‘Set Fire to the Stars’ review: Dylan Thomas in America, entertaining but familiar

High art swings sort of low in this watchable but thematically repetitive drama about Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ arrival in America in 1950. The louche life force, played entertainingly by Celyn Jones, runs his scholarly sponsor, John Malcolm Brinnin (Elijah Wood), ragged with bouts of drunkenness interrupting episodes of randiness and wantonness. Brinnin’s academic overlords are not amused, but they are moved when they catch Thomas’ poetic genius. Director Andy Goddard, who co-wrote with Jones, lovingly evokes the stiff-collar era in pristine black-and-white cnematography. The actors, too, have both rhyme and reason, with Wood’s reedy neediness nicely playing off Jones’ actorly and physical heft. They make this a thinking man’s “My Favorite Year,” or a less colorful “Me and Orson Welles.” But “Set Fire” runs on the same heroes-are-human track as those movies. Aside from the transporting bits of Thomas poetry, the impact now is sadly dampened. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading

NBA Entertainment crew has $40K in equipment stolen from van in East Oakland

As the Cavaliers try to steal Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland against Golden State Thursday night, a TV crew already was victimized by thieves. According to a report on InsideBayArea.com, three men working for NBA Entertainment went inside an East Oakland Panda Express for lunch about 2 p.m. and came out 20 minutes later to find a window of their van smashed and over $40,000 in equipment stolen. At least five laptops, camera equipment, cell phones and personal belongings were lifted from the van, which was parked across Interstate 880 from the Oracle Area, home of the Warriors, in East Oakland, according to the report. The shopping center has long been a target for car burglaries, the report says, and police plan to increase their presence there during the NBA Finals. Continue Reading

Fallout 4, new installment of popular video game franchise, announced ahead of Electronics Entertainment Expo

One of the big video game announcements of June has happened nearly two weeks before the much-hyped Electronics Entertainment Expo. On Wednesday morning, Bethesda Softworks made its biggest splash in advance of the show, announcing Fallout 4 with a polished and impressive three-minute trailer. The latest game in the post-apocalyptic role-playing franchise will be available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as the PC. No release date was announced. Fallout 4 is actually the fifth game in the series, following two PC-only entries, Fallout and Fallout 2, and two games during the Xbox 360/PS3 era, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The franchise has long reviewed well, praised for its depth and innovative role-playing characteristics. Judging from the trailer, Fallout 4 will continue that trend. Bethesda's trailer seemed to showcase plenty of potential gameplay, all with plenty of realistic detail. A dog is also shown frequently in the trailer, possibly suggesting that you won't take on this postapocalyptic nightmare alone. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE TRAILER HERE. Continue Reading

Laverne Cox appears on Entertainment Weekly cover as Lady Liberty

Laverne Cox is Lady Liberty. The co-star of “Orange is the New Black” modeled the Statue of Liberty’s oxidized green crown and gown for Entertainment Weekly’s latest cover. Cox, who is a transgender woman, is most well-known for depicting a transgender inmate on the popular Netflix series, a role that has turned her into an icon for transgender men and women. Her interview with the magazine recaps the changing perspectives on gender identity in the United States and Cox’s own milestones, such as becoming a spokeswoman for people born with gender dysphoria. “Am I allowed to be a human being?” Cox wonders. The actress took care not to mar her reputation as she fielded questions on Caitlyn Jenner’s public transition, living as a woman and whether she’s had gender reassignment surgery. She spent most of early 2015 touring the country for speaking engagements at universities to talk about gender identity issues. This is the second time Cox has appeared on a major magazine's front page. In May 2014, she was photographed for Time Magazine for its story “The Transgender Tipping Point,” which highlighted the battle ground for trans rights. Continue Reading

‘On the Twentieth Century’ stars keep audience entertained during fire alarm at Broadway musical

The audience at Wednesday night’s showing of “On the Twentieth Century” got a really hot ticket — thanks to a fire alarm. The alarm inspired stars Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher to improvise some hilarious bits to keep the audience entertained during the brief disruption at the American Airlines Theatre on W. 42nd St. “It was a really cool experience,” audience member Kaci Machacyk, a tourist from Las Vegas, told the Daily News. “The whole cast handled it very cool and professional.” The alarm went off early in the second act of the show, which is set on a New York-bound locomotive, and theater workers quickly assured everyone there was nothing to worry about, she said. Machacyk was one of several viewers to tweet about Gallagher coming on stage to chat with viewers while they all waited for a clear. “He said, ‘Does anybody have any questions?’ And then he just took questions about the show, about his career,” Machacyk said. “It was totally unnecessary. He didn’t have to do that, it was really sweet of him.” One audience comment she recalled: “Someone said they missed his character on ‘The OC.’ He said, ‘I do too!’ ” After his impromptu Q&A, co-star Chenoweth, of "The West Wing" fame, brought an FDNY firefighter on stage and gave him an appreciative kiss, Machacyk said. Chenoweth later tweeted a picture of her with “fireman Ron,” thanking him and the department “for saving the show.” The unexpected alarm scene lasted about 15 minutes before the show started again, Machacyk said.  It’s still unclear what set off the alarm. Fire officials and the theater did not immediately return requests for comment. This is hardly the first bump the show has had in this run. One earlier performance got canceled due to Gallagher's Continue Reading

Cedric the Entertainer’s ‘Barber Battle’ on CW will see who makes the cut

Cedric the Entertainer is heading back to the “Barbershop.” The actor and comedian’s new reality contest, “Cedric’s Barber Battle,” debuts Friday on the CW with the country’s best hair stylists facing off for a $15,000 payday and bragging rights in the tight-knit barbering community. “Every barber believes that they are the best in the world,” laughs Cedric Antonio Kyles, better known by his entertaining stage name. “Barbers will come up to you and say, ‘Your mane ain’t right. Take my card.’ This show is going to bring awareness to their business and skill set.” Each week, the cutting-edge contest spotlights a different neighborhood, such as Harlem or San Antonio, Tex., where three barbers compete for the cash, a bundle of Oster styling products and, most important: Cedric’s Barber Battle Belt and all the respect it commands. An all-star judging panel of well-known barbers, including Curtis Smith, Rich the Barber and Lena Piccininni, weigh creativity, technique and trash-talking before chopping the losers. “Bravado is king,” says Cedric, who pulled in some real cutups this season, include a Queens barber going by the name Showtime who arrived with an entourage. “They had ‘Showtime’ T-shirts on. They had a chant. It was over the top,” says Cedric. But that’s nothing compared to the hair-raising snipper who topped off his ’dos with something out of a horror movie. “He would mock doing the finishing touches with a real chainsaw!” says Cedric. “It was just a lot of crazy characters, and a lot of fun.” Richmond Hill queenpin Carmen Estremera, who specializes in buzzing fades and designs into stylish scalps, represents New York in an upcoming episode. “Meeting Cedric was very entertaining,” she says, “and this seemed like a Continue Reading

Summer 2015 is filled with smaller films that will entertain

Smaller films — at the arthouse and at the multiplex — will keep moviegoers enthralled, entertained and intrigued during the warm months. Here’s a selection of what to watch for. Far From the Madding Crowd (May 1) Adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel, with Carey Mulligan as a 19th-century woman pursued by suitors (Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, Michael Sheen). Ride (May 1) A magazine editor (Helen Hunt) heads to Los Angeles to go after her son (Brenton Thwaites), a college dropout on a voyage of self-discovery. Welcome to Me (May 1) Kristen Wiig is a troubled woman who uses a huge lottery winning to start her own talk show and essentially buy fame. James Marsden co-stars. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (May 6) Documentary about the Sesame Workshop puppeteer who brought Mr. Snuffleupagus’s beloved yellow, feathery pal to life. He was also very, very tall. Playing It Cool (May 8) Chris Evans is a bitter guy whose new crush (Michelle Monaghan) happens to be engaged. 5 Flights Up (May 8) Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman are Brooklynites selling their apartment — and questioning their lives. Maggie (May 8) Here, Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t the monster (that’s July’s “Terminator: Genisys”); he’s the dad of one, a zombie daughter played by Abigail Breslin. Pound of Flesh (May 15) Jean-Claude Van Damme returns — vandammit! — in this thriller about a former black-ops agent trolling through China’s illegal organ transplant business. Good Kill (May 15) A drone pilot (Ethan Hawke) has trouble with his assignment in this drama from director Andrew Niccol. The Film Critic (May 15) An Argentinean movie reviewer finds himself in a romantic muddle all his beloved films can’t prepare him for. Slow West (May 15) Western starring Michael Fassbender is a bounty hunter who takes a wayward Continue Reading

Fox exec David Hill leaving to start own entertainment company

Long-time 21st Century Fox executive David Hill is leaving the movie and television company to start his own entertainment venture. The departure announced Tuesday comes a week before 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch relinquishes his job to his son, James. Hill had become a Murdoch confidante during his 27-year career at 21st Century and its previous owner, News Corp. During his tenure, Hill founded Fox Sports and also was president of the Fox television network. While Hill was running Fox Sports, he oversaw the introduction of the yellow linear graphic that has become a staple of football telecasts to show how far a team needs to go to get a first down. Hill’s new production company, Hilly, will be backed by 21s Century Fox. Continue Reading

System Update: 10 observations about video games in 2015 before the Electronics Entertainment Expo

The always-seismic Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles is just a few short weeks away, and until then, all is quiet (well, relatively) in the land of video games. And that makes it the perfect time for me to reflect on the ever-growing video game landscape as a whole. So here are 10 things I think about the gaming industry at this very moment. 1) I think some people are destined to miss the greatness of Nintendo's Splatoon over the next few months. It's an absolutely terrific shooter, built on a new paradigm that's about so much more than bodycount, and it forces you to rethink how you approach a team, err, deathmatch. But I wonder how many gamers are simply conditioned to blindly worship at the Call of Duty and Battlefield and Halo altars. Those franchises deserve plenty of respect, yes, but no shooter is quite as unique as Splatoon. Every gamer should spend at least six hours playing it — somehow — before making a judgment. 2) I think a case could be made that Nintendo's next console shouldn't lock itself into a unique brand of gaming. Yes, have motion controls, or a touchscreen controller, or anything else that Nintendo wants, because, hey, Nintendo is incredibly good at reinventing the gaming wheel. But, on some level, it wouldn't hurt to deliver the horsepower and core experience to drive, say, the next Assassin's Creed or Madden. As terrific as Nintendo's first-party lineup is (and from Smash Bros. to Mario Kart to Splatoon, it's been out of this world over the last few months), the lack of mainstream titles and sports games forces gamers to either buy two machines, or choose between Call of Duty and Super Mario. Not an easy choice. 2) I think the classic two-thumbstick, four-face-button controller form still rules, and that's not changing. Sure, there's chatter of a new Xbox One controller on the way, but will it really change that much? We've seen some attempts to revolutionize, but Continue Reading

The biggest stars in fashion and entertainment grace the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala

Sarah Jessica Parker is still at the top of her game. The style icon stole the show on the Met Gala red carpet Monday night with a fiery Philip Treacy headdress paired with an H&M dress she helped design. Tabitha Simmons and Selena Gomez also interpreted the Metropolitan Museum of Art benefit’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” theme with ornate toppers The Mad Hatter would love — Simmons sporting gold leaves to match her Dolce & Gabbana gown, and Gomez in full bloom with white magnolia blossoms to match her Vera Wang dress. BILL DE BLASIO, CHIRLANE MCCRAY CHIDED FOR MISSING MET GALA The biggest stars in fashion and entertainment ascended the Met steps for the cultural icon’s Costume Institute fund-raiser thrown by Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Co-hosts Jennifer Lawrence, in Dior Haute Couture, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Wendi Murdoch and Chinese actress Gong Li arrived at the $25,000-a-ticket “Party of the Year” in couture creations honoring the museum’s new Chinese-themed exhibition, which opens May 7. The star-studded red carpet included Larry David, Emma Roberts, Diane Kruger, Dakota Johnson, Rachel Weisz, Zhou Xun, Lady Gaga, Carey Mulligan, Ansel Elgort and Claire Danes. The stars took pains to do their take on the Chinese theme while being culturally sensitive. “There’s a lot of silk, a lot of embroidery, a lot of flowers and detailing work,” said style expert Preston Konrad. “A lot of them are embracing red and black, which I would expect. I’m over it. I’m more into the women experimenting with jade, blue and white.” Bouquets of poppies covered the carpet, with hostess Wintour in Chanel and model Poppy Delevingne in Marchesa, both sporting the oversized crimson blossoms. “Poppy is giving you poppy on Poppy,” said Konrad. Red also ruled the red Continue Reading