, their leader, or their ‘Snow White.’

Even though he played the main character, Boon is still the standout star. He made Bazil humbling when he was bombarded with support from the scavengers to bring down the weapons companies. He also showed that he connected to the character, even though Juenet wrote Bazil to slip into fantasy and imaginary worlds. Boon has said he enjoyed bringing fantasy into adulthood, and it shows.

But while the point of the movie was for this down-on-his luck character seek revenge on the weapons manufactures, Nicolas Thibault de Fenouillet (played by Dussollier) and Francis Marconi (played by Marie), it was questionable there was more of a backstory to them than Bazil’s group of friends. While it’s easier to build backstories for two characters as opposed to seven, it was confusing on why the scavengers would be so willing to help someone they just met. Jeunet said he wanted the group to join forces against the ‘businessmen of death,’ but it would have been easier to understand their motivations if more of their lives were revealed.

The movie, which runs for 104 minutes, could have been cut down 15 minutes to an hour and a half, as the theme that the weapons dealers should be stopped was getting a bit redundant. The point Juenent was trying to make is true-he said his inspiration for the movie came when he was editing ‘The City of Lost Children’ next to the Dassault factories. He would often go to a restaurant where the Dassault engineers would go, and was bothered that they seemed to be living care-free lives, even though they were creating weapons that kill people. But Juenet could have cut down on some of the tricks the scavengers took part in, as towards the end, they were no longer fresh and exciting.

But Juenet did succeed in showing that Paris shouldn’t just be portrayed as the City of Love in movies, Nicolas and Francis were both portrayed as the stereotypical morally corrupt ‘bad guys.’ Their actions of greed and selfishness, as well as their ultimate outcome, were predictable, much like those portrayed in American movies.

Juenet also deserves credit for limiting the number of visual effects he used in ‘Micmacs,’ as opposed to his film ‘A Very Long Engagement,’ in an effort to make it more realistic. He said he also tried to include some different shots of Paris than the traditional, more well-known places. Instead of showing the Eiffel Tower, Juenet included the architecture from the 1930s, the city’s metro and the Galeries Lafayeete.

While ‘Micmacs’ premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2009, debuted in France the next month and was also shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2010, so far it has only made about $13 million against a $34 million budget. While several aspects of the movie could have been improved, anyone who enjoys physical comedy with morals will enjoy ‘Micmacs.’

Written by: Karen Benardello

'Letters to Juliet' movie review

Don't We All Know What These Letters Would Say?

'Letters to Juliet' Fun, But Fairly Predictable

Written by: Karen Benardello

It started with a spontaneous kiss, but ended with a predictable one. The new romantic drama, ‘Letters to Juliet,’ starring Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave and relative newcomer Chris Egan, hopes to prove that amidst a string of highly-budgeted and anticipated summer blockbusters, love can still cross international borders and conquer all.

The movie follows Sophie Hall (played by Seyfried), who works as a fact checker at The New Yorker magazine. Sophie embarks on a “pre-honeymoon” with her fiancée, Viktor (played by Gael Garcia Bernal), to Verona, Italy, as he’s busy opening an Italian restaurant and won’t have time to take a vacation after the wedding. While on their trip, Sophie finds the house that was the inspiration for Juliet’s home in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and sees people writing letters to her, asking for love advice.

Sophie sees a woman take the letters, and brings them back to a group of women, who call themselves ‘Juliet’s secretaries.’ Their job is to respond to the letters left at Juliet’s house, and since Viktor has left her alone to do his own work, Sophie offers to help the secretaries. She finds a 50-year-old letter from Claire (played by Redgrave), an English woman who asked for advice when she was visiting Verona as a teenager.

Not knowing if Claire would even receive her response, Sophie decides to write back anyway. A few days later, Claire’s grandson Charlie (played by Egan) shows up at the secretaries’ office, asking who wrote the letter. He gets mad at Sophie when she reveals it was her, as Claire is now adamant that she search for her long-lost love. Sophie decides to tag along with Claire and Charlie on their journey, as she not only wants to help, but also wants to chronicle Claire’s search for her love in a piece for The New Yorker.

The main focus that distributor Summit Entertainment rightfully focused on during the promotion of ‘Letters to Juliet’ was the recent rise in popularity of Seyfried. Since she has starred in comedies, dramas and musicals, the studio seemed eager to prove she can be also be a romantic leading actress, much like Kristin Stewart in its most successful series, ‘The Twilight Saga.’ But since she’s more popular with the younger generations, having starred in ‘Dear John,’ ‘Jennifer’s Body’ and ‘Mean Girls,’ it seemed likely Redgrave was picked to draw in the older crowd.

While the screenplay for ‘Letters to Juliet,’ which was written by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan, aimed to have Seyfried and Egan complement each other in both the personality and romantic senses, their relationship on-screen seemed to fall short. While Seyfried was believable as the ambitious fact-checker for The New Yorker, one of the most desirable jobs in journalism, she seemed to have more of a friendship than a romantic relationship with Egan.

Seyfried also made it believable that Sophie wanted to help Claire find her one true love, but her relationship with Redgrave seemed forced; for example, in the scene where Claire is brushing Sophie’s hair, a common activity for a mother figure to do for a daughter figure, they both appeared to be somewhat uncomfortable onscreen.

The movie almost made back its entire $30 million budget within its first week and a half of release, and will surely be somewhat of a minor box office success at the end of its theatrical run. While ‘Letters to Juliet’ is Egan’s first romantic movie in America, after moving to L.A. from Australia in 2003, being cast alongside Seyfried will surely help his career, and will cement both of their places as leads in the future.

Smash His Camera HBO Documentary Review


Smash His Camera HBO Documentary Review

In an ironic twist of fate, infamous and controversial celebrity photographer Ron Galella is the subject of HBO’s Documentary Films’ ‘Smash His Camera,’ the 2010 Sundance Film Festival winner for best director. Academy Award-winning documentarian Leon Gast aimed to chronicle the life of the self-described paparazzo ‘superstar.’ In the process, the director sparked a never-ending but relevant debate about privacy versus free speech and whether or not Galella should be glorified for his ‘hit-and-run’ celebrity photography.

‘Smash His Camera’ brilliantly records Galella’s rise as a paparazzo who started as a U.S. Air Force photographer before he started using imaginative and deceptive ways to snap pictures of the rich and famous. Gast also interestingly weaves Galella’s back-story with his secrets on how to successfully photograph celebrities at events. His critics call these tricks, which include dressing for the occasion and forging credentials, ‘tips on being sociopathic.’

The documentary also heavily focuses on Galella’s love and passion for shooting former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis between 1967 and 1982. The name of the film came from Onassis’ order to her Secret Service men to ‘Smash his camera’ while he was shooting her in a park in New York City.

Gast made a brave, but smart, choice when he decided to document the life of such a despised photographer. While he may receive backlash for trying to glorify the life of someone whom many celebrities look down upon, Gast wisely choose to show fellow photographers, lawyers and magazine editors who both support and shun the persistent paparazzo. Photographer Neil Leifer, for example, called Galella a stalker, while Peter Howe, the author of ‘Paparazzi’ and the former photography editor of Life Magazine, called him “Passionate, which separates him from others.”

It was also sensible choice to include Galella’s pictures throughout the documentary, to show his passion. After seeing his pictures, which are shown in New York galleries, are housed in a permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art and have been published in two coffee table books, it’s easy to see that while he has gotten some great shots, a lot of times he captured images by pure luck. Galella said he often times just shoots and snaps the pictures without even looking through the camera, so he doesn’t always get the best shots; in that respect, his endless determination and hard work are as much to credit for his icon status.

Gast also made a smart decision to switch back and forth between Galella’s personal and professional lives. Viewers are able to see that his mother’s love for movies and entertainment pushed him into taking pictures of celebrities and his never-ending desire to capture those who put themselves into the spotlight.

With the exception of Galella’s favorite subject Onassis, Gast didn’t focus on one aspect of the photographer’s life for too long, which helped viewers get to know him better and see what it’s like to be a paparazzo. While shooting the former first lady is his claim to fame, the rise of Studio 54 and the subsequent explosion of popularity in celebrity journalism helped spark interest in his work.

Now in his late 70s, Galella seems to be slowing down a bit, as he wants to focus more on selling his books and older prints. He said he feels that all the iconic stars are gone, including Onassis and Marlon Brando. Whether or not he decides to continue taking pictures, the tactics of the ‘price tag of the First Amendment,’ as he’s been called, will continue to spark debate. Anyone interested in seeing what it takes to be a paparazzo will definitely be intrigued by ‘Smash His Camera.’

Written by: Karen Benardello