13 items from 2012
★★★☆☆ Billed as a free interpretation of Goethe's original play, Alexander Sokurov's Faust (2011) sees the Russian auteur returning to his proclivity for challenging depictions of male protagonists, to somewhat perplexing results. Collating his traditional cinematic interests, namely the fragility and combined strengths and weaknesses of masculinity, Faust is a slow moving, murkily fascinating depiction of moral ambiguity, painted on a broad and visually operatic canvas that eschews straightforwardness in favour of a dreamlike narrative texture.
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- CineVue UK
Ghost Stories: Volumes 1&2
If being scared out of your wits is what Christmas is all about for you, then blame the BBC. For most of the 1970s, and again in the 2000s, a tiny portion of the licence fee went to creating a series of short films based on the ghostly writings of the great Mr James. These were broadcast in the small hours of the festive season and made their mark not just because they weren't joining in with the more traditional fun, but because they were among the best things British television has ever produced.
The series started off in an unconventional manner, with Jonathan Miller directing a classic version of James's Whistle And I'll Come To You. Miller's film laid the template for all that followed: shot on location on film, cast one well-respected, not too famous actor – in this case Sir Michael Hordern – then heat »
- Phelim O'Neill
Alberto Barbera, the festival's new director, has said he wants a 'less glitzy' event this year
The new director of the Venice film festival has promised a "more sober, less glitzy" event for the 69th edition later this year.
Artistic director Alberto Barbera, who was appointed in December, has revealed plans to cut the number of films showing on the Lido. There will be fewer than 50 films in total at this year's festival, with only 18 showing in competition, he told Italian reporters.
"We're starting a change in Venice's skin, in which within two or three years we will have a nice rebirth," Barbera told Italian journalists. "The festival is like a grand old lady, a refined lady, but one in need of being freshened up. I believe a festival should take responsibility for its choice, and not to simply select dozens and dozens of titles."
Us film-makers being considered for »
- Ben Child
This ponderous movie is regarded by its writer-director, the talented Russian mystic Alexander Sokurov, as the concluding section of a quartet of films on the subject of the corrupting effects of power, following on from his biographical studies of Hitler (Moloch), Lenin (Taurus) and the emperor Hirohito (The Sun). It won the Golden Lion at Venice last year but is a dull affair, made in German, set in 18th-century central Europe, shot in the Czech Republic and Iceland. It has the impoverished, lugubrious scholar Faust pursuing the meaning of life and taking up with Mauritius, a grotesquely repellent version of Mephistopheles. Mauritius works as the town's pawnbroker and moneylender and reveals during one of his pointless romps with Faust to have his penis attached to his backside. After much rambling talk, Faust sells his soul to Mauritius in order to have sex with the local beauty, Margarete. He signs the »
- Philip French
Based on a gothic series that ran on American TV during the far-off 1960s, Dark Shadows stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, the scion of a prosperous British mercantile family in 18th-century New England, who's turned into a vampire by a local witch and buried at night in the local woods. Accidentally disinterred in 1972, during that brief period between Watergate and the end of the Vietnam war, Barnabas sets about restoring the family's fortune. Made in Britain, exquisitely shot by the French cameraman Bruno Delbonnel (who lit Amelie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Sokurov's Faust) and beautifully designed by Burton's regular collaborator, Rick Heinrichs, Dark Shadows is a visual delight. Depp is a poised, proud, sad figure, frightened by his own ability to cause harm. But ultimately the film is rather ordinary, a bit like a modest Roger Corman horror flick embarrassed by the size of its budget. »
- Philip French
Dark Shadows (12A)
Another expensive pop-gothic fantasy (remake) for Depp and Burton's gallery – how long before either they get bored or we do? This time Johnny's an effete 18th-century vampire, reawakened in 1972 to reunite with his dysfunctional Addams-like descendants and marvel at the modern world. Expect fish-out-of-water silliness, a light shade of darkness, and the usual descent into messiness.
Café De Flore (15)
Music and mystery add a great deal to this well-made emotional drama, which switches between a present-day DJ and a 1970s mother (Paradis) whose child has Down's syndrome.
Using flashbacks and musical moments, Honoré tells the story of a former prostitute, her daughter and the men in their lives. »
- Steve Rose
Sokurov's version of Goethe's tragedy is part bad dream, part music-less opera, with hallucinatory flashes of fear
Aleksandr Sokurov's Faust is a version of Goethe's tragedy that won the Golden Lion at last year's Venice film festival; it is being presented as the last part of a "cinematic tetralogy" with three earlier films, Moloch (1999) about Hitler, Taurus (2001) about Lenin and The Sun (2005) about Hirohito. Generally, when directors claim this, it is a transparent ploy to shift the back-catalogue DVDs, but this surely can't be true of such a distinguished film-maker, and there is some dramatic interest in linking fictional Faust with three historical figures, each pondering power, destiny, heaven and hell.
The Austrian actor Johannes Zeiler is Faust, dissecting grisly corpses in a vaguely delineated central Europe in what looks like the 16th century of Marlowe's Faustus. He is brooding over the location of the soul (perhaps »
- Peter Bradshaw
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Aleksandr Sokurov’s four-part meditation on the interplay between power and evil comes to a close with Faust, a challenging, dense take on Goethe’s famed text. With the previous three parts focusing on the travails of historical figures – Moloch on Hitler, Taurus on Lenin and The Sun on Hirohito – Faust might seem like a peculiar post-script, especially when it unfolds like a spiritual prequel, revealing just a little about what might have driven these men to unthinkable behaviours.
Sokurov’s film – which won the Golden Lion at least year’s Venice Film Festival – keenly plays fast and loose with the source material, changing plot structure, character machinations and location, rendering the project, for better and for worse, very much his own. The core premise of course remains the same; the well-meaning if frustrated Doctor Faust (Johannes Zeiler) visits a cantankerous moneylender (Anton Adasinsky), and after signing in his own blood, »
- Shaun Munro
★★★★☆ Making its way to UK cinemas eight months on from its Golden Lion win at last year's Venice Film Festival, Alexander Sokurov's Faust (2011) has lost little of its enigmatic zeal in the interim period. Critical opinion has been somewhat divided on this final chapter in the Russian director's tetralogy (which includes 1999's Moloch, 2000's Taurus and 2005's The Sun), yet for all its over-ambition and debatable inaccessibility, this unique take on Goethe's classic tale remains one of the most mesmeric, hypnotic cinematic experiences of the last twelve months.
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It's rare to see teen-movie characters all grown up, and this illustrates the reason why: they just make us feel old. The gang's all here, reverting to their old non-pc habits even as they mourn their lost youth. It's patchy and often dodgy comedy, but there's still something heartening about Stifler's defiant idiocy and Jim's dad's middle-age second chance.
Triads, Russian mobsters, cops and everyone else in New York falls foul of Statham in another ludicrous but fast-moving actioner.
Two Years At Sea (U)
Extraordinary, otherworldly observation of a modern-day Scottish hermit.
Goodbye First Love (15)
Heartfelt study of a young teen's formative romantic fortunes.
The Lucky One (12A)
(Scott Hicks, »
- Steve Rose
Our Deaths, in memoriam was the project title of Lav Diaz' Kagadanan sa Banwaan Ning mga Engkanto (2007). For the Ferroni Brigade, it became the motto of Venice 2011—specters of dear lives gone seemed to roam the event, the Mostra internazionale d’arte cinematografica as well as the Esposizione internazionale d'arte, and beyond.
We always commemorate the murder of Nika Bohinc and Alexis Tioseco on September 1st 2009, quietly, invariably in Venice; it was here that we heard about the crime; now, whenever we go to the press room to check our e-mails, deep down something inside us is afraid of getting another message like that one; fittingly, one of the last films we saw this year was Diaz' latest, Siglo ng Pagluluwal (Century of Birthing, 2011), which ends with a dedication to them, and talks about the way our loved ones, just like cherished ideas, notions and visions are essentially eternal, »
DVD Release Date: Feb. 21, 2012
Price: DVD $39.98
The international series Borgia, which aired through Netflix’s Instant Streaming service, has the same inspiration as Showtime’s TV show The Borgias.
The historical series follows exploits of the Borgia family, whose patriarch, Rodrigo Borgia (John Doman, TV’s Rizzoli & Isles), is a powerful and greedy Pope during the time of the Renaissance. Rodrigo controls the church to gain power for his family, including his three sons (Mark Ryder of Robin Hood, Stanley Weber of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Adam Misik) and daughter (Isolda Dychauk, Faust). Together, the Borgia emerge as the ultimate crime family.
The three-disc DVD contains all 12 hour-long episodes of the first season of Borgia, plus a making-of featurette.
Buy or Rent Borgia: Season »
It's been an incredible year in the world of showbiz, with the usual headline-grabbing antics, scandal, sleaze, celebrity births, star weddings, and bitter break-ups. Here, WENN takes a look back at the final six months of 2011...
The month of July was overshadowed by the sudden and shocking death of British singer Amy Winehouse. The Back to Black hitmaker was found dead at her home in London at the age of 27 and the news sent the world of showbusiness into mourning. Tributes poured in from both fans and famous friends following the tragedy, and Winehouse's music shot back into the charts.
The headlines were also dominated by celebrity divorces as Jennifer Lopez announced her split from husband of seven years, Marc Anthony, the father of her young twins, Max and Emme. Arnold Schwarzenegger's marriage also came to an abrupt end as his wife Maria Shriver filed for divorce following revelations the actor/politician fathered a lovechild with the family's housekeeper.
In happier news, all eyes were on Monaco as the world geared up for the second royal wedding of the year, following the union of Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in April. In the same month as the British royals flew to Canada to begin their first international tour as a married couple, Prince Albert of Monaco married his fiancee, South African beauty Charlene Wittstock. The couple exchanged vows in two ceremonies in Monte Carlo and the former swimmer became her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco. British supermodel Kate Moss also became a married woman as she wed rocker Jamie Hince in a lavish ceremony in the English countryside, while it was also an exciting month for the Beckham family as former Spice Girls star Victoria, already mother to three boys, gave birth to her first daughter, Harper Seven.
There was also baby joy for Hollywood actress Kate Hudson - she welcomed a son called Bingham with her rocker fiance Matt Bellamy. Singer Jewel, actress Selma Blair and former Fugees star Lauryn Hill also became parents. British artist/director Sam Taylor-Wood also hit headlines after she confirmed she was expecting a second baby with her 21-year-old fiance, actor Aaron Johnson, a year after the birth of their daughter. The couple met on the set of their 2009 film Nowhere Boy and became parents together in 2010.
July also saw troubled British rocker Pete Doherty granted his freedom after serving less than half of his six-month prison sentence for cocaine possession. Another beleaguered star to walk free from jail was rapper Dmx, who served seven months behind bars for a probation violation. However, David Gilmour’s son Charlie found himself on the other side of the prison walls as he was ordered to serve 16 months in jail for his part in the 2010 student riots in London. The Pink Floyd star’s son was charged with violent disorder for causing chaos in the British capital and swinging from a flag on the city’s Cenotaph war memorial. (Lr/Zn)
The usual serenity of the summer months was shattered this year when Kate Winslet cheated death in a devastating inferno at Richard Branson's luxury island home, and a string of British stars appealed for calm as widespread rioting broke out in the U.K.
Winslet was holidaying at Virgin boss Branson's Necker Island retreat when lightning struck the property, sparking a huge blaze which gutted the home. Her party of 20 miraculously escaped unscathed - and Winslet was later hailed a heroine after it emerged she carried Branson's 90-year-old mother from the property during the drama.
As unrest, looting, and arson broke out for several nights in the U.K., showbiz stars including Idris Elba, Natasha Bedingfield and Boy George called for calm, and there was also bad news for Sir Paul McCartney - who learned his phone had been hacked by the tabloid press - and veteran actress Margot Kidder, who was arrested during an environment protest at the White House.
Tragedy struck at the Indiana State Fair, when a horrific stage collapse left seven revellers dead and more than 40 injured, actor Rowan Atkinson was treated in hospital after wrecking his rare sports car by crashing it into a tree, and French actor Gerard Depardieu was left red-faced when he was thrown off a plane in Paris, France for urinating in the cabin after he was refused access to the toilet during take-off.
It was ladies night at the MTV Video Music Awards as Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga took home two honours each - and Beyonce announced her pregnancy news. And at the Teen Choice Awards, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez were crowned queens of the event when they scooped whopping 11 awards between them.
Kings of Leon finally succumbed to their relentless touring schedule and axed their remaining U.S. dates to allow frontman Caleb Followill to recover from "vocal issues and exhaustion", Aerosmith rocker Tom Hamilton and Deep Purple star Jon Lord both announced they were battling cancer, Bono was hospitalised with chest pains, and Norwegian pop band A-ha thrilled fans by announcing they were to reform.
In family news, Kiss star Paul Stanley became a father again, and there were also welcome additions for Ethan Hawke, funnywoman Tina Fey, illusionist David Copperfield, Jessica Alba, and Benicio del Toro, who fathered a child with Rod Stewart's daughter Kimberly.
There were wedding bells for country singer Chely Wright and filmmaker Sofia Coppola, but romance took a plunge for George Michael and Geri Halliwell, who both split from their partners. Also joining the singles club was Arctic Monkeys rocker Alex Turner, who broke up with MTV presenter Alexa Chung after four years together.
The showbiz world bid farewell to songwriting legend Jerry Leiber, who died of cardiopulmonary failure at the age of 78, Police Academy star Charles 'Bubba' Smith, Bollywood veteran Shammi Kapoor, blues legend David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, Warrant rocker Jani Lane, and Motown hitmaker Nickolas Ashford. (Zn/Lr)
September was a month rapper T.I. would like to both remember and forget - he completed an 11-month prison sentence for a probation violation only to run into legal trouble again soon after his initial release for conducting illegal business deals on his way to a halfway house. It wasn't a great month for Madonna either - her movie take on the romance between Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII was savaged by critics at the Venice Film Festival, while her ex-husband Guy Ritchie became a dad again.
Celine Dion was left shaken up after an intruder was found running a bath at her Montreal, Canada home; Neil Diamond revealed his engagement, and Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial got underway in Los Angeles as prosecutors attempted to prove the medic was responsible for Michael Jackson's death.
R.E.M. announced they were splitting after 31 years; My Chemical Romance fired drummer Michael Pedicone after accusing him of stealing from them; Boyzone singer Ronan Keating swam the Irish Sea for Cancer Research in the U.K., and Sir Paul McCartney became a grandfather again and was named the MusiCares Person of the Year - while he also celebrated as his first ballet score debuted in New York.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation was launched on what would have been the tragic singer's 28th birthday, and the star's Body & Soul duet with Tony Bennett became a hit, making the 85-year-old crooner the oldest living artist to have a single in America's Hot 100.
Eddie Murphy was confirmed as the host for the 2012 Oscars; model Lauren Bush became Lauren Lauren when she exchanged vows with Ralph Lauren's son David; British funnyman David Walliams braved the chills of the River Thames and a stomach bug to complete a charity 140-mile swim in eight days.
Actress Evan Rachel Wood lost a tooth during a boozy night out in Paris; Reese Witherspoon was hospitalised after she was hit by a car while out jogging in Santa Monica, California; soul legend Chaka Khan won temporary custody of her granddaughter after claiming the girl's mother was struggling with drug abuse issues, and British The Saturdays singer Una Healy announced she was pregnant.
Inxs dropped frontman J.D. fortune for a second time and replaced him with Ciaran Gribbin; Austin Powers henchman Joseph Son was sentenced to life behind bars for a Christmas Eve rape in 1990, and George Clooney went public with his new girl, Stacey Kiebler, at the Toronto Film Festival in Canada.
Ashton Kutcher had a month of ups and downs - his debut on TV sitcom Two and a Half Men was a big hit as 28 million Americans tuned in, but then came the news that his marriage to Demi Moore was in trouble amid infidelity rumours. Comedienne Wanda Sykes opened up about her breast cancer battle and double mastectomy; Sharon Stone won a restraining order against an obsessed fan and promptly put the home he visited uninvited on the market, and reality TV star and filmmaker Jack Osbourne announced his engagement to actress Lisa Stelly and followed that up with the news he was to become a dad.
Third time was not the charm for Clueless star Stacy Dash, who announced her plans to divorce husband number three, Emmanuel Xuereb, and X-Men star James Marsden's wife also joined the divorce club as she filed papers against her husband. Elizabeth Hurley's love life was on the up - she accepted cricket star Shane Warne's wedding proposal just three months after divorcing Arun Nayar.
Meanwhile, Elton John launched his new Million Dollar Piano residency in Las Vegas; Smokey Robinson accepted the coveted Ella Award at the Society of Singers Gala, and the month wrapped up with Shania Twain's alleged stalker pleading guilty to harassing the singer in court in Ontario, Canada.
Among September's Hollywood weddings, Amy Smart married reality TV star Carter Oosterhouse; Cougar Town co-stars David Rogers and Sally Pressman became man and wife, and model-turned-actress Molly Sims wed in a Napa Valley vineyard in California. There were also nuptials for British filmmaker Michael Winner and DJ/producer Mark Ronson, while R&B singer Keyshia Cole and former Friends star David Schwimmer both renewed vows with their spouses in Hawaii and London, respectively.
There was baby news for model Jodie Kidd, who gave birth to a son; actress Mary McCormack, who became a mum for the third time, and January Jones, who welcomed Xander Dane to the world while staying mum about the tot's father. Actors Emily Deschanel, Ana Ortiz, Mike Myers, Danny McBride and Jenna Fischer also became new parents. In the music world, former Spice Girl Melanie Brown gave birth to her third daughter, and country star John Rich and former Pussycat Dolls member Carmit Bachar welcomed babies too.
On September's sick list were rocker Scott Weiland and pop stars Katy Perry and Adele, who both scrapped shows due to illness, while Megadeth headbanger Dave Mustaine underwent surgery for a serious neck injury.
The month's big winners included movie mogul Tyler Perry, who was named Forbes magazine's Highest Paid Man in Entertainment; actor Michael Fassbender and director Alexander Sokurov, who claimed Best Actor and Best Film honours, respectively, for Shame and Faust at the Venice Film Festival. Gritty TV drama Boardwalk Empire picked up eight Emmy Awards; Calle 13 landed a record 10 Latin Grammy Award nominations, and Happy Days star Henry Winkler picked up an honorary Order of the British Empire medal at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Also winning: P.J. Harvey, who scooped the Mercury Prize in Britain, Arcade Fire, who claimed Canada's Polaris Prize, and U2 and Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who were named GQ magazine's Men of the Year.
September's losers included Scarlett Johansson, who was left exposed in a series of leaked naked phone photos; Cameron Diaz, who split from baseball beau Alex Rodriguez, and John Travolta, whose beloved Mercedes-Benz was stolen outside a Jaguar dealership in Santa Monica, while his Swordfish co-star Halle Berry broke her foot while on location in Spain.
Meanwhile, we said a sad goodbye to a slew of famous faces, including actors Andy Whitfield and Cliff Robertson; beloved TV stars Mary Fickett and Vesta Williams; actor Jack Garner; French DJ Mehdi Faveris-Essadi; blues great Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith; R&B hitmaker Vesta Williams; gospel icon Jessy Dixon; celebrated British writer/producer David Croft; Happy Gilmore star Frances Bay, and moviemakers David Pressman, Charles Dubin, George Kachar and Paul Hunt. (Kl/Mt)
October was a big month for celebrity weddings - funnyman Seth Rogen tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Lauren Miller, Twilight star Nikki Reed married singer/songwriter Paul McDonald, and former Beverly Hills, 90210 actress Shannen Doherty walked down the aisle for the third time when she exchanged vows with celebrity photographer Kurt Iswarienko. Also hoping to make it third-time lucky was Robin Williams, who wed graphic designer Susan Schneider.
Also taking the plunge was Kiss rocker Gene Simmons, who married his girlfriend of 28 years, Shannon Tweed, and Sir Paul McCartney, who exchanged vows with American heiress Nancy Shevell on what would have been his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon’s 71st birthday.
A number of other stars announced their intention to wed in October - NCIS: Los Angeles star Eric Christian Olsen proposed to girlfriend Sarah Wright and Trace Cyrus popped the question to Disney actress Brenda Song. And actress Kaley Cuoco was sporting a new sparkler after boyfriend Josh 'Lazie' Resnik got down on bended knee. Also officially off the market were former child star Frankie Muniz, The Devil Wears Prada actor Stanley Tucci, rapper The Game and Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love's grown-up little girl Francis Bean Cobain.
A number of other celebrities were prepping their homes for babies - movie star Bruce Willis, American footballer Tony Romo, former Dawson's Creek hunk James Van Der Beek, and actress Kaitlin Olson all announced they are expecting little ones, and Jessica Simpson ended months of speculation by announcing she was pregnant.
And October's new parents included Ne-Yo, who welcomed a baby boy, model Ali Landry, who gave birth to her second child, actress Spencer Grammer, who became a first time mum, and France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who became a mum for the second time when baby Giulia was born. Reality TV star Tori Spelling took home baby number three, as did Jackass funnyman Johnny Knoxville. And Sex & the City beauty Kristin Davis, The Help actress Viola Davis and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation veteran Mariska Hargitay all adopted babies.
But it wasn't such a happy month for rapper Rick Ross, who suffered two seizures on his way to a concert, or socialite Kim Kardashian who filed for divorce from husband Kris Humphries after just 72 days of marriage.
In other news, Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto announced he was gay and troubled actress Lindsay Lohan had her probation revoked after failing to complete her required community service hours. She also faced a limousine lawsuit for allegedly neglecting to pay a bill, her dad was arrested - twice, and she was served a lawsuit for reportedly attacking a Betty Ford Clinic employee during her stay there last year.
Meanwhile, the stars came out to show their support for the Occupy Wall Street protests, which were originally launched in New York City in a bid to end corporate greed, and the world mourned the loss of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, British TV and radio personality Sir Jimmy Savile, The Charlie Daniels Band keyboard player Joel 'Taz' Digregorio, former Weezer star Mikey Welsh, veteran British actress Betty Driver, The Miracles guitarist Marv Tarplin, pianist Roger Williams and IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, who died in a horrific car smash at the Indy300.
British bachelor Hugh Grant stunned the world when he announced he had a new love in his life - a baby girl he had fathered during a brief relationship with Chinese model/actress Tinglan Hong. He wasn't the only star to join the celebrity parents' club in November - singer Lily Allen had a reason to Smile again after giving birth to a daughter, her first child with new husband Sam Cooper, while newsman Piers Morgan and his wife Celia Walden also became parents to a little girl. Maggie Gyllenhaal and her husband Peter Sarsgaard announced they were expecting their second child, as did reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian and her partner Scott Disick.
Selena Gomez revealed she is set to become a big sister, while Justin Bieber had some unwanted baby news of his own - he found himself at the centre of a paternity scandal following allegations he had impregnated 20-year-old Mariah Yeater following a backstage tryst in Los Angeles last year. The Baby hitmaker denied the claim and Yeater subsequently dropped the lawsuit.
Lindsay Lohan's troubles hit the headlines again after she was sentenced to serve 30 days behind bars for a probation violation, although she was released after less than five hours due to jail overcrowding. Dr. Conrad Murray was not so lucky - he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter relating to the death of Michael Jackson and sentenced to the maximum of four years behind bars.
In other legal matters, country singer Mindy McCready sparked a manhunt after she took her five-year-old son Zander from his father's Florida home without permission; Tim McGraw won a court battle with his record company bosses releasing him from his contract; and TLC star T-Boz declared bankruptcy.
Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling became driving forces in the push to improve British press standards following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal earlier this year - the three stars were called to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and told how they had had their voicemails, emails and other private messages intercepted by private investigators working on behalf of tabloid reporters.
The sporting world mourned the death of boxing great Joe Frazier at the age of 67, just days after it was revealed he was battling liver cancer, while the hip-hop industry was rocked by the passing of rap icon Heavy D, who collapsed outside his Los Angeles home and was later declared dead at 44. British moviemaker Ken Russell also passed away, aged 84, and longtime Oscars producer Gil Cates died at 77. Meanwhile, Beatles fans remembered George Harrison on 29 November as fans marked the 10th anniversary of his death.
Veteran pop star George Michael was forced to scrap the remainder of his European tour after he was struck down by a serious bout of pneumonia; Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb also spent time in hospital after suffering abdominal pains, and Adele and Keith Urban had a quiet month as they both recovered from vocal cord surgery, while heavy rock fans rejoiced as the original members of Black Sabbath announced they would be reuniting for a new album and tour in 2012.
It was ladies' night at the American Music Awards as Taylor Swift and Adele walked away with three honours each, while Lady Gaga reigned over the MTV Europe Music Awards and newlyweds Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton ruled the Country Music Association Awards by taking home the two top vocalist prizes. November also saw Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher end weeks of speculation about their marriage by calling it quits, while Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles tied the knot and Anne Hathaway began making plans to wed boyfriend Adam Schulman, and former The Hills star Kristin Cavallari and American footballer Jay Cutler became engaged again, months after they broke off their initial plans to marry.
And it was a busy month for the film industry - the latest Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn - Part 1, landed the biggest global debut in the film franchise's history, thanks to a massive $284 million (£177.5 million) opening weekend haul; Golden Globes bosses decided to bring back controversial comedian Ricky Gervais to host his third prizegiving in 2012; Billy Crystal stepped in for Eddie Murphy as the host of the 2012 Academy Awards a day after the comic and producer pal Brett Ratner resigned, and the race for the Oscars kicked off with the Gotham Independent Film Awards, where Terrence Malick's Tree of Life and Mike Mills' acclaimed Beginners made history when they became the first films to tie for the Best Feature prize in the ceremony's 21-year history.
The holiday bells were peeling for newlyweds A.J. McLean, actress Judy Greer, reality TV star Jeff Probst and Yeah Yeah Yeahs rocker Karen O, while Sinead O'Connor married an addiction counsellor in Las Vegas only to call off the union 16 days later. There were also splits for actress Debra Messing and Chaz Bono.
Britney Spears led the month's bride and grooms-to-be when she accepted former agent Jason Trawick's proposal on his 40th birthday, while Steven Tyler, John Legend, Matthew McConaughey, basketball legend Michael Jordan and Lady Antebellum's Dave Haywood all popped the question to their girlfriends - and there was baby news for new dads Robert De Niro, Halle Berry's ex Eric Benet, actor Charlie Day, Westlife star Kian Egan, actress/singer Fantasia Barrino, Essence Atkins and pop star Dev, while actress Alyson Hannigan, Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, Kings of Leon star Caleb Followill's supermodel wife Lily Aldridge, Alessandra Ambrosio and Irish singer Andrea Corr announced they were pregnant.
There was drama for rapper Tyler, The Creator, who was arrested for alleged acts of vandalism during a show in Hollywood; singer Christina Perri, who was attacked in a car-jacking incident; Barry Manilow, who underwent hip surgery, and Morrissey, whose concert in Puebla, Mexico was evacuated following an earthquake, while Britain's Prince Philip and R&B star Etta James spent Christmas in hospital.
Lindsay Lohan bared all for Playboy magazine; Adam Lambert was arrested in Finland following a pre-Christmas bust-up with his boyfriend; rapper The Game halted a gig in Norway to confront a bottle-throwing fan; boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was sentenced to 90 days in jail for a 2010 fight with his ex; a man who leaked an unfinished new Madonna song online was arrested in Spain, and Michael Douglas' incarcerated son Cameron was handed an extra four-and-a-half years behind bars for another drug conviction.
And there was yet more drama for Terrence Howard, who requested a restraining order against his wife; model Lauren Scruggs, who lost her hand and an eye in a freak plane propeller accident; Hollywood couple Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart, who had to vacate their home after high winds brought a tree crashing into their living room, and pop star Selena Gomez suffered a family tragedy when her mother miscarried.
Meanwhile, Jodie Foster's estranged father was jailed for five years after he was found guilty of a property scam; Angelina Jolie was sued by a Croatian journalist who alleged his chronicle of the Bosnian War inspired her directorial debut; Kirsten Dunst won a restraining order against an obsessed French fan; an extra died of a heart attack while shooting The Dark Knight Rises in New York; Goodfellas actor Tony Darrow was sentenced to six months behind bars for arranging a real-life mob beating, and Charlie Sheen had to change his phone number when he accidentally tweeted it to his followers.
The month's big winners included singer Melanie Amaro, who became the first U.S. X Factor winner; Julio Iglesias, who was named Spain's best-selling recording artist of all time; Russell Simmons, who was crowned PETA's Person of the Year; Chaka Khan, who won permanent custody of her granddaughter; Lady Gaga, who was hailed the year's highest earning female musician, and Taylor Swift who picked up Billboard magazine's coveted Woman of The Year honour.
Also winning in December: Guns N' Roses, the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were all announced as the members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2012, and Twilight star Kristen Stewart, who was named Forbes magazine's Most Lucrative Star. Adele dominated the year's end album and singles polls; Jason Newsted reunited with Metallica for their 30th anniversary bash in San Francisco, and Martin Scorsese's first 3D movie Hugo was the surprise Best Film winner at the National Board of Review Awards in America.
In other movie news, Transformers: Dark of The Moon was named the year's most mistake-ridden film; Orson Welles' Citizen Kane Oscar sold at auction for $861,000; Drive dominated the Satellite Awards while The Help, The Artist and The Descendants picked up the lion's share of nominations for the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In The Land of Blood and Honey, also picked up Golden Globes nods and she was named the 2012 recipient of the Stanley Kramer Award at the Producer's Guild of America Awards.
In music news, Amy Winehouse's posthumous album debuted at number one in Britain; 30 Seconds To Mars broke a concert record at a show in New York - their 309th in a single album cycle, and Gucci Mane was released from prison.
Wrapping up the month, Oscar winner Colin Firth was immortalised in wax at Madame Tussauds in London; Men's Health magazine bosses crowned Jennifer Aniston the Hottest Woman of All Time; Liz Taylor's diamonds and gems set a new auction record by becoming the most valuable private jewellery collection; Lmfao were forced to abandon a gig in Honduras after a fire broke out at the venue; Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins announced her split from fiance Gethin Jones, and Coldplay rang in 2012 with a $1.6 million gig in Abu Dhabi.
And the last month of the year saw the notable deaths of actor Bill McKinney, soul stars Dobie Gray and Howard Tate, M*A*S*H regular Harry Morgan, Clark Gable and Loretta Young's love child Judy Lewis, actress Doe Avedon Siegel, former child star Susan Gordon, country singer Billie Jo Spears, Aussie actor Graham Bown, world leaders Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il, songwriter Ralph MacDonald, Kojak star Dan Frazer, directors Don Sharp and Yoshimitsu Morita, writer Christopher Hitchens and Tarzan's chimp sidekick Cheetah, who died of liver failure, aged 80. »
13 items from 2012
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