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'Deepwater Horizon' film stirs emotion in victims' families

Arleen Weise was apprehensive when she learned Hollywood was making a movie about the offshore explosion that killed her son, Adam, and 10 other men aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

Watching an advance screening of the action film last month stoked her grief and anger, and the shock hasn't quite worn off yet. Weise said she's still struggling to decide how she ultimately feels about how "Deepwater Horizon" portrays the last day of her son's life before he died in the explosion off Louisiana's coast.

"The first viewing of it is shocking for a family member to see that," she said. "Hearing and seeing are always two different things."

While their reactions to the movie vary, Weise and other relatives of the 11 workers who died in the April 20, 2010, rig explosion hope it will remind people about the disaster's human toll. Many family members believe a focus on the catastrophic environmental damage from BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unjustly overshadowed their loved ones' deaths.

"They just swept the 11 men under the rug," Weise said.

The movie, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson, is scheduled for nationwide release Friday.

The filmmakers already have privately screened the movie for relatives of the workers who died in the explosion triggered by the blowout of BP's Macondo well. The screenplay is based in part on an article by New York Times reporters who interviewed survivors of the blast, which led to the nation's worst offshore oil spill.

Berg reached out to family members after news of the production surfaced.

"I know how personal this story is to you," he wrote in a letter to Shelley Anderson, the widow of Jason Anderson. "The film is meant to honor and pay tribute to all the men and women who worked aboard the Deepwater Horizon, especially the heroic men, like Jason, who lost their lives."

Anderson believes Berg succeeded in honoring the 11 men. She said the actor who plays her husband captured some of his mannerisms, like the ways he crossed his arms or told a joke. But she had to close her eyes at times, and she burst into tears at others.

Anderson, of Midfield, Texas, said her 7-year-old son, Ryver, who was 15 months old when his father died, recently saw a trailer for the movie on television and asked, "Is that when daddy died?"

"Now he's going to remember seeing it on TV. I don't like that," she said. "It is so real to us that it hurts to experience it over and over again."

Relatives said photographs of the 11 men are shown on screen at the end of the movie. Besides Anderson and Adam Weise, they were Aaron Dale Burkeen, Donald Clark, Stephen Ray Curtis, Gordon Jones, Roy Wyatt Kemp, Karl Kleppinger Jr., Keith Blair Manuel, Dewey Revette and Shane Roshto. All 11 men are portrayed by actors in the movie.

"I do feel honored that they called my husband a hero," said Courtney Kemp Robertson, Kemp's widow. "I feel very proud of that, but I was already proud of my husband before a movie was ever made."

The filmmakers invited relatives to visit the set last year. Weise said she inadvertently snubbed actor John Malkovich, whom she mistook for a BP employee. Malkovich was dressed in a shirt with a BP logo and playing the role of Donald Vidrine, one of two BP rig supervisors charged with manslaughter over the workers' deaths.

Federal prosecutors, who later dropped the manslaughter charges, accused Vidrine and Robert Kaluza of botching a crucial safety test before the explosion.

Vidrine pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor pollution charge and was sentenced to 10 months of probation. A jury acquitted Kaluza, who also is played by an actor.

Shaun Clarke, Kaluza's attorney, said his client isn't concerned about his portrayal in the movie.

"He knows what the truth is, and he was vindicated at trial," Clarke said.

Weise, of Victoria, Texas, said the movie stirred up anger she has tried to suppress while grieving for her 24-year-old son.

"BP looks awful (in the movie), and that makes me so happy," she said.

Keith Jones, Gordon's father, praised Berg for striving to present an accurate account of the disaster.

"It was a fair portrayal of BP's decisions, and it left the viewer to decide why BP made those decisions. But it's obvious to me that BP made those decisions to save money," said Jones, an attorney based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Billy Anderson, Jason's father, said the film "really shows what those men went through."

"It actually helped me, seeing the way they handled it. It gave me a little bit of closure," said Anderson, of Blessing, Texas.

Review: Riveting 'Deepwater Horizon' captivates throughout

The story of the aftermath, even 6 years later, is still being written. The how-did-it-happen is another thing, and the point of director Peter Berg's intensely thrilling indictment of the greed and gross negligence that contributed to the horrific outcome.

Like the best true stories translated to film, this well-known ending works for Berg, not against him. He and writers Matthew Sand and Matthew Michael Carnahan know, as Ron Howard did with "Apollo 13" and James Cameron knew with "Titanic," that it's not about whether they live or they die or if the ship goes down or all are saved. It's about the process and those decisions, big or small, corrupt or well-intentioned, that made this disaster inevitable.

Based on a New York Times article, "Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours," the film is about the crew — the men and women aboard just doing their jobs. Mark Wahlberg anchors as Mike Williams, a no-nonsense engineer, who leaves his wife (Kate Hudson) and precocious daughter at home for his dangerous job on the rig. An early scene with a school science project spells out exactly what he and his co-workers do and foreshadows what will go wrong. It's the kind of set up that on paper likely seems too cutesy, but here, it not only works, it actually builds tension rather effectively.

"Deepwater Horizon" rises above expectations of what a movie like this is capable of at every turn — restrained where you think it might go too big or sentimental, and genuinely affecting when you think you're gearing up for an eye-roll. Wahlberg may be an easy punchline, but he's an underrated everyman and at his subdued best here. Even Hudson, in the generally thankless concerned-wife role, makes it seem worthwhile.

It's a welcome step up for Berg, too, whose patriotic bombast and cliche romanticism overwhelmed "Lone Survivor." Here, you really internalize the plight and rage of the workers, even though most people in the audience aren't likely to ever set a foot on an oil rig.

When Kurt Russell's crew leader Jimmy Harrell gets angry at the corporate brass for having neglected to perform some critical safety tests, you're angry right along with him. The execs like Don Vidrine (a perfectly slimy John Malkovich) see only that they're behind schedule and over budget and are cutting corners with abandon even as the rig seems to be faltering underneath them.

Jimmy and Mike eventually convince them to run a few tests — a white knuckle endeavor for everyone involved and, well, you can torture a statistic until it talks and it seems it might be the same for a pressure test. So they proceed, and, of course, things go spectacularly wrong.

It is a spectacle indeed — a must-see horror of fire and oil as this unbelievably massive structure explodes and crumbles around all the people we've gotten to know, like Gina Rodriguez's Andrea Fleytas, Dylan O'Brien's Caleb Holloway and Ethan Suplee's Jason Anderson. It's the rare film that can make you care about, and be able to tell the difference between, over a dozen characters.

I would have liked to have seen more of the rescue efforts from the Navy, more of the aftermath, but Berg keeps things focused, and the movie is likely better off for it. "Deepwater Horizon" achieves that impossible balance of being a tribute to the workers who both perished and survived that day and a searing critique of the rotten system that put them there in the first place.

"Deepwater Horizon," a Lionsgate release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language." Running time: 107 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.

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MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Associated Press buys British Movietone film archive

The Associated Press has purchased the film archive of British Movietone, bolstering the news cooperative's collection with historic video from World War II, the Beatles' conquest of America and the romance between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

The newsreels, acquired from Newsreel Archive, were originally shown in movie theaters twice a week and were the first to have sound and color. The archive includes the first recorded speeches of personalities such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and George Bernard Shaw, as well as the only footage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding filmed in high definition on 35mm film.

"The British Movietone archive is a gem of visual heritage and an incredible resource for content creators," Gary Pruitt, AP's president and CEO, said Tuesday. "For AP to become its new custodian is a true privilege, and it perfectly complements AP's own extensive archive collection."

Most of the archive has been digitized and is available for licensing, but about 15 percent of the library has never been seen by the public. This footage includes material that failed to make it into news bulletins or was barred by censors during World War II. The Associated Press hopes to digitize and release the material over time.

The collection also includes features on social issues, entertainment, lifestyle and sports that became increasingly important during the 1950s and 1960s when television news began to replace newsreels in cinemas. The reports offer a glimpse of decades when change rocked society at an unprecedented pace, including advances in medicine and computers.

"By acquiring British Movietone, we are cementing our position as the foremost supplier of news and historical video," said Alwyn Lindsey, AP's vice president of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The AP had partnered with Newsreel Archive to make the British Movietone collection available internationally for the past five years — including a YouTube channel featuring a selection of Movietone films. AP clients will be able to access the material via the AP Archive. Once the sale is completed, Newsreel Archive PTY will act as AP's exclusive archive distribution partner in Australia and New Zealand.

"Through our many years of working with AP, we appreciate how the British Movietone archive collection will benefit from being further integrated within the vast AP network and made even more widely available than it is today," said Matthew Miranda, Newsreel Archive's CEO.

AP Exclusive: New film academy members talk #OscarsSoWhite

The newest members of the film academy say the #OscarsSoWhite crisis inspired them to seek membership.

At a private reception Monday for the latest academy inductees, actors Chadwick Boseman and Rita Wilson were among the new members who told The Associated Press they joined the organization to advance the diversity discussion in the film industry.

"I felt obligated to join," said Boseman, who plays Thurgood Marshall and Marvel hero Black Panther in upcoming films. "After a certain number of years when you see something happen and you feel like there are worthy films that should be nominated or presented, yeah, you have to join. You have to be a voice."

Wilson said #OscarsSoWhite moved her to join the organization her husband, Tom Hanks, has been active with for years.

"I have never been a member and I thought this is the right time," she said. "It feels right because it seemed to me the academy was really open to hearing what the issues were, not only with color but with women and all sorts of diversity."

After two years of an all-white slate of acting nominees for the Academy Awards spawned its own hashtag, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made significant changes to its voting practices and announced intentions to double the number of female and minority members by 2020. The organization has historically been overwhelmingly white and male.

Monday's reception at Catch restaurant in West Hollywood, California, celebrated the largest and most diverse class of invitees to date.

"You are proof that the academy is committed to and working toward its goal of inclusion," academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told the guests as they sipped Champagne and snacked on lobster macaroni and cheese. "Together, you are among the 683 new members of the academy."

Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy said she wants to "open up the diversity issue" now that she's an academy member.

"I think we have to address everything," she said. "It's not just Oscars so white. It's Oscars so male, Oscars so straight...Hopefully the new member initiative that the academy announced will help."

The momentum is there, said veteran publicist Lisa Taback, who joined the organization this year.

"I think they're on a great track," she said, "certainly reaching out to more women and trying to find a little more of a gender balance, so that's very exciting to me and important to me."

The party had little agenda other than to mingle and enjoy. Boone Isaacs briefly addressed the crowd, followed by academy chief Dawn Hudson, who joked about the event coinciding with the presidential debate.

"I'm so impressed that you all came tonight," she said. "It just proves that art trumps politics."

She urged the new members to take their new responsibilities seriously by voting for Oscar nominees and winners.

"You can vote all year round at the academy," she quipped, referring to the organization's various contests for emerging talents.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

Marilyn Monroe's dresses, notes, checkbook seen before sale

Marilyn Monroe's dress from "Some Like It Hot." Handwritten notes and letters expressing the Hollywood icon's inner thoughts and, at times, despair.

These and dozens of other personal items the actress left to a friend and mentor were in Beijing on Tuesday for a private viewing by Chinese collectors. More than 1,200 items, including Monroe's shoes, purses, makeup and jewelry, will then be auctioned in Los Angeles come November.

The 1950s actress who achieved fame as a sex symbol led a troubled life and died aged just 36. The image and recollections of her have endured and made her into a pop culture icon. Now the personal items up for auction may invite new readings of the screen legend in the world as well as in China, a country she never visited.

"Last night I was awake all night again," she writes to her therapist in March 1961. "Sometimes I wonder what the night time is for. It almost doesn't exist for me — it all seems like one long, long horrible day." She goes on to describe her recent time in a mental institution, which she likens to a being sent to a prison "for a crime I hadn't committed."

"Oh, well, men are climbing to the moon but they don't seem interested in the beating human heart," she writes.

Around 800 items to be auctioned come from the estate of Lee Strasberg, the famed American acting coach who became a father figure to Monroe. The money will go to his widow, Anna. Other items come from the collection of David Gainsborough-Roberts, a major collector of Monroe's costumes.

The hundreds of items include dresses and outfits, the negligee she wore in the movie "Niagara" and the green and black-sequined leotard she picked out herself from a studio wardrobe to wear in "Bus Stop." There is a tube of her "non-smear" Revlon lipstick in "Bachelor's Carnation" shade, the shoes she wore to marry playwright Arthur Miller, and the pair of costume earrings that she wore to the premiere of "The Seven Year Itch."

Then there are the personal notes, crayon drawings and watercolors.

Lee Strasberg's son, David, said that he, his mother and brother found many of the items in suitcases and closets about six years ago during a clean-out, including one trunk he'd been throwing his football cleats on for years that turned out to contain some of Monroe's personal writings.

"She writes a note to my dad talking about something she heard in class, and she says, 'It helped me feel freer — you said two plus two does not necessary equal four in acting,'" said Strasberg, 45. "There's logic and then there's imagination, there's something more. And for Marilyn, I think she was always after that 'something more.'"

Monroe, who would have turned 90 this year, spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage and became one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, trading off her sex appeal and an image as a vacuous blonde. Off camera, she struggled with drug addiction and depression. She died from an overdose of barbiturates.

Some items up for auction have never been seen by the public before. They include a first-edition hand-bound 1957 volume of her third husband Miller's plays dedicated to Monroe, and a letter from a member of the Kennedy family.

The early 1960s letter is from Jean Kennedy Smith, sister of politicians President John F. Kennedy and Robert "Bobby" Kennedy. Smith writes to Monroe: "Understand that you and Bobby are the new item! We all think you should come with him when he comes back East!"

"There's always speculation about her relationship with the Kennedys and this speaks to the fact that there was in fact a relationship between Robert Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe," said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, which will be handling the sale.

Among the quirkier items are a receipt for a bottle of champagne, her 1947 contract with Twentieth Century Fox and a recipe for stuffing jotted down on a slip of paper with an insurance company's letterhead. Her final checkbook shows her payments to the window cleaner, her maid and the New York Telephone Co. She paid $200 to herself marked as "cash for trips."

"Marilyn kept everything. She was a hoarder," said Nolan. "She bought a pound of butter, she bought a bottle of tonic water she kept the receipt. It's incredible. We have a pair of strap sandals that she wore when she was Norma Jean, probably 1943, 1945. And all the money she made and how famous she became and she kept those."

Although Western movies were banned in China during Monroe's heyday, her pop culture image and aspects of her life are well-known among many Chinese.

Darren Julien, founder and CEO of Julien Auction's, said about 40 percent of their client base are Chinese collectors interested in Western pop culture, and particularly Monroe.

"A lot of people relate to her because she had actually a very difficult life in a lot of ways. She never had a lot of money, but she captured the hearts of so many people around the world," said Julien.

In recent years, wealthy Chinese citizens and private businesses have become big spenders in the art and pop culture worlds, often as a way to display their wealth or find a place to park their money. Real-time online bidding has made it easier for Chinese collectors to buy Western pop culture.

The auction takes place Nov. 17-19 in Los Angeles.

Filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns honored by historical society

Brothers and fellow filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns have received an honorary prize from the New-York Historical Society.

The Burns siblings, whose many credits together and separately include documentaries on the Pilgrims, baseball and New York, were presented with the society's History Makers Award at a gala benefit Monday night in Manhattan. Society executive committee chair Roger Hertog praised the filmmakers as "candle lighters" and "whistle blowers" who showed how understanding history was vital to the present. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, a featured commentator for Ken Burns' "Jazz," performed a brief duet with pianist Dan Nimmer.

The Burns brothers, speaking together on stage, exchanged compliments and family memories. Ken Burns spoke of their mother dying of cancer when they were kids and how that loss has stayed with him through his long career, making his pursuit of the past deeply personal. He praised his brother for bringing a "gift of language" to their work, while Ric Burns noted the fierce dedication of his older border, with whom he first collaborated on the acclaimed Civil War documentary series released in 1990.

"If he thought you didn't care as much as he did, it literally would enrage him," Ric Burns said.

Previous winners of the History Makers Award include "Hamilton" playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, Henry Kissinger and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who on Monday night was debating Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts separating after 11 years

Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts are separating after 11 years together.

The celebrity couple says in a joint statement Monday they've "come to the conclusion that the best way forward for us as a family is to separate as a couple."

Schreiber and Watts have been together since 2005.

They have two children and are not married.

They added in the statement "it is with great love, respect and friendship in our hearts that we look forward to raising our children together and exploring this new phase of our relationship."

No other details were provided.

Schreiber stars in the Showtime series "Ray Donovan" and his film credits include "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," ''Salt" and "Scream."

Watts has appeared in such movies as "St. Vincent," ''The Ring" and "Mullholland Drive."

Herschell Gordon Lewis, 'godfather of gore,' dies at 87

Herschell Gordon Lewis, the horror filmmaker known as the "godfather of gore," died Monday at 87.

The director of such films as "Blood Feast" and "Two Thousand Maniacs" died in his sleep at his home in Pompano Beach, Florida, his spokesman James Saito said.

Lewis pioneered the horror genre in the 1960s known as the "splatter film," which intentionally focused on gore and gruesomeness.

His low-cost, envelope-pushing films unabashedly featured blood, violence and nudity.

Other horror films created by Lewis included "A Taste of Blood," ''The Wizard of Gore," ''The Gruesome Twosome," ''She-Devils on Wheels" and "Scum of the Earth!"

Lewis worked in advertising and financed most of his own films.

John Waters, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and James Gunn are among the modern-day filmmakers who were inspired by Lewis' work.

Gunn posted his condolences on Twitter and said Lewis "changed cinema."

Review: Wee, weird heroes star in 'Miss Peregrine's Home'

After a steady stream this year of Batman, Superman, Captain America, X-Men and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it's time now for a group of kids who float, are invisible, who spark fire, manipulate plants, control bees and give life to inanimate objects. Not really, X-Men exactly. Call them X-Tweens.

They're the unlikely young heroes and heroines of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," the Tim Burton-directed 3-D film loosely based on the novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs. Sweet, with some mind-blowing visual effects, it's the perfect film for your young disaffected mutant friends.

Asa Butterfield (Martin Scorsese's "Hugo") plays a young adult who stumbles upon a secret refuge for supernaturally gifted youngsters hiding in a time loop in 1943. Our hero befriends the mysterious schoolmarm Miss Peregrine (a delicious Eva Green, channeling a sexy Mary Poppins by way of Helena Bonham Carter) and learns that the children are in danger from ever-growing malevolent forces.

Burton is a natural choice to direct: The material already has that gloomy, Victorian vibe, a stylized dreamlike quality, and a sort of Goth-punk look, which is catnip to the director of "Edward Scissorhands." He also famously adores misfits; here, the screen is filled with them.

No surprise the job of turning the book into a film was handed to Jane Goldman, who is familiar both with mutants and the 1940s, having been the screenwriter for "X-Men: First Class." A somewhat ponderous first half leads to a hard-charging second, filled with ingenious fight-scenes, glorious ocean liners and sublime underwater moments.

The film should come with a Harry Potter-like warning for those allergic to new whimsical vocabulary terms like "ymbrines," ''Hollows" and "hollowgasts." But go with it. Your head will be in pain soon enough trying to make sense of the increasingly elaborate rules of time-travel and body shifting.

The peculiar children of the film's title are certainly unique but you can find plenty of other films in the DNA of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," particularly skeleton soldiers from "Jason and the Argonauts," the X-Men franchise for making freaks lovable, "Groundhog Day" and even the underappreciated Hayden Christensen film "Jumper," which also has time shifting at its core and the same sort of evil force in Samuel L. Jackson.

Hyper-stylized films like Burton's usually create stiff performances, but Terence Stamp is grounded as a knowing grandfather and Chris O'Dowd is perfectly oafish as a clueless dad. Other cameos are by Judi Dench, Allison Janney and Rupert Everett (blink and you miss them). Ella Purnell is lovely and understated as a love interest; she's buoyant, in more ways than one.

So stretch your definition of heroes to include, say, a cute little girl with razor-sharp teeth on the back of her head. "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" has all the making of a super franchise — the call of destiny, the making of heroes and the embrace of kinship. Plus, of course, coming to terms with your inner freak.

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "intense sequences of fantasy violence and peril." Running time: 127 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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MPAA Definition of PG-13: Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Online: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

Variety to host diversity conference, Pharrell to speak

Variety will host a conference of film executives and stars to discuss solutions to Hollywood's lagging record in diversity.

The conference, which Variety is to announce Monday, will include keynote conversations with Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Studios, and Pharrell Williams. The singer-producer is co-composing the score for the upcoming "Hidden Figures," a film about African-American mathematicians working for NASA in the early 1960s.

Dubbed "Inclusion," the conference is to be held Nov. 1 in Beverly Hills, California. It will include a number of panels focused on finding ways to support underrepresented groups in film and television.

"There is no issue in Hollywood more important and relevant than diversity and inclusion," Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, group publisher of Variety, said in a statement.

Age discrimination is also a planned discussion topic at the conference, co-sponsored by AARP. As a way to combat age discrimination, California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation to require websites like IMDb to remove an actor's age upon request.

"We hope the dialogue at the Variety conference will lead not only to greater awareness of the issue, but to more and better opportunities for talented actors, producers, directors and others in the creative community — whatever their age," said Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP chief executive.

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