Friday Jul 25, 2014

Special ops begin for 'Halo: Nightfall'

At Comic-Con in San Diego, Microsoft unveiled the first trailer for its Ridley Scott-produced series adapted from the famous video game franchise.The five-part miniseries will bridge the gap between the fourth and fifth games in the franchise launched in 2001. This means the drama will take...
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TV

Special ops begin for 'Halo: Nightfall'
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Special ops begin for 'Halo: Nightfall'

At Comic-Con in San Diego, Microsoft unveiled the first trailer for its Ridley Scott-produced series adapted from the famous video game franchise.The five-part miniseries will bridge the gap between the fourth and fifth games in the franchise launched in 2001. This means the drama will take place after the events depicted in "Halo 4" and before those of "Halo 5: Guardians," the game due for release on the Xbox One before the end of the year. Jameson Locke, an agent at the ultra-secret and ultra-powerful Office of Naval Intelligence, is the new character at the core of the action. Played by Mike Colter ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Locke leads a team facing a biological attack and charged with destroying a rogue element that has been discovered. "Halo: Nightfall" will air in November on Showtime and will be available simultaneously through the Xbox Live platform. The miniseries will be included with "Halo: The Master Chief Collection." Watch the trailer: http://youtu.be/Iw2oqtZoc8s Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Fanboys and girls grapple with change as Comic Con under way
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Fanboys and girls grapple with change as Comic Con under way

Captain America is now black, Thor becomes a woman, and comic character Archie Andrews is shot and killed while saving his gay friend.The annual pop-culture carnival that is the Comic-Con Festival got under way in San Diego on Thursday with fans welcoming the world of change facing so many beloved characters. An estimated 150,000 devotees of comics, video games, fantasy and action movies are expected to throng the four-day extravaganza in southern California, many opting to don costumes of their favorite characters. The streets surrounding the festival resemble a surreal bazaar: a miniature Darth Vader asleep on the shoulders of his father, dressed as Bart Simpson, or Princess Elsa from "Frozen" posing with "Avengers" heroine Black Widow. Blonde-haired blue-eyed Eric Jensen came dressed as Captain America, accompanied by his seven-year-old son, a hammer-wielding mini Thor. "I relate a lot with Captain America," Jensen explained. "He was in the Navy and so was I, he is patriotic, me too. He keeps strong values in the face of adversity," the insurance agent added. But Jensen was surprised to learn of the seismic shift in direction that Captain America's creators at Marvel announced last week, namely that the iconic superhero would become black. In another tilt away from white, male archetypes, Thor is being reimagined as a female Norse goddess. "I wonder what context this is, why are they doing that," Jensen said. Marvel has explained that the change will come when Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, becomes weakened and passes his shield and duties to trusty black sidekick Sam Wilson, previously known as "The Falcon." "It's fantastic, I like that," Jensen told AFP. A short distance away, 21-year-old graphic designer Daniela Applegate caused a sensation with her pyramid-shaped warrior costume inspired by a video game. - 'Sexist archetypes' - She also welcomed the changes facing so many iconic characters from the world of pop culture. "It is about time this world gets rid of its sexist archetypes," she said. While Thor's metamorphosis into a Norse goddess may have raised eyebrows, strong female characters are legion at Comic-Con such as Lux, from the game "League of Legends." Shannon Sorensen, a student dressed as purple-haired cartoon character Pyrrha Nikos, echoed Applegate's views. "It is time the superheroes stop reflecting archetypes and an ethnicity of the past," she said. Sorensen was sceptical, however, about the "honesty" of Marvel, owned by Disney. "Disney sells princesses to little girls and they bought Marvel and its characters for boys," she said, even allowing for the fact that the heroine of Disney's "Frozen" has captivated both boys and girls on its way to becoming the most successful animated movie of all time. Brian Jordan, who organises an alternative comic and film festival specialising in homosexual and transgender characters, is also tired of stories about "a boy that falls in love with a girl who gets in trouble and he rescues her." But the 47-year-old welcomed Marvel's decision to turn Thor into a woman. He was also impressed by the decision of the creators of Archie Andrews to kill off the character, heroically taking a bullet to save the life of his gay friend. "It's a start," said Jordan, citing other gay characters in shows such as "The Venture Bros" and "Superjail!" Sorensen cited a recent gay marriage in "Green Lantern" and a kiss between Superman and Batman. Dina Mills, dressed as a character from "Mysterious Ways," came to Comic-Con with her son. She reveled in the escapism of the event. "I'm a stay at home mom. It gives me an escape and let me become somebody else," she said. But she was less certain about the gender shift for "Thor." "I'm a big fan of Thor as it is but you know how it goes, people complain and then they get used to it," she said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

MTV's 'Teen Wolf' cast delights fans at Comic-Con
Friday Jul 25, 2014
MTV's 'Teen Wolf' cast delights fans at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Fans squealed and screamed, and some shed tears at Thursday's Comic-Con panel for MTV's hit series "Teen Wolf." Before cast members like Tyler Posey, Dylan O'Brien, Tyler Hoechlin and Holland Roden took questions from fans, executive producer Jeff Davis announced the show had been picked up for a 20-episode, fifth season. He also confirmed actor Dylan Sprayberry has been upped to a series regular. "Teen Wolf" is a fresh take on the 1985 Michael J. Fox film of the same name. In the first episode, Posey's character is bitten by a werewolf, which turns him into one as well. He soon learns his town is filled with various packs of werewolves. Davis says season five looks to filmmaker Steven Spielberg by focusing on "human problems instead of creating another mythology or creature." One young girl who tried to ask a question of O'Brien broke into tears and dropped to the floor before he could answer. "You can have my nametag if you want," O'Brien offered. She then fell to the floor again. Nielsen's Twitter tracking division consistently ranks "Teen Wolf" among the top-tweeted shows when new episodes are airing Mondays at 10 p.m. EDT. Comic-Con is a four-day festival celebrating film, TV, video games, comic books, costumes and other popular arts continues through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center. ____ Online: http://www.mtv.com/shows/teen_wolf/ Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

A look at the top Emmy contenders
Friday Jul 25, 2014
A look at the top Emmy contenders

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A look at this year's Emmy contenders with the most nominations: ___ SERIES — HBO's "Game Of Thrones," 19 nominations — FX's "Fargo," 18 nominations. — FX's "American Horror Story: Coven," 17 nominations. — AMC's "Breaking Bad," 16 nominations. — HBO's "The Normal Heart," 16 nominations. — NBC's "Saturday Night Live," 14 nominations. — Netflix's "House of Cards," 13 nominations. — Fox's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," 12 nominations. — PBS' "Downton Abbey," 12 nominations. — Netflix's Orange Is the New Black," 12 nominations. — PBS' "Sherlock: His Last Vow," 12 nominations. — HBO's "True Detective," 12 nominations. ___ NETWORKS — HBO, 99 nominations. — CBS, 47 nominations. — NBC, 46 nominations. — FX, 45 nominations. — ABC, 37 nominations. — PBS, 34 nominations. — Netflix, 31 nominations. — AMC, 26 nominations. — Showtime, 24 nominations. — Comedy Central, 21 nominations. ___ Online: http://www.emmys.com Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Harmon: 'Community' online won't be too different
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
Harmon: 'Community' online won't be too different

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Just because "Community" is going online to Yahoo doesn't mean it's in for a lot of changes. In fact, creator Dan Harmon says he has "no big, highfalutin plans" for its Web version. At a Comic-Con panel Thursday, Harmon revealed he doesn't want season six to feel radically different, especially to its loyal fans. "My philosophy is (to) attempt to make the same show, and let the lack of boundaries make themselves felt ... I don't want to take the wheels off so much that people think, 'Well, this is just some new show.'" He also admits he wavered about the idea of taking the show to the internet. He then asked himself, "Does it really matter where we're doing this? I cannot be the one to not do this. Wherever this show is people will find it." Joel McHale says he "had no doubt it would be back," adding he had no qualms going to the Web, "I was ready to do a regional theater version of the show." Gillian Anderson recalls crying in her car when she thought "Community" was cancelled by NBC. "I didn't want to let go of the show because there are few times in your life when you get to work on something that is good, funny and as groundbreaking and heartwarming as this," she said. Sony Pictures Television and Yahoo struck a deal to make 13 episodes. Harmon says writing doesn't begin until the fall so season six shouldn't begin until at least Christmas The plan is to release one episode per week rather than all at once, like with Netflix's original programming. "Community" is about a group of misfit students at a Colorado community college. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Movies

'Interstellar': Nolan and McConaughy make unexpected Comic-Con appearance
Friday Jul 25, 2014
'Interstellar': Nolan and McConaughy make unexpected Comic-Con appearance

The "Dark Knight" director and "True Detective" co-star made their debut appearances at San Diego Comic-Con to talk up November sci-fi adventure "Interstellar."The pair were presented during Paramount Pictures' two hour event, which took place inside the San Diego Convention Center's 6,500 capacity Hall H on the afternoon of July 24th. "This is my first Comic-Con," opened McConaughey. "Thanks for having me," he said in salutation to a rapturous audience, before introducing Nolan to the stage. "I thought I'd better come and see what the fuss was about," said Nolan, having missed the event during his time as director on three Batman films. "Your enthusiasm has been an extraordinary thing, it's really been the backbone of all the success we've had." (youtu.be/Hxkew6dgC5g) Asked to elaborate on his cinematic influences, Nolan cited "Star Wars," "2001" and "Blade Runner." "I think the single biggest influence would probably have to be '2001,' which they rereleased after 'Star Wars' came out when I was a kid, so I was able to go with my dad to a cinema in Leicester Square in London and see it on a big screen. It was such a memorable experience for me." "We really have an ambition with this film, not to do what that film did, because I don't think anyone ever could, but to tell a similarly ambitious story in terms of the scope and the scale." "I want kids today to be able to go with their parents and to sit and watch this story unfold on an enormous screen and really feel engaged with it." (youtu.be/-_g0_PaxLlI) As for McConaughey, he joined the project after a three-hour meetup with Nolan piqued his interest. "I got a call from my agent who said Christopher Nolan has a film and he wants to meet," explained the Oscar-winning "Dallas Buyers Club" actor. "Three hours went by and he didn't say anything about a new film or me having a role. Then a week later the script came," as Entertainment Weekly had it. "Interstellar" is inspired by the work of astrophysicist Kip Thorne, whose theories state that wormholes could double as naturally occurring time-travel devices. The film sends McConaughey into space as part of a team tasked with finding a new planet as humanity's old home becomes engulfed by a period of catastrophic climate change. A new trailer was shown exclusively to the Comic-Con audience, building on a montage released in May, and offered a first glimpse at the new earth or earths that Cooper and his crew may find. That Comic-Con footage won't be released "until much later," according to EW, whose Matt Bean hosted the presentation. Also featuring in the film are Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Wes Bentley and Collette Wolfe, while a total of six actors play Cooper's two children during various stages of life; "Interstellar" is to launch the week of November 7. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Ben Affleck is a despondent Batman in new photo
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Ben Affleck is a despondent Batman in new photo

Unveiled for San Diego's Comic-Con, a new close-up shows the Dark Knight's bowed head and furrowed brow.After a few photos released on Twitter last spring, the new portrait is the latest look at "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice," which is due in theaters in 2016. Visitors to Comic-Con can also take a look at the latest version of the Batman suit by costume designer Michael Wilkinson ("Watchmen," "Man of Steel"), which is on display at the event. Set against a black backdrop, the new image presents Ben Affleck's Batman as a particularly serious and somber version of the superhero. After failing to impress critics in the title role of "Daredevil" in 2003, Affleck will face even more scrutiny for his performance as Batman. The task is all the more daunting since he will be following in the footsteps of Christian Bale, whose portrayal of the Dark Knight in Christopher Nolan's trilogy was particularly acclaimed. Helmed by "Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder, the sequel will stage a showdown between Batman and Superman, to be played once again by Henry Cavill. The journalist Lois Lane and the editor Perry White, played by Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne respectively, will also return. Among newcomers are Jesse Eisenberg in the role of Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Bruce Wayne's butler. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" will be released in the US on May 6, 2016, the same day as "Captain America 3." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Fanboys and girls grapple with change as Comic Con under way
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Fanboys and girls grapple with change as Comic Con under way

Captain America is now black, Thor becomes a woman, and comic character Archie Andrews is shot and killed while saving his gay friend.The annual pop-culture carnival that is the Comic-Con Festival got under way in San Diego on Thursday with fans welcoming the world of change facing so many beloved characters. An estimated 150,000 devotees of comics, video games, fantasy and action movies are expected to throng the four-day extravaganza in southern California, many opting to don costumes of their favorite characters. The streets surrounding the festival resemble a surreal bazaar: a miniature Darth Vader asleep on the shoulders of his father, dressed as Bart Simpson, or Princess Elsa from "Frozen" posing with "Avengers" heroine Black Widow. Blonde-haired blue-eyed Eric Jensen came dressed as Captain America, accompanied by his seven-year-old son, a hammer-wielding mini Thor. "I relate a lot with Captain America," Jensen explained. "He was in the Navy and so was I, he is patriotic, me too. He keeps strong values in the face of adversity," the insurance agent added. But Jensen was surprised to learn of the seismic shift in direction that Captain America's creators at Marvel announced last week, namely that the iconic superhero would become black. In another tilt away from white, male archetypes, Thor is being reimagined as a female Norse goddess. "I wonder what context this is, why are they doing that," Jensen said. Marvel has explained that the change will come when Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, becomes weakened and passes his shield and duties to trusty black sidekick Sam Wilson, previously known as "The Falcon." "It's fantastic, I like that," Jensen told AFP. A short distance away, 21-year-old graphic designer Daniela Applegate caused a sensation with her pyramid-shaped warrior costume inspired by a video game. - 'Sexist archetypes' - She also welcomed the changes facing so many iconic characters from the world of pop culture. "It is about time this world gets rid of its sexist archetypes," she said. While Thor's metamorphosis into a Norse goddess may have raised eyebrows, strong female characters are legion at Comic-Con such as Lux, from the game "League of Legends." Shannon Sorensen, a student dressed as purple-haired cartoon character Pyrrha Nikos, echoed Applegate's views. "It is time the superheroes stop reflecting archetypes and an ethnicity of the past," she said. Sorensen was sceptical, however, about the "honesty" of Marvel, owned by Disney. "Disney sells princesses to little girls and they bought Marvel and its characters for boys," she said, even allowing for the fact that the heroine of Disney's "Frozen" has captivated both boys and girls on its way to becoming the most successful animated movie of all time. Brian Jordan, who organises an alternative comic and film festival specialising in homosexual and transgender characters, is also tired of stories about "a boy that falls in love with a girl who gets in trouble and he rescues her." But the 47-year-old welcomed Marvel's decision to turn Thor into a woman. He was also impressed by the decision of the creators of Archie Andrews to kill off the character, heroically taking a bullet to save the life of his gay friend. "It's a start," said Jordan, citing other gay characters in shows such as "The Venture Bros" and "Superjail!" Sorensen cited a recent gay marriage in "Green Lantern" and a kiss between Superman and Batman. Dina Mills, dressed as a character from "Mysterious Ways," came to Comic-Con with her son. She reveled in the escapism of the event. "I'm a stay at home mom. It gives me an escape and let me become somebody else," she said. But she was less certain about the gender shift for "Thor." "I'm a big fan of Thor as it is but you know how it goes, people complain and then they get used to it," she said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Tommy Lee Jones to co-star with Kevin Costner in 'Criminal'
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Tommy Lee Jones to co-star with Kevin Costner in 'Criminal'

According to Variety, Tommy Lee Jones will play a doctor in the sci-fi spy thriller directed by Ariel Vromen ("The Iceman").Recently in the limelight as a director with "The Homesman," his second feature after "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," Tommy Lee Jones remains first and foremost an actor. In "Criminal," he will play a doctor working with a dangerous criminal (Kevin Costner) whose brain and memories are replaced by those of a dead CIA agent to allow an important mission to be completed. Gary Oldman will play a CIA boss in this spy thriller with a sci-fi twist. Written by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg, "Criminal" will be helmed by Israeli director Ariel Vromen. Gary Oldman is currently in theaters in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." After his role in the sports drama "Draft Day," Kevin Costner will next be seen in "Black and White," a family drama premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Japanese fans speak on the evolution of 'Godzilla'
Friday Jul 25, 2014
Japanese fans speak on the evolution of 'Godzilla'

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese fans want it known: The radiation-breathing, skyscraper-stomping monster they call "Gojira" was born right here in Japan, 60 years ago. No matter its evolution in Hollywood over the decades, the Godzilla creature began as an icon for the suffering brought by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. The new remake, directed by hard-core Godzilla aficionado Gareth Edwards, has become one of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters this year and finally opens in Japan on Friday. The Associated Press spoke with some Japanese about their views on how their favorite mutated reptile has changed, including whether they welcome the latest rendition in full computer-graphic glory — so different from their Godzilla, that actor in a rubber suit, who waded into pools and smashed miniature models. ___ THE ORIGINAL 1954 Directed by Ishiro Honda. Special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Starring Akira Takarada. Godzilla was Haruo Nakajima, a stunt actor for samurai films, who was not even credited in the original, so determined was Toho Co. studios to keep the monster shrouded in mystery. The horrifying mutation arises after nuclear testing in the Pacific. It marches out of Tokyo Bay into the capital, destroying everything in its path, such as the Wako clock-tower building in downtown Ginza and the somber-looking Parliament building, both of which still stand today. A scientist reluctantly uses a weapon of mass destruction against Godzilla, knowing it's a last resort. A tragic victim of its own creation, possessing no apparent conscience throughout the black-and-white masterpiece, Godzilla sinks quietly back into the ocean, allowing Mankind to triumph, but not until the monster has smashed half of Tokyo and set off a legacy that continued into 27 Toho sequels. Classical musician Akira Ifukube did the unforgettable score, and helped create the altered contrabass roar of Godzilla. The first series of Godzilla movies is considered to have continued through 1975. "Godzilla is neither friend nor foe, but something beyond our control," says Shizue Horie, 54, whose love affair with Godzilla started when her father took her to see one of the early movies. The original she has seen many times. "Where it all began," she said. She feels her life has been defined by Godzilla. She met her husband after a painful divorce through their mutual interest in Godzilla. And she has taken her children and their friends to Godzilla movies. She gets teary-eyed, remembering when the Japanese Godzilla series ended a decade ago. "It's as though my job was over," she said. ___ THE VS SERIES 1989-1995 Directed by Takao Okawara, Kazuki Omori and others. Special effects by Koichi Kawakita. Starring Tetsuya Bessho, Masahiro Takashima and others. Godzilla was played by Kenpachiro Satsuma, a new actor in a rubber suit, who is credited with adding a combative flair to the depiction, taking advantage of his martial art skills. "VS" stands for "versus," as the films featured Godzilla fighting another creature, such as King Ghidora with the multiple dragon heads, and Mothra, a giant moth. The almost comical battle scenes, which take place underwater and in the sky as well as in urban landscapes, are the highlights. The series that followed, called the Millenium, saw Godzilla's following gradually dwindle. Toho discontinued Godzilla films after "Final Wars" released in 2004. Some Godzilla fans include the 1984 film in the VS series. Others say technically it falls outside the category. "Godzilla appeals to that destructive instinct that's in all kids," says Takeshi Maruyama, a 28-year-old "salaryman," who grew up on the VS series and has an extensive Godzilla figure collection. A lot of buildings were constructed while Maruyama was growing up, a period for Japan's "bubble era" modernization. And it was a delight to see Godzilla destroy them almost as soon as they went up, Maruyama recalled. One of his favorites is "Godzilla Vs. Mothra," released in 1992, which showed his hometown of Yokohama destroyed, including Land Mark Tower, one of this nation's tallest buildings, which was being built as the movie was shot. "It is so fun to see a giant thing break and get totally destroyed," he said. "You can't explain it in words. You just feel it in your heart, and it's so immediate." ___ GOING HOLLYWOOD 1998 Directed by Roland Emmerich. Special effects by Patrick Tatopoulos. Starring Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno and others. Hollywood-style models, robots, including a moving mechanical lizard head and torso, plus computer imagery for the adult Godzilla, and stunt men in latex suits as Godzilla babies. If anything clinched Japanese fans' distrust for Hollywood, this reboot was it. The film, whose tagline was "Size does matter," portrayed Godzilla as an enlarged tyrannosaurus rex running amok in New York, stomping on yellow cabs and chewing up delivery trucks. The story starts with a Japanese fishing boat getting attacked, and a lone survivor gasping, "Gojira." Thrown in the plot are ambitious American news reporters, a French spy, a scientist studying Chernobyl and a bunch of Godzilla eggs in Madison Square Garden. A big no-no to Godzilla fans was the monster's fate at the end of the movie. Yoshihiko Horie, 54, hated the 1998 film so much he started a website, cheering on the Japanese Godzilla. Horie, a driver and husband of Godzilla fan Shizue Horie, believes Godzilla must be an extraordinary entity but also one with which people can emotionally identify. There are other must-have trademarks: bumpy skin and that roar. Godzilla always shoots hot radioactive rays from its mouth. It must be powerful. And it must be cool. Emmerich's Godzilla failed on all counts, he said. "I still do not want to call that Godzilla," said Horie, adding that he refers to it as Zilla, something lacking the "God" factor in a Godzilla. "No wonder even American fans called it GINO, for Godzilla in name only." ___ GODZILLA TODAY 2014 Directed by Gareth Edwards. Visual effects supervised by Jim Rygiel of the "Lord of the Rings" films. Starring Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Ken Watanabe and others. Godzilla created by computer graphics and special effects, with 3-D technology-added version as an option. This work pays homage to the past. It has the monster battles of the VS series. It has the military, well-meaning but often clueless. It has scientists. It has a poster of an old Godzilla movie. It has the precariousness of atomic energy and radiation. Watanabe pronounces the creature's name as the Japanese say it, combing "gorilla" with "kujira," which means "whale." It even has a touching reference to Hiroshima. Battling in near-death, Godzilla saves San Francisco from grotesque monsters that feed off nuclear material, including bombs and reactor fuel waste. And the creature's fate evokes the original film's ending — including setting up a possible sequel. "Gareth Edwards brought back our Godzilla, the Godzilla we hold in our hearts. He respects Godzilla," said Yoshinori Nishizawa, 28, who lives in Tokyo and works in nursing. "I grew up with Godzilla. I like everything about this movie. It shows the power of Hollywood. I feel only gratitude." ___ Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

2014 Venice Film Festival: Iñárritu, Ferrara and Beauvois in competition
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
2014 Venice Film Festival: Iñárritu, Ferrara and Beauvois in competition

Set to take place from August 26 to September 7 with French composer Alexandre Desplat as president of the jury, the next edition of the Biennale di Venezia will include screenings of 55 international films.Alejandro González Iñárritu will have the opening honors with the world premiere of his film "Birdman." The comedy, which stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up superhero movie actor attempting a comeback, will also be in competition. The Mexican director, whose film "21 Grams" was featured in the official selection in 2003, will compete to follow in the footsteps of the Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, who won the Golden Lion last year for his documentary "Sacro GRA." US directors are well represented in the festival's selection. Among other US titles premiering in the main competition are David Gordon Green's "Manglehorn," headlined by Al Pacino and Holly Hunter, and Andrew Niccol's "Good Kill" with Ethan Hawke and January Jones. Ramin Bahrani's "99 Homes," a drama about the US housing bubble, is also among the highlights of the competition, along with Abel Ferrara's "Pasolini," a biopic with Willem Dafoe in the title role. French directors Benôit Jacquot ("Farewell, My Queen") and Xavier Beauvois ("Of Gods and Men") will also compete with their latest films, "Trois Cœurs" and "La Rançon de la Gloire," respectively. The out of competition program will include screenings of James Franco's "The Sound and the Fury," the director's cut of Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac Volume II," and Peter Bogdanovich's "She's Funny That Way," a comedy with Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots and Jennifer Aniston. Alexandre Desplat will preside over the jury for this 71st edition of the festival. Known for scoring such iconic films as "The Queen," "The King's Speech" and more recently "The Grand Budapest Hotel," the French composer has earned six Oscar nominations and won a Golden Globe, three César awards, two European Film Awards and a BAFTA. He will be the first film composer to serve as president of the competition panel at the Venice Film Festival. The complete program of the 71st Venice International Film Festival: In competition: Birdman - Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (opening film)The Cut - Fatih AkinA Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - Roy Andersson99 Homes - Ramin BahraniTales - Rakhshān Bani E'TemadLa Rançon De La Gloire - Xavier BeauvoisHungry Hearts - Saverio CostanzoLe Dernier Coup De Marteau - Alix DelaportePasolini - Abel FerraraManglehorn - David Gordon Green3 Hearts - Benôit JacquotThe Postman's White Nights - Andrei KonchalovskyIl Giovane Favoloso - Mario MartoneSivas - Kaan MujdeciAnime Nere - Francesco MunziGood Kill - Andrew NiccolLoin Des Hommes - David OelhoffenThe Look Of Silence - Joshua OppenheimerFires On The Plain - Shinya TsukamotoRed Amnesia - Xiaoshuai Wang Out of competitionWords With Gods - Guillermo Arriaga, Emir Kusturica, Amos Gitai, Mira Nair, Warwick Thornton, Hector Babenco, Bahman Ghobai, Hideo Nakata, Alex de la IglesiaShe's Funny That Way - Peter BogdanovichDearest - Peter Ho-sun ChanOlive Kitteridge - Lisa CholodenkpBurying The Ex - Joe DantePerez - Edoardo De AngelisLa Zuppa Del Demonio - Davide FerrarioThe Sound And The Fury - James FrancoTsili - Amos GitaiLa Trattativa - Sabina GuzzantiThe Golden Era - Ann Hui (closing film)Make-Up - Im KwontaekThe Humbling - Barry LevinsonThe Old Man Of Belem - Manoel de OliveiraItaly In A Day - Gabriele SalvatoresIn The Basement - Ulrich SeidlThe Boxtrolls - Anthony Stacchi, Annable GrahamNymphomaniac Volume II (long version) Director's Cut - Lars Von Trier HorizonsTheeb - Naji Abu NowarLine Of Credit - Salome AlexiSenza Nessuna Pieta - Michele AlhaiqueCymbeline - Michael AlmereydaNear Death Experience - Benoît Delépine, Gustave KervernLa Vita Oscena - Renato De MariaRéalité - Quentin DupieuxI Spy/ I Spy - Veronika Franz, Severin FialaHill Of Freedom - Hong SangsooBypass - Duane HopkinsThe President - Mohsen Makhmalbaf (opening film)Your Right Mind - Ami Canaan MannBelluscone, Una Storia Siciliana - Franco MarescoNabat - Elchin MusaogluHeaven Knows What - Josh Safdie, Ben SafdieThese Are The Rules - Ognjen SvilivivCourt - Chaitanya Tamhane Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

'Frozen' casts its spell over VOD and DVD market
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
'Frozen' casts its spell over VOD and DVD market

After dominating the global box office for weeks, Disney's seasonal animated film now tops the list of the best-selling DVD and VOD titles for the first half of 2014, according to Rentrak.Released in November 2013 and awarded the Oscar for best animated feature last March, "Frozen" recently became the fifth highest-grossing film of all time thanks to its revenues with over 1.2 billion at the worldwide box office. And this success isn't limited to theaters: the feature has also become the top-selling film DVD and VOD title for the period from January to June 2014. "Frozen" was just ahead of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second movie in the popular franchise, and "The Wolf of Wall Street," which earned Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar nomination for best actor. Martin Scorsese's latest movie wasn't the only one to benefit from Oscar buzz. Rentrak's ranking of the top selling DVD and VOD titles also includes "12 Years a Slave," which claimed the award for best picture, as well as "American Hustle," "Captain Phillips" and "Gravity," all of which were nominated in some of the most elite Oscar categories. The sequels to the blockbusters "Thor" and "The Hobbit" round out the ranking, along with Johnny Knoxville's comedy "Bad Grandpa." Top 10 best-selling DVD and VOD titles from January to June 2014: 1. "Frozen" (Disney) 2. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Lionsgate) 3. "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Paramount) 4. "Captain Phillips" (Sony) 5. "Gravity" (2013) (Warner) 6. "12 Years a Slave" (Fox) 7. "American Hustle" (Sony) 8. "Thor: The Dark World" (Disney) 9. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Warner) 10. "Bad Grandpa" (Paramount) Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2014.

Bridges offers Comic-Con a look at 'The Giver'
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
Bridges offers Comic-Con a look at 'The Giver'

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jeff Bridges keeps on giving at Comic-Con. The Academy Award-winning actor, producer, director and musician was on hand Thursday with some of his fellow cast members to show off footage from "The Giver," the upcoming adaptation of the popular young adult novel by Lois Lowry. An extended trailer shown at the pop-culture convention began with black-and-white footage chronicling the dystopian setting of the book. Comic-Con continues through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center. Bridges, known for "Tron" and "The Big Lebowski," said it took close to 19 years to bring the movie to life. He originally envisioned that his late father Lloyd Bridges would play the titular role, but Bridges ultimately cast himself as The Giver. "It proved to be difficult, I think because it was quite controversial," Bridges told the crowd in reference to his struggle to make the film. Lowry, 77, noted that the book, which was originally released in 1993, caused a stir because there are scenes where a baby is killed and a young boy bathes an elderly woman, the latter of which won't be in the movie when it's released Aug. 11. "I loved it when that scene was cut from the film because Lois, you wanted to play that woman," joked Bridges. "He can touch me all he wants," Lowry said of Brenton Thwaites, the hunky 24-year-old actor who plays the boy, Jonas, in the movie directed by Phillip Noyce. Lowry said after watching footage of Meryl Streep, who also stars in the film but wasn't present at Thursday's panel, she wanted to go back and rewrite Streep's character of the Chief Elder. "In the book, it's a small role," Lowry said. "She makes it into something so complex and fascinating." Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Bon Jovi to be honored for humanitarian work
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
Bon Jovi to be honored for humanitarian work

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rock star Jon Bon Jovi will be honored with an award named for an opera singer. The Marian Anderson Award is given in Philadelphia to "critically acclaimed artists who have impacted society in a positive way." In announcing the recipient Wednesday, organizers said Bon Jovi has used his musical success to support groups working to end homelessness and hunger. Bon Jovi will accept the $25,000 award on Nov. 18 at the city's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Anderson was a celebrated contralto and Philadelphia native who in 1955 became the first black soloist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She died in 1993 at age 96. Previous winners include actor James Earl Jones, poet Maya Angelou and actress Elizabeth Taylor. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Baldwin, LaBeouf share a role _ defendant_ in NYC
Thursday Jul 24, 2014
Baldwin, LaBeouf share a role _ defendant_ in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — Alec Baldwin and Shia LaBeouf never ended up sharing a Broadway stage as planned last year, but real-life dramatics landed both of them Thursday in a distinctly less celebrated venue: Manhattan criminal courts. Both stars appeared in courtrooms a few blocks apart for separate disorderly conduct cases. LaBeouf is charged with disrupting a Broadway performance, while Baldwin was accused of getting belligerent with police who said they stopped him for riding a bicycle the wrong way down a one-way street. Their shared court date was just a coincidence, but it paired stars who have become known for acting up, not just for acting. "Looks like you have a short fuse," Manhattan Criminal Court Judge John DeLury told Baldwin while looking over the allegations against him; they're violations, not crimes. After Baldwin repeatedly said he'd pay a fine for the May 13 encounter — though the judge said he was just asking for an apology — DeLury put the case on track to be dismissed if the actor avoids re-arrest for six months. It's a common outcome for low-level cases in Manhattan. "Can you stay out of trouble, Alexander?" DeLury asked. "Sure, sure," Baldwin said. "Be a good boy from now on. Have a good day!" Meanwhile, LaBeouf's lawyer and prosecutors said they were trying to resolve his case. He's accused in court papers of playing a boorish role in the audience at "Cabaret" last month, smoking cigarettes, yelling at the actors onstage, and swearing at security guards and hollering as he was escorted out: "Do you know who I am?" The actor, whose publicist has said the episode stemmed from an alcohol problem and that LaBeouf has since gotten treatment, stood solemnly before a judge during the brief appearance. He and his lawyer, G. Robert Gage, declined to comment as they left court amid a swarm of cameras and microphones. LaBeouf is due back in court in September. LaBeouf, 28, and Baldwin, 56, were slated to co-star last year in a revival of Lyle Kessler's play "Orphans," but LaBeouf pulled out over creative disagreements — and then publicly tweeted private emails from Baldwin and others involved in the show. ("Sorry for my part of a dis-agreeable situation," LaBeouf wrote to Baldwin in one message; Baldwin apparently wrote back: "I don't have an unkind word to say about you. You have my word.") Best known for starting in the first three "Transformers" movies, LaBeouf has made headlines for his off-screen behavior in the past year. He apologized this winter for borrowing the story line and dialogue for a short film from a graphic novel writer. In February, he walked out of a Berlin Film Festival news conference for the movie "Nymphomaniac Volume I" and then wore a paper bag — emblazoned with "I am not famous anymore" — over his head at the red carpet premiere. Baldwin, whose career has included Emmy Awards for "30 Rock" and Oscar and Tony nominations, has developed an ornery reputation in real life. A voicemail of him berating daughter Ireland Baldwin came to light in 2007 (he later said the message horrified him), he was kicked off a plane in 2011 after refusing to stop playing a cellphone game, and he's had a series of run-ins with news photographers. After using an anti-gay slur in one such encounter last fall, he was suspended from his ultimately short-lived MSNBC show; Baldwin apologized and said he hadn't meant to offend anyone. In February, Baldwin wrote a New York magazine cover story decrying tabloid coverage of his comings-and-goings in New York City, saying he probably needs to move elsewhere. Copyright (2014) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.