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American Pastoral Trailer Marks Ewan McGregor’s Directing Debut

Actor Ewan McGregor has certainly been keeping busy lately, filming his long-awaited sequel Trainspotting 2 and also signing on for his first major American TV role, starring in Season 3 of FX's Fargo. The actor is also getting ready to debut his directorial debut American Pastoral, with the first trailer arriving over the weekend. The first-time filmmaker also stars in this drama set during the Vietnam War. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Phillip Roth novel, American Pastoral follows a family whose seemingly idyllic existence is shattered by the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Beginners) makes his directorial debut and stars as Seymour "Swede" Levov, a once legendary high school athlete who is now a successful businessman married to Dawn, a former beauty queen. But turmoil brews beneath the polished veneer of Swede's life. When his beloved teenage daughter, Merry, disappears after being accused of committing a violent act, Swede dedicates himself to finding her and reuniting his family. What he discovers shakes him to the core, forcing him to look beneath the surface and confront the chaos that is shaping the world around him. Before Ewan McGregor came aboard to direct, another actor/filmmaker was set to take the helm, Fisher Stevens, but he eventually parted ways with the project. We'll have to wait and see if Ewan McGregor's take on this beloved novel will lure in audiences to theaters this fall. American Pastoral also stars Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind&#8203) as Dawn, Dakota Fanning (The Runaways, The Twilight Saga) as Merry, Emmy winner Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black), and Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Lincoln, Good Night, and Good Luck). We'll have to wait and see how much more footage will be released between now and this fall when the movie hits theaters. However, it will have plenty of competition when it opens. American Pastoral hits theaters on October 21, a release date where there are already six movies opening in wide release. Lionsgate's Boo! A Madea Halloween, Paramount's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Focus Features' A Monster Calls, 20th Century Fox's Keeping Up With the Jonses, Universal's Ouija: Origin of Evil and PureFlix's I'm Not Ashamed are all set to open. Take a look at the first trailer for American Pastoral courtesy of Youtube.

‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’ Duo Talk Brexit, Donald Trump, Making Idris Elba "Flee" to U.S.

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley sat down with THR ahead of the big-screen return of champagne-guzzling PR disasters Eddy and Patsy.More than two decades after the champagne-addled duo of Edina "Eddy" Monsoon and Patsy Stone first stumbled drunkenly into the public consciousness, Ab Fab is back, darling, and this time on the big screen.In Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, creator and screenwriter Jennifer Saunders returns as the mostly terrible fashion PR monsoon with Joanna Lumley tottering alongside in high heels as her perma-smoking sidekick. The story sees the pair flee to Cannes after accidentally murdering Kate Moss – naturally – and features one of the most impressive assortment of cameos ever assembled: a 60-star-strong list including the likes of Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson, Joan Collins, Perez Hilton, Gwendoline Christie, Jerry Hall, Joan Paul Gaultier, Harry Styles and, of course, Moss herself (although the Ab Fab team only asked her at the last minute).Ahead of the BBC Films/Fox Searchlight comedy's release in the U.K. on July 1 (and on July 22 in the U.S.), The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Saunders and Lumley to talk the cameos they narrowly missed out on (Benedict Cumberbatch), launching the career, almost, of one of the U.K.'s biggest stars (Idris Elba), how Patsy and Eddy would react to the recent Brexit vote and Lumley's "bizarre" reception with Donald Trump.Did you set out with some sort of attempt to break the world record for number of cameos?Jennifer Saunders: I never thought about it like that. The truth is, we needed people for party scenes and red carpet and even for the news reporters. Actually, one of my favorites is [veteran BBC news correspondent] Orla Guerin, because you just think, it’s Orla Guerin!Joanna Lumley: She had flown in from the Middle East.JS: I think something had just happened over there and she didn’t know if she could make it because they might want her to cover the story. But she insisted on coming over. I literally had to pinch myself that it was actually Orla Guerin. It’s so funny. I loved it, because you write them in, like "newscaster" and they go, "who do you want?" and I went "wouldn’t it be funny if it was Orla Guerin" and they went "do you want Orla Guerin?" It was so extraordinary.You've also got Hollywood names like Jon Hamm in there. What did they – or even their agents say – when they found out they had about 10 seconds of screen time?JS: Actually people are very happy if you don’t want them for too long. Because often if you’re coming over for a small part, the last thing you want to do is to have to be there for a week. But if you actually say, come over for one day, you’ll be in the movie and have a great time, we’ll fly you over and fly you back, a weekend in London to do whatever you want. It’s easier to say "just do three lines." They love it.Didn't the producers have a heart attack when you showed them the list of celebrity cameo targets?JL: Did you actually ever make a list?JS: Not really.JL: There was this kind of sense that Stella McCartney thought Kate (Moss) would do it. Unfortunately we hadn’t asked Kate.JS: I was so nervous about asking her in case she said no. I had got everything ready, literally the cameras were turning and I said, "Oh I should probably go and ask her, 'Er, will you be in the film?'" Phew!JL: And with Kate comes the entourage of Lily Cole and Lara Stone, Suki (Waterhouse) and Alexa (Chung) all those gorgeous girls. And then they get a smell of who’s in it and who’s mucking in. There were people like Jerry Hall, who’s just a shoo-in. She’s divine.What’s the joke you have with Jerry Hall being really boring on the red carpet talking about her clothes?JS: The joke I like is when journalists ask you "so what are you wearing?" And you go, "oh, I’m just wearing a bit of this," and you move on. But she’s like "no, I’m going to tell you in the tiniest detail what I’m wearing, I’m wearing this and this is beautiful, and so comfy," and he just wants her to go...JL: "Did I tell you about my necklace its so beautifully crafted." And the whole thing happens while she's talking, Kate’s pushed in the river...Did anyone say they wouldn't be in the film?JS: I don’t think so. Lots of people weren’t available. People we wanted … Ben Cumberbatch we wanted.JL: We didn’t try to get him. I went to see Hamlet, went backstage to see Ben and he said “I’m gonna be in the movie, fantastic!." And this was after Hamlet, and I was going “I thought you did these things now." But then he couldn’t do it because he had to do something else, and it broke his heart. So rather than people not wanting to do it, people couldn’t fit it in, or were waiting, going "isn’t there room for me?"So who else might we have seen?JL: Now’s the time to just make up names.JS: CherJL. Ben AffleckJS: Dolly PartonJL: Matt DamonJL: Leo DiCaprio, obvs.JS: Idris Elba, there you go.Well, you did basically launch Idris’ career. (One of Elba's first roles was as a gigalo in a 1995 episode of Absolutely Fabulous)JL: He doesn’t like to say that. It’s never on his list of things he’s done.JS: He fled to America after, he fled!How do feel about first bringing the Luther, Wire and possibly 007 star that is Elba to the world?JS. I’m so happy that we launched him. Because one of my favorite lines of Patsy’s is when she sits on Idris’ knee and goes [puts on voice] "Can I talk to you like Shaun Connery" and he goes, "no."So, did you have the script, with Kate Moss as the key storyline, before you’d even approached her?JS: Yes. Of course. Hahaha!And when you did approach her, how did she react when she found out that not only would she be killed off but would be the butt of several jokes throughout whole film?JS: I didn’t approach really, I just said, "Will you be in the film?" She said, "send me the script" and then said "yeah, that’s fine." She’s so cool, she’s really no fuss. It’s quite a lesson really. What she has is that she knows what she’s best at, which is doing the stuff quite naturally on the day — don’t over complicate it, just let me do it. She just wants to make you happy.We've heard that the script came about when your long-term comedy partner Dawn French dared you £10,000 in 2013 that you couldn't finish it within the year. So do you owe her?JS: No, I did it.JL: Jennifer, own up, what did you do?JS: Well, because we had a New Year’s radio show, she said by the end of next year, by next Christmas’ show, I had to have written it and give it to her live on air. And I hadn’t written it. But what I knew was that it wasn’t actually New Year. It was Christmas. And I had another two weeks of grace to write it.JL: It’s not really two weeks between Christmas and New Year, Jennifer.JS: Ok, a week, a few days, ha! So I gave her a big script and it was literally just two pages of dialogue and the rest just said "blah blah blah blah blah." She didn’t say it had to have dialogue in it, she just said it had to be a script! Actually it was really good because I had that year spent a long time thinking about it and then by Feb 2015 had the basic script.Did you have a full script before you went into production? It was implied at the press screening that maybe this wasn't the case.JS: There might not have been a proper ending. What’s the hardest thing about writing a film? The hardest thing about writing anything is how to end it. It’s really hard. There are basically a lot of endings. And they’re all in the film. We could have ended there or there or there.There are obviously a lot of British jokes in the film — people laying Hunter boots at the shrine to Kate Moss, for example. With Fox Searchlight on board were there any attempts to open the humor up to an American audience?JS: There were a few. We’d have little missives coming over going "we don’t understand what this means" and you’d go "I don’t care, we understand what it means and people will understand what it means." Actually you can’t make everything for everybody. I wanted to make so that people who knew and loved the show wouldn’t think it had been too watered down.JL: Jennifer thinks if they don’t know, they don’t deserve to know.JS: Hahahaha!There were a couple of transgender jokes in there. Did you try to recruit Caitlin Jenner for a cameo?JS: No, I think she’s very very busy. I just thought it was because it’s about fads. Not that being transgender is a fad, but it’s in a lot of people’s consciousness at the moment and there’s a lot of TV and articles about it.For Mo Gaffney and Chris Ryan's characters, they’ve always just jumped on the next thing and I just love the fact that they’ve been everything – she’s been a rabbi, Scientologist, Muslim, fundamental Christian and I just thought, what would be the next thing? Oh, she’d be black, which was sort of half-inspired by that woman in America who told everyone that she was black and she wasn’t at all. Her parents said "this is her as a child" and she’s blonde and blue-eyed.JL: I was rather touched by her, I don’t know why everyone was so cross about it.JS: I thought that’d be funny, and she’d be persuading Chris that he’s a woman, because that makes life a lot easier for her.With the U.K. entering some a rather uncertain period of history, how do you think Patsy and Eddy would have reacted to the Brexit?JS: We decided that they wouldn’t know we were in [the European Union]. They didn’t know we came out!JL: They’d haven’t the smallest idea or interest in politics at all.JS: I think it would confuse Patsy quite a bit.JL: It would just be [puts on Patsy voice] "can you still get down to France"JS: They don’t watch TV you see, they don’t see the news much.JL: Patsy was disgraced with a politician once I think.And did I hear Patsy also had a Trump experience?JL: This was years ago, this must have been in the first series when Patsy admitted that she admired Ivana Trump.[Patsy voice] "I think Ivana’s rather marvelous actually."Donald Trump heard of this, although he’d never heard of the show, never heard of us, but at a party thrown for him it was decided that I should be brought along so he could have a look at the person who admired Ivana, to whom he was no longer married. He’d now married Marla, but he wanted to have a look at me. It was the most bizarre thing.Did you go as Patsy?JL: Well I put on some high heels, red lipstick and put my hair up. I went "Hello, Mr. Trump." But I couldn’t do it as Patsy because he didn’t know who Patsy was! So I just did my gushing Joanna “hello." It was a shocking moment.

Independence Day 2 Is Going to Flop, Even with $100M International Box Office

Hollywood is absolutely obsessed with sequels, reboots and remakes right now, and the results vary wildly in terms of quality and success. This weekend, fans were offered up a sequel many had been waiting 20 years for in the form of Independence Day: Resurgence. There is no one reason why, but as of now, it looks like the movie is going to wind up being a pretty big flop for Fox. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie pulled in just north of $100 million internationally. That number may seem decent enough, but there are a lot of other factors at play. For one, Resurgence didn't do very well domestically, having lost out to Finding Dory for the top spot, pulling in a very disappointing $41.6 million in its opening weekend. Those numbers coupled with the reported $165 million production budget paint a pretty bleak picture. Essentially, that $165 million production budget is only a part of the equation. Studios spend a lot of money on movies like Resurgence in the development phase, which isn't factored into the production budget. Not only that, but studios like Fox have to spend an awful lot of money, sometimes as much as the production budget itself, to market a huge, tentpole movie. Fox opted out of a massive press tour, but they definitely put some big dollars into the marketing campaign. All of that to say, it doesn't look good for the future of the Independence Day franchise. Resurgence should pull in some decent money in the next few weeks overseas, but heavy competition is going to force it out of the top five stateside in a hurry. If Fox is really lucky, the movie will make around $375 million worldwide, but that is a very optimistic number at this point. The movie was not benefited at all by the fact that critics largely didn't seem to love it and the fan score on Rotten Tomatoes currently sits at a really sour 40 percent. Unlike a movie like Warcraft, which did very poorly on the domestic side but killed it overseas and also was very well liked by fans, Resurgence is losing out on all phases. The original Independence Day made $817 million worldwide in 1996, which was virtually unheard of money at the time and made it one of the most successful movies of all time up to that point. Roland Emmerich had been flirting with a sequel for years, but it may have just been too little too late, or just simply not good. Emmerich was originally going to shoot a third Independence Day movie back-to-back with Resurgence, but that plan was scrapped. The idea is still in place and Emmerich seems optimistic about it, but if the box office numbers don't dramatically improve somehow, that seems very unlikely. Independence Day: Resurgence is in theaters now.

Future of the X-Men Franchise: What We Know

In the last handful of years, we have been getting absolutely bombarded with superhero movies. Warner Bros. has officially launched their DC Extended Universe with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and they have a massive slate ahead of them. Marvel Studios is chugging along and they have at least two movies coming out every year, with three coming out next year including Spider-Man: Homecoming. But, Fox is still around and still making X-Men movies, like the little engine that could, they haven't stopped and they seemingly have no intention of doing so.Fox officially ushered in the age of the modern superhero movie with X-Men back in 2000, and nothing has really been the same ever since. To date, all of the movies in the X-Men movie universe have grossed more than $4 billion according to Box Office Mojo, and it actually is at an all time high, by some accounts. Deadpool raked in record money for the studio earlier this year and Apocalypse continued with the main X-Men franchise, still managing to pull in pretty decent money as well.Fox has definitely made some mistakes along the way, and up until X-Men: Days of Future Past, the X-Men franchise had never been one to pull in the massive money that one has come to expect from superhero movies. However, it is still more than enough to keep Fox happy. Fans were hoping that after the failure of Fantastic Four and with a lot of the classic X-Men cast leaving the franchise, that perhaps a deal could be worked out for X-Men characters to finally make their way to Marvel, much like what happened with Sony. That seems very unlikely, as Fox seems to have big plans for the future of the X-Men franchise. What are those plans exactly? Well, we're glad you asked, because here is everything we know about the future X-Men movies.Deadpool 2A lot of details about specific future X-Men movies are way up in the air right now, but one thing you can count on is a Deadpool sequel. Ryan Reynolds had been trying to get a Deadpool solo movie made for a decade, but he and fans knew that to do it right, it had to be rated R. Fox figured that would hinder the movie from making enough money to justify making it, and it turned out that they were very wrong about that. Tim Miller and Reynolds got to make the movie and not only was it a critical smash that fans loved as well, but it made a truck load of money. Deadpool made nearly $780 million worldwide and is now the highest grossing movie in the X-Men franchise. Fox almost immediately greenlit a sequel and even put a in a post credit scene that referenced a little bit of what we can expect from Deadpool 2.Thanks to that post credit scene, we know that Deadpool 2 will finally bring the character of Cable into the X-Men franchise, but we don't yet know who will be playing him. The other really great thing for fans of Deadpool is that the core creative team from the first movie are all coming back. Tim Miller will be back to direct, Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are penning the script and of course, Ryan Reynolds will be back as Wade Wilson. We don't know when exactly Deadpool 2 will be coming out, but Fox is very likely going to want to fast track it if they can. At the earliest, we could expect a sequel next year if they really get moving, but 2018 seems more likely. Either way, Deadpool is going to a massive part of Fox's plans moving forward.X-ForceThe idea of an X-Force movie has been floating around at Fox for a very long time in an on-again, off-again sort of fashion. However, during the course of the press tour for X-Men: Apocalypse, Bryan Singer revealed that Simon Kindberg is in the earlier stages of writing the script and that the movie is part of the pans for the studio in the near-ish future. The success of Deadpool no doubt has a lot to do with Fox being big on finally getting X-Force off the ground.In the comics, the X-Force is very closely associated with the X-Men, but they are more of a band of mercenaries and take a bit more of a mercenary style approach to getting the job done. It is a bit more gritty. The original leader of the X-Force was Cable, who will be appearing in Deadpool 2, so that could easily build out to an X-Force movie. Plus, Deadpool has been a part of the X-Force before, so the team is already coming together. Not to mention that Singer has already teased an appearance by the fan favorite character X-23, who is basically a female Wolverine clone. "I have discussed that with the studio. I actually initially pitched the X-Force and the female," said Singer in an interview with Fandango. We have no idea when an X-Force movie would land in theaters, but it would probably be sometime after Deadpool 2.

First Thor 3 Photos Show Off Ragnarok Set in Australia

Earlier this month, Marvel confirmed that Thor: Ragnarok will start production on July 4, with the studio already setting a November 3, 2017 release date. Over the past few weeks, new cast members and plot details have surfaced, but today, we have our first look at one of the sets being built for this Phase 3 sequel. While we don't know exactly what this building is, it certainly appears to be one of the Asgardian dwellings. Gold Coast Bulletin reveals that several outdoor sets are being built at Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford, Australia. While none of the cast members are present, since filming hasn't begun yet, that will surely change in the weeks ahead. Hopefully we'll also get the first official story details when shooting starts, to combat the numerous rumors that have sprung up as of late. One of the most prevalent rumors is that the new villain Hela will team up with Loki and banish Thor from Asgard, destroying his mighty hammer Mjolnir in the process. Thor then goes on a journey that leads him to a planet full of gladiators, where he is forced to go up against the current champion, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). This eventually leads to a "cosmic road trip" between Hulk and Thor, but none of those details have been confirmed. Thor and Thor: The Dark World stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Anthony Hopkins (Odin) and Idris Elba (Heimdall) have been confirmed to reprise their roles, and it has also been confirmed that Natalie Portman will not be back as Jane Foster. This report also claims that Jaimie Alexander will be back as Lady Sif, as expected, who will be joined by a number of new cast members. Earlier this month, it was confirmed that we'll see Cate Blanchett as Hela, Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster, Karl Urban as Skurge and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has teased that Thor: Ragnarok will largely be set in the cosmos, with very little time spent on Earth. Taika Waititi, whose new movie The Hunt For the Wilderpeople opens in limited release this weekend, directs from a script by Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle and Stephany Folsom. Take a look at these new photos from the set of Thor: Ragnarok below, and stay tuned for more details as we get closer to principal photography getting started.

Did Ben Affleck Almost Direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

It is no secret that it is a very good time to be a Star Wars fan. Not only are we getting a lot of new Star Wars movies, which started off last year with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but Disney is putting a lot of money, resources and talent into these new movies. As it turns out, with a couple of degrees of speculation, Ben Affleck may have been a talent that they were trying to recruit to direct a Star Wars movie. Affleck was recently a guest on Bill Simon's new HBO show Any Given Wednesday, and thanks to a very profane rant about Deflategate, a few things from the interview were sort of buried. One of those things being that Affleck passed on an opportunity to take on an iconic property, which he ultimately passed on in favor of taking on Batman. When asked point blank by Simons if he almost directed a Star Wars movie, this is what Affleck had to say. "Well, it wouldn't be polite to talk about the jobs you turn down, but I had a lot of offers. It's like, forks in the road that are, like, legitimate different paths. Boy, my life's going to be really different if I go this way, or do Batman, or I do this other... iconic thing." Affleck has become one of the most sought after talents behind the camera in Hollywood these days, after his first three efforts were increasingly massive successes. So, when Disney was looking to fill the director's chair for Star Wars Episode VII, it would make total sense that Affleck's name would at least come up in those conversations, and there were rumors that he was in the running for the job. Based on his statements, it look like he may have very well straight up passed on the opportunity to direct The Force Awakens. The prospect of Affleck directing a Star Wars movie is at the very least, super interesting and quite possibly very tantalizing, but being that Warner Bros. and DC are in direct competition with Disney and Marvel right now, that seems like it probably won't ever happen. The job, of course, ultimately went to J.J. Abrams, and by most accounts, that turned out to be a very great decision. We recently learned via an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that Steven Spielberg actually had to convince Abrams to take the job. "I brought J.J.'s name up. I thought J.J. would be the best person to direct Episode 7 and I called J.J. and said 'Would you do it if it was offered to you?' He said, 'I would but my wife won't let me 'cause she doesn't want me to restart any more franchises.' But I went to Kathy and asked if I could get J.J. to say yes to this would you consider it? Kathy said 'Are you kidding? Of course I would. But why would J.J. do Star Wars; he's already done Mission Impossible and Star Trek.'" Affleck is currently busy playing Batman again in Justice League and after that, he will be moving on to direct The Batman for Warner Bros., which is ultimately what he decided to do instead of whatever "iconic" franchise he passed up. Given the timeline, it is very likely that Star Wars was that franchise. The real question is, given Affleck's history with movies he directs, what part would he have played in The Force Awakens? That may be an alternate universe we would like to visit sometime. You can watch the entire interview with Ben Affleck on Any Given Wednesday in the video below.

What Does Will Smith Really Think About Wild Wild West?

This summer marks the 20th Anniversary of the hit blockbuster Independence Day, which turned Will Smith into a massive superstar overnight. It became the first movie ever to gross more than $500 million worldwide, and, naturally, after that movie started raking it in at the box office, everyone wanted Will Smith in their movies. Over the next few years, Will Smith would go on to star in hits such as Men in Black and Enemy of the State, but the actor recently addressed one of his missteps, the 1999 Western action adaptation of the Wild Wild West TV show which brought in some sci-fi elemenst to boot. Wild Wild West wasn't an absolute bomb in theaters, but it still came in far below the rest of his hits over the late 1990s. Wild Wild West took in $113.4 million domestically and $222.1 million worldwide, from a hefty $170 million budget back in 1999. Will Smith starred as James West in this remake of the hit TV series of the same name, leading a cast that also included Salma Hayek and Kevin Kline. During an appearance at Cannes Liones, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, Will Smith revealed that Wild Wild West was a low point in his career. "I had so much success that I started to taste global blood and my focus shifted from my artistry to winning. I wanted to win and be the biggest movie star, and what happened was there was a lag --- around Wild Wild West time --- I found myself promoting something because I wanted to win versus promoting something because I believed in it. ... Smoke and mirrors in marketing and sales is over. People are going to know really quickly and globally whether a product keeps its promises. My career has been strictly being able to sell my products globally, and it's now in the hand of fans. I have to be in tune with their needs and not trick them into going to see Wild Wild West." It didn't take Will Smith long to rebound from Wild Wild West, starring as Muhammad Ali in the 2001 biopic Ali, which earned the actor an Oscar nomination. The actor would still go on to work with Wild Wild West director Barry Sonnenfeld again with 2002's Mem in Black II and 2012's Men in Black III. It's interesting to note that these statement come just a few months before one of the star's most ambitious projects, the comic book adaptation Suicide Squad. In quite a big departure for the actor, Will Smith plays the villainous Deadshot, who becomes part of Task Force X, a Suicide Squad assembled by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to pull off near-impossible jobs. We'll have to wait and see how Suicide Squad does in theaters, when it opens August 5, but early buzz has indicated that it will certainly do much better than Wild Wild West.

Ralph Stanley, bluegrass music legend, dead at 89

Ralph Stanley, a patriarch of Appalachian music who with his brother Carter helped expand and popularize the genre that became known as bluegrass, died Thursday. He was 89.His publicist, Kirt Webster, confirmed Stanley's death but did not have details.Stanley was born and raised in southwest Virginia, a land of coal mines and deep forests where he and his brother formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946. Their father would sing them old traditional songs like Man of Constant Sorrow, while their mother, a banjo player, taught them the old-time clawhammer style, in which the player's fingers strike downward at the strings in a rhythmic style.Heavily influenced by Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe, the brothers fused Monroe's rapid rhythms with the mountain folk songs from groups such as the Carter Family, who hailed from this same rocky corner of Virginia.The Stanleys created a distinctive three-part harmony that combined the lead vocal of Carter with Ralph's tenor and an even higher part sung by bandmate Pee Wee Lambert. Carter's romantic songwriting professed a deep passion for the rural landscape, but also reflected on lonesomeness and personal losses.Ralph Stanley, left, performs with his son Ralph Stanley II, centre, and the Clinch Mountain Boys in 2002 in Clay City, Ky. (Getty Images)Songs like The Lonesome River, uses the imagery of the water to evoke the loss of a lover, and White Dove, describes the mourning and suffering after the death of a mother and father. In 1951, they popularized Man of Constant Sorrow, which was also later recorded by Bob Dylan in the '60s.Centre stage after brother's deathThe brothers were swept into the burgeoning folk movement and they toured the country playing folk and bluegrass festivals during the 1960s, including the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 and 1964.But when Carter died of liver disease in 1966, Ralph wasn't sure he could continue. His brother had been the main songwriter, lead singer and front man, and Ralph, by his own account, was withdrawn and shy, although he had overcome some of his early reticence."Within weeks of his passing, I got phone calls and letters and telegrams and they all said don't quit. They said, 'We've always been behind you and Carter, but now we'll be behind you even more because we know you'll need us,"' Stanley told The Associated Press in 2006.After Carter's death, Ralph drew even deeper from his Appalachian roots, adopting the a cappella singing style of the Primitive Baptist church where he was raised. He reformed the Clinch Mountain Boys band to include Ray Cline, vocalist Larry Sparks and Melvin Goins. He would change the lineup of the band over the years, later including Jack Cooke, and mentored younger artists like Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs, who also performed with him.Dylan and Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia praised his work and, in the case of Dylan, joined him for a remake of the Stanley Brothers' Lonesome River in 1997.He was given an honorary doctorate of music from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., in 1976, and he was often introduced as "Dr. Ralph Stanley." He performed at the inaugurations of U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, was given a "Living Legends" medal from the Library of Congress and a National Medal of Arts presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and President George W. Bush. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2000.Late career boostBut at age 73, he was introduced to a new generation of fans in 2000 due to his chilling a cappella dirge O Death from the hit Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie soundtrack. The album was a runaway hit, topping the Billboard 200 chart, as well as the country albums and soundtrack charts, and sold millions of copies.He won a Grammy for best male country vocal performance in 2002 — beating out Tim McGraw, Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Lyle Lovett — and was the focus of a successful tour and documentary inspired by the soundtrack. The soundtrack, produced by T Bone Burnett, also won a Grammy for album of the year. The following year he and Jim Lauderdale would win a Grammy for best bluegrass album for Lost in the Lonesome Pines.He said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2002 that younger people were coming to see his shows and hear his "old time music," and was enjoying the belated recognition."I wish it had come 25 years sooner," he said. "I am still enjoying it, but I would have had longer to enjoy it."Despite health problems, he continued to record and tour into his 80s, often performing with his son Ralph Stanley II on guitar and his grandson Nathan on mandolin.

‘The Violators’: Film Review

Gritty social drama meets psychological thriller in this low-budget British debut set on the fringes of Liverpool.A bracingly bleak blast of social realism from a corner of England rarely seen on screen, The Violators marks the feature debut of British novelist turned film-maker Helen Walsh. Featuring two striking young female leads, the drama takes place against a classic backdrop of poverty and deprivation, but with the added complications of sex and voyeurism, hidden agendas and family secrets. Currently screening in U.K. theaters after picking up acclaim on the global festival circuit, this teen-driven low-budget production falls into some familiar first-timer traps, lacking the punch or originality to make waves beyond niche arthouse circles. Even so, Walsh clearly has the potential to extend her reach into Lynne Ramsay or Andrea Arnold territory as her cinematic career evolves.The unnamed location is Birkenhead, an economically depressed port town on the Mersey estuary in northwest England, close to Liverpool. The 15-year-old heroine Shelly (rising British TV star Lauren McQueen) is a working-class beauty, outwardly street tough but inwardly brittle, chiefly occupied with playing surrogate mother to her deadbeat older brother Andy (Derek Barr) and younger half brother Jerome (Callum King Chadwick). The trio’s real mother is ominously absent, presumably dead, while their violent father is in jail, his looming release a source of growing anxiety to the siblings. Predators are everywhere in this rust-belt ghetto, some with obviously carnal motives, others playing a more subtly seductive game.With Andy menaced by loan sharks and Jerome targeted by racist bullies, Shelly is grudgingly swayed by the protective sugar-daddy promises of Mikey (Penny Dreadful regular Stephen Lord), a middle-aged womanizer with petty criminal connections. Less overtly manipulative but potentially just as dangerous is Rachel (Brogan Ellis), an emotionally wounded rich girl from a gated residential estate who wins Shelly’s uneasy friendship with free gifts, fancy meals and flirtatious intimacy. A toxic unspoken connection between Mikey and Rachel only surfaces in the final act after a jarringly joyless, painfully raw real-time sex scene triggers an implausible revenge-murder plot.All shot within a small area of Birkenhead, The Violators betrays its limited resources at times with stilted dialogue, bumpy pacing, and stiff performances from inexperienced young cast members. Such emotionally charged subject matter should have more dramatic bite, while the final resolution feels a little too smooth and schematic. That said, the 18-year-old McQueen exudes quietly magnetic star quality, her nuanced performance and photogenic looks hinting at a rich screen future. Ellis impresses too, her unreadable intensity suggestive of a young Saoirse Ronan. And Lord’s wolfish charisma makes Mikey more realistically complex, a Faustian charmer rather than the sleazy stalker he might have been.Walsh and cinematographer Tobin Jones also milk maximum sensory effect from minimal ingredients, finding glimmers of visual poetry in dismal social housing and hidden pockets of post-industrial wasteland, all bathed in warm surges of ambient music. Thankfully, The Violators stops short of romanticizing poverty or deprivation, merely suggesting that beauty and lyricism can be found in even the toughest neighborhoods.Production companies: Red Union FilmsCast: Lauren McQueen, Brogan Ellis, Stephen Lord, Liam Ainsworth, Derek Barr, Callum King Chadwick, Jennifer HennessyDirector, screenwriter: Helen WalshCinematographer: Tobin JonesEditor: Kyle OgdenProducers: David Moores, David A. HughesMusic: David A. HughesSales company: Red Union Films, LondonNo rating, 100 minutes

Orlando Bloom Crime Thriller ‘Haven’ to Get Special Presentation at Cayfilm Fest

The 2006 thriller from Frank E. Flowers also featured Zoe Saldana and Anthony Mackie.Haven, the 2004 thriller from Frank E. Flowers that featured Orlando Bloom, Zoe Saldana and Anthony Mackie, will get a special 10th anniversary presentation at the second annual Cayman International Film Festival, Cayfilm.Saldana, Mackie and co-star Victor Rasuk are among those who will be on-hand for the reunion, as will Flowers, who is a Caymanian filmmaker. Flowers will debut a never-before-seen director’s cut of the movie at the fest, which runs July 1-4.Festival director Tony Mark said the reunion and special screening would inspire more young Caymanians to get involved with film, as well as draw attention to the need for the CayFilm Cayman Media Academy to help train local up-and-coming filmmakers.“Haven is an important part of the Cayman film community,” said Mark. “Frank has inspired an entire generation of young Caymanian filmmakers, and we are looking forward to welcoming him and the cast to the Festival.”Among the festivals other programs is a spotlight on Star Wars, with Robert Watts, who worked on the films, set to receive the burgeoning fest’s lifetime achievement award while below-the-line craftsmen such as Oscar winner Ben Burtt will also be on hand.
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