Who were the real winners and losers of the 2014 MTV VMAs?

MTV VMAs

If there’s one award show that guarantees drama each year it’s the MTV Video Music Awards.

The celebration has been the host of a number of infamous incidents in the past – Madonna controversially kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on stage in 2007, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009 and last year Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke shocked audiences with their risqué performance of Blurred Lines.

Lorde, Ed Sheeran and 5 Seconds of Summer were amongst those to walk away with a moon man trophy this year, but who were the real winners and losers of the night?

Winners…

Beyonce

The verdict from Twitter was that Beyonce ruled the night with her extravaganza of a performance and emotional acceptance of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. However, she may have been slightly overshadowed by her adorable daughter…

Blue Ivy Carter

After announcing her pregnancy at the 2011 VMAs, Beyonce brought Blue Ivy along to this year’s awards. The toddler stole the show with her adorable dancing and even Katy Perry tweeted that her “life is over” because the child waved at her.

Miley Cyrus

Following last year’s catastrophic performance of Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke, all eyes were on Miley Cyrus at the 2014 VMAs.

After winning the Video of the Year award the singer sent a homeless teenager named Jesse onto the stage to collect the moon man trophy. Jesse then directed viewers to Cyrus’s Facebook page, where the star encouraged people to donate to My Friend’s Place, a homeless shelter in Hollywood.

Sam Smith

Sam Smith’s incredible stripped-back rendition of Stay With Me wowed the VMA audience, who could be heard singing along with him during the captivating performance.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry decided to channel Britney Spears with her VMA outfit by rocking double denim alongside Riff Raff, her collaborator on This Is How We Do. She admitted that her look was inspired by ‘nostalgia’ and her ‘Tumblr addiction’ and Britney even tweeted that she thought Katy looked great.

Losers…

Amber Rose

Amber Rose’s outfit was inspired by another VMA trendsetter, Rose McGowan, but she turned heads at this year’s awards for all of the wrong reasons. There’s having fun with a throwback outfit and then there’s being nearly nude.

The Kardashians

When rapper Common requested that the audience should have a minute’s silence as a tribute to the Ferguson conflict, Kim, Kylie and Kendall appeared to be looking at their phones. In fact, the sisters were frequently on their phones throughout the night and viewers were unimpressed by their lack of respect.

Nicki Minaj

After it was revealed that her backing dancer had been bitten by a snake during rehearsals it was clear that Nicki Minaj had grand plans for the VMAs. However, many were unimpressed with her suggestive dancing when performing Anaconda and then she had that dress malfunction on-stage with Jessie J and Ariana Grande.

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – From Page to Screen

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThis feature contains some brief spoilers from both the book and the film adaptation of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a huge success when released in the cinema last year. It is no surprise that the screenplay is faithful to the book, as both were written by incredible writer Stephen Chbosky.

Although an over-used phrase, the book is truly a coming-of-age story that focuses heavily on the disillusionment so frequently felt by teenagers. The plot revolves around Charlie, an apprehensive freshman starting the new school year. He has communication issues and struggles to connect with people following the suicide of his best friend, Michael, the year before the novel begins.

Charlie initially struggles to connect with his family and explains that the only family member he has ever felt close to was his aunt Helen, who died when he was younger.

I read the book for the first time last year when the film was announced and was so captivated by Chbosky’s writing style that I managed to read the whole thing in a day. It’s uniquely written through a series of letters to an undisclosed person meaning that Charlie’s first-person narrative is honest and he doesn’t hold back. As the novel is written in this way, it is so easy to find yourself empathising with Charlie.

There are many themes to the novel, from abusive relationships and sexuality to drugs and adolescence. However, I felt the main theme was loss. Charlie is not only suffering from the loss of his best friend, but also the loss of his youth and, as the novel goes on, his innocence.

Throughout the story, we see Charlie befriend the eccentric Patrick and Sam and adapt to his new, more social, life. Patrick is openly gay and secretly dating popular quarterback, Brad. Sam is his step-sister and has a troubled past, Charlie is immediately besotted with her, but feels he isn’t good enough to do anything about it.

Initially, Charlie is heavily juxtaposed to Patrick. Patrick is over-the-top and obnoxiously loud to teachers whereas Charlie doesn’t have the confidence to participate in classes. As the plot develops and Charlie feels more comfortable with his new friends he gains more confidence and feels free to voice his true opinions.

The novel features many great quotes

The film adaptation of the novel has been a long time coming. The novel was first published in 1999 and has gained a cult following since. It is considered a modern classic by many and features some amazing quotes, including one of my personal favourites “we accept the love we think we deserve”.

The film is extremely faithful to the original novel, which I feel is because Chbosky adapted the script himself. Chbosky has stated in the past that the novel is semi-autobiographical and he can relate to Charlie which may play a part in why the characters do not digress from their original representations.

Usually I find film adaptations don’t live up to the novels they are based on and whilst I still think in this case the novel is better than the film, there isn’t much in it at all.

I think one strength of the film adaptation is that the characters are established much quicker than in the book. When initially reading about Patrick and Sam, I wasn’t sure what kind of people they were as I was only finding out about them at the same speed as Charlie, but as soon as you see the pair on-screen, you understand they are eccentric outcasts.

Logan Lerman is fabulous as wallflower Charlie, especially during party scenes, where he portrays Charlie’s naivety brilliantly. One stand out scene is when Charlie has started dating one of Sam’s friends Mary-Elizabeth. During a game of Truth of Dare? Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, but instead of choosing Mary-Elizabeth, he chooses Sam. Lerman’s performance when he realises the mistake he has made is great, as Charlie is slowly seeing himself turn back into a recluse as his friends stay away from him.

Emma Watson is also surprisingly good as Sam in the film. Although at times her American accent leaves a lot to be desired, her performance is much better than that in any of the Harry Potter films and after seeing the film, I believe she has the potential to continue as a successful actress for a very long time.

However, it is Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Patrick which is truly exceptional. He is able to go from over-the-top clown to emotionally vulnerable in a matter of seconds and you understand why the character is able to draw so many people in. One outstanding scene is when he is confronting Brad about their affair in front of his friends. The dispute turns violent and Patrick completely breaks down. It is no surprise that Miller received a number of accolades for the role.

The production of the film is also well done. Music is a big part of the book and this is conveyed on-screen as the film has an excellent soundtrack. Additionally the editing is extremely clever, with many sound bridges used for transitions, particularly as Charlie recollects about his past. This allows the audience to see the links he makes in order to remember these events.

My only issue with the film itself is that I think it hints too heavily at the films climatic twist, something which was quite shocking and unexpected in the book. However, I often find this to be the case with adaptations.

Overall, I would highly recommend both the novel and the film, but would suggest reading the book first in order to fully embrace and understand Charlie as a character.

 

Freaks and Geeks: Then and Now

Note: This blog post will contain spoilers about the TV show ‘Freaks and Geeks’ 

Although lesser known in the UK, the Judd Apatow produced Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) has a cult following in the US despite only lasting for one season. The show introduced audiences to some of the biggest actors and actresses in film and television today and dawned the start of the ‘comedy clique’ that would frequently appear on-screen together.

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers [Getty Images]

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers
L-R: Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps, Samm Levine, John Francis Daley, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr, James Franco. [Getty Images]

The show followed the Weir siblings, Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam (John Francis Daley), and their respective friendship groups, the freaks and the geeks, as they went through high school during the 1980s. The show focused on friendships, family bonds, drug use, bullying and issues with self-image. It dealt with serious issues in a light way and, unsurprisingly considering the cast, had many hilarious moments.

The Freaks consisted of Lindsay, Daniel (James Franco), Nick (Jason Segel), Ken (Seth Rogen) and Kim (Busy Philipps). They were a group of burnouts likely to be found smoking weed by the bleachers or sneaking out of class. At the beginning of the series, Lindsay is dealing with the death of her grandmother and the narrative predominately follows her questioning her faith and social standing as she begins to hang out with the ‘freaks’ rather than the mathletes.

The Geeks consisted of Sam, Neal (Samm Levine) and Bill (Martin Starr). The series saw the Geeks trying to avoid bullies, deal with first crushes and coping with family issues.

Last year, Vanity Fair reunited all of the cast members publicly for the first time since the show was cancelled. They had previously held a reunion at PaleyFest in 2011, however, James Franco was not present due to filming commitments.

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of 'Freaks and Geeks'  for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Here is a run through of the best moments of Freaks and Geeks and the career highlights of the cast so far:

The Freaks:

Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini)

Lindsay Weir

Best Moments

At the start of the series Lindsay isn’t the most likeable character. It is frustrating as a viewer to see her trying to be somebody she is so clearly not just to fit in with this group. But her best moments come when we see her compassionate side, such as when she talks about her late grandmother or when she defends Eli, a boy with mental disabilities. As the series goes on, she builds a friendship with Kim which is great to watch and it is endearing to watch her struggling with her feelings for the overly-keen Nick.

Notable Credits

Velma in Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Cassie in Brokeback Mountain
Nurse Samantha Taggart in ER

Current Projects

Voice work on Gravity Falls
Currently voicing Sharla in Out There.

Daniel Desario (James Franco)

James Franco

Best Moments

Daniel’s turbulent relationship with Kim offers some humorous moments, especially when he decides to agree with everything she says during episode 12, ‘The Garage Door‘. However, some of his best moments occur when he is communicating with the geeks. In the finale, Daniel is forced to join the Audio/Visual club after pulling the fire alarm to try and get out of a test so to be nice the geeks invite him to join them at their Dungeons and Dragons night, where they all bond over Daniel’s creation of Carlos the Dwarf (see below). 

Notable Credits

Harry Osborn in the Spiderman franchise
Aron Ralston in 127 Hours
Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Current Projects

Alien in Spring Breakers
Oz in Oz the Great and Powerful

Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel)

Jason Segel

Best Moments

Nick is the character who is freakishly loveable. He is obsessed with Lindsay, going as far as serenading her with Styx’s ‘Lady’ (cringe through the clip below) and later writing his own song for her, ‘Lady L’. His pride and joy is his 29-piece drum kit and he is initially convinced he can make it as a drummer, despite having no motivation to do anything about it. There are many touching moments between Nick and Lindsay where she tries to encourage him to be more ambitious, but he struggles to remain motivated under the watchful eye of his dad, who has warned if he doesn’t sort himself out soon, he’ll be going into the army.

Notable Credits

Peter in Forgetting Sarah Marshallalso writer
Gary in The Muppetsalso writer
Tom in The Five-Year Engagement; also writer

Current Projects

Series 9 of How I Met Your Mother
Featuring in This is the End as himself
Rumoured to be taking the lead role in Dreamworks’ Undercover Cop an 80’s era comedy

Ken Miller (Seth Rogen)

Seth Rogen

Best Moments

In my opinion, Ken is so underused in the series. Although he is there early on to provide some witty one-liners, it is only when he gets a girlfriend during episode 12 that he more heavily featured. When Ken meets his girlfriend, Amy, Rogen’s performance is spot-on. He goes from the quick-witted, sarcastic character to the one who doesn’t know what to do or say.

Notable Credits

Officer Michaels in Superbad; also writer
Dale Denton in Pineapple Expressalso writer
Kyle in 50/50

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself; also writer
Linked to Nicholas Stoller’s Townies alongside Zac Efron
Linked to Anthony Leondis’ B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations

Kim Kelly (Busy Philipps)

Busy Phillips

Best Moments

When I watched the first few episodes of the show, I hated Kim Kelly. I thought the way she spoke to Daniel was awful and her mistreatment of Lindsay actually felt like bullying. However, by the fourth episode, ‘Kim Kelly Is My Friend’, that all changes. You get a glimpse of her dysfunctional family life and realise she mistreats others because that’s all she’s ever known. As the series progresses, her friendship with Lindsay grows and the two really care and respect each other, which is great to watch.

Notable Credits

Audrey Liddell in Dawson’s Creek
Hope Bobeck in ER
Laurie Keller in Cougar Town

Current Projects

Continuing to film Cougar Town
Featuring in Kat Coiro’s A Case of You

The Geeks:

Sam Weir (John Francis Daley)

Sam Weir

Best Moments

As Sam is quite a lot smaller than most of the other boys his age, he lacks a lot of self-confidence, especially when talking to his crush, Cindy Sanders. He’s a true mummy’s boy and worries about Lindsay mixing into the wrong crowd. There is an adorable moment when Lindsay decides to have a party whilst their parents are away, worried that their house will get wrecked, Sam buys a keg of non-alcoholic beer and swaps it with the original keg. Another great moment is when he tries to revamp his image to make himself look a bit cooler, however his choice of a blue jumpsuit doesn’t quite have the desired effect…

Notable Credits

Dr. Lance Sweets in Bones 
Carter in Horrible Bosses; also writer
Mitch in Waiting…

Current Projects

Ben House in Rapturepalooza
Writer of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Writer of Vacation

Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine)

Best Moments

Neal comes out with some of the best liners on the series – my all time favourite is “I’m Jewish. That’s no cakewalk either. Last year, I was elected school treasurer. I didn’t even run!”. He is convinced he is older than his years and that he can charm Lindsay into liking him and after finding out his dad is having an affair, he starts to speak to people through a puppet. Whilst Levine is hilarious during the funny moments, he also makes your heart melt during his more emotional scenes.

Notable Credits

Pfc. Hirschberg in Inglourious Basterds
Spanky in Sydney White
Appearances in Lost, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and 90210.

Current Projects

Uncredited role in jOBS
Pranked caller in Miss Dial
Matt Nealy in Phys Ed

Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr)

Best Moments

I could write an entire blog post about Bill Haverchuck, who is, without any doubt, my favourite character on the show. In a show full of amazing one-liners, his are always the best and the way Starr uses simple mannerisms means that even when he’s not speaking, Bill is the person you are watching. From getting drunk whilst watching Dallas, drinking a concoction of disgusting food that Sam and Neal have blended together to earn ten bucks and trying to teach the boys how to “dance sexy”, he is always providing laugh-out-loud humour. However, his best moment has got to be his halloween costume… (see below)

Notable Credits

Martin in Knocked Up
Joel in Adventureland
Appearances in How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, New Girl and Community

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself 
Todd in The Lifeguard
Roman DeBeers in Party Down

Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings PlaybookAs soon as I saw the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook, I knew it was my kind of film. Although it didn’t give much away, the amazing cast – including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro – sold it to me right away. So much so, that I went against my rule of always trying to read novels before watching their film adaptations.

Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) as he is released from a mental health facility into his parent’s (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) care. Pat suffers from bipolar disorder and was hospitalised after finding out his wife, Nikki, was having an affair with a colleague, whom he proceeded to nearly beat to death. He believes that if he finds enough silver linings in his life he will win Nikki back.

At a dinner, he meets his friend Ronnie’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, a young widow, (Jennifer Lawrence) for the first time. The two soon develop a friendship, with Tiffany offering to give Nikki a letter from Pat if he will be her dance partner in an upcoming competition that her husband never wanted to go to.

As Pat and Tiffany bond on-screen, Cooper and Lawrence’s chemistry is undeniable. However, the film is by no means the typical romantic-comedy you might expect. It is more of a romantic-drama with a few comedic moments. It is clear that David O. Russell, the director and writer of the screenplay, had a distinct vision with the film.

O. Russell has stated that he was so heavily invested in the screenplay because his 18-year-old son Matthew has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As I watched Silver Linings Playbook, it struck me how well those with mental illnesses are represented and I think it’s a testament to the outstanding script so clearly based on personal experiences of the issues portrayed on-screen.

As I’ve already mentioned, the cast of the film is absolutely outstanding, but none shine quite like Bradley Cooper. I wasn’t expecting much from Cooper, as I hadn’t seen him in such a dramatic role before, but in his performance as Pat he shows the perfect combination of vulnerability, emotion and humour. I think Jennifer Lawrence’s statement that his performance ‘broke her heart then put it back together again‘ is spot on and, in my opinion, Cooper deserves all the awards he is nominated for in this role.

Silver Linings Playbook features outstanding performances by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

Silver Linings Playbook features outstanding performances by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

A stand-out scene for me is the first meeting of Pat and Tiffany (much of which is seen in the trailer at the end of this review). Both Cooper and Lawrence display such quick wit in the scene and it flows so naturally. Both of their characters social struggles are obvious and they aren’t immediately comfortable in each others company as is so often the case, to the audience their meeting is plausible as being the first. The film is written so perfectly that the gradual development of their friendship is believable and so endearing to watch as a viewer.

The supporting cast are also great, with there being no weak links. Chris Tucker plays Danny, a friend of Pat’s from the psychiatric unit, who is obsessed with his hair and looking for any legal loopholes that will get him out of the facility. Jacki Weaver plays Pat’s mother, Dolores, with such raw emotion and compassion and Robert De Niro is amazing as Pat’s father, who resorts to bookmaking to earn money and suffers from OCD tenancies.

I think one of the funniest scenes, and the one that makes me believe we will be seeing Jennifer Lawrence on-screen for years to come, is when Tiffany argues with Pat Snr. in the middle of a gathering, dismissing his OCD beliefs that Pat needs to be at home when American Football is on in order for his team to win. There’s something about seeing a 22 year-old Lawrence talking down Robert De Niro which is hilarious and it’s a beautifully portrayed moment when Pat Snr. begins to acknowledge that Tiffany shouldn’t be judged because of her issues and where he finally believes in his son.

Whilst the plot is predictable, the incredible performances by the cast are reason alone to see this film. The character relationships are intriguing to watch and you genuinely root for Pat and Tiffany, not just to have a relationship but to be content as individuals and find the silver linings they both deserve.

Rating: ****

Review: Mumford and Sons – The Road to Red Rocks

The DVD Cover.

The Road to Red Rocks DVD Cover.

In 2011, I was fortunate enough to see one of my favourite bands, Mumford and Sons, live. My friend treated me to tickets for my birthday and we both agreed the gig would be unforgettable as it was held in a tiny venue, the New Wimbledon Theatre.

I find it hard to describe how amazing the gig actually was to people, when they ask I usually just say “I spent an hour and a half with butterflies in my stomach”, mainly because I was bewildered by how incredible they sounded live. Whilst most artists never quite live up to how they sound on their albums, Mumford and Sons were even better and their musical talents shone that night, especially when playing ‘Timshel’ acoustically with no amps. They played an amazing setlist  including unknown songs from their then unreleased second album, Babel.

The night ended in the best way possible when we met Winston and Ben after the gig. They were incredibly humble and kind and took the time to talk to us, although we did feel slightly bad when the people around us recognised who they were and they got bombarded, but they didn’t seem to mind at all.

Since then, I’ve found myself saying part of me doesn’t want to rush to see them live again, just because I don’t think it could be as good as that night. But with the release of their incredible new album, Babel, I’ve found myself in two minds again.

Ben and Winston were kind enough to stop for a chat and take photos with us.

Ben and Winston were kind enough to stop for a chat and take photos with us.

When I heard the band were releasing The Road to Red Rocks, a dvd featuring live footage from two sold-out shows at the Red Rocks Ampitheatre, there was no doubt in my mind that I needed to get it. Upon watching it I found myself in possession of the butterflies I previously had at their gig.

The setlist of the dvd great, with tracks from Babel and some old favourites from Sigh No More. It is clear that the dvd isn’t just a means of promoting Babel, but it is more of a thank you to the fans. My personal stand out tracks are Lover of the Light, Awake my Soul and Dust Bowl Dance. 

The footage of the band  is brilliantly directed by Fred & Nick. It features amazing performances and there are also some interviews and backstage footage where the band talk about their bond as a group and their love of music. Beautifully candid moments are shown when they come off stage where you can see how happy they are to have played at such a prestigious venue and to be in each others company. These endearing moments will melt the heart of any fan.

The band’s love of performing really comes across on stage and, unsurprisingly, The Road to Red Rocks dvd has left me desperate to see them once again. The dvd is, without a doubt, a must-have for any Mumford and Sons fan.

Rating: ****

‘Truthful’ Oscar Posters

Following yesterday’s feature on Oscar nominations, I had to share these hilarious posters from the web of “If 2013’s Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth“.

Here are some of my personal favourites:

Lincoln: Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay

Django Unchained: Nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay.

Life of Pi: Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

To see the rest of the posters, go to theshiznit.co.uk.

To see the full list of Oscar nominees, go here.

My advice to the TOWIE producers…

By the looks of Twitter, I’m with the 90% of the British population who wishes they could un-see last night’s dreadful The Only Way Is Essex, better known as, live. It has been described as the ‘worst tv show ever’ by readers of The Sun and many fans have expressed how they were tempted to stop watching.

The thing that struck me though, is that it was the cast who were getting slated online. Although I’m in agreement that some are acting a little too big for their boots *cough* James ‘Arg’ Argent, I really don’t see how the failure of the live episode can fall into their hands.

The Arg Charity Show... it's all for charity!

The Arg Charity Show… it’s all for charity, apparently!

Whilst the message was clear – the ‘stars’ were putting on a charity show – there were no details anywhere with how fans could donate to their charity of choice, Breast Cancer Care, and although some may claim they raised awareness, no facts on the cancer were shared.

The show played out like a poorly executed version of The Muppet Show, except it wasn’t funny… It was plagued with poor edits and a lack of understanding of those behind the scenes that as they were shouting to the cast, the audience could hear them too. It is a credit to the post production staff of the regular shows that it is usually edited so smoothly. Last night we had to endure cutting people off mid-sentence and moving to a shot of two people looking at each other in silence – until we heard those behind the camera say “we’re rolling”.

Sam and Kirk have lots to discuss

Sam and Kirk sit in silence, until they are prompted by someone behind the camera to “talk about Lauren”

If last night’s show did anything, it made it clear just how constructed the storylines are. We heard producers prompting Sam and Kirk to “talk about Lauren” and it would appear the only people pressuring Joey to talk about marriage are those we don’t see on-screen. The poor boy was almost reduced to tears and the rumours online are saying it’s because he was being pressured to propose at the end of the show.

So, my advice to TOWIE producers – the live show clearly didn’t work, please don’t try it again, if you do, count your losses, it’s pretty clear the show last night was scripted and had been rehearsed, so don’t try to pretend it isn’t.

If you’re going to revolve it around a ‘talent’ show, don’t cut away from the acts, aren’t they what it’s all about? In fact, an even better route could be to put on a TOWIE pantomime, add an ‘Essex twist’ to a tale we all know.

The saving grace of the live show was, without a doubt, Kirk Norcross’ performance. He’s never mentioned that he could sing before so it was a shock when he said he was singing a jazz song, that’s usually Arg’s territory. In my opinion, and according to Twitter, he was the star of the night… It would be great to see a little rivalry between him and Arg over the performance.

But please, don’t try to go live again. I don’t think the nation can handle it….or Joey.

The live show appeared to upset Joey, who was seen crying to producers after the show

The live show appeared to upset Joey, who was seen crying to producers after the show

(All screenshots have been sourced from ITV Player, if you dare to watch the episode again, it’s available here for the next month.)