Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part One, Review

The Twilight Saga, an up-to-now-entertaining set of films about a love triangle between a vampire with a quiff, a dour-faced schoolgirl and a werewolf who can’t act, has always attracted an unreasonable amount of bile. Unusually, it hasn't come from critics, so much as the droves of young, straight males with a broadband connection who resent that a popular movie series has the gall to pander to an audience other than them.

Crowds largely made up of teenage girls and their approving mothers have so far spent £1.13 billion watching Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) brood and mumble their way through three increasingly well-made films that authentically captured the misery of being a love-struck teenager.

The Twilight Saga's Breaking Dawn Part I" becomes the latest movie that is being parodied by "The Muppets". In several brand new posters of the upcoming comedy film, Miss Piggy and friends are seen imitating the pose of the main characters in the famous vampire film series. They also change the title into "The Muppet Saga".

Rocking her trademark red gown and pearl necklace, Miss Piggy is featured as Bella Swine, a parodied version of Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan. Meanwhile, Kermit the Frog is Vamphibian, a twisted version of Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen. In another one-sheet, Rowlf the Dog appears as WereRowlf, which is a parody for Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black.

"Breaking Dawn Part I" itself will be released in theaters across the nation on November 18. The cast recently attended the star-studded premiere of this latest "Twilight" movie at at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles on Monday, November 14.

As for "The Muppets", the comedy will be dropped in U.S. theaters on November 23. It will see Miss Piggy and the gang teaming up with humans, Gary and Mary, to stop the mean Tex Richman from destroying Muppet Theater and Muppets Studio to drill oil. Jason Segel plays Gary, Amy Adams stars as his girlfriend Mary, while Chris Cooper portrays Tex.

Serving as the helmer for the comedy film is James Bobin. The script is penned by Segel along with Nicholas Stoller. The film will feature a slew of A-list cameos, including Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, Lady GaGa, George Clooney, Katy Perry, Ben Stiller and more.
But this fourth and penultimate film, in which Edward and Bella marry and finally consummate their relationship, takes an Olympic-pole-vault-sized leap backwards. Director Bill Condon and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg have adapted Stephenie Meyer’s awkward source novel into a formless, gormless soap opera: it’s a humourless, incoherent bore that lives down to the very worst stereotypes associated with the franchise.

After a brief prologue in which the cast receive their wedding invitations and Jacob gets so angry he takes his t-shirt off – don’t question it, it’s what he does – the film opens with Edward and Bella’s long-awaited nuptials. These are admittedly well-mounted and the bride’s Pippa Middleton dress is very on-trend. They also give the unsung heroes of the Twilight cast, Billy Burke as Bella’s father Charlie and Anna Kendrick as her friend Jessica, their once-per-film chance to show off: in this case, in an enjoyable after-dinner speech montage that recalls a scene from this summer’s sleeper hit comedy Bridesmaids. The happy couple then jet off on their Brazilian honeymoon, during which the groom’s enthusiastic lovemaking demolishes their four-poster bed – well, after 200-odd years of abstinence, it would do.
Read more »

'Dancing With the Stars' semifinals: Ricki rules; Hope sinks

The four semifinalists got intense Monday night as they competed for the three spots in next week's final week of Dancing With the Stars. Hope Solo, Rob Kardashian, Ricki Lake and J.R. Martinez had to dance three dances - two individual numbers (one an Argentine tango) and a Cha Cha relay. Dancing with the Stars': Hope out of the game

Injuries. Insults. The night had all the usual drama. Here's how the stars stacked up:

Ricki Lake and her partner Derek Hough were bright and cheery in yellow costumes for their first number, a samba. "I can taste the finals," said Ricki in rehearsals. And she probably can. The crowd went nuts for their well-done dance, even though Ricki seemed to think she had flubbed some of it. Judge Len Goodman raved: "Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous." Bruno Tonioli called it "sizzling hot, bright and brilliant." And Carrie Ann Inaba praised Ricki for finally getting her shoulders down. Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30

Before her second dance, Ricki's backstory was shown. She talked about growing up outside of New York City and seeing Annie, which made her want to be on stage. But she said, "I was molested in my own home," and that prompted her to turn to food, hitting 260 pounds at one point. She then managed to lose 100 pounds and launched a successful talk show. After it ended in 2003, she had a "really bad divorce," so she moved to L.A. to start over. Her precise tango was much praised. "Ricki, I don't think you know how good that was," said Len. Bruno said he was "transported" by it. Carrie Ann said she noticed Ricki's core strength had improved and said the dance had "pop." Scores: 9, 10, 10 = 29 Total: 59

Her Cha Cha earned her an 8. Total for the night: 67.

Rob Kardashian said in his rehearsal segment "It's my time to peak," and he picked a good time to do it. Using his secret weapon - his "butt" - he shook and shimmied in a lively samba with partner Cheryl Burke. Mom Kris, stepdad Bruce Jenner, sister Kourtney and her baby, Mason, all cheered like crazy, along with the rest of the audience. Carrie Ann raved: "Holy cow! ... fantastic!" Len and Bruno agreed. "That's how you turn a handicap into an asset," said Bruno. Scores: 10, 9, 9 = 28

Rob's backstory showed that he has had to cope with being the only guy in a house full of ambitious girls. He was close to his father, famed defense lawyer Robert Kardashian, who died of cancer in 2003, and he has been trying to figure out what to do with his life. "He entered the competition as a boy. What I see now is this man," said his mom, Kris Jenner. (Rob is 24.)

His Argentine tango was manly enough. "There's no way to fake good dancing," said Carrie Ann. "That was good strong dancing, good strong leading." Len said he was "finishing strong." And Bruno said, "You started out as a goofy outsider. Now you look like a leading man - slick, dark, handsome, in control." Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27 Total: 55

His Cha Cha earned him a 10. Total for the night: 65

J.R. Martinez twisted his ankle in rehearsal on Saturday and lost practice time resting it, so he worried that it would affect his paso doble. Blindfolded and looking like Zorro, he managed to twirl his partner Karina Smirnoff around the floor, but his style was definitely not up to the bar he set last week with perfect scores. Not only that, he was hobbling when he got off the floor at the end of his dance, and he said he had twisted his ankle again. The crowd was supportive, giving him a standing ovation and lots of cheers. Bruno praised his attitude, but said his posture was lacking. Carrie Ann agreed. Len said, "This dance didn't suit you at all. It was more zero than Zorro." Scores: 8, 7, 8 = 23.

J.R.'s story of being injured in Iraq was recounted before he took to the floor for an Argentine tango that didn't seem to show he was suffering from any injury. J.R. acted mad about it, as if he hadn't performed well. Again, the crowd stood and cheered. Bruno called it "incredible." Carrie Ann said the lifts were difficult and he "commanded it." Len said it had "mood and intensity." J.R. said that his ankle was in pain, but the doctor had re-taped it. "This is not the time to quit. At all." Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27. Total: 50.

His Cha Cha earned him another 6 points. Total for the night: 56

Before Hope Solo tackled her paso doble, she needed a big shot from her doc. Apparently she has major shoulder pain from a tear she suffered at some point in the past. "I'm in pain pretty much the entire time on the dance floor," she said. But you couldn't tell in her fiery (there were flames shooting from a box on the ballroom floor), aggressive paso with partner Maks Chmerkovskiy. The dance didn't impress the judges, however. Len said Hope "lost finesse." Bruno said she was "untamed" - in a good way - but her dance lacked "artistry." Carrie Ann said she"nailed the character of the dance," but was lacking otherwise. Scores: 7, 7, 7 = 24. "Thank you, everybody!" said Maks, not meaning a word of it. "It's a new Stepford Maks," said host Tom Bergeron.

Before her second dance, we saw a taped segment of Hope being a tough competitor, even as a kid. She spoke of her parents' difficult divorce and she cried as she recounted her dad's troubled life.

Later, her Argentine tango was fierce. Len called it a "bullfight of tasty morsels." Bruno said it was "much better" than her first dance. And Carrie Ann cited Hope's lack of "grace." As Carrie started her critique, Maks started smiling (in a sarcastic way). Hope sounded ticked after that, telling co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet, "I think from Day One they've wanted me off the show!" Scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24 Total: 45.
She came in last place in the Cha cha, adding 4 to her score. Total for the night: 49
Read more »

Crackdowns reach epicenter of Wall Street protests

The encampment is gone, but the movement lives on still. What nobody knows is just how long it can survive without a literal place to call home. Crackdowns reach epicenter of Wall Street protests. N.Y. judge backs ouster of Occupy protester. U.S. Mayors Crack Down on Occupy Wall Street.
For Occupy Wall Street, Zuccotti Park was a rallying cry — a symbol of defiance against a government and a society that the protesters wanted to overthrow. But in recent weeks, the park itself unwittingly morphed into a mirror image of the world it was trying to change: a microcosm of society rife with crime, drug problems and fights over things like real estate and access to medical care.

That's why, after protesters were hauled out of the park during a police raid early Tuesday, some organizers believe the loss of their camp is actually a blessing in disguise.

"This is much bigger than a square plaza in downtown Manhattan," said Hans Shan, an organizer who was working with churches to find places for protesters to sleep Tuesday night. "You can't evict an idea whose time has come."

The protesters have been camped out in the privately owned park since mid-September and had vowed to stay put indefinitely. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he ordered the sweep because health and safety conditions had become "intolerable" in the crowded plaza. The raid was conducted in the middle of the night "to reduce the risk of confrontation" and "to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood," he said.

By early Tuesday evening, some protesters were being allowed back into the park two by two. But they could each take only a small bag after a judge ruled Tuesday afternoon that their free speech rights do not extend to pitching a tent and setting up camp for months at a time.

Pete Dutro, head of the group's finances, said the loss of the movement's original encampment will open up a dialogue with other cities and take the protest to the next level of action.

"We all knew this was coming," Dutro said. "Now it's time for us to not be tucked away in Zuccotti Park, and have different areas of occupation throughout the city."

Where will they go next remains unclear. Without a place to congregate, protesters will have a difficult time communicating with each other en masse. The leaders of the movement spent most of Tuesday gathering in small groups throughout the city — in church basements, in public plazas and on street corners — and relaying plans in scattered text messages and email.

For now, they're planning to move forward with plans for a day of civil disobedience and marches on Thursday, which has been in the works for weeks. And they'll be joined by angry city leaders who publicly denounced Bloomberg for the nighttime raid.

Robert Harrington, owner of a small importing business in New York, stood outside the barricade with a sign calling for tighter banking regulations.

"To be effective it almost has to move out of the park," Harrington said. "It's like the antiwar movement in the '60s, which started as street theater and grew into something else."

"The issues," he added, "are larger than just this camp."

The next challenge is figuring out how to decentralize the movement and give it staying power.

"People are really recognizing that we need to build a movement here," Shan said. "What we're dedicated to is not just about occupying space. That's a tactic."

The aggressive raid seemed to mark a shift in the city's dealings with the Wall Street protests. Only a week ago, Bloomberg privately told a group of executives and journalists that he thought reports of problems at the park had been exaggerated and didn't require any immediate intervention.

It was the third raid of a major camp in a span of three days, as police broke up camps Sunday in Portland, Ore., and Monday in Oakland, Calif.

The timing did not appear to be coincidental. On Tuesday, authorities acknowledged that police departments across the nation consulted with each other about nonviolent ways to clear encampments. Officers in as many as 40 cities participated in the conference calls.

When New York police began their crackdown at 1 a.m., most of the Occupy Wall Street protesters were sleeping.

Officers arrived by the hundreds and set up powerful klieg lights to illuminate the block. They handed out notices from Brookfield Office Properties, the park's owner, and the city saying that the plaza had to be cleared because it had become unsanitary and hazardous.

Many people left, carrying their belongings with them. Others tried to make a stand, locking arms or even chaining themselves together with bicycle locks.

Dennis Iturrralde was fast asleep on a cot when the shouting woke him up. Dark figures were running through the tents in the dim orange light of streetlamps. Something slammed into the cot, flipping him to the ground.

"They were tearing everything apart," Iturralde said. "They were hitting people, spraying people if they didn't move fast enough."

Within minutes, police in riot gear had swarmed the park, ripping down tents and tarps. The air was filled with the sound of rustling tarps, rumbling garbage trucks, shouts and equipment crashing to the ground.

Around 200 people were arrested, including a member of the City Council, at least a half-dozen journalists covering the confrontation and dozens who tried to resist the eviction by linking arms in a tight circle at the center of the park.

The arrested journalists included a reporter and photographer from The Associated Press who were held for four hours before being released.

In contrast to the scene weeks ago in Oakland, where a similar eviction turned chaotic and violent, the police action was comparatively orderly. But some protesters complained of being hit by police batons and shoved to the ground.

The police commissioner said officers gave the crowd 45 minutes to retrieve their belongings before starting to dismantle tents, and let people leave voluntarily until around 3:30 a.m., when they moved in to make mass arrests.

"Arresting people is not easy," he said, adding that he thought the officers "showed an awful lot of restraint in the face of "an awful lot of taunting, people getting in police officers' faces, calling them names."

The ouster at Zuccotti Park came as a rift within the movement had been widening between the park's full-time residents and the movement's power players, most of whom no longer lived in the park.

Some residents of the park have been grumbling about the recent formation of a "spokescouncil," an upper echelon of organizers who held meetings at a high school near police headquarters. Some protesters felt that the selection of any leaders whatsoever wasn't true to Occupy Wall Street's original anti-government spirit: That no single person is more important or more powerful than another person.

"Right now we're in the organizing stages of building a national movement," said protester Sandra Nurse. "I think this is going to serve as more momentum to draw people in."
Read more »