Friday May 22, 2015

Reality star Duggar resigns from Family Research Council

NEW YORK (AP) — The Family Research Council has accepted the resignation of Josh Duggar in the wake of the reality TV star's apology for unspecified bad behavior as a young teen. Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Christian lobbying group, said in a...
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TV

Reality star Duggar resigns from Family Research Council
Friday May 22, 2015
Reality star Duggar resigns from Family Research Council

NEW YORK (AP) — The Family Research Council has accepted the resignation of Josh Duggar in the wake of the reality TV star's apology for unspecified bad behavior as a young teen. Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Christian lobbying group, said in a statement Thursday that Duggar resigned because of information becoming public that he believed would "make it difficult for him to be effective." As executive director of FRC Action, he served as a public face of the organization. Duggar, 27, appears on the TLC reality show "19 Kids and Counting." He is the oldest of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's 19 children. He posted an apology Thursday on Facebook for bad behavior as a youth. Neither the Family Research Council nor Duggar could be reached for comment. TLC had no comment. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Douze or nul points? Eurovision acts to watch
Friday May 22, 2015
Douze or nul points? Eurovision acts to watch

Who can follow Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst and wow 200 million viewers worldwide to win the Eurovision Song Contest at its 60th edition in Vienna on Saturday?As the Austrian capital dolls itself up for the grand final of this annual shindig of the kitsch, the catchy and the corny, here are a few of the 27 acts to watch out for: - Take a chance on Mans - With five Eurovision victories including ABBA in 1974, Sweden is always a good bet and according to the bookies, Mans Zelmerlow is the man to watch, as long as he remembers his flies. "There are a lot of people supporting me back home in Sweden and they probably think I will win. I am not so sure," a modest Zelmerlow said. His lucky routine is to "check my zipper, like 50 times." - Plucky Pole - Monika Kuszynska is a combative contestant, refusing to let anything as trifling as her wheelchair -- she was in a car crash in 2006 -- get in the way of lifting Poland's first ever Eurovision title. "I consider my performance to be proof that it's possible to not get discouraged and to live life to the fullest even when it deals you a severe blow," the 35-year-old says. - Australian idol - Eurovision has long stretched the geographical definition of Europe, but organisers this year have surpassed themselves by granting Australia special dispensation to take part. "I've been fortunate enough to perform on various different stages but when you get on that Eurovision stage it's like nothing else I've ever done in my life," said Australia's contestant, heartthrob and former "Australian Idol" winner Guy Sebastian. - No politics please, we're Armenian - The Eurovision is no stranger to politics, and although Armenia denies its entry is about the 100th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces -- which Turkey refuses to recognise as genocide -- many perceive it that way. The original title of the entry from Genealogy, six of whose members are from the Armenian diaspora, was "Don't Deny". Armenia changed it to "Face the Shadow", saying this was to remove any suggestion of political intent. - A 'good girl' from Russia - The Ukraine crisis and Russia's stance on gay rights upstaged the semi-final of the 2014 Eurovision, where Russia's entry was booed. This year bookie favourite Polina Gagarina is hoping to woo Moscow's critics with her peace song "A Million Voices". So far things are going well, with Gagarina making it through to the final. "I am obviously a singer, an actress, a mother and probably a good girl," said Gagarina. "My song is about a million voices that speak the same language, the language of love". - 19th nervous performance - Brits generally don't take Eurovision that seriously, but 18 years after Katrina and the Waves won Eurovision gold Electro Velvet might be in with a chance with the catchy electro-swing song "Still in Love with You". "It's the 60th year, so it's a party year, and I think that we are bringing quite a party song and a party vibe," said Bianca Nicholas, one half of the duo with Mick Jagger impersonator and teacher Alex Larke. - Italian crooners - Bookies also include Il Volo, the successful "pop opera" trio who have collaborated with Barbra Streisand and others, among the favourites to win Italy's first Eurovision crown in 25 years with "Grande Amore". "Being here is like a dream come true. We will do our best to represent Italy. We hope you like our song, and we are going to bring our 'Grand Amore', our big love," said one of the cheeky trio, Piero Barone. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Red Nose Day comes to America, aiding children
Thursday May 21, 2015
Red Nose Day comes to America, aiding children

Red, clown-style noses sprouted like mushrooms on faces across America Thursday in a fundraiser to help needy children.In its first iteration of a long-standing British charity drive, Red Nose Day saw the likes of Kim Kardashian and "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage don a cherry red ball on their facial appendage. Half of the money raised will go to American charities for kids, and the other half to international ones, according to the official website www.rednoseday.org. Like a big show carried every other year on the BBC, the American network NBC was to air Thursday night a three-hour program of music and comedy, all with theme "Have Fun. Raise Money. Change Lives." The telethon was to feature actors Anna Kendrick, Jack Black and Will Ferrell, among others, as well as singers including Jennifer Hudson, Pharrell Williams and John Legend. For each picture of a red-nosed person appearing on social media, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate 25 dollars, Bill Gates said. The charity drive is modeled after Comic Relief, founded 30 years ago by British director Richard Curtis, of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" fame, to help alleviate famine in Africa. It has since raised a billion dollars. "For many years, I have dreamt of bringing Red Nose Day to the US," Curtis said. "Experience has taught me how extraordinarily compassionate and generous Americans can be, and I've lived my life in awe of American comedy talent," said Curtis. He said he hoped the combination of the two could work together to help children and their families in America and the world's poorest countries. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Nielsen: 13.76 million viewers for Letterman
Thursday May 21, 2015
Nielsen: 13.76 million viewers for Letterman

NEW YORK (AP) — Comic celebrities turned out for David Letterman's late-night farewell — and so did his biggest audience in more than 21 years. The Nielsen company said Thursday that 13.76 million viewers saw Letterman end his 33-year career as a late-night TV host with a final show Wednesday night. The last time Letterman had so many viewers was in February 1994, when his show aired after CBS' telecast of the Winter Olympics. More people watched Letterman than anything else in prime time on Wednesday night. Letterman's final show started at 11:35 p.m. and lasted more than an hour as CBS let it run long. The show featured a final Top Ten list with celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Barbara Walters and Peyton Manning with "things I'd like to say to Dave." Letterman is being replaced in September by Stephen Colbert. Jay Leno's farewell last February was seen by 14.6 million viewers. Both exits couldn't come close to Johnny Carson's final show, which attracted 41.14 million viewers in 1992, a different television era. Letterman's showing helped the "Late Late Show" with James Corden that followed him. The "Late Late Show" had its largest audience ever, with 4 million viewers, either for Corden or predecessor Craig Ferguson. Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Netflix's 'BoJack Horseman' gets season 2 premiere date
Thursday May 21, 2015
Netflix's 'BoJack Horseman' gets season 2 premiere date

The second season of the animated series "BoJack Horseman" is slated for a July 17 debut on Netflix.Will Arnett ("Arrested Devopment") voices the title character, an anthropomorphic horse, washed-up sitcom actor and heavy drinker with plans for a big return to fame. Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad") Amy Sedaris ("Strangers With Candy"), Alison Brie ("Community") and Paul F. Tompkins ("Mr. Show with Bob and David") voice the other lead roles.The sitcom's first season premiered in August 2014. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Movies

Michael Fassbender on making 'Macbeth': 'the Scottish film'
Friday May 22, 2015
Michael Fassbender on making 'Macbeth': 'the Scottish film'

CANNES, France (AP) — Michael Fassbender doesn't know if the "Macbeth" curse carries over to movie adaptations, but he'd rather not test it. "The Scottish film" is what Michael Fassbender calls his "Macbeth" adaption, which is set to premiere Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival. He's maintaining the theatrical superstition of not speaking the name of Shakespeare's play — at least he wasn't in an interview ahead of the festival. "Sometimes I say it, sometimes I don't," Fassbender said. "It depends on the day." "Macbeth," usually referred to by the euphemism "the Scottish play" by actors wary of its legendary spell, will be the final film to screen in competition at Cannes. Directed by Australian director Justin Kurzel and co-starring Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, it has been eagerly awaited as the blood-soaked finale of the French Riviera festival, which concludes Sunday with the presentation of the Palme d'Or top prize. Although interpreting Shakespeare is a traditional rite of passage for any British Isles actor of ambition, it wasn't a priority for Fassbender, the Oscar-nominated actor of "12 Years a Slave," ''Shame" and the "X-Men" films. The film marks the first entry into Shakespeare, on stage or screen, by the German-born, Ireland-raised Fassbender. But the "Othello" villain Iago is his favorite Shakespeare character and "Macbeth" his favorite Shakespeare play. "('Macbeth') wasn't necessarily on the list, but when the opportunity came up, I felt like I couldn't turn it down," said Fassbender. "I guess it wasn't always something I felt naturally comfortable, but I always thought that I could find something in it that I would have a relationship to it." However difficult it was for Fassbender to work up to "Macbeth," he was more impressed with his French co-star, Cotillard. "For me to take it on, it was, 'OK, Shakespeare.' But she's French-speaking," said Fassbender. "I just thought it was incredible bravery." No release date has yet been set for "Macbeth" in the U.S., but the Weinstein Co. will release it sometime this fall. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Jake Coyle from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

All-star celebrity bash near Cannes raises $30m for AIDS fight
Friday May 22, 2015
All-star celebrity bash near Cannes raises $30m for AIDS fight

A soiree with some of Hollywood's biggest names held late Thursday near Cannes during the film festival raised $30 million (27 million euros) for the fight against AIDS.Leonardo DiCaprio, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, designer-turned-director Tom Ford, models Eva Herzigova, Adriana Lima and Kendall Jenner, singer Robin Thicke and movie producer Harvey Weinstein were among the 900 invitees who attended the annual amfAR charity bash on the French Riviera, held at a luxurious hotel in Cap d'Antibes. The night was an ultra-exclusive fundraising event, with tables costing $100,000 each. Weinstein paid homage to France and to the attack it suffered on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January by extremist gunmen. "Je suis Charlie. Vive la France," he said in French. The millions raised came from an unusual auction of items and experiences, including: - a tall Jeff Koons sculpture that went for $13 million; - a work by Colombian artist Fernando Botero that sold for $2.2 million; - a 33-carat Harry Winston necklace of 191 diamonds auctioned off for $500,000; - a work by mysterious street artist Banksy, donated by DiCaprio, that went for more than $1 million; - DiCaprio also sold off a private dinner with him, and a seat at a Saint Tropez charity gala he will attend soon, for $280,000; - Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli put up two dinners for 12 with him at either his Miami or Tuscany residence. Each went for more than $1 million; - a collection of designer clothes from 50 of the world's top fashion houses that one bidder bought for more than $1 million; - a Picasso drawing that went for $800,000; - an Andy Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor that Eva Longoria bought for $600,000. The amfAR event has been a regular fixture on the Cannes Film Festival calendar since 1993, and has so far raised more than $170 million for AIDS research. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Tim Roth deals with death, sadness in Cannes entry 'Chronic'
Friday May 22, 2015
Tim Roth deals with death, sadness in Cannes entry 'Chronic'

CANNES, France (AP) — Tim Roth toned things down for his role in the Cannes Film Festival entry "Chronic." The British actor known for his explosive turns in films from "Made in Britain" to "Pulp Fiction" is tense and taciturn as a nurse who cares for the dying in the English-language debut of Mexican director Michel Franco. Roth's character, David, is compassionate with his patients but deeply depressed in his own life, and the film adopts a deliberately subdued style. It lets the camera linger on the often-silent David as he washes, feeds and moves patients unable to care for themselves. The film invites the audience to contemplate the toll caring for the dying takes on those who do it, and makes viewers consider their views on end-of-life suffering and assisted suicide. Roth said he wanted to make sure that his strong presence did not overwhelm the movie that Franco planned to make. "It's a non-vanity film," Roth told reporters Friday in Cannes. "It's very much a leave-your-ego-at-the-door kind of portrayal ... I kind of stripped myself away as much as possible. "It was very disturbing to play, I must say." Roth's performance gained praise from journalists and marks him as a contender for Cannes' best-actor prize. The actor said he was uncertain how to approach the role until he met and observed real respite-care nurses. "I kind of gleaned the character from those meetings," he said. Franco's film is one of the quieter entries at Cannes, where it is one of 19 films competing for the top Palme d'Or at Sunday's prize ceremony. Roth said his own view on euthanasia had not changed. "I'm all for it. ... That's crazy, to make people go through that (suffering)," he said. The seed for "Chronic" was sown at Cannes in 2012, when Franco's "After Lucia" won the Un Certain Regard competition for new and emerging filmmakers. Roth was head of the prize-giving Cannes jury that year. "I saw his film and it devastated me," Roth said. "And then we met and I just asked him for a job." ___ Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Jill Lawless from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Cannes films divide critics ahead of awards weekend
Friday May 22, 2015
Cannes films divide critics ahead of awards weekend

As the Cannes Film Festival bears down on its weekend awards ceremony, a look at the movies seen so far and their reviews reveal deep divisions among the critics.Some are polarised on the basic question of whether cinema is more entertainment or art, while others show cultural bias. Another faction gives more weight to pedigree, politics or aesthetics. So far, broadly, US and British press and industry types are plumping for "Carol", an American period lesbian romance lifted to Oscar heights by a flawless performance from Australian star Cate Blanchett. Vanity Fair magazine said the movie "transcends" and achieves "something rather mighty". But many continental Europeans are more seduced by "My Mother," an Italian film that packs an emotional wallop as it explores a director's personal and professional crises. "Able to move and raise laughter, it seems able to take the Palme d'Or," Italian magazine Panorama wrote. - US vs. European tastes - Two other Cannes movies -- "Youth," another Italian-directed film starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Jane Fonda ruminating about ageing, and grim Hungarian Holocaust drama "Son of Saul" -- are also seen as worthy leading contenders. European reviewers said they were wary of American movies that seemed too obviously to be seeking Oscar prestige, at the expense of offering a fresh or unusual perspective. British and Americans "are maybe more sensitive to the look of a film," David Elbaz, of Radio Campus Paris, told AFP. "For European critics, it's a little more suspect." The French are showing particular affection for one of their five films in the competition, "The Measure of a Man," which looks at home-turf unemployment. In a strong line-up, only one movie has been unanimously panned. Starring Matthew McConaughey and directed by Gus Van Sant, "The Sea of Trees" tells the story of a depressed American man's voyage into, and then out of, a Japanese woodland known for suicides. Whatever the critics might say, the decisions rest with this year's Cannes jury. The nine-person panel is jointly headed by American sibling director duo Joel and Ethan Coen and including actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller and Sophie Marceau, and directors Guillermo del Toro and Xavier Dolan. - Hard to predict - The Coen brothers could be tempted by "Sicario," a taut thriller about a CIA anti-drug operation on the Mexican border, where their Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men" was set, and with the same actor, Josh Brolin. Or maybe their oddball sensibilities will lean towards "The Lobster," a strange, well-received movie starring Colin Farrell in which single people have 45 days to find a mate or be transformed into an animal. Fantasy director Del Toro could be drawn to "The Tale of Tales," an Italian movie that compiles three dark fairytales powered by special effects reminiscent of his "Pan's Labyrinth". And the actors on the jury might appreciate the leisurely performances in "Youth," Blanchett's tour de force in "Carol" or a generation-spanning Chinese movie, "Mountains May Depart". Past juries have proved notoriously unpredictable, however, and Cannes-lovers are left to guess for clues as to who might win the Palme d'Or, its runner-up Grand Prize, and the trophies for best director, best actor and best actress. Sometimes -- as in 2004, when the anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 911" won the Palme -- politics triumphs. This year, though, the race looks more likely to be decided on the merits and quality of the contenders. The Cannes Palme d'Or closing ceremony will be held late on Sunday. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Too old' Gyllenhaal, 37, sparks Hollywood sexism debate
Friday May 22, 2015
'Too old' Gyllenhaal, 37, sparks Hollywood sexism debate

Oscar-nominated US actress Maggie Gyllenhaal was told she was too old at 37 to play the lover of a 55-year-old man, she said in comments published Thursday which went viral online."There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time," she said in an interview with TheWrap Magazine. "I'm 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh." The remarks immediately trended on Twitter and Facebook, with salon.com commenting that the incident "lays bare just how delusional and hilariously sexist Hollywood truly is." Earlier this month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for government action to confront "widespread exclusion of women directors" in the US film and television industries. In letters to federal and California state civil rights authorities, it said women directors face "a systematic pattern and practice of discrimination and exclusion" that cannot be allowed to stand. In 2014, it said, women accounted for only seven percent of directors on the year's top 250 grossing films, down two percentage points from 1998. Gyllenhaal, the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal, was nominated for an Academy Award for 2009's "Crazy Heart." Her brother won an Oscar nod for 2005's "Brokeback Mountain." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Events

Cannes films divide critics ahead of awards weekend
Friday May 22, 2015
Cannes films divide critics ahead of awards weekend

As the Cannes Film Festival bears down on its weekend awards ceremony, a look at the movies seen so far and their reviews reveal deep divisions among the critics.Some are polarised on the basic question of whether cinema is more entertainment or art, while others show cultural bias. Another faction gives more weight to pedigree, politics or aesthetics. So far, broadly, US and British press and industry types are plumping for "Carol", an American period lesbian romance lifted to Oscar heights by a flawless performance from Australian star Cate Blanchett. Vanity Fair magazine said the movie "transcends" and achieves "something rather mighty". But many continental Europeans are more seduced by "My Mother," an Italian film that packs an emotional wallop as it explores a director's personal and professional crises. "Able to move and raise laughter, it seems able to take the Palme d'Or," Italian magazine Panorama wrote. - US vs. European tastes - Two other Cannes movies -- "Youth," another Italian-directed film starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Jane Fonda ruminating about ageing, and grim Hungarian Holocaust drama "Son of Saul" -- are also seen as worthy leading contenders. European reviewers said they were wary of American movies that seemed too obviously to be seeking Oscar prestige, at the expense of offering a fresh or unusual perspective. British and Americans "are maybe more sensitive to the look of a film," David Elbaz, of Radio Campus Paris, told AFP. "For European critics, it's a little more suspect." The French are showing particular affection for one of their five films in the competition, "The Measure of a Man," which looks at home-turf unemployment. In a strong line-up, only one movie has been unanimously panned. Starring Matthew McConaughey and directed by Gus Van Sant, "The Sea of Trees" tells the story of a depressed American man's voyage into, and then out of, a Japanese woodland known for suicides. Whatever the critics might say, the decisions rest with this year's Cannes jury. The nine-person panel is jointly headed by American sibling director duo Joel and Ethan Coen and including actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller and Sophie Marceau, and directors Guillermo del Toro and Xavier Dolan. - Hard to predict - The Coen brothers could be tempted by "Sicario," a taut thriller about a CIA anti-drug operation on the Mexican border, where their Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men" was set, and with the same actor, Josh Brolin. Or maybe their oddball sensibilities will lean towards "The Lobster," a strange, well-received movie starring Colin Farrell in which single people have 45 days to find a mate or be transformed into an animal. Fantasy director Del Toro could be drawn to "The Tale of Tales," an Italian movie that compiles three dark fairytales powered by special effects reminiscent of his "Pan's Labyrinth". And the actors on the jury might appreciate the leisurely performances in "Youth," Blanchett's tour de force in "Carol" or a generation-spanning Chinese movie, "Mountains May Depart". Past juries have proved notoriously unpredictable, however, and Cannes-lovers are left to guess for clues as to who might win the Palme d'Or, its runner-up Grand Prize, and the trophies for best director, best actor and best actress. Sometimes -- as in 2004, when the anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 911" won the Palme -- politics triumphs. This year, though, the race looks more likely to be decided on the merits and quality of the contenders. The Cannes Palme d'Or closing ceremony will be held late on Sunday. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

'Too old' Gyllenhaal, 37, sparks Hollywood sexism debate
Friday May 22, 2015
'Too old' Gyllenhaal, 37, sparks Hollywood sexism debate

Oscar-nominated US actress Maggie Gyllenhaal was told she was too old at 37 to play the lover of a 55-year-old man, she said in comments published Thursday which went viral online."There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time," she said in an interview with TheWrap Magazine. "I'm 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh." The remarks immediately trended on Twitter and Facebook, with salon.com commenting that the incident "lays bare just how delusional and hilariously sexist Hollywood truly is." Earlier this month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called for government action to confront "widespread exclusion of women directors" in the US film and television industries. In letters to federal and California state civil rights authorities, it said women directors face "a systematic pattern and practice of discrimination and exclusion" that cannot be allowed to stand. In 2014, it said, women accounted for only seven percent of directors on the year's top 250 grossing films, down two percentage points from 1998. Gyllenhaal, the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal, was nominated for an Academy Award for 2009's "Crazy Heart." Her brother won an Oscar nod for 2005's "Brokeback Mountain." Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Cannes Critics' Week SACD prize awarded to 'La tierra y la sombra'
Thursday May 21, 2015
Cannes Critics' Week SACD prize awarded to 'La tierra y la sombra'

The Colombian film "La Tierra y la Sombra" ("Land and Shade") by director C├ęsar Augusto Acevedo has been announced as the winner of the SACD prize, part of the Cannes Critics' Week (Semaine de la Critique).This authors' society prize is intended to support new authors and rewards €4,000 to one of the seven films in the Critics' Week competition. The jury is made up of filmmakers that are also SACD board members. Acevedo was born in 1987 in Cali, Colombia. His film is set in Colombia's Cauca Valley, where an old farmer returns home to care for his ailing son and discovers a wasteland of sugercane plantations he now must face to save his family. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Ancient China setting for delicate 'Assassin' at Cannes
Thursday May 21, 2015
Ancient China setting for delicate 'Assassin' at Cannes

"The Assassin" has an exciting title and its star, Shu Qi, performs wicked fighting moves, but make no mistake: the latest movie from Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien to premiere at Cannes is a study in lingering, minimalist art.The film is set in 9th-century China, at the end of the Tang Dynasty, with Shu playing a highly trained female assassin who, after failing in one mission, is sent back to her home province to kill its governor, who is also the man she loves. From that premise, a martial arts spectacular of flying assailants and swirling swords might have been born. But the director, Hou, has instead applied the contemplative, distant aesthetic he has become known for in pictures such as "Millennium Mambo" and "The Puppetmaster". The handful of fight scenes are over in seconds, and involve none of the wire-work that an earlier Taiwanese wuxia (martial arts) movie, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", made famous. Of more interest to Hou are meditative scenes in which movements and actors' performances are pared down so much that even the movement of a silk sleeve or a curtain dominates. The effect -- enhanced by rich, intricate compositions by cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bing -- is painterly and slow moving to the point of trance-inducing. The plot unfurls as a somnolent river would, with no rocks of exposition to guide the viewer. - Critics hail movie's beauty - Critics unanimously hailed the movie's beauty but were divided over its accessibility and its chances in the Cannes competition for the Palme d'Or. Many tweeted it was an arthouse "masterpiece" that deserved the top award. But others, including The Hollywood Reporter trade magazine, said "its refinement may weigh against it for fans hungering after spectacular kung fu". Hou, 68, told AFP in an interview that he was drawn to wuxia novels as a child and always wanted to turn one into a movie. The Tang Dynasty's storied existence also fascinated him. "During the Tang dynasty there was an enormous number of female assassins, whereas before they tended to be men in a male-dominated society," he said. "And of course I was also inspired by the actress, Shu Qi, with whom I wanted to work because of her personality and her temperament. She reminded me of these female assassins, so the link was established quite naturally." Hou said Shu's contemporary dance training stood her in good stead for the sudden bursts of graceful physicality of the role. "If I continue with this genre of films, I will ask her to take on the action scenes," he said. Copyright AFP Relaxnews, 2015. This article was from AFP Relax News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Red carpet Emergency Room at Cannes is always full of drama
Thursday May 21, 2015
Red carpet Emergency Room at Cannes is always full of drama

CANNES, France (AP) — For most of the year, room 331 of the Martinez Hotel is just your run-of-the mill luxury five star hotel suite. But during the Cannes Film Festival, it is radically transformed into a red carpet emergency room — where celebrities like Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman can rush if they pop out of a dress, or a zipper breaks minutes before their film premieres at the Cannes Palais, the festival HQ just a stone's throw away. Paris fashion house Elie Saab is room 331's occupant this year, equipped with fitters, assistants and tailors in full war mode. "There's always drama," said Emilie Legendre Guillaumaud, Elie Saab's head of communications. "This year we've dressed Naomi Watts, with Lea Seydoux, Sonam Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai coming in here." "We haven't had any emergencies this year," she said, before pausing. "So far." The last day is the one normally packed with the most drama, she said, because winning actresses are often called back unexpectedly for the awards ceremony. That happened to Cannes best actress winner Berenice Bejo, star of "The Artist," who in 2013 had to be flown in at the eleventh hour from Paris. "It was the very last minute before the ceremony that we had to fit her," said Legendre Guillaumaud. "It's very stressful." The Martinez's close proximity — half a mile — from the festival location makes it a perfect location. Top actresses can hop into their limos and be driven down the glamorous croisette in style, with spectators unaware of the drama that has just transpired. Legendre Guillaumaud recounts how the entourage of Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi once rushed in within minutes of the ceremony. "Major alterations were needed so we just cut the dress, and the stylist ran off along with it," she said. Sometimes the red carpet emergency room team needs to go into the Palais to sew actresses into dresses. That is especially the case for members of the Cannes jury, who are holed up in a bunker before the awards ceremony, sequestered from the press. "One member of the jury, actress Alexandra Maria Lara, was in the bunker and burst out of the dress and the zipper broke," said Legendre Guillaumaud. "We literally had to stitch her into it back stage just before she went on." The red carpet can be a cruel world — but there is help out there. ___ Thomas Adamson Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was written by Thomas Adamson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.