Taylor Swift

Mark Romanek

Nine Inch Nails. Johnny Cash. Fiona Apple. Jay-Z. Taylor Swift. Does one of these not quite sound like the others? Too bad, because they’re all now artists who have commissioned director Mark Romanek to direct a music video. Romanek may have made the transition to the big screen, but the filmmaker got his start directing clean, arty and weird music videos for a bevy of stars. He was rewarded for it, too, as Romanek has three Grammys under his belt for Best Short Form Music Video. So what’s next? Apparently, returning to the small screen to direct Swift in her “Shake It Off.” Huh. The video is, of course, beautifully lensed, and it is kind of fun to see Romanek, so well-known for serious film fare like One Hour Photo and Never Let Me Go, having a little bit of fun with his subject matter. “Shake It Off” is definitely catchy, and the video exhibits an energy and a playfulness that’s refreshing for the singer (although we do bristle at a few sequences that, at best, seem to smack of culture appropriation). Swift’s next album is reportedly her first official “pop” record, though the country star has been steadily moving away from her country roots for years now, and it’s certainly heartening that she employed a talented guy like Romanek to make the first video from 1989. Hey, people might say that Swift’s got “nothing in her brain,” but this video might prove differently. Just don’t cast her in your next film, Romanek, okay? Take a look […]

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The Giver

Middle school is a great time to breed a little affinity for anarchy, and it sure seems as if the advanced English classes (nerd) I took during my junior high years possessed a certain bent, one aimed at getting our little minds to righteously reject the status quo — at least, as it applied to the fiction books we read. There was “Animal Farm” and “Brave New World” and “Anthem” and “Fahrenheit 451″ and “1984.” And there was also Lois Lowry‘s “The Giver,” which was perhaps the most age-appropriate of all the dystopian novels we read back then — hey, it’s about kids! — and the one now set for a big screen telling (albeit one that somehow stars Taylor Swift and takes some big liberties with the various ages of its youngest characters). Lowry’s novel is excellent (and it’s one hell of a tearjerker) and just finely wrought enough to appeal to both kids and adults alike. The book (and now, Phillip Noyce‘s film) focuses on a future society that bills itself as utopian, but soon reveals itself to be, well, totally not. The world inhabited by the young Jonas (aged up from eleven-years-old in the book, so that Brenton Thwaites can play him) has been changed to embrace “Sameness,” which removes all emotion, choice and richness from people’s lives in order to keep them in line and, on the surface, at peace. Great plan, right? Ha! Although you might vaguely remember these rules from your own readings — hmm, something about twins? — it’s time […]

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thegivers

It seems like director Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, Salt) is pretty close to filling out the ensemble cast for his upcoming YA adaptation The Giver. Though it was published in 1994, author Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” is one of those stories set in a future world that are aimed at young people and happen to be all the rage these days. Its world is one that’s free of poverty, disease, and most every kind of hardship, but it has a secret about how it got that way–a terrible secret–and always one person, called the Receiver of Memories, is chosen to hold what that secret is. Already Noyce has young Brenton Thwaites signed up to play the protagonist, Jonas, who is the new kid chosen to hold the memory, Jeff Bridges as the title character, who acts as the boy’s mentor, Meryl Streep as the villain of the piece, who also happens to be the leader of the society and the one who gives the children their roles, and Alexander Skarsgard as Jonas’ impossibly attractive father, and now there are new reports that he’s just signed a duo of actresses who are going to pretty up his ensemble even further.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grabs his camcorder and tries to find the biggest all-night party in Pasadena, filled with slutty, dancing high school girls who looks amazingly like they’re in their early twenties. Of course, he never finds that because this sort of 15-year-old wet dream fantasy doesn’t exist. So he sets his sights on finding something far more realistic than any of the events that take place in Project X: the short, hairy peanut with a mustache and Danny DeVito’s voice known as The Lorax.

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Everyone involved in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, from co-directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda to the Universal Pictures marketing division, has been faced with a tricky balancing act. On one hand, there’s the need to remain true to the spirit of Seuss’ anti-consumerist work, his most earnestly activist effort. On the other, there’s the requisite allegiance to 3D animated family movie standards and the obligatory corporate tie-ins that come with promoting such an effort. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen Seuss’ mystical mustachioed creation across the advertisement spectrum lately, in everything from IHOP ads to printer spots and Mazda car commercials. Sure, Universal has made a point of pursuing advertising partners with “green” tie-ins/messages, or so they claim, but the Lorax’s ubiquitous commercial presence leaves the sort of rotten taste that only comes with the betrayal of a sacrosanct legacy. Fortunately, the film itself fares better. It’s a pleasant, minor-key affair that gives appropriate attention and weight to the important environmentalist message. The picture asks that its young viewers sit up and take notice of the world around them; it demands that they put down the video games, learn to care about nature and seek to preserve it.

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Aural Fixation - Large

With yesterday’s announcement that tickets for The Hunger Games were officially on sale (and billboards for the films starting to pop up), Mockingjays everywhere rushed to their computers to buy their ticket to finally watch Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), Liam Hemsworth (Gale) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) bring the book series to the big screen. As we get closer to The Hunger Games release, we also got the film’s full soundtrack listing which revealed the artists that would be creating the musical landscape of Panem. Poised to be one of the next huge book-to-screen franchises, scoring a spot on the soundtrack was a coveted position and the artists that made the final track listing do not disappoint. The stripped-down sound of artists like singer/songwriter Glen Hansard (best known as the other half of The Swell Season) and alt-rock band The Decemberists (whose track “One Engine” is already available) are what you would expect from the series about a desolate world in which children are forced to fight each other to the death. But much like Breaking Dawn’s surprising soundtrack listing, The Hunger Games also features unexpected choices like hip-hop’s Kid Cudi and bluegrass from Punch Brothers.

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A few weeks ago, Twitch exclusively reported that Taylor Swift had been offered the role of Eponine in Tom Hooper‘s Les Miserables adaptation – news which struck most people with ears and eyes as a terrible pick (myself heartily included). But it looks like that news was perhaps a bit too premature, as Swift will not be playing the rich girl turned street urchin (and one segment of the story’s love triangle). Instead, the all-star production has gone in a different direction – by reportedly hiring on an actual trained Broadway actress who has played the role before. Samantha Barks will take on the role, which she previously played in the wildly popular 25th anniversary concert version of the classic story. The news was announced by Cameron Mackintosh (who is also a producer on Hooper’s film) live on stage at the Manchester Palace during the curtain call of a performance of Oliver!, a production in which Barks was playing the role of Nancy. While it’s unclear at this time, most observers seem to think the official news was a surprise even to Barks, who apparently looked both elated and surprised by the news.

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On the heels of the news that director Tom Hooper will likely make the cast of his upcoming Les Miserables adaptation sing “live” on camera (versus inserting vocals after they’ve been polished up in a traditional recording studio), comes news that The King’s Speech helmer may have two other vocal talents to add to his production. Twitch reports, thanks to two different exclusive scoops, that offers are out to Amanda Seyfried and Taylor Swift for a pair of key parts (and both angles on a looooove triangle!). Seyfried (who actually has a background in opera, fun trivia!) has been offered the essential role of Cosette. Cosette is the daughter of Anne Hathaway‘s Fantine (yes, Hathaway is just three years older than Seyfried), the ruined and tragic prostitute. Fantine gives baby Cosette to the rich Thénardiers, thinking they will care for her, though they mistreat her until she is eventually saved by adoptive papa Jean Valjean. And just why do the Thénardiers abuse her? Well, they’re really evil, and they’re also busy lavishing treats on their real daughters, including eldest Eponine. Swift has reportedly been offered the role of Eponine, rich girl turned street urchin. Both Cosette and Eponine are in love with second-generation baron Marius Pontmercy (to be played by Eddie Redmayne) in Victor Hugo’s classic story. The addition of Seyfried is a bit of a no-brainer, she’s well on her way to an established film career (despite some missteps like Red Riding Hood and Dear John), and her actual background in and talent for […]

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We reported last October that Danny DeVito would be suiting up to voice The Lorax in what has the chance to be the first 3D adaptation of a beloved children’s character that doesn’t creep everyone on the planet out. Now, the rest of the cast is filling out (according to a remarkably well-punctuated press release) with Ed Helms voicing the Once-ler who needs to cut down the forest to make an amazing product everyone needs; Zac Efron voicing Ted, the young man who befriends the Lorax; and Taylor Swift voicing Audrey, the girl of Ted’s dreams. Betty White and comedian Rob Riggle are also rounding out what looks like a solid cast. This flick could turn out being really fun with the names involved. So fun that Rob Hunter even got a Lorax tattoo in anticipation of the release. Just ask him.

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‘Letters to Juliet’ is a predictable, bland romance without much appeal, but then it wasn’t made for me and probably, FSR reader, wasn’t made for you either.

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kevin-reportcard-header

Kevin Carr sits his chubbiness down and sees if The Wolfman, Valentine’s Day and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief can make the grade.

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The good Dr. Abaius is known widely for his correspondence with Hollywood. And in his most recent letter, he lets director Garry Marshall — a man who has directed his fair share of romantic comedy gems — know what he thinks of his latest film, Valentine’s Day.

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