Monthly Archives: June 2011

Judy bops with Woody!

While we await  the Australian release of Woody Allen’s new hit movie Midnight In Paris” comes news of his latest production. Still enjoying his sojourns in stunning European cities he is setting this one in Rome, Italy. (after London, Barcelona & Paris) The film has the title “The Bop Decameron”

The cast has been set and I am glad to see that one of my favorite actresses the wonderful Judy Davis has been added to the list. Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful), Penelope Cruz (Vicki Christina Barcelona), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Greta Gerwig (Greenberg), Ellen Page (Juno) and Alison Pill (Milk) are co-stars. Woody Allen himself is also appearing in the film as Judy’s husband they play  the parents of Eisenberg.

Loosely inspired by The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio’s collection of bawdy stories, the film is divided into four separate vignettes. One of them, featuring Allen, focuses on an American couple travelling to Italy to meet the family of their daughter’s fiance.

It will be a welcome return for Miss Davis who has shone in 4 previous Woody films. She was pipped at the post for a supporting actress Oscar for her wonderful turn as the neurotic divorcee  in “Husbands & Wives” (Marisa Tomei won for “My Cousin Vinnie”- a travesty in my opinion) she also had roles in “Alice”, “Deconstructing Harry” and “Celebrity” – I will never  forget the hilarious scene where she is given fellatio instructions on a banana by a hooker played by Bebe Neuwirth, truly outrageous and hysterical!!!.

Judy Davis & Woody Allen in “Husbands And Wives”

Judy will be seen next in the eagerly awaited new Fred Schepisi film “The Eye Of The Storm” based on the novel by Patrick White. She plays Princess Dorothy de Lascabanes and it is a role that fits her like a glove. I previously made the  prediction of a possible Oscar nomination, and hopefully if the film is positioned right and gets noticed she will be justly rewarded.

You can check out the  trailer for the film on the newly launched “The Eye Of The Storm” website.

Judy Davis, Charlotte Rampling & Geoffrey Rush star in “The Eye Of The Storm”

Footnote: For some strange reason Woody Allen’s film before “Midnight In Paris”“You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger” was never released in Australia despite a cast including Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Pauline Collins, & Gemma Jones. It was a box-office failure in the US, perhaps that is the reasoning – go figure!!

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Beatty’s back.

After a long hiatus Hollywood lothario Warren Beatty is planning to get back behind & in front of the camera for a new film – he last appeared in a movie back in 2001 (the flop “Town & Country”) and last directed back in 1998 with the political satire “Bulworth”. He is also writing the screenplay & producing.

He is planning the movie with Paramount Pictures who are keeping the details under wraps. Deadline.com’s Mike Fleming has reported today that he has heard that Beatty will play Howard Hughes, apparently it is not a true biopic and part of the plot involves Hughes having an affair with a younger woman in the later years of his life. The subject of Howard Hughes has been a longtime pet project for Beatty. He also reported that Beatty has his eyes on a top ensemble cast and is meeting with Andrew Garfield, Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Shia La Beouf, Jack Nicholson, Evan Rachel Wood and Rooney Mara. Guess he has to plan his meeting with Annette Bening real hard she must be difficult to get hold of!!!!!  Alec Baldwin’s name on the list  is intriguing, he co-starred in  Martin Scorsese’s  Howard Hughes movie The Aviator, in that film Baldwin played Hughes’ main adversary, Pan Am World Airways founder Juan Trippe. I am sure we will be hearing a lot about the casting and talent to be involved in the film. The movie is expected to go into production later in the year. Beatty & Paramount have not yet made an official announcement regarding the subject or casting.

Beatty (aged 74) won an Oscar for directing the brilliant film “Reds”.

Howard Hughes in 1961 one of the last known photographs of the mogul who died in 1976

Warren Beatty in hunkier times!!

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Reel Life!

The film biopic is always a popular genre. Sometimes they deal with the subjects whole life or career and sometimes just a certain period, some are accurate, some are fanciful. This year  there are a few movies of interest coming out about famous people that have attracted some top acting talent – the Oscars do love awarding actors playing real people.  Here is a small preview of some.

THE IRON LADY

starring Meryl Streep as former British PM Margaret Thatcher and Jim Broadbent as her hubby Dennis. The film deals with the period immediately prior to the Falklands war.  The Falklands was a crucial point in the Thatcher’s career and the film will unfold over a period of 17 days leading up to the war, showing how she dealt with the pressure. Similar in a way to “The Queen” in which that film dealt with the period following the death of Princess Diana and how Her Maj Elizabeth II dealt with the crisis. That particular film won Helen Mirren a best actress Oscar and you can be sure Meryl will be up for a nomination. The film is directed by Phyllida Lloyd who helmed (if you can call it that) the mega-hit musical “Mamma Mia”, which I have to say, in all honesty, was one of the worst film musicals I have ever seen – in my own opinion! The only downfall of this particularly movie is that they may give us sympathy for the hideous Thatcher, I abhor her and her principals and especially her reforms – she is an evil woman.

Meryl & Maggie

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

This film depicts the making of the 1957 movie “The Prince And The Showgirl” which paired Marilyn Monroe with Laurence Olivier – with tumultuous results! Based on the dairies of Colin Clark who was a production assistant on the film. It stars Michelle Williams as the screen icon, and Kenneth Branagh as Sir Larry (Ralph Fiennes originally cast in the role had to pull out of the film), and in a supporting role as Dame Sybil Thorndike – Judi Dench. Harry Potter witch Emma Watson is also in the cast portraying an innocent wardrobe mistress, Dougray Scott plays Arthur Miller hubby of Marilyn at the time, and according to Clark a complete arsehole.  Michelle Williams won the role over a bevvy of Hollywood starlets – Scarlett Johansson, Kate Hudson & Amy Adams amongst them. I think they made a good choice, I can imagine Williams will capture Marilyn’s strength and vulnerability to perfection. I expect another Oscar nod for her this year. Check her out in “Meek’s Cutoff”, she can do no wrong.

Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller and Michelle Williams as Maz

J. EDGAR

This film is an oddity and high on my list of wanna-see films.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as famed FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, it focuses on his controversial career as the founder of the FBI and addresses his homosexuality and penchant for cross-dressing. Armie Hammer who made an impression as the identical twins in last years bio-pic “The Social Network” has been been quoted promising a few kissing scenes between him and DiCaprio (he plays J. Edgar’s lover). The screenplay has been penned by Dustin Lance Black who won the Oscar for another controversial bio-pic – “Milk”. Will this be Leo’s year for the Oscar statue? It sure is fodder for the academy voters that’s for sure. Clint Eastwood is a stalwart director, his films always worth checking out.

Leo the brave & J. Edgar

A DANGEROUS METHOD

This film is the one I am eagerly awaiting the most. Masterful director David Cronenberg teams up for the 3rd time with the fabulous Viggo Mortenson and has also cast alongside him one of my new fave actors Michael Fassbender (Fish Tank, Hunger, Inglorious Basterds).  What is it about? It follows the intense relationship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo) and his protege Carl Jung (Fassbender) – the fore-fathers of psychoanalysis. Keira Knightley plays the women who comes between them. Not so thrilled about Keira in the film, I get very distracted by her jutting chin and very thin body, but I do think she does act well. Cronenberg is one of my all-time favorite directors, and the last 2 films he has made (History Of Violence & Eastern Promises) I think are masterworks of style and storytelling.No idea what to expect but I am sure it will be a treat, and possibly a few Oscar noms in their reach.

Psycho-hunk-arama, Viggo & Fassbender

 

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I’ll eat my words Woody!

Well, well, well – will I have to eat my words and go see a film starring Owen Wilson in a leading role?

The answer is yes!  Why?

Blame the Woodster – Woody Allen.

In a previous post I let it be known I am not a fan of  Owen Wilson at all. But, I am a big fan of Woody Allen (mostly of old, not new)

The new exceptions being “Vicki Christine Barcelona” which I liked due to Penelope Cruz & Javier (hubba, hubba) Bardem, and I have an hilarious soft spot for the little seen flop Hollywood Ending (Woody as a blind film director- ha!) which made me laugh out loud on occasion!

The newest Woody Allen film is “Midnight In Paris” and it is a box office hit in the States ($16.5 million to date) expanding this weekend to 1038 screens the biggest ever release for a Woody-flick. It premiered at the 2011 Cannes film festival to excellent reviews.

From all accounts it seems that MIP harks back to the Woody of old, a fantastical film in the vein of “The Purple Rose Of Cairo”, and with the comic charm of the brilliant “Bullets Over Broadway”. Of course it has an all-star cast to relish in, and a stunning picture postcard location – Paris, how can one resist?

Owen Wilson (in the substitute Allen role) is on vacation in Paris with his future bride – Rachel McAdams. A dissatisfied but successful screenwriter who is writing his first novel, he is constantly demeaned by his fiancé and her family and friends also holidaying with him. One night whilst walking the streets of Paris he is picked up by a car full of party-goers, he is transported back to the romantic 1920’s and finds himself amongst his literary idols who advise him on his novel and life. Sounds like fun to me.

Also in the starry cast are Oscar winners Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, & Adrien Brody. France’s first lady Carla Bruni makes a cameo as a tour guide.

Woody Allen always pleases with his films from a design/location point of view, and it’s always a pleasure to watch his cast enjoy themselves with his dialogue.

I would expect with the reception of the film so far that Woody will receive yet another Oscar nomination for screenplay, perhaps it may do well in other categories as well.

So break out the champagne and munch on your baguette because it looks like for all the Woody fans out there, we are all in for a fabulous Parisian treat – ooh la la!

Marion Cotillard & Owen Wilson mooching in Paris

“Midnight In Paris” is due for release in Australia later in the year.

 

 

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A journey worth taking

Film Review: MEEK’S CUTOFF

When a film stays with me long after the final credits it is usually a sign that it’s a very good one. Meek’s Cutoff gave me that experience.

A spare story –  a realistic observation of a time in the pioneering history of America.

Kelly Reichardt’s film tells the story of three families travailing across the ardous Oregon trail in search of a new life, guided by a braggart of dubious credentials, a shaggy bearded man called Meek (Bruce Greenwood – excellent), he advises a shortcut off the main stem trail that leads them to doubt his choice and face the possibility of dying for their dream.

The film begins with the striking image of 3 women, one by one crossing a deep river, drenching their shabby calico frocks, heads covered by simple bonnets. It is a slow poetic sequence and sets the tone for much of the films deliberate pace. Often the landscape is filmed in wideshots with the human inhabitants and their covered wagons plodding along, wheels creaking. A mere blot in a vast land.

Once the doubt sets in towards their guide, it is the men who step aside to discuss what to do, with the “womenfolk” eavesdropping for a hint of what is going on. These scenes are filmed with the women in foreground and the men at a distance, establishing that the story may have a feminist point of view. Reinhardt does not push this aspect but it is apparent and thankfully subtle in approach.

At the forefront of the group of wives is Emily Thetherow played superbly by Michelle Williams (her second collaboration with the director after the wonderful and spare Wendy & Lucy). She has no time for Meek and his stories of bear hunts and Indian killing sprees. It is an Indian who provides a turning point to the story, along the way they capture a lone native (Ron Rondeaux) and much to the protestations of Meek they decide to follow his lead, hoping he will lead them to a water supply to save them from death. What I loved about this part of the movie is that the Indian speaks his language (without subtitles) and they speak theirs so neither knows what is being said –  he does seem a better option than the craggy Meek. The film has no action sequences to speak of which is what one would expect of the usual wagon-trail saga. When a disaster does occur it is accepted and the story continues on its way to a conclusion that lets you decide the outcome.

Reichardt has cast the movie with  excellent actors who fill the roles to perfection. Paul Dano & Zoe Kazan play the young couple of the group, Will Patton is William’s husband Solomon, and the last family of 3 are played by Neil Huff , Tommy Jensen and the superb English actress Shirley Henderson (Wonderland, Harry Potter).

Reeking of period authenticity from the costumes to the make-up, hair and production design (yes there is design in wagon trains and household possessions!) it takes you into the world of hardship that must have been. The dry arid landscape is superbly captured by cinematographer Chris Blauvelt. Go with the pace of the film and you will be rewarded by its simple pleasures.

The “womenfolk” of Meek’s Cutoff – Shirley Henderson, Zoe Kazan and Michelle Williams

* Meek’s Cutoff is screening  at ACMI in Melbourne till June 19 as part of a Kelly Reichardt spotlight.

It is also screening at the Sydney Film Festival on Sunday 19 June – 3pm  at the State Theatre.

Unsure if it is to gain a commercial release.

 

 

 

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Controversial “Dragon Tattoo” one-sheet poster

A one-sheet film poster for the upcoming David Fincher directed remake of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” has just been released.

Featuring stars Daniel Craig & Rooney Mara showing a lot of flesh.

The film is not due for release for another 7 months and is highly anticipated.

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Popsicle Spidey!

So it is official “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark” is frozen!!!

Frozen is the term that means what is currently on stage is the final version that critics will review. June 8 which was the musical’s 177th preview, marked the last time changes would be occur in the production, which has been in previews since November 2010. The longest preview period in the history of Broadway. Critics have been invited to attend the June 9-11 performances.

Along the way, bones have been broken, directors have been “disposed of” and Bono & The Edge have been in heavy promotion mode, appearing on the finale of American Idol, and just announced to appear on the Tony Awards being presented on Sunday night, June 12 ahead of its official June 14 opening night. This will make “Spiderman” the first official opening of the new 2011/12 season – will be interesting to see how it fares at next years awards ceremony, and if it is still playing.

Previously announced that “due to the new schedule, director and co-book writer Julie Taymor will no longer continue in her day-to-day duties with the production”. In other words she was booted.
The musical recently took a temporary break after a preview period that included several cast injuries and many delays for the opening night. When performances resumed, the musical featured major changes to the book and new songs by Bono and The Edge.  Added to the creative team, were playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (a Marvel comics writer), director Philip Wm McKinley (The Boy From Oz) and choreographer Chase Brock.

Adding to the controversy Broadway stage unions have stepped in demanding payment to Taymor who has not received a penny of royalties owed to her.

In related news reported by the New York Post , producers of Spiderman had asked that the Empire State Building change its colors to red and blue for the musical’s opening night. Executives at the New York landmark said they would only do so if a battle between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man, which is depicted in the $70 million musical, was shifted from the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building. It ain’t going to happen. personally I think the Chrysler building is a far superior visual image than the also impressive Empire State.

Chookas!  to all the cast and crew of “Spiderman” I am sure they will be relieved once the show has opened and can sleep during the day instead of rehearsing.

 

 

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