Tag Archives: film news

Coming soon….my year of the diva!

From wikipedia:

diva is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna.

The word entered the English language in the late 19th century. It is derived from the Italian noun diva, a female deity.  The basic sense of the term is goddess.

(My definition includes actors, playwrights, novelists and any form of artistic expression.)

Jennifer Hudson

 

 

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She’s back and bloody as hell

Check out the poster art, stills and a teaser trailer for the new remake of Stephen King’s Carrie. It stars Chloe Moretz as the tortured teen Carrie and Julianne Moore as her mad mother Margaret. It’s looking pretty good so far even though I think the original is one of the best films ever. My only quibble is that Carrie is supposed to be a rather plain girl and she looks kinda too pretty for my taste.  Even so I am getting very excited. It is due for release in the States in March 2013.

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Read all about it – The Paperboy is trash!!!

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times as part of his review for Lee Daniel’s (Precious) new film The Paperboy mentioned this quote from critics guru Pauline Kael – “the movies are so seldom great art that if we can’t appreciate great trash, we might as well not go at all”. This piqued my interest and Ebert gave the film the thumbs up – this coming from the man who co-wrote one of my favorite trash movies Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls directed by trashmeister Russ Meyer.

The film divided critics when it premiered at this years Cannes film festival. It has been described as a pot boiler with high camp moments – I’m lining up already!!!  Any film that features Zach Efron in white undies for a big chunk of the film, and Nicole Kidman as a trashy tart urinating on him surely has to be worth the price of admission? Lee Daniels in an interview stated that Nicole applied her own makeup for the film – I wonder if she also kept up the botox injections?

I am unsure as to when it will be released in Australia so keep your eyes out for it and lets hope it doesn’t go straight to DVD.

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Happy birthday George, Martha and James.

October 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of 3 very popular and famous characters – two on stage and one on screen.

George and Martha one of theatres most contentious married couples exploded on stage October 13, 1962 in Edward Albee’s masterpiece Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.  A week  earlier on October 5th the film premiere of Dr No and adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel introduced us to super spy James Bond.

A half a century later they are still going strong with the release of the latest Bond film Skyfall (number 23 in the franchise), and the opening of a new production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf on Broadway.

Sean Connery played James Bond first back then and he is arguably the best. Recently the mantle was taken over by actor Daniel Craig and some would say he may be ever better, he returns in Skyfall and the film itself has received very positive reviews from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. It has a serious director at the helm in Sam Mendes and with cinematography by the great Roger Deakins and production design by Dennis Gassner it is sure to be the best looking Bond film ever. Also quite exciting is that the latest Bond villian is played by Javier Bardem sure to be a highlight amongst many. It opens in Australia in early November.

The latest Broadway incarnation of Albee’s classic play comes by way of an acclaimed production by Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Playing the dysfunctional couple this time are actor/playwright Tracey Letts as George and Amy Morton as Martha. Morton played a leading role in Lett’s Tony winning hit play August: Osage County a few seasons back. It opened at the Booth theatre on October 13 exactly 50 years after the first premiere. Of course there was cinemas famous George and Martha played to perfection by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in a 1966 film adaptation directed by Mike Nichols, who can ever forget them! Legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill originated the roles.

From L-R Hagen & Hill, Taylor & Burton, Morton & Letts

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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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Meryl you are a witch???

No I am not complaining about my disappointment in Meryl Streep’s Oscar win last week for “The Iron Lady“.

This post is much more of a delight.

Meryl Streep is rumoured to be cast as the Witch in a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical “Into The Woods”. The film is to be directed by Rob Marshall who brought “Chicago” to the screens successfully (in box office terms-not artistic) but we must remember he is also responsible for bringing “Nine” to the screen which was a disaster (box office and artistically!) I do love his TV remake of “Annie” that was a success in my own opinion.

But there is more rumour-mongering about Meryl as the Witch…..

The Public Theatre’s Shakespeare In The Park Festival are mounting an outdoor production of the Sondheim musical this July and rumoured to play the Witch is none other than the reigning Oscar Queen Meryl. Is this an audition?

I am a big fan of this show and was very very lucky to see the original Broadway production way back in 1987 – Bernadette Peters played the Witch and she was fabulous. Of the course the role to steal the show belongs to the Baker’s Wife. Who will be cast in that coveted role? Joanna Gleason won the Tony that year and she was also fabulous! I recall turning to my partner and said – “she will win the Tony, not Peters!”

Brilliant Bernadette Peters – the original Witch of the woods.

In the meanwhile…..

Sondheim has announced that he is collaborating on a new musical with playwright David Ives who is currently represented on Broadway with the hit show “Venus In Fur” – of which Babs has on his list of “shows to see” when he is in town in May.

He has apparently written 20-30 minutes of the piece and says of it – “Having spent the better part of four years writing two books [Finishing the Hat and Look I Made a Hat], I’m really rusty,” Sondheim humbly said of his process. “I sit at the piano and think, ‘Where’s middle C?’ Any muscles, as you know, atrophy when you don’t use them, and I haven’t been using my musical muscles.”

Who cares? Any thought of another Sondheim musical certainly gets my muscles into action. I am so excited about this.

And what does he say about Streep the Witch? Sondheim neither confirms nor denies the rumours. “We will see,” the composer said. “I think she’d be great.”

My hero Stephen Sondheim.

Nina Arianda & Hugh Dancy star in David Ive’s “Venus In Fur”.

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16 out of 24 not too bad?

16/24

Two thirds correct is better than half.

I did ok in my Oscar picks better than last year.

Congratulations to all this years Academy Award winners.

As predicted The Artist won Best Picture and another 4 awards, Martin Scorcese’s 3D Hugo took home 5 – all technical.

The big surprise (for me) was Meryl Streep winning Best Actress for The Iron Lady after a 30 year absence – her 3rd Oscar (she gave a terrific speech – a class act). Not her greatest performance but a good caricature of Margaret Thatcher – sad that Viola Davis missed out, glad that Octavia Spencer grabbed gold for supporting actress in The Help. 

Golden lady of the night – Meryl Streep in a Lanvin gown.

Thrilled that Aussie lad Kirk Baxter won his 2nd oscar for co-editing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – he must love his boss David Fincher after winning last year for The Social Network.

Aussie golden boy Kirk Baxter with his co-winner Angus Wall.

Glenn Close joins the record books (most actress losses – 6) and so does Christopher Plummer now the oldest Oscar winner (well deserved).

I enjoyed Billy Crystal and his banter, the jokes worked for me even if a tad tired. Loved the Wizard Of Oz target audience send-up from Chirstopher Guest’s gang.

The outrage for me was the late costume designer Eiko Ishioka not being in the “in memoriam” section – she has won an Oscar (for Bram Stoker’s Dracula), yet was forgotten – how did Steve Jobs make the cut??? I predict Eiko will be up for an award next year for the upcoming Mirror Mirror, and win!

Julia Roberts in an Eiko creation for the new film “Mirror Mirror”

Talking about next years Oscars – expect a post soon on Bab’s super early predictions!!!

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Babs Oscar picks 2012

As preparations are underway for this years 84th Academy Awards ceremony to be held at the Hollywood and Highland Centre (formerly the Kodak theatre) on Hollywood Boulevard this Sunday night (Monday lunchtime in Australia)  Babs gives you his predictions of the winners and who he would like to see win.

Babs is a bit underwhelmed by this years Oscars, a lot of the movies never lived up to their hype. Both The Artist & Hugo seemed to en-trance every movie loving critic but I felt that although they showcased amazing film craft , overall they weren’t that great. The major ommission of Drive in many categories was an upset to me, and how the hell did Charlize Theron miss out for Young Adult? Of course it is the Oscars and as we all well know they aren’t a true reflection of what is great in cinema out there. Of my predictions I would honestly love it if I did badly – I would love this year to be full of upsets and surprises – but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Best Picture

Will win – THE ARTIST

Should win – THE DESCENDANTS

Actor in a Leading Role

Will win – JEAN DUJARDIN – The Artist

Should win – GEORGE CLOONEY – The Descendants

Actor in a Supporting Role

Will & Should win – CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER – Beginners

Actress in a Leading Role

Will & Should win – VIOLA DAVIS – The Help

 Actress in a Supporting Role

Will & Should win – OCTAVIA SPENCER – The Help

Animated Feature Film

Will & Should win – RANGO

Art Direction

Will & Should win – Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Shiavo – HUGO

Cinematography

Will win – Emmanuel Lubezki – THE TREE OF LIFE

Should win – Robert Richardson – HUGO

Costume Design

Will win – Mark Bridges – THE ARTIST

Should win – Michael O’Connor – JANE EYRE

Directing

Will win – MICHAEL HAZANAVICIUS – The Artist

Should win – ALEXANDER PAYNE – The Descendants

Documentary Feature

Will win – IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT

Documentary Short Subject

Will win – GOD IS BIGGER THAN ELVIS

Film Editing

Will win – Anne-Sophie-Bion & Michael Hazanavicius – THE ARTIST

Should win – Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall – THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Foreign Language Film

Will & Should win – A SEPARATION

Makeup

Will & Should win – Mark Coulier & J. Roy Helland – THE IRON LADY

Original Music Score

Will win – Ludovic Bource – THE ARTIST

Should win – Alberto Iglesias – TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

Original Song

Will win – “Real In Rio” from RIO

Should win – “Man Or Muppet” from THE MUPPETS

Short Film Animated

Will win – THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE

Short Film Live Action

Will win – PENTECOST

Sound Editing

Will win – HUGO

Should win – DRIVE

Sound Mixing

Will win – HUGO

Should win – THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Visual Effects

Will win – HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2

Should win – RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Writing Adapted Screenplay

Will & Should win – THE DESCENDANTS

Writing Original Screenplay

Will win – WOODY ALLEN – Midnight In Paris

Should win –  ASGHAR FARHADI – A Separation

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Oscar trivia – I see double

Twice the fun.

Here are a few Oscar facts related to the number 2.

*In the Best Picture race there are 5 actors who appear in 2 of the best picture nominees.

VIOLA DAVIS nominated for her role in THE HELP also appears in EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE she is spectacular in both.

BRAD PITT nominated for his role in MONEYBALL also appears in THE TREE OF LIFE – he is also nominated as producer for Moneyball bringing him a total of 2 noms this year.

JESSICA CHASTAIN nominated for her role in THE HELP also appears in THE TREE OF LIFE – one of her co-stars in The Help OCTAVIA SPENCER is also nominated in the same category (supporting actress) therefore 2 from that film vying against each other.

JOHN GOODMAN appears as a doorman in EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE and as a movie mogul in THE ARTIST.

TOM HIDDLESTON an up and coming English actor appears as a soldier in WAR HORSE and played F. Scott Fitzgerald in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

* 2 Best Supporting Actor nominees are octogenerians – both 82!!

MAX VON SYDOW in EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER in BEGINNERS.

Should either of them win they will become the oldest Oscar winner ever, beating JESSICA TANDY who was 80 when she won best actress for Driving Miss Daisy back in 1989. HAL HOLBROOK  (Into The Wild) and RALPH RICHARDSON (Greystoke) were also 82 at the time of their nominations but did not win.

Christopher Plummer & Max Von Sydow co-starred in the 1984 film DREAMSCAPE

*2 Best Picture nominees feature  characters who don’t utter a word of dialogue

THE ARTIST – in which nobody is heard – it is a silent movie after all.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE – Max Von Sydow plays a mute.

*2 of the Best Picture nominees are set in Paris.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and HUGO

*2 of the Best Picture nominees feature young boys who are searching (with a key) for answers to a mystery left by their dead fathers.

HUGO and EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE

*John Williams has been nominated 2 times in the Original Music Score category for WAR HORSE and THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN, both for director Steven Spielberg. This brings his total nominations to 47 winning 5 times.

GEORGE CLOONEY is up for 2 Oscars this year – Best Actor for THE DESCENDANTS and Best Adapted Screenplay for THE IDES OF MARCH co written with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

COMING SOON – Babs Oscar Picks.

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Goodbye Whitney, hello Sparkle.

With the sad passing of singer/actress Whitney Houston today comes news of her last screen appearance. Already filmed and due for release in American cinemas in August is the remake of the 1976 musical drama “Sparkle”. Whitney plays the mother of Jordan Sparks (a former American Idol alumni).

Jordan Sparks & Whitney Houston in upcoming “Sparkle”

“Sparkle” is a gulity pleasure of mine, it tells the story of the Williams sisters, a trio of 1950s Harlem singers whose story was loosely inspired by the Supremes. Headed by Sister (Lonette McKee), the group also features Sister’s younger sister –  Sparkle (Irene Cara) and Dolores (Dawn Smith). As they begin to climb the road to success, Sister’s life spirals out of control, with drug addiction eventually leading to her death. SPOOKY! ! !

The original film featured original songs by the great Curtis Mayfield (I believe the new film will use these same songs), there was an album released by Aretha Franklin in which she sang all the songs, an album I cherish.

I was not a great fan of Whitney Houston, I appreciated her singing talents but thought she lacked any real acting chops (The Bodyguard is one of my least favorite film experiences) but I am truly saddened for all her fans, friends and family. I hope she is in peace now.

Liza the last lady standing! Whitney with a couple of mega stars

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