Monthly Archives: November 2011

Munster mash

I am excited about the news that NBC have commissioned a pilot for a reboot of the campy black & white 60’s TV series “The Munsters”.

I loved the show and was a big fan when I was a little lad. I am thrilled it is in good hands, the man behind the pilot is producer Bryan Fuller who created the brilliant series “Pushing Daisies” of which I am also a big fan. It lasted only 2 seasons being way to fanciful and out there for network television. It is a visual masterpiece winning an Emmy for design beating “Mad Men”, it also won an Emmy for supporting actress – Kristen Chenoweth.

The cast of Pushing Daisies.

The pilot is to be directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) who will stay on in an executive producer role. They promise another visual treat, can’t wait to see their take on 1313 Mockinbird lane where the family reside.

Producer and creator Brian Fuller.

I am keen to see who will be cast in the roles of Herman and Lily Munster played wonderfully by Fred Gwynne and Yvonne DeCarlo.

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This Iron Lady has creases.

Film Review: THE IRON LADY

Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher how can one resist?

That will be the only reason the new movie “The Iron Lady” will make any bucks – die hard Meryl devotees and those curious to see how Britain’s ex-Prime Minister’s life is portrayed on screen (they will be the most disappointed).

Meryl has re-teamed with her “Mamma Mia” director Phyllida Lloyd and like their previous collaboration this film is just as clunky and misconceived.

The film opens with an elderly and semi-senile Thatcher attempting to pack up the belongings of her dear departed husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent acting like he has stepped off a Mike Leigh set). It has been 8 years since his death and Margaret still can’t let go of his presence, haunted by his ‘ghost’ she recalls her past glories. Unfortunately too much time is dedicated to these senile moments and not enough time telling the story I wanted to see – the rise and eventual fall of Britain’s first female Prime Minister and her cold hearted no compromise choices that changed a nation and indeed the world! We see these fleeting moments through newsreel footage and the occasional Parliamentary sittings and internal meetings full of buffoons – well that is how they are portrayed here.. It is hard to tell whether we are meant to take all of this seriously, sometimes it felt like I was watching a skit from a French & Saunders episode (Streep made up playing older reminded me of one of those old ladies going on about fuss and nonsense – see clip below). The film is full of strange stylistic choices, odd camera movements and choppy editing, one is not sure what the overall tone of the film is.  There are a few good scenes that work – a trip to her doctor in which she rants about her preference for ideas over feelings, and the scenes with her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) are equally funny and moving, and some that don’t work but should – a powerful moment in which she humiliates her  foreign secretary is ruined by style and editing choices. Streep is wonderful of course, at times burying herself so deep into her impersonation of Thatcher that you do forget it is her. Jim Broadbent is wasted and gives a performance we have all seen before. The rest of the support cast hardly register aside from newcomer Alexandra Roach who portrays Thatcher as a young girl with the right amount of pluck.

Aside from Streep’s transformative hair and make-up other technical aspects are so-so, Thomas Newman’s score is jarring and overpowering at times and it looks like it was made on a tight budget.

Please Meryl can you next choose a film project that is worthy of your formidable talent, this film sure isn’t.

The Iron Lady opens in cinemas across Australia on Dec 26.

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Vale: Ken Russell

Vale: KEN RUSSELL (1927 – 2011)

One of Britain’s cinemas greats died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday aged 84. He was a favourite of mine and I am saddened.

The director of the movies “Women In Love”, “The Devils” and “Tommy” was best known for his flamboyant over the top style and often caused controversy with his films.

The Oscar winning “Women In Love” (1969) featured a famous nude male wrestling scene between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates.

Look at this list of films and you will realise what an amazing talent he was.

Women In Love, The Devils, The Music Lovers, Tommy, The Boyfriend, Lisztomania, Valentino, Altered States, Gothic, Lair Of The White Worm, Crimes Of Passion, amongst many others – of course not all of them were successful both artistically or at the box office but many of them were and they always entertained.

You will be sadly missed Mr Russell – thank you so much for your film legacy.

The infamous nude wrestling scene from “Women In Love”

Roger Daltry as the pinball wizard – “Tommy”

Kathleen Turner as China Blue in “Crimes Of Passion”

Glenda Jackson in “The Music Lovers” another controversial scene

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Gawking at the Gos!

Ryan Gosling has certainly made his mark this year. I have seen him appearing in 4 new films of which he excelled in all of them. He is certainly one of the greatest actors of his generation. He may have the same smirk on his face at times but he is different in every role, tackling a diverse range of interesting characters. He is now on my radar of must see films from now on – whatever they are.

A Canadian actor, he first came to my attention in his Oscar nominated role as the Meth addicted high school teacher in “Half Nelson” but before that made his mark in the hit chick flick “The Notebook”, and he was once a Mouseketeer alongside Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Brittany Spears in “The Mickey Mouse Club” – you have to start somewhere. He is currently dating actress Eva Mendes and was seen this weekend canoodling with her in Paris where she is filming.

A young Ryan smirking as Mousketeer – very cute on the bottom left

Here are the quartet of Gosling films I gawked at this year.

BLUE VALENTINE. (Dean)

As the husband to Michelle Williams in this analysis of a failed marriage Ryan managed to pull of a very unlikeable character. Morose and a bit of a loser he is only failed by weak costuming and the overall bleakness of the movie – my least favourite performance of the bunch.

CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. (Jacob Palmer)

Showing his comedy chops Gosling plays a “playboy” type role. He is a confident lothario at ease chatting up the gals with his obvious pick-up lines that are cringe worthy. He’s full of advice and dressing tips to help his recently separated barfly buddy Steve Carrell win the ladies. With a buffed up body that indeed looks “airbrushed” as Emma Stone squeals in one funny moment, he sure is extra eye candy in this film.

DRIVE.  (Driver)

Playing a man with no name this is the film and performance that is my favourite amongst the four. Brilliantly directed by his collaborator Nicholas Winding Refn.  He is a Hollywood stunt car driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for crims. At once a loner he makes the mistake of falling for the pretty girl next door, ending in tragedy. He speaks very little dialogue but conveys so much detail with his glaring beautiful eyes, his underlying menace is totally believable. The film is a magnificent thriller (beware there is a lot of violence) stunningly beautiful to look at, it is high on my list as best of the year.

THE IDES OF MARCH. (Steven Meyers)

As an idealistic ambitious campaigner for a democratic candidate in the US election primaries, Gosling manages to create a character that has contradictions in his system of mores. Blindly loyal to his boss, he gets caught up in a tangle of intrigue once he starts sleeping with a young intern, ending in a change of beliefs that he portrays to perfection. George Clooney directs and co-stars so it is double eye candy this time around – oh and a very clever film poster.

Next up for Ryan? well he has a lot on his plate.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES – directed by Derek Clanfrance (Blue Valentine)

Bradley Cooper & Rose Byrne co-star

* A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.

GANGSTER SQUAD

co-stars are Sean Penn & Emma Stone.

* A chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s. 

LAWLESS – directed by Terence Malick

co-stars are Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale & Rooney Mara. *groan* I have to sit through another Terence Malick film 😦

ONLY GOD FORGIVES – directed by Nicholas Winding Refn

co-star, Kristen Scott Thomas

* ABangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match.

re-teaming with his “Drive” collaborator they are also rumoured to be remaking the 1976 sci-fi film “Logans Run”

*plot synopsis courtesy of IMDB

and one more pic of the spunk!

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On your marks……

Award season kicks in next week with the New York Film Critics announcing their choices of the years best on Nov 29, soon followed by the National Board Of Review (Dec 1)  and the infamous Golden Globe Award  (noms Dec 11), then comes a flurry of award shows and critics top ten lists concluding with the grand poobah of ceremonies – The Oscars. (nominations due Jan 24, ceremony Feb 26)

And we must never forget The Gloscars!!! (first week in January)

Awards pundits are in a prediction frenzy that puts Nostradamus to shame. I will join them all and try and predict a few in some categories. Of course this does not respect my choices and I have not seen all of the films.

Check out some of the trailers at the end to see what all the fuss is about.

Film

This year there is a possible 5-10 nominees depending on how the new voting system pans out. I wish they would bring back the 5 only rule.

THE ARTIST

The critics darling, a homage to the days of silent film making in Hollywood. Silent film star George Valentin refuses to participate in the talkies leading to his downfall and a romance with a young upcoming dancer/actress. Directed by a Frenchman and coming out of nowhere it is sure to be one to beat.

WAR HORSE

Steven Spielberg directs this adaptation of a famous children’s novel. A young boy goes to war to find his beloved horse who had been drafted earlier. The same story has been adapted into a play by London’s National Theatre that earlier this year swept Broadway’s Tony awards – winning best play. It has all the hallmarks of a sentimental Spielberg extravaganza, and looks like pure Oscar bait.

THE HELP

A surprise sleeper hit that scored at the US box office. A story of the trials and tribulations of being a black maid in America’s south around the time of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. A terrific ensemble cast that are sure to be recognised in the acting categories.

THE DESCENDANTS

George Clooney stars in this new film by Alexander Payne who scored well with “Sideways” a few years back. A dramedy set in Hawaii about a family in crisis.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE

Stephen Daldry directs this post 9/11 story that I am dreading to see, not a fan of Daldry as a film director, stick to the stage Steve! The trailer is dreadful, so I  can imagine what the film will be like 😦

THE TREE OF LIFE

Terrence Malick’s bore of a film may make it to the block. I hated it, critics raved. A film that divides opinion.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Woody Allen’s souffle of a film. A return to form for Woody and a box office success – a rarity for him.

THE IDES OF MARCH

The handsome duo of George Clooney and spunk of the moment Ryan Gosling star in this political drama directed by Mr Clooney.

J. EDGAR

Clint Eastwood’s biopic of the famed founder of the FBI – a cross dressing closet case apparently. Leonardio DiCaprio stars.

MARCY MARTHA MAY MARLENE

This years Sundance stand out success, a staple lately in the Oscar race.

Direction

STEPHEN DALDRY – Up Close And Extremely Personal *Yuk*

STEVEN SPIELBERG – War Horse *Groan*

MICHELl HAZANAVICIUS – The Artist

MARTIN SCORCESE – Hugo

Scorcese first children’s film and in 3D, critics are raving at it is doing well at the box office. Like “The Artist” it plays tribute to the early years of filmaking. Set in a Parisian railway station it is sure to rule the technical nominations.

TERENCE MALICK – The Tree Of Life  – Aaargh!

Actor

GEORGE CLOONEY – The Descendants

A previous winner in the support category for “Syriana” it has ben a good year for this debonair star, he may make it to the podium for a second time

JEAN DUJARDIN – The Artist

If the film strikes a chord with the Academy, expect this French actor to go along for the ride.

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO – J. Edgar

Often nominated, never to win, could it be Leo’s year? Perhaps he will have to wait for his Gatsby turn next year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER – Shame

Swooooooon!!!! A big year for Fassbender appearing in 4 films (Jane Eyre, X-Men:First Class, A Dangerous Method) It is his turn as a sex addict that is turning heads and gaining serious momentum. Not to mention he is naked a lot and full frontal too!! Controversial and brave I guess. Film is directed by artist Steve McQueen who brought us to the attention of the actor with the brilliant but gruelling “Hunger”.

MICHAEL SHANNON – Take Shelter

A much talked about performance from Sundance, it was a while back but I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns up on the list. He was nominated a few years back for his supporting turn in “Revolutionary Road” so not a stranger to Oscar voters.

Actress

MERYL STREEP – The Iron Lady

Meryl as Maggie Thatcher how can we or the Academy resist? I am sure it will be the only nod for the film. Critics have been harsh, only praising the magnificent M but not the direction of her “Mamma Mia” collaborator Phyllida Lloyd who is another of those pesky stage directors who should not be allowed behind a lens.

MICHELLE WILLIAMS – My Week With Marilyn

Critics are raving about Michelle as the famed movie goddess but lukewarm about the film itself. She looks good in the trailer and has been so excellent in all her past performances. I predict a win!

TILDA SWINTON – We Need To Talk About Kevin

Ice queen Tilda is sure to gain a nomination in this controversial role of a mother who doesn’t warm to her child with disastrous results

GLENN CLOSE – Albert Nobbs

It has been a while since she was in the Oscar line up (1989 her last) after numerous nominations (5) and no win. This one looks promising as it is a cross-dressing role and the Academy love them. She plays a woman who masquerades as a butler to survive in 19th century Ireland, it is a pet project of Glenn’s so hopefully she may be rewarded.

ELIZABETH OLSEN – Martha Marcey May Marlene

This years Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)? Rave reviews at Sundance, she plays a young girl who escapes from a religious cult and her struggle to re-enter society. She is also the sister of TV’s the Olsen twins!! This is the  performance I am looking forward to seeing.

in with a good shot – VIOLA DAVIS – The Help (outstanding in “Doubt” she grounds this fine cast with such grace)

Supporting Actor

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER – Beginners

After such a long distinguished career and many a fine performance surely this is his year to get the golden man. Playing a  gay man in his golden years who comes out of the closet after the death of his wife much to the dismay of his son. This film is a heartbreaker and Mr Plummer is the highlight.

ALBERT BROOKS – Drive

Normally seen in comedy roles, Albert Brooks is menacing as an ex-film producer turned gangster in a film that I absolutely loved. The Academy do like to reward comedy actors in dramatic roles.

MAX VON SYDOW – Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

Max may get the veteran vote and be competition for Plummer

KENNETH BRANAGH – My Week With Marilyn

Some say miscast as Sir Laurence Olivier but many say hilarious and a standout alongside Miss Williams as Marilyn. He always saw himself as a successor to Olivier with his Shakespeare film adaptations, now he gets to play him – go figure!

EZRA MILLER – We Need To Talk About Kevin

Creepy children can do well with the Academy (Linda Blair or Patty McCormack anyone?)

Supporting Actress

OCTAVIA SPENCER – The Help

Very funny and strong performance that is sure to be recognised. And shit she can make a mean chocolate pie!

JESSICA CHASTAIN – The Help

Appearing in no less than 5 films this year (she should team up with Michael Fassbender next) – Tree Of Life, The Debt, Take Shelter and Coriolanus are the others. it was this scene stealing role that grabbed attention and will surely get her a nod.

VANESSA REDGRAVE – Coriolanus

A grand lady of acting and a previous controversial winner (her speech not the role) for “Julia” many years ago. If they go the veteran route this year and not the newcomer then it will be her year.

SHAILENE WOODLEY – The Descendants

Apparently shines in the role of Clooney’s daughter – she will play the newcomer card alongside Chastain

CAREY MULLIGAN – Shame

Playing the songstress sister of sexaholic Fassbender, a raw performance that is garnering praise alongside her co-star

Best Art Direction

HUGO – Dante Ferretti

WAR HORSE – Rick Carter

THE ARTIST – Laurence Bennett

THE HELP – Mark Ricker

J. EDGAR – James J. Murakami

Costume Design

HUGO – Sandy Powell

THE ARTIST – Mark Bridges

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN – Jill Taylor

THE HELP – Sharen Davis

J. EDGAR – Deborah Hooper

Cinematography

HUGO – Robert Richardson

WAR HORSE – Janusz Kaminski

TREE OF LIFE – Emmanuel Lubezki

THE ARTIST – Guillaume Schiffman

DRIVE – Newton Thomas Sigel

Check out some of the trailers below.

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SMASH is coming.

SMASH is coming in Feb and I can’t wait . Please let it be fast tracked to Australian TV screens.

Here is a preview of a music video from the show, thanks to BWW.  Click on the link 🙂

STAGE TUBE: First SMASH Music Video ‘Beautiful’ Premieres by Katharine McPhee Video Content (BroadwayWorld.com).

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We want Billy, we got Billy…..

…. he’s our kind of a guy, and ooh what luck  ’cause here he is.

Did Babs put out a hex on the Oscar ceremony planned for 2012?

Once it was announced that Brett Ratner was to co-produce and Eddie Murphy was to host, well,  you couldn’t stop the complaining, even going out on a limb to say that it would be a ceremony far worse than this years in Feb co-hosted by James Franco & Anne Hathaway – and that is saying something.

Anyway as we all know by now, stupid Brett Ratner made a gay slur in an interview and all hell broke loose, he resigned from the gig and his “host without the most” soon followed – good riddance I say! And to add salt to the wound the pair’s new movie “Tower Heist” is performing poorly at the US box office.

A campaign to have “The Muppets” be the replacement host came about but then in stepped the ever reliable (and very good at the gig) Billy Crystal, announced to host his 9th ceremony. This all happened within a week so now the Academy can take a well deserved valium and get on with the job of producing – hopefully, a good show. I would bet easy money that the Muppets will be in there somewhere, well I hope they are, I do love them and am looking forward to seeing their new movie at the end of the year.

I thought it would be interesting to look at a few past Oscar ceremony hosts and hostesses.

1. Bob Hope, the grand master of the ceremony hosting a record 19 ceremonies.

2. Billy Crystal follows the lead with a total of 8 ceremonies which will soon become 9.

3. Johnny Carson hosted 5

4. Jack Lemmon  x 4

5. Whoopi Goldberg brilliantly hosted 4

and hosting 3 times a piece

6. Conrad Nagel

7. Jerry Lewis

8. David Niven

9. Steve Martin

and in the past decade we have seen

10. Chris Rock

11. Jon Stewart (twice)

12. Ellen DeGeneres

13. Hugh Jackman

14. Alec Baldwin & Steve Martin

15. James Franco & Anne Hathaway

Lets keep our fingers crossed for next years ceremony and hope it will be a wonderful night for Oscar! Oscar! Oscar! with Billy on board there sure is a hell of a chance.

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