Category Archives: biography

Babs to direct !!!

The other Babs is going to direct her first film in 16 years.

Showbiz411 has reported that singer/actor/director Barbra Streisand has agreed to direct “Skinny and Cat”, her first film since “The Mirror Has Two Faces” in 1996.

A love story about author Erskine Caldwell and photojournalist Margaret Bourke White, officially attached to star are Colin Firth and Cate Blanchett.  Linda Yellen is producing from a screenplay she wrote. Yellen’s producing credits include the landmark tele-movies, “Playing for Time” and “Second Serve” both which featured stunning performances from Vanessa Redgrave. Her writing credits though have a different quality, she was responsible for the Royal biopics “William & Katherine: A Royal Romance” and “The Royal Romance of Charles & Diana” – Yikes!!!!

Erskine Caldwell wrote about poverty, racism and social problems in his native South his most famous novels being Tobacco Road and God’s little Acres. Margaret Bourke White is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet Industry, the first female war correspondent and the first female photographer for Life magazine. She has been portrayed on screen in the past by actresses Farrah Fawcett and Candice Bergen.

A famous image of Margaret Bourke White photographing the Chrysler Building for Life Magazine.

This sure is an intriguing project for Babs let’s hope she gets this one right. She has a lot on her plate right now – an upcoming film release with Seth Rogan “The Guilt Trip”, her Back To Brooklyn sold out concerts and a proposed star turn as Mama Rose in a film remake of the musical “Gypsy”.

Busy Babs!!!

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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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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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Mirren & Midler merge

So the telefilm being made about legendary music producer Phil Spector’s murder trial and his relationship with his defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden was suspended almost a week ago due to the health issues (a herniated disc apparently!) of Bette Midler who was to play Baden Kenney – she had to pull out of the project after 6 days of filming. Al Pacino is playing Phil Spector . My how fabulous those two together would have been. The HBO film is written and directed by David Mamet. Now comes the news that Dame Helen Mirren is replacing Midler in the role. Wow! Very different performers indeed. Doesn’t excite me much as I suspect a lot of “acting” will come with this Dame in the role, where-as I think Midler would have gone with instinct and been spectacular and she is a damn good lookey-likey.

Oh, Well!

Pacino plays Phil

Al’s lookey-likey Phil Spector

Linda Kenney Baden dead ringer for Bette

The Divine Miss M

Dame Mirren saves the day

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Ooh-Aah!

Can’t wait to see this one.

Meryl looks marvelous.

I don’t care if the director has dubious film-making talent, Meryl has bucket loads.

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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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