Happy Birthday Ludacris!

105871-ludacris_617_409September 11 marked the 37th birthday of Chris Bridges, better known to the world as Ludacris. The Atlanta rapper has enjoyed one of the most diverse and successful careers in hip-hop history. As one of the most influential rappers from the Dirty South, Ludacris has sold millions of records, has had three albums debut at #1 on the Billboard Charts and has won three Grammy Awards in his career. (XXL Mag.)

His first five albums all achieved multi-platinum status, and his sixth album went platinum. In addition, he has 4 albums that peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 charts.

Ludacris has received seventeen Grammy Award nominations, and has also received twelve nominations from the BET Awards, winning two.

He has also won Screen Actors Guild, Critic’s Choice, and MTV Awards. Ludacris is the co-founder of Disturbing tha Peace, an imprint distributed by Def Jam Recordings. Luda has also been a successful actor appearing in films such as Fast & Furious series, Hustle & Flow and the Oscar-winning Crash. (Wikipedia.)ifwt_Luda-Day-Weekend-MAINJust before his birthday, Ludacris and his Disturbing tha Peace record label played against Lil Wayne and his label Young Money in a celebrity basketball game at the Georgia State Sports Arena. The basketball game is part of Ludacris’ 9th annual LudaDay Weekend, which raises money for local community charities. The five-day event  kicked off  with a bowling event with appearances by NBA player Dwight Howard, singer Ne-Yo and Angela Simmons. Since 2005, LudaDay has brought out numerous celebrities from Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Chris Brown and Vin Diesel. (Washington Times.)

Ludacris also co-wrote and performs on Justin Bieber’s hit single BABY, one of the most popular songs of all time. According to the May 17, 2013 issue of Billboard, “Bieber’s song “Baby” featuring Ludacris becomes the highest-certified single in history now that the RIAA incorporates on-demand streaming numbers into its Gold and Platinum certifications for digital singles…”Baby” is now 12-times platinum.” The official music video has been viewed over 1 billion times on YouTube, and is the second most viewed video of all time on the video site, (surpassed only by Gangnam Style by Psy, which holds the top spot.)

Happy Birthday, Luda!ludacris_51

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Ving Rhames Brings His Cool Self to MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5

BxRcldoIcAAbqBkYesterday, director Christopher McQuarrie tweeted this photo of the main cast of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5. Jeremy Renner, Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg look great, but gotta say, Ving Rhames adds a whole different layer of cool to this team. He’s the only cast member to have returned to costar with Tom Cruise in all five pictures in this franchise. The two of them have great chemistry; it will please audiences to see them together again.

Mr. Rhames sure knows how to wear a hat. Here’s a small gallery with a few of his looks.

vingrhames ving-rhames-mission-impossible-header Ving-Rhames-image-019 Ving_Rhames_i_Baby__139813n Rhames Ving-Rhames-image-040 WP-VingRhames fhd998OOS_Ving_Rhames_001 Ving Rhames

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Bill Murray’s Fantastic Female Cast for GHOSTBUSTERS Reboot – Plus His Secret About Living

8b2424e6-a069-4128-b696-7bca13aedb51WallpAutoWallpaper2The Toronto Film Festival celebrated Bill Murray Day last week, and some choice moments occurred.

Murray himself was on hand to take part in events, including a special question-and-answer session for fans.

“I like to feel that every day is Bill Murray day. At least for a second every day,” the star told BBC News. He was at the festival to promote his latest film, ST VINCENT, in which he plays a cantankerous war veteran who finds himself having to look after his neighbour’s 12-year-old son.

b58007f8-8c84-47c7-b0fe-d5fffdd51d65-460x276Bill Murray in ST VINCENT.

When asked about the possibility of an all female Ghostbusters reboot, “I’m fine with it,” Murray said. “I would go to that movie, and they’d probably have better outfits, too.”

The Star reports: “He’s not involved in the project, and the sequel-averse comic actor has long resisted the idea of making a third chapter of the original 1980s franchise that teamed him with Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as New York City spook chasers.

Yet he’s got ideas when asked which women he’d like to don the Ghostbusters jumpsuits and proton packs. One of his preferred candidates is Melissa McCarthy, his co-star in St. Vincent, the dramedy that had its world premiere at TIFF on the weekend.

“Melissa would be a spectacular Ghostbuster. And Kristen Wiig is so funny — God, she’s funny! I like this girl Linda Cardellini (Mad Men) a lot. And Emma Stone is funny. There are some funny girls out there.”

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Page Six relayed a great Murray anecdote: “He recalled that the night before the festival, he got into a taxi in Oakland and ended up driving the cab driver around… the driver mentioned he was a saxophone player.

“I said, ‘When do you practice?’ He said, ‘I drive 14 hours a day.’ ” Murray then asked him, “Well, where’s your sax?” The driver replied, “In the trunk.” Murray told the cabbie, “Pull over and get in the back, I know how to drive a car.’ ”

“Not only did he play all the way to Sausalito, which is a long way, we stopped and got barbecue. He [wound up] playing in what some would call a sketchy, weird place in Oakland at 2:15 in the morning. I was like, ‘Relax, man, you’ve got the [bleeping] horn! We’re cool!’ And it was great and it made for a beautiful night!”

Fans dressed up in costumes of Murray characters in honour of the star, according to BBC News. _77424070_imageThe actor picked out a baby in the crowd, who was dressed as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, saying: “That is one good-looking baby.”

Murray told fans at the Q&A he was honoured to be recognised at the festival for his life’s work.

“The only reason I’ve had the career I’ve had is someone told me some secrets early on about living – the more relaxed you are the better you are,” he said.

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Morgan Freeman in TED 2 and NOW YOU SEE ME 2

freeman-e1337248441536Variety reports that Morgan Freeman is joining the cast of TED 2, joining Mark Wahlberg and Amanda Seyfried alongside the titular foul-mouthed talking teddy bear, for director Seth MacFarlane, who of course will reprise his role as Ted.Ted-850x560Freeman will be playing “an iconic civil rights lawyer” who gets hired to help Ted get out of some “legal issues.” The bear better bring his best jokes to avoid being upstaged by the crafty Freeman.

NOW YOU SEE MEFreeman will also be reprising his role in another sequel, NOW YOU SEE ME 2, to be filmed in London for director Jon M. Chu. Jon-M.-Chu-circling-Now-You-See-Me-2The sequel will also see the return of stars Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Michael Caine.freeman460

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Reese Witherspoon gets great reviews in WILD — Oscar nomination?

wild-reese-witherspoonReese Witherspoon has received rave reviews for her performance in WILD, her new film which has premiered at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals in the last two weeks. Adam Chitwood (Collider) gushes about “a truly fearless lead performance by Reese Witherspoon.” He credits the actress with raising the film above the limitations of the true life story genre: “The heart of the film is Reese Witherspoon’s bold and ultimately moving performance as Cheryl.  There are so few genuinely strong, complex female characters onscreen these days that I kept waiting to see this three-dimensional female character fall into the tired tropes that plague most films.  Witherspoon does a tremendous job of fleshing out Strayed with layers of strength, vulnerability, intelligence, and emotion.” Further, Chitwood wishes more films could deliver the level of characterization and performance that Reese gives in WILD. He continues, “Strayed is never portrayed as helplessly weak or in-need-of-a-man, nor is she shown as the stereotypical (and mostly fictional) man-hating Feminist with a capital F.  She’s a real character first and foremost, and that means there are times when she’s the strongest person in the room, and there are times when she feels compelled to ask for help.  This is a real woman, not some fictional fantasy of a woman, and it’s a shame that this kind of character is such a rarity in modern American cinema.” He concludes “I cannot stress enough how refreshing and delightful it was to spend two hours with a well-rounded female character such as this.”

wild_xlgChitwood is not alone in his enthusiasm. Kate Erbland (at Film School Rejects) calls Witherspoon’s performance “natural and winning” as well as “fine and unfussy.” Mara Reinstein (US Weekly) says “Reese Witherspoon — who, face it, hasn’t had a meaty role since 2005’s Walk the Line — is poised for a mini-comeback (and possible Oscar consideration) with her strong, vanity-free turn.” Tim Robey (The Telegraph) goes further, stating that “this is a major comeback…WILD provides a huge, dappled range of emotional tones for this perky-pugnacious star to explore…It’s her best, more natural, most appealing performance in years, because it’s different, but also because it reminds us why we immediately liked her when she first strode onto the scene…It’s so great to have her back.”

Witherspoon finds both a mature centeredness and a zen-like openness” writes Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair) “—it’s been a long time since we’ve seen her this fluidly expressive, this connected to good material.” Stephen Farber (Hollywood Reporter) agrees: “Witherspoon captures all the conflicting, dizzying emotions that the adventure stirs in her.” Farber also sees a possible Oscar, and adds praise for Laura Dern’s work as Witherspoon’s mother. Director Jean Marc Vallee, who helped Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscar wins with Dallas Buyer’s Club last year, may deliver statues to his stars for a second year in a row. Says Farber: “Dallas Buyers Club earned Oscars for both its lead and supporting actors, and it’s conceivable that the new film could repeat the trick for two actresses.” Chitwood notes Vallée’s “confident, dynamic direction” as well, and says that “WILD turns out to be an honest, surprising, and unabashedly feminist chronicle of determination and rebirth. ”

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Bill Murray may be THE BEST babysitter of all time

What 12 year old boy wouldn’t love to have Bill Murray as a babysitter? In the soon to be released ST. VINCENT, young Oliver (played by Jaeden Lieberher) looks unsure at first.stvincent_murrayBut after a few afternoons at bars and racetracks, Oliver adopts Vincent’s style. Screen-shot-2014-07-01-at-3.15.43-PMThe Weinstein Company film plays the Toronto International Film Festival next month, and opens in October. Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and Naomi Watts also star. st-vincent-bill-murray-jaeden-ieberher-600x413

Check out the trailer below.

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Lauren Bacall: Best quotes

lauren-bacall2Lauren Bacall was masterful at creating and maintaining an iconic image, not just as a screen performer, but also as a public persona. Crafting the visual expression of this persona was key, but she also had a way with words. The Guardian has collected some of her most memorable quotes.

LAUREN6“I’m not a has-been, I’m a will be.”

Bacall“I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.”

Lauren-Bacall-004“Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”

She was the author of her complete professional self, beginning with the creation of a look: “I used to tremble from nerves so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest and look up at Bogie. That was the beginning of The Look.” The LookAnother major component of her crafted persona was The Voice, created under the tutelage of director Howard Hawks. In his appreciation of her life in Vulture, Bilge Ebiri writes, “Here’s how Bacall tells it in her 1979 memoir By Myself: ‘He wanted me to drive into the hills, find some quiet spot, and read aloud. He felt it most important to keep the voice in a low register. Mine started off low, but what Howard didn’t like and explained to me was, ‘If you notice, Betty, when a woman gets excited or emotional she tends to raise her voice. Now, there is nothing more unattractive than screeching. I want you to train your voice in such a way that even if you have a scene like that your voice will remain low.’ I found a spot on Mulholland Drive and proceeded to read The Robe aloud, keeping my voice lower and louder than normal. If anyone had ever passed by, they would have found me a candidate for the asylum. Who sat on mountaintops in cars reading books aloud to the canyons?’”

“But it was more than the voice. It was the attitude,” Ebiri continues. “In the interview book Hawks on Hawks, the director told Joseph McBride that Bacall would find herself alone at the end of parties at his house. He was puzzled that no man would ever offer to drive her home. ‘I don’t do too well with men,’ she told him. ‘What do you do, are you nice to ’em?’ ‘Nice as I can be.’ So he suggested that she start ‘insulting’ them. The next time, she got a ride home. ‘What happened?’ Hawks asked. ‘Oh, I insulted the man … I asked him where he got his tie. He said, ‘What do you want to know for?’ And I said, ‘So I can tell people not to go there.’ ‘Who’s the man?’ Hawks asked. ‘Clark Gable.’ Later, Hawks asked screenwriter Jules Furthman, ‘Do you suppose we could make a girl who is insolent, as insolent as Bogart, who insults people, who grins when she does it, and people like it?’ It worked. It felt new then, but there was a certain timelessness to it, too; Marlene Dietrich came up to Hawks after one screening of To Have and Have Not and said, ‘You know, that’s me about 20 years ago.’”

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But the Bacall persona reaches it’s full expression in combination with Bogie. The chemistry was palpable, on screen and off. Ebiri continues: “Here’s where it gets really interesting: Watching Bogart and Bacall opposite each other, you realize that she’s the harder character. She’s got grace, smarts, and sass, but also a toughness that he can’t quite reach. Bogart’s characters were hard-boiled, edging into crusty cynicism; the world is beyond hope for them. Bacall’s demeanor suggested a happier median, or at least a less hopeless one. Hey, I’ve figured a way through this mess, she seems to say. You can, too, tough guy. That’s why, quite apart from the chemistry, they made such a good team, cutting through the bullshit of most romantic subplots. When they’re onscreen together, all you care about is them.”Annex - Bogart, Humphrey (Dark Passage)_01

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LAWRENCE OF ARABIA – Rare Behind the Scenes footage

The Huntley Film Archives presents rare behind the scenes footage from the set of Lawrence of Arabia. The film is raw, but it’s cool to see legendary producer Sam Spiegel arrive by private plane and chat with director David Lean.

Cinephilia and Beyond also posts a couple of beautiful black and white production stills. The ingoing 5 month shooting schedule ballooned to 2 years and 3 months, including stints on locations 150 miles from the nearest city. As Ryan Lattanzio notes: “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

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“Wind, Sand and Star: The Making of a Classic,” a publicity promo featurette created to accompany the original release of the film, makes for good additional viewing alongside the Huntley Archives footage.

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Bill Murray is Baloo in JUNGLE BOOK – Will he sing?

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News broke from Disney today that Bill Murray will voice the character of Baloo in Jon Favreau’s upcoming hybrid live action/animated version of JUNGLE BOOK.

Josh Dickey at Mashable writes “Murray’s casting comes on the heels of news that Christopher Walken will play King Louie, while Giancarlo Esposito will voice Akela.

Murray will reprise the role made famous by Phil Harris, the actor and musician who sang the 1967 animated feature’s most beloved song, a tribute to the easygoing spirit of the character and his passive way of living.”

It is tantalizing to imagine Murray’s cover of this classic… Or a fresh rendition of a new number that equals “Bare Necessities.”

To help stimulate your imagination, take another look at Bill’s performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” — in full Liberace outfit — as his tribute to David Letterman.

Other Jungle Book voice actors include Scarlett Johansson (Kaa, the python), Idris Elba (Shere Khan, the duplicitous tiger), Lupita Nyong’o (Rakcha, the mother wolf) and Ben Kingsley (Bagheera, the friendly leopard).

Disney’s version of The Jungle Book is scheduled for an Oct. 9, 2015 release, in 3D.

Lady Gaga Arrives At Roseland Ballroom

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Michael Keaton’s “Tour de Force” — New Trailer for BIRDMAN, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

570_Michael-Keaton-joins-Aaron-Paul--Imogen-Poots-and-Kid-Cudi-in-Need-For-Speed-movie-3310Fox Searchlight has released the new international trailer for BIRDMAN, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. The studio describes the film as “a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play.  In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.”

“The previous trailers have all been fantastic, but they’ve simply teased the plot without giving much away story-wise.  This new international trailer digs deep into the descent of Keaton’s character, and the actor looks to be giving a truly tour de force performance as a man on the brink of a career meltdown,” says Adam Chitwood of Collider.

The outstanding cast includes Zach Galifianakas, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts. birdman-posterBIRDMAN (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) will premiere at the Venice Film Festival and opens in theaters on October 17th.

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