‘In the FOXlight’: How Did Bale Prepare to Play Moses?

Today on the latest In the Foxlight, Michael Tammero brought us a glimpse into the biblical blockbuster, "Exodus: Gods and Kings." The Ridley Scott-directed film tells the story of Moses, played by Christian Bale, and his exodus from Egypt. It's a new take on the story nearly 60 years after Charlton Heston's legendary "The Ten Commandments." Tammero caught up with Bale in Paris, asking him what it's like to play a role like that and how he prepared. Bale said he tried not to be too serious at all times, observing that there's a "very fine line" between getting a movie like this just right and it being seen as "unintentionally funny." "We had our takes when it was all a bit pear-shaped. Those are great and you need them as well, because it's such an intense character. I just would have been exhausted if I didn't have a little Monty Python going around the back of my head all the time," said Bale.  Check it all out in the clip above. Continue Reading

‘RED 2,’ movie review

Sometimes credit can be given for not trying too hard. In which case, “RED 2” generally comes out ahead for being so laid-back. This oldster-spies-in-from-the-cold flick is a sequel no one was asking for. Yet it’s here anyway, and as the stars saunter through, the movie starts to feel like a spy flick molded around a Dean Martin celebrity roast. It’s never laugh-out-loud funny or inside-track smart, but in a summer full of bombastic failures, a lack of pretense is enough. Bruce Willis is again Frank Moses, the former CIA black ops agent who, as in the first film from 2010, is forced out of hiding. Frank and his loopy pal Marvin (John Malkovich) are classified RED — “Retired, Extremely Dangerous.” They still have the skills to kill; they just need an excuse. Luckily, Interpol gives them one when they interrogate Frank and set off double-agenting aplenty. The reason for concern is a dormant “doomsday device” left over from the Cold War. Worried it’ll fall into the wrong hands, Frank and Marvin go after it themselves, with Frank’s nonsecret-agent girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) tagging along. Going to such exotic spots as London, Paris and, um ... Teterboro, N.J., the trio elude a contract killer named Han (Korean star Lee Byung-hun) and constant traps. In Russia, they link up with Frank’s old KGB flame Miranda (Catherine Zeta-Jones), team up with ex-MI6 spy Victoria (Helen Mirren) and find the addled scientist (Anthony Hopkins) who can stop the imminent explosion. All this is just an excuse for seasoned pros to play with firearms and spoof action-thriller conventions. Willis’ off-the-cuff performance and side-of-the-mouth delivery work better than in the last “Die Hard” movie, and Malkovich knows exactly what’s required of him. When he sees a hole in the movie, he hams it up. Perhaps only he could deliver lines with a mouthful Continue Reading

Designers from around the world compete to bolster New York City’s storm defenses

It’s going to take more than stilts and sandbags to protect the city from the next superstorm. To keep another hurricane from causing the devastation wrought by Sandy — which destroyed at least 1,000 homes in the five boroughs, damaged another 75,000 and has forced 300,000 locals to storm-proof their property or face skyrocketing insurance premiums — authorities are tapping the finest minds in design to dream up solutions, from the practical to the fantastical. Almost a dozen major architecture contests are underway. By calling in the pros, city and federal officials are casting a wide net for fixes. “We don’t have all the good ideas, and I don’t care who does have them,” Mayor Bloomberg said recently. There has been no shortage of interest, as everyone seems to want to lend a hand — and become a hero in the process. International design stars including Rem Koolhaas and Bjarke Ingels have joined some of the city’s top planning firms like WXY Architecture and HR&A Advisors to help the federal government bolster the region’s coastal defenses. Ten high-profile teams are working on proposals like oyster beds that absorb storm surges and more far-fetched — not to mention expensive — ideas like apartments that double as sea walls ringing Manhattan. The final proposals will be unveiled in February, but after that, anything, or nothing, could happen. Designers are vying for a chunk of the $60 billion in federal Sandy aid that’s on the table, but that number is shrinking by the day as the money gets earmarked for other expenses. And plans like inhabitable sea walls won’t come cheap. That’s not stopping the mayor from trying. He has his own ambitious plan for Seaport City, a sprawling neighborhood of apartment and office towers stretching from the Battery to the Brooklyn Bridge. Selling space in the hypothetical development would fund the Continue Reading

Mel Brooks talks about growing up in Brooklyn in his new HBO special ‘Mel Brooks Strikes Back’

Melvin Kaminsky's mother, Kate, may have had to raise four boys on her own in Depression-era Williamsburg, but Melvin remembers how she never lost her dreams. “She’d say, ‘I want to see the world,’” he recalls, by which she meant life in front of 365 S. Ferry St., where the Kaminskys rented three rooms. Her problem: Apartments in the front were too expensive: $18 a month, against $16 in the back. “She’d say, ‘I want to see children playing,’” says Melvin. “The people on the stoop, the shops. That was life. She said all she saw in the back was wet wash and cats. “So all my older brothers, Lenny, Irving, and Bernie, went out to work.” The Kaminskys eventually moved to a front apartment, and today, long after Melvin Kaminsky grew up to become Mel Brooks, he remembers Williamsburg with a warm glow. His voice tingles when he recounts the afternoon he and some pals snuck into Ebbets Field through a skinny crack in the gate and Cardinals left fielder Ducky Medwick waved to them. Ethan Miller/Getty Images Melvin Kaminsky grew up to become Mel Brooks, but he remembers his Williamsburg roots with a warm glow. Kate Kaminsky’s husband died at 34 from kidney disease, when Mel was only 2, but she didn’t let it kill anyone else’s spirit. “My mother had a real joie de vivre ,” Brooks says. “We were poor, but we didn’t know it. We were happy.” He talks about that childhood in a new HBO special, “Mel Brooks Strikes Back,” airing Monday night at 9. AP/Embassy Pictures Kenneth Mars (from l.), Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel and Lee Meredith in Brooks 1968 comedy "The Producers." The hour-long conversation with Alan Yentob, creative director of the BBC and an old friend, starts with Yentob asking Brooks if it’s unusual for an entertainer to come from Brooklyn. Reflecting on the question later, Brooks says Continue Reading

Part-time actor, full-time drama queen Lindsay Lohan looking for a new publicist

Now hiring: Lindsay Lohan With her long-suffering publicist Steve Honig out of the picture, part-time actor and full-time drama queen Lindsay Lohan is looking for a new mouthpiece. The walking PR nightmare has been making calls asking for representation, but gainfully employed publicists fear that trying to justify — or just flat-out lie about—her antics might damage their credibility. “Anyone who represents her is taking a risk because she flies off the handle, she’s uncontrollable and she gets in her own way,” said a prominent New York public relations exec who’s dealt with Lohan. The source, whose clients regularly appear on television and print, adds, “It’s not only working with her, it’s working with her family. There’s a big difference between Dina Lohan and the Kardashians.” How bad were Honig’s two years of repping Lohan? Let’s just say Courtney Love is still his client and LiLo is not. Others are not as diplomatic. “Hell no!” says another high-profile publicist, when asked about taking on Lohan. “You’re literally taking on a crisis management project,” says that source, who has worked with the Kardashians and Sofia Vergara. “She doesn’t have a brand she’s building.” That second source adds, “You’re not placing stories, you’re just stopping them all day. She has a movie coming out, which is great, but Lifetime is handling it [the network behind Lohan’s upcoming “Liz & Dick” biopic] — not you.” For the record, Lifetime officials have said LiLo will only grant one print interview and it’s going to a “friendly” magazine. Our second source says a firm that agrees to rep Lohan would likely ask for $30,000 to $50,000 a month, and doubts Lohan could even afford it. “The time she takes to focus on, Continue Reading

Movie reviews: ‘Goats,’ ‘Out of the Clear Blue Sky,’ ‘Supercapitalist,’ ‘This Time’

GOATS — Zero stars A desert-dwelling wild man (David Duchovny) helps out a prep-school kid (1:34). R: Language. Cinema Village. Even viewers who are part of the cult of David Duchovny — and there are plenty of good reasons to join — may want to avoid this completely unnecessary dramedy. The “X Files” and “Californication” star sports a Moses-like beard and wig as a guy called Goat Man, an Arizona free spirit and goat trekker who bonds with the preppie son (Graham Phillips) of Goat Man’s ex-lover (Vera Farmiga). There is plenty of shagginess in director Christopher Neil’s film, and not just from Duchovny’s hirsute disguise. The normally restrained Farmiga takes the hippie setting seriously, letting out soul-purging screams and floor-writing moans. Duchovny sleepwalks around, letting his laconic charm do all the work. But aside from a tangy musical score cowritten by Jason Schwartzman, “Goats” is just b-a-a-a-aad. OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY — 3 stars Documentary about the loss of life at WTC financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald on 9/11 (1:47). Not rated. IFC, as part of the DocuWeeks 2012 film festival. Cantor Fitzgerald, as most New Yorkers know, occupied the top floors of the North Tower and lost more than two-thirds of its 960 employees that terrible day. This affectionate, emboldening and genuinely familial-feeling film charts how survivors of the firm deal with the tragedy, from employees to CEO Howard Lutnick. His visit to a missing persons board naming his lost staff is particularly heartrending. Director Danielle Gardner modulates the human toll with the firm’s business realities perfectly; while the city was reeling, Lutnick and his remaining team had to address a possible takeover from JP Morgan. Like every individual’s story of Sept. 11, this one has hidden drama, heartbreak and renewal, adding yet another thread to the tapestry. Continue Reading

New Orleans Saints’ long strange journey from laughingstock to toast of the NFL

It took 43 seasons, but the Saints have reached the promised land.The franchise, born of expansion and cheered on by some of the most forlorn yet faithful fans in all of sports, can win its first Super Bowl a week from today. The Saints didn't have a .500 season until 1978 or a winning season until 1987. They were the first victims of the expansionist 0-25 Bucs and the expansionist 0-9 Browns and they didn't win a playoff game until 2000. What they have in lieu of Vince Lombardi Trophies, however, is as colorful a history as any franchise."What you've got to understand is that this city appreciates crazy. This city is crazy," says Angus Lynn, longtime columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "It's a city that has so much fun despite all the misery, despite Katrina. All these people have to do is hear a brass band coming down the street and their spirits are picked up immediately."It's been happening for 43 seasons. Here's a rundown of some of the madcap moments: TALK ABOUT A DOWNERNaturally, you'd expect some great pre-game and halftime entertainment from party city. Before the Saints' first-ever game at Tulane Stadium in 1967, they were supposed to launch a balloon with legendary trumpeter Al Hirt playing, "Up, Up and Away" to symbolize the birth of the franchise. The balloon, however, never made it to "Up" because a worker mistakenly put a hole in it. "I went through 10 choruses and that son of a gun still hadn't been pumped up," Hirt told the Times-Picayune. "I almost got a hernia." It was prophetic, to say the least. MECOM'S MISFITSThe Saints' first roster was stocked with players plucked from other teams in the expansion draft. Not great for winning football games. Pretty good for tearing up Bourbon St.That inaugural 3-11 team was led by players such as Billy (Furnace Face) Kilmer, Steve (Stoney) Stonebreaker, Monty (Dr. Strangebrain) Stickles and Roy (Capt. Weirdo) Schmidt. According to Jeff Duncan's book, "Tales from the Saints Sideline," Doug Atkins, Continue Reading

Gwyneth Paltrow disses New York, U.S., people who ‘always have BlackBerries on’

Would actress Gwyneth Paltrow leave her native country behind to live in the Spanish countryside? In a New York minute, apparently. The Oscar-winning actress professed her love for Spain in a recent interview, and managed to diss American culture in general and New Yorkers in particular. "Spain has become a second home," Paltrow said. "Here in the United States an old building is about 17 (years old), and over there it's from 500 B.C. It's incredible. "Also, the way people live over there. They seem to enjoy life a little bit more. They aren't running around as much as in New York. "They enjoy time with the family. They don't always have their BlackBerries on." Paltrow lived in Spain briefly as a teen and is fluent in Spanish. The 36-year-old star, who is married to Coldplay singer Chris Martin, wants her two kids, Apple and Moses, to speak Spanish as well. She said she would love to act in her second tongue as well. "I haven't found the script yet," she said, "but the first (movie) would have to be a small role, not very important, because I imagine I would have to get used to acting in Spanish." Currently, she is in filming for "Iron Man 2," staring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Guggenheim Museum turns 50: Here’s 50 facts about New York institution

One of New York's living legends is turning 50. Today, exactly five decades after it opened its doors, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is celebrating its birthday with free admission all day long. The Fifth Ave. landmark, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of the most controversial pieces of architecture ever erected in New York and one of the most awe-inspiring. Need another reason to check it out? Try 50. THE BUILDING 1. The structure faced harsh criticism when it opened in 1959. One critic dismissed it as "a war between architecture and painting, in which both come out badly maimed." Another called it "an indigestible hot cross bun." NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses snapped that it looked like "an inverted oatmeal dish." 2. The exterior of the museum is made of gunite, a mixture of sand and cement that is sprayed on the inside of a wood and steel frame, which is later removed. 3. Curator Hilla Rebay, a German baroness, chose the museum's architect. Some theorize that she selected Wright, a renowned American visionary, to pacify critics who accused her of favoring European creative minds over American ones. 4. To design the museum, Wright created more than 700 sketches. 5. The shape of the building is a play on a ziggurat, type of ancient Mesopotamian temple that narrowed as it rose. In Wright's design, the building widens as it rises. 6. Wright wanted the building to have curved surfaces to convey "an atmosphere on the unbroken wave." He was adamant that there be no distractions, not even carpeting or curtains. 7. As for the unusual look of the building, Wright proclaimed, "It's going to make the Metropolitan look like a Protestant barn." 8. Twenty-one artists drew up a petition to complain about Wright's corkscrew-shaped design, fearing that the curved walls and ramp floor would make it impossible to hang their paintings level. 9. The building was named a landmark in 1990, one of the youngest ever to earn the distinction. Continue Reading

Gwyneth Paltrow helps out a sibling’s first movie

Gwyneth Paltrow says she actually had to try and convince her brother Jake to cast her in his film "The Good Night," opening Friday. "I loved how wry and unglamorous [my character] was, part of the dissolution of a relationship," she says, "But Jake said, 'Absolutely not.' He didn't like the perception that went with it." Which perception? How about this: Oscar-winning big sis comes to the rescue by lending star power to younger sib's feature film writing-directing debut? But then Jake Paltrow was able to attract Penelope Cruz, Danny DeVito and Martin Freeman to his cast. So he could cast Gwyneth without it looking like his whole film was riding on her. "I just thought it would be fun to work together," she says. "And it was." The film focuses on Gary (Freeman), a former Brit pop star eking out a living in New York writing music for commercials and suffering through a rocky marriage with Dora (Paltrow). His one escape is sleep; he has a dream life that includes the gorgeous Anna (Cruz), but he can never get in enough sack time with his dream girl. So he consults a guru on lucid dreaming (DeVito), a way of directing your dreams and making them last. "There's a feeling you get around Gwyneth and Jake that's very giving," DeVito says. Though three years older than her brother, Paltrow says that while working together, she often felt like Jake was the elder sibling. "He's got an old soul," she says. "He's very measured, very thoughtful. And I'm slightly less so." It's not exactly a comeback film for her, but her role here and in next summer's superhero flick "Iron Man" represent a conscious decision to refocus on acting. "I basically took three years off," she says, "A lot of times people will say they're going to do that, but I actually did. But it's a very risky thing to do if you're a woman. When there came a point where it felt fine to go back, I thought, 'I hope people remember me.'" No problem there. But after taking time off in her early 30s to Continue Reading