Are you a girl between the ages of 12 and 17 who is tough as nails with unusually steely nerves, a straight forward manner and plenty of true grit and determination?
Look no further: the Coens Brothers have now turned to the internet in their search for the young female lead of their upcoming Western, "True Grit."
With Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges set to star as the the two marshals accompanying young Mattie on her quest to find her father's killer (Josh Brolin), the role is integral to the film. We assume the current batch of Hollywood tween actresses are probably not fit for the role as the film's casting department has created a website to help them scour the globe for someone to play the part.
According to the site, the filmmakers are looking for someone "sassy, fearless, sure of herself, doesn't care if the other person likes her, gets her way!" They should not be "sad," "weak" or "cutesy" (sorry, Elle Fanning) but be "real" and "feisty." We suggested the likes of Mia Wasikowska, Alison Pill or Saoirse Ronan for the role but, by the sounds of it, they're after someone probably a bit younger (Ronan is 15 but doesn't look her age), tougher, and with a naturally acid tongue.
Filming is noted as taking place in the Spring of 2010 and looks to be on track for the reported March start date. We previously reviewed the script noting that it lives up to its gritty name, isn't as funny as advertised, has great potential to be another Coens classic and tone wise is somewhere in between "No Country For Old Men" and "A Serious Man."
Three page from the Coens' script are available for reading with open calls and self-tapings closing on January 9th.
Are you a girl between the ages of 12 and 17 who is tough as nails with unusually steely nerves, a straight forward manner and plenty of true grit and determination?
Kevin Bacon has joined the cast of James Gunn's upcoming superhero flick, "Super," which is filming in Louisiana through to January.
Starring Rainn Wilson as Frank D'Arbo who eventually becomes superhero Crimson Bolt, the film is described by Gunn as "an independent fable about a lost man who attempts to become something more." The story itself is evidently catalyzed as Bacon's drug-dealing villain Jacques, who Gunn notes is "the nicest supervillain you'd ever want to meet," steals D'Arbo's wife, Sarah, played by Liv Tyler. Ellen Page, meanwhile, co-stars as "a slightly eccentric girl who works at a comic book store who really wants to be [Wilson's] sidekick."
Gunn's website also informs us that "Super" is being shot with the RED camera; features three actors from Gunn's "Slither," four from his debut feature "Tromeo And Juliet," one from "Scooby Doo" and one from "The Wire"; and that his series of shorts "PG Porn"— described as being "for people who love everything about porn...except the sex" — can still be seen at Spike.
Wow, this would be quite the turn of events...
In an interview with Paste Magazine (via /Film), Terry Gilliam has reportedly revealed that Johnny Depp is now set to return to his latest attempt at the ill-fated production of "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote."
When asked whether Depp will return, Gilliam simply replied "Yeah, and I rewrote the script. Robert Duvall has agreed to play Quixote. I’m really excited."
It's a bit vague but, in context, Paste is definitely implying that Gilliam said Depp is returning. We personally wouldn't bet our houses on it and, furthermore, the fact no follow-up questions were asked has us scratching our heads. The director does confirm though that "it’s all that business of funding now." and that "hopefully ['Quixote' will] get up and running next year."
With a schedule like his, we'd be very surprised if Depp returned at all. Depp is already attached to a plethora of projects and has persistently ruled out Gilliam's project from his future slate. However, with only his potential team up with Angelina Jolie in "The Tourist" a lock for a 2010 shoot, and with Rob Marshall sounding uncertain about a start date for "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (apparently, there's not even a script yet) perhaps things have changed and he can fit it in after all? And maybe Duvall's newly-announced involvement has added some incentive?
The film still needs to jump the financing hurdle but with Duvall and possibly Depp involved, the project is surely going in the right direction.
Alright, this Decade shit is for the birds. We felt like we haven't slept in months or just had a newborn or something. F this. We've already made our Films of the Decade (00-08) list, the Best Documentaries, Music Documentaries, Best Animated films, Best Soundtracks of the Decade and today our (hopefully) final installment, the Best Scores of the decade.
So, what's the difference? Well scores are generally defined as being: 1. instrumental pieces of music (eg. not songs, that's what's in our soundtracks piece) and 2. typically original pieces of instrumental music written specifically for the film (as opposed to say, Tarantino, who uses mostly songs and pre-existing score pieces in his films). OK, we might have cheated a little, but we think this is a pretty solid list that you should be satisfied with. This decade saw a lot of mainstream, tentpole and genre films make some adventurous choices with their scores, as you'll see below. Avant composition, indie rockers, electronic pioneers and reclusive masterminds all feature highly throughout the list, and really break the mold occupied by the standard orchestra pieces that can almost seem like an afterthought in the final film. These are the scores that moved us, stuck in our heads and found their way to our iPods, making the daily commute a little more cinematic (and yes, there is an odd number of picks - sue us - there was too much good stuff).
— For a movie about soldiers battling alien hunters, Nimrod Antal's "Predators" has a cast that's decidedly on the wimpy side - yeah, you've got Danny Trejo on board, but it's being toplined by Adrien Brody and Topher Grace - no comparison to Arnie, or even to Danny Glover. Fortunately, Laurence Fishburne has now joined the cast, as a character called 'Roland,' and we fully expect him to give the alien menace the same treatment he gave Angela Bassett in "What's Love Got To Do With It?"
— Shark Boy is continuing his quest to become Shark Man - "New Moon" star, and shirt-allergy sufferer Taylor Lautner will star in the action film "Cancun" for Summit Entertainment. The actor's father, Dan Lautner, will produce the movie, which follows a teenager, who's been injured and forced to put his plans to become an elite soldier on hold. He travels to Cancun with his friends, who are taken hostage by a drug cartel. Apparently, Lautner saw "Taken" during the filming of "New Moon," and wanted to make a film similar to it. Better than seeing "Taken" and wanting to beat up a French man, like most of its target audience.
— Steve Carell has a couple of possible projects lined up. Firstly, Warner Bros have bought an untitled script by "Cars" writer Dan Fogelman for a whopping $2 million, with the intention of the actor starring in it. The script is apparently described as like "Love Actually" in tone, and is about "a father whose life unravels while he deals with a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children," which sounds alarmingly like "Dan in Real Life." He may also reteam with "Date Night" co-star Tina Fey on "Mail-Order Groom," where Fey would play a singleton who finds an Eastern European husband (Carell), and brings him home, which sounds at least slightly more amusing than the upcoming Shawn Levy-helmed film.
— Chad St John is clearly hot stuff at the moment - he had two scripts, "The Days Before" and "Motor City" on this year's Black List, and he's just sold the spec script "The Further Adventures of Doc Holliday" to Paramount, who plan on turning into a blockbuster along the lines of "Pirates of the Caribbean." If Val Kilmer reprises his role from "Tombstone," we're sold.
From its minimalist, silent opening credits to its close, Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" is an effective experience in discomfort and destruction. The Austrian director has explored similar themes in previous films, including "Cache," "Code Unknown," and both versions of "Funny Games," but his technical prowess is at its peak in this disturbing drama. Set in a small village in northern Germany just prior to World War I, "The White Ribbon" observes as the town's society and its people unravel in the wake of a number of "accidents."
As he tries to court a young woman (Leonie Benesch), an unnamed schoolteacher (newcomer Christian Friedel in what should be a career-making performance) looks on in horror as a multitude of incidents claim the lives and innocence of the townspeople around him. The trouble begins with the intentional injury of a horse and its rider, and it escalates to permanent injury and death for people who are both innocent and guilty in the eyes of their neighbors. Even the town's children aren't exempt from the trauma, and each family is touched in some way by tragedy. The town is structured around the estate of The Baron (Ulrich Tukur), his wife (Ursina Lardi), and their children. The local Doctor (Rainer Bock) and his unmarried assistant, The Midwife (Susanne Lothar), are the first people affected, but their lives don't improve as the year passes. The Pastor (Burghart Klaussner) presides over both the village and his own household, including his two oldest children, Klara (Maria-Victoria Dragus) and Martin (Leonard Proxauf), who are often eerily close to the mishaps. The Baron's steward (Josef Bierbichler) and his family experience their own share of troubles, as does the widowed Farmer (Branko Samarovski) and his large brood.
Most of the actors in the large cast will be unknowns to American audiences, but Haneke doesn't need big names such as Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert, or Daniel Auteil to carry a film. Their lack of exposure even serves to contribute to the film's naturalistic feel. As mentioned above, the performance from Friedel as The Schoolteacher is particularly effective, as is his character's narration (voiced by Ernst Jacobi). Characters morph and twist as the film progresses, and the actors -- even the youngest ones -- have no trouble keeping up with the transformations.
Though "The White Ribbon" may be officially categorized as a drama, it has elements of the mystery, thriller and horror genres as well. As the film unspools, tension grows exponentially, and the audience waits for each new "accident" with a sense of dread that never lifts, even as the end credits silently roll. Instead of the incidents — and their anticipation — being the only sources of pain for both the characters and the audience, everyday interactions change from friendly to savage, earning more than a few gasps from the audience for their malice.
Alternately set to a soundtrack of screaming children, buzzing flies, falling snow, and other diegetic noises, "The White Ribbon" aims to unsettle with every detail. Even the 145-minute running time seems like a sadistic touch when weighed with the rest of the film's mean-spirited elements. The long takes unflinchingly record the reactions of the villagers to each new event, and Haneke makes interesting choices in which horrors he will reveal to the audience and which are left to our overactive imaginations. Closed doors and obscuring camera angles keep us in the dark on some of the more disturbing visuals, but it's not just the events themselves that are hidden. "The White Ribbon" wouldn't be a Haneke film if it revealed every answer, and this fits perfectly with the rest of his oeuvre in that regard.
At The Playlist, we're divided on the film's merits, even though "Cache" ranks as one of our favorites of the decade. This Palme d'Or winner has already earned a few early awards, including for Haneke himself as well as the starkly beautiful black and whitecinematography from frequent Haneke collaborator Christian Berger ("Cache"). His well-framed shots succeed in every moment, from close-ups to wide-angled, more expansive vista. He captures the top-notch performances, the rural setting and the period-perfect set design of Christoph Kanter.
With "The White Ribbon," Haneke has again created a theater of human cruelty, leaving his audience uncomfortable and disturbed. If I'm making it sound unpleasant, it's because it's meant to be. He's a talented filmmaker who has made a number of effectively bleak movies, and I admire him for his ability to have the audience at his mercy. I just wouldn't want to share a summer house with the man. [B+]
In sad news, word reached Harry Knowles that Dan O'Bannon, the great sci-fi screenwriter, died yesterday after a short illness. O'Bannon began his career as the writer, and special effects supervisor, of John Carpenter's excellent debut film, the space satire "Dark Star." This led to Alejandro Jodorowsky picking him out to supervise the FX for his aborted version of Frank Herbert's "Dune" (there was a great article about this in a recent issue of Empire Magazine — seek it out if you can). While that never happened, O'Bannon took many of his new colleagues on to his next project — a sci-fi about a ruthless alien killing machine stalking the crew of a spaceship, called "Star Beast."
"Star Beast," of course, became "Alien," one of the tautest, best-written science fiction screenplays of all time, and an absolute classic of the genre, and spawned an entire franchise, as well as innumerable rip-offs. He also went on to write a segment of the animation "Heavy Metal," and the enjoyable Roy Scheider helicopter movie "Blue Thunder." He was also credited on two Philip K Dick adaptations; Paul Verhoeven's bonkers "Total Recall" and the rather terrible "Screamers." Ridley Scott's upcoming return to the Alien franchise will ensure that O'Bannon's work will continue to live on, and he'll be sorely missed.
The busy, pre-"Avatar" week for trailers continues, with another one of next summer's big movies debuting its first footage, along with a big rom-com. And they both look excruciating.
"Shrek Forever After" at least has one thing going for it - the promise that it'll be the last in the franchise of diminishing returns. We discussed our favorite animated films of the decade earlier in the week, and you may have noticed that none of the Shrek films, or any other Dreamworks CGI films, made the cut, and deservedly so. For the most part, they're the worst kind of celebrity-fueled, pop-culture referencing, lowest-common denominator rubbish, (we caught "Monsters vs. Aliens" recently, and couldn't quite believe how terrible it was) and this looks no different. Hee, hee, Shrek done fall over! Hee, hee, donkey done a poo! Hee, hee, kitty got fat! This is the first installment of the franchise to debut in 3-D, so you can watch the jokes date instantly in glorious three dimensions.
Looking even worse is "The Bounty Hunter," which sees Andy Tennant ("Hitch," "Fool's Gold") seeming to perform a tribute to Martin Brest, by making a film with the plot of "Midnight Run," which looks about as good as "Gigli." It teams possibly the least appealing screen couple in history, shrieking neurotic Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, who is to comedy what Glenn Beck is to reasoned political debate. Butler, whose idea of playing light and funny appears to be to look like he's suffocating, plays an ex-cop turned bounty hunter, who is hired to track down his ex-wife, a journalist who's stumbled across some mobsters. Jeff Garlin, Jason Sudeikis and Peter Greene (man, where's he been?) co-star. We hope they were well compensated.
Yesterday morning, this writer braved frigid temperatures to make a press screening of
"Nine," only to come out of it wondering why we bothered leaving the house in the first place. We liked the film even less than the EIC, but, if two hours spent with a self-loathing womanizer with low self-esteem seems like a fun time to you, who knows, you might like it.
But we digress. If you are interested in seeing "Nine" you might want to stop reading here as spoilers are revealed below.
Anyway, the Rob Marshall directed film was initially written by Michael Tolkin, with Anthony Minghella hired to do a final polish. According to Playbill, that last pass turned out to be an entire rewrite, with a brand new ending. "Nine," a twice removed adaptation is based on the hit Broadway show, which is itself inspired by Frederico Fellini's seminal "8 1/2." In the original film - and in Tolkin's draft - the picture ends with the director on the beach, surrounded by the people in his life, in a celebratory dance. According to Tolkin, it was Minghella's idea to end "Nine" back in Cinecetta studios, with the director finally going to back to work: "“It was Anthony’s really brilliant idea, to take the scene we had outside and move it inside back to the soundstage so that it could be the movie. The last line in the film — the last word Anthony wrote — was ‘Action!’ If you have to go, there’s no better way to end for a director and writer as talented as Anthony was.”
Its a poignant story, especially since Minghella would shortly check himself into the hospital for the last time after turning it in, and to the filmmakers credit, they did that final scene justice. In the otherwise wobbly and dramatically inert film, the ending is one of rare moments that manages to actually evoke the magic of filmmaking and the passion that has driven Gudio Contini for so many years (and that ironically Marshall has difficulty finding in his take on the material). It's a nice scene and the filmmakers should be grateful that Minghella left them with one last gift before he passed on.
Bryan Singer Gives Up On Idea of Being Serious Filmmaker, Making Muppet Babies For Superheroes ('X-Men: First Class')
UPDATE: Yes, this is happening, The Hollywood Reporter has the trade announcement this morning, confirming that Singer's on board to direct. Josh Schwartz's draft has been abandoned, and Jamie Moss ("Street Kings") will be starting a new version from scratch, under Singer's guidance.
ORIGINAL STORY: It's been rumored for a little while, but unfortunately Bryan Singer appears to have returned, tail between his legs, to the X-Men franchise — he announced on the "Avatar" red carpet last night that aside from his upcoming "Jack the Giant Killer" project, currently in pre-production, he "just yesterday signed a deal to do an "X-Men: First Class" origins picture, which is kind of cool." This is the long-rumored prequel, written by "Gossip Girl" and "Chuck" creator Josh Schwartz, following some of the original X-Men as teens.
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner compared it a few months back to "later, darker, Harry Potter," so it seems that it'll skew (even) younger than the other X-Men movies. We're in two minds about this. On one hand, Singer clearly has an affinity for the material — we're not crazy about the the first film in the franchise, but "X2" is probably the best, most entertaining superhero movie to date (yeah, including "The Dark Knight"), and both films have a personal, human subtext that we're likely to see repeated in this one.
On the other hand, "Saved By The Bell: The Mutant Class?" "Jack the Giant Killer?" We sort of enjoyed "Valkyrie", partly because it felt like a return to the grown-ups table of "The Usual Suspects" and "Apt Pupil," but this stuff just seems beneath him. Singer's always been a craftsman rather than a genius auteur, but is there really nothing he'd rather make? And wasn't there a fair bit of bad blood between the director and Fox after he bailed to go and make stalker-Jesus movie "Superman Returns?" Time, and money, heals all wounds, it would seem.
Rene Russo In 'Thor"?
In other superhero movie news, the long-absent Rene Russo, who hasn't been seen on screen since 2005's "Yours, Mine & Ours," or in a good movie since 1999's "The Thomas Crown Affair," has joined the cast of "Thor." The actress will play the amusingly-named Frigga, the wife of Anthony Hopkins' Odin, and the mother of both the hero Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, and the villain, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston.
Director Lasse Hallstrom is either the greatest squandered talent working today or a thoroughly pedestrian director who happened to make a couple of great, singular films (eg. "My Life As A Dog" and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"). At any rate, the director has dabbled in a variety of safe, mainstream genres, and despite earning three Academy Award nominations, seems quite content directing fairly conventional pictures these days.
In the late '90s and early aughts, the director developed a very strong working relationship with the Weinsteins and became their go-to guy for a good handful of middle-of-the-road, Oscar baiting films like "Chocolat," "The Cider House Rules" and "Shipping News" that were workmanlike, if slight fare. As the new millenium continued, Hallstrom stuck with Miramax and Walt Disney, even though the Weinsteins had left, directing films with even greater diminishing returns like "An Unfinished Life," "Casanova" and "The Hoax."
It's been three years since his last film, and his latest project, the family friendly remake of a Japanese film, "Hachiko: A Dog's Story," looks like a paycheck gig. The film is produced by Sony Pictures' sub-label Stage 6 Films, a division that acquires, produces and distributes a good handful of low budget ($1 million-$10 million) films per year, with a good portion of them ending up going the straight-to-DVD route. And it looks like Hallstrom's film is one of them.
While Sony has turned a couple of Stage 6 Films you might have heard of - "Moon" and the execrable "Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day" - into modest box office success stories, we don't entirely blame them here. The film, about a man who adopts a dog who develops such a strong bond with his master that he continues to wait for him to come home after work, even after he dies (and no, we didn't spoil anything, that's all in the trailer below) looks like pure schmaltz. While it boasts Richard Gere, Joan Allen and Jason Alexander in the cast, when was the last time any of them lit up the box office? Hallstrom and Gere's "The Hoax" grossed only a mere $7 million at the box office, and for a time seemed destined to go straight-to-DVD itself after having its release date bumped quite a few times. This film looks and feels like a cable special so we can see why Sony aren't going to bother with a theatrical rollout for this one. That said, given its wholesome family, feel good, warm fuzzies nature, according to this trade magazine ad, Sony is giving the film a big push to faith based markets, and we have no doubt they'll eat up this kind of stuff up.
"Hachiko: A Dog's Story" hits DVD and BluRay on March 9th, 2010. But don't worry about Hallstrom, his Nicholas Sparks adapted "Dear John" starring human drywall Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfriend gets a proper theatrical release by Sony's Screengems on February 5th, 2010. But you'll probably wish it had gone straight-to-DVD too.
Pretending this weekend is going to be ruled by anything but James Cameron and his bright blue animated walking talking cat-creatures is silly. The buzz has started to roar so loud on this one, it will be interesting to see if it can sustain itself throughout the film couple months of the new year as "Titanic" did all those years ago. The only other wide release, "Did You Hear About the Morgans" may have a tough time convincing people to not just go see "The Blind Side" again. In limited release this week, it's all about Oscar, with awards faves "Crazy Heart" and "Nine" debuting on just a few screens.
In Wide Release: James Cameron makes his return to the the multiplex after a 12 year absence with "Avatar." The film stars Sam Worthington as an ex-marine chosen to lead a mission on an alien planet, his mind placed inside an alien body. Cameron spent the last decade working on the technology used in the film, which is basically a fancier version of the motion capture Peter Jackson and Robert Zemeckis have been fascinated with for years. Opening on over 3300 screens, the 3D extravaganza has seen a dramatic reversal of public opinion after disappointing trailers chilled much of the buzz. But, as the film as been screened in the approach to the release, the word has been overwhelmingly positive. We reviewed the film last week, finding the storytelling a big simplistic, but overall a fun ride as well as a major technical achievement. Aside from Worthington, "Avatar" also stars Zoe Saldana and Cameron vet Sigourney Weaver. Critics are mostly over the moon, Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 82% rating, while Metacritic chimes in with an 82 score.
Hugh Grant's first film in 2 years, "Did You Hear About the Morgans" co-starring Sarah Jessica Parker is also out in wide today. Surely hoping to capitalize on the female audience that is not too keen on fighting for "Avatar" tickets, Marc Lawrence directs the pair as a bickering Manhattan couple who witness a murder and are sent to Wyoming by the government to hide out. So far, so typical. "Morgans" will need a stroke of serious luck to distinguish itself at the box-office this weekend, especially with "It's Complicated" on deck for next week. Currently, RT gives the film a sorry 10% rating, while Metacritic tracks it with a 25 score.
In Limited Release: A last minute addition to the 2009 awards race, actor Scott Cooper makes his directorial debut this week with "Crazy Heart." The great Jeff Bridges stars as down-on-his-luck country singer Bad Blake as he tries to reconnect with his muse and get his life back on track. Also starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall, and Colin Farrell, the film is packed full of great music overseen by T. Bone Burnett. Earlier this week we ran our interviews with director Scott Cooper and newly Golden Globe nominated songwriter and actor Ryan Bingham. We reviewed the film a little while back, calling it a marvelous little movie worth loving. The critics agree, with a 96% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a 83 score from Metacritic.
Rob Marshall's "Nine" opens in limited this week, before expanding wide on Christmas Day. An adaptation of the Broadway musical, itself an interpretation of Fellini's "8 1/2," the film stars Daniel Day Lewis as a world famous film director balancing his very complication relationships with the women in his life. While Marshall's film version of "Chicago" was great fun, the source material here just isn't nearly as memorable. The film, which we reviewed last week, is sufficiently stylish, but largely unremarkable. Marshall has assembled quite the cast with Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, and Fergie starring opposite Lewis. The film earned several Golden Globe nominations despite only having a 47% rating from RT and a 51 score from Metacritic.
Emily Blunt snags her first major starring role in director Jean Marc Vallee's "The Young Victoria." Blunt plays, of course, the young pre-Queen Victoria on her way to power. The strong supporting cast includes Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent, Miranda Richardson, and Rupert Friend, with a script from "Gosford Park" scribe Julian Fellowes. We first saw it in Toronto and posted a new review yesterday, both times charmed by the winning performances and strong art direction. It is not a totally flawless film, but a pleasant little end of the year surprise. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 69% rating, with Metacritic coming up with a score of 61.
Other options in limited: It's a big week for Belgian stop-motion animation fans, as Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar's "A Town Called Panic" hits a few screens. The first stop-motion animated film to be selected for Cannes, "Panic" follows the surreal and wacky adventures of three vintage plastic toys: Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. We reviewed the film yesterday and found it to be a sublimely funny film for all ages. RT gives it a 82% rating with a 69 score from Metacritic. Also out, director Francois Ozon's ("Swimming Pool," "8 Women") latest, "Ricky." A comedy about parenthood, it looks a little broad, but we're still curious. The buzz isn't outstanding though, with a 50% rating from RT and a 56 score from Metacritic.
"Go sell Girl Scout cookies," somebody says in the very brief, somewhat on-the-nose teaser trailer for Floria Sigismondi's directorial debut "The Runaways," the biopic about the short lived girl punk band that launched the careers (most famously) of Joan Jett, Micki Steele and Lita Ford. It's only fifty seconds long, so there isn't much we can say about it. Dakota Fanning is pretty unrecognizable and her make up seems to be channeling Diane Lane's Corinne Burns from "Ladies And Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains" (though hopefully "Runaways" is much better than that overrated cult film) and Kristen Stewart seems to have switched gears from moping in "Twilight" to raging here. We kind of dig it.
If we do have one concern, it's that the look of the film - and, again, we're judging this on a very brief teaser - is surprisingly flat. Sigismondi has built a career making visually inventive videos for artists like Bjork, Sigur Ros, The White Stripes, Fiona Apple and Marilyn Manson, but the footage here seems very.....ordinary. But that could just be how the trailer is cut.
"The Runaways" will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, and is slated to hit theaters on March 19, 2010.
In contrast to the buttoned-up, mourning monarch most people are accustomed to, "The Young Victoria" offers an alternate take on the historic queen during her youth. As played by the vivacious Emily Blunt, Victoria is revealed to have been energetic, headstrong, and shockingly sensual. This tightly focused biopic arrives with a fascinating pedigree — both Martin Scorsese and Sarah Ferguson are listed as producers — and an acclaimed cast, and it's sure to quell the corset cravings of costume-drama lovers.
Despite Victoria's legendary love of her husband, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend), "The Young Victoria" isn't all sighs and swoons. For every moment of romance, there's one of political intrigue as people in both Britain and Belgium clamor for control over the throne. The film begins with Victoria learning that she is next line for the throne of her uncle, King William (Jim Broadbent), and how this affects the cloistered life she leads. Unable to embark on the simplest tasks by herself — she is required to have someone hold her hand as she walks down the stairs — she feels powerless, a mere pawn who is controlled by her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), and her mother's overreaching adviser, Conroy (Mark Strong).
Everyone from King William to Victoria's other uncle, King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann), has a man in mind for her to marry, and the young princess rebels. But after meeting King Leopold's choice for her, Prince Albert, Victoria, finds she may not have to decide between love and duty. Meanwhile, Victoria begins receiving counsel from the prime minister, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), but the connection between politicians and the monarchy upsets England's people, placing Victoria's safety and reign in question.
The contrast between the typical view of a middle-aged Victoria and the youthful one in this script from Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") is striking, and the talented Blunt deserves credit (and, in a lesser year, perhaps a statuette) for her strong turn. She's already earned nominations for a Golden Globe and a British Independent Film Award for the performance, and we wouldn't be surprised if her name is called February 2. She's a believable character brought out of history and flawed in charismatic ways. Her chemistry with costume-drama mainstay Friend is sexy, challenging the strict, staid ideas 21st century viewers have of Victorian life. Friend has become the actor of choice for period projects after appearing in "Pride & Prejudice," "Cheri," "The Libertine," and "The Last Legion," but he trades in his native British accent for a fine German one in "The Young Victoria."
The always wonderful Broadbent's role is sadly brief for historically and narratively obvious reasons, but the rest of the supporting cast is just as good as the Oscar winner. Bettany excels at playing a character whose motives are concealed, and both Richardson and Strong give human performances for characters who could have easily been one-dimensional villains. Harriet Walter appears as Queen Adelaide, the wife of King William, who offers advice to the young queen after the death of the king.
Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee ("C.R.A.Z.Y.") has crafted a standard biopic that dutifully hits all its marks, boasting a cast of acclaimed British actors, gorgeous period costumes, and fine cinematography. Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell ("The Aviator," "Shakespeare in Love") adds typically lush wares for the production, full of the impeccable attention to detail that a film of this size merits. Director of photography Hagen Bogdanski (who previously wowed audiences with the excellent drama "The Lives of Others") nicely captures the impressive scenery and set design without letting it overpower the actors' performances. The classically styled work from composer Ilan Eshkeri ("Ninja Assassin") is a lovely score when paired with pieces from Handel, Schubert, Strauss, and Dvorak.
"The Young Victoria" loses a few points for its occassionally slow-moving pace, but the costumes and sets provide ample distraction in the languid moments. It's also hampered by a heavy-handed dream sequence that interferes with both the film's tone and its general subtlety (that The Playlist also noticed in our review of the film from its screening at Toronto). However, led by a wonderful performance from Blunt, this is a solid, if slightly imperfect film that could have filled the Academy's requisite period drama spot, if it weren't for the superior "Bright Star" that came out earlier in 2009. Both films feature a sweet sensuality that advocates that their historic subjects — Queen Victoria here and John Keats in "Bright Star" — were made of flesh and feelings, rather than the dust we've come to associate with their sometimes dry persona. [B+]
As you can imagine, these lists could go on and on and on (and in a way they already do) and some of the rough lists we made are dizzying long. Alas, we don't have that much time or space and we don't want to bore either you or ourselves to tears, so here's our top 20 soundtracks of the decade. Not only is this our top soundtracks of the aughts, but herein also lies most of the decade's incredible movie-music scenes.
We reported a couple of weeks ago that Steven Spielberg had dropped out of the "Harvey" remake, and was mulling over his options, including a fifth Indiana Jones film, god forbid, his Lincoln biopic, Jonathan Nolan's "Interstellar" and the adventure film "The 39 Clues." Now, there's one more to add to the list.
The bearded one is set to produce an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's World War One children's novel "War Horse," alongside frequent collaborators Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. The script will come from "Billy Elliot" writer Lee Hall. The book follows Albert, a young boy, and Joey, his horse, who are separated at the outbreak of the war. Joey is sold to the cavalry, and ends up on both sides of the conflict, until Albert travels to France to rescue him. A stage adaptation, by playwright Nick Stafford, and starring Luke Treadaway ("Brothers of the Head," "Clash of the Titans") premiered at the National Theatre in London to huge acclaim and success, before transferring to the West End, where it's still running, and reducing audiences to floods of tears. It's likely to transfer to Broadway sometime in 2011.
Will it work as a movie? The play relies on hugely complex puppetry, which gives a certain amount of creative license, but it's possible that, with a realistic-looking horse, it could be almost too harrowing for audiences. If anyone can pull it off, however, it's Lee Hall. Spielberg tells Variety that "From the moment I read the book, I knew this was a film I wanted Dreamworks to make. Its heart and its message provide a story that can be felt in every country." The studio won't confirm if Spielberg is considering directing, but it certainly seems like a possibility - the material seems right up his alley, and we'd rather see this than "Indiana Jones and the Colostomy Bag of Terror." If not - Joe Wright? Jean-Jacques Annaud? The guy who did "Hotel for Dogs?"
The SAG (Screen Actors Guild) nominees are always the most key bellweather of Oscar when it comes to the acting awards and much to no one's surprise they're pretty similar to the Golden Globe nominations (though more "Hurt Locker" this time). Jason Reitman's "Up In the Air," Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," and Lee Daniels' "Precious" lead the pack each taking three nominations. More analysis shortly, but we're pleased here for the most part (though bummed "Bright Star" was totally shut-out; we presume this means game over for the Jane Campion film at the Oscars which is a shame). This pretty much puts "Inglourious Basterds" on getting a lock for a Best Picture nomination (as if you had any doubt by now).
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE
“The Hurt Locker
Even though this is a category the Oscars don’t have, this award is no doubt the most important when it comes to predicting the Academy Awards, and not for acting mind you, but for Best Picture. Over the last ten years, they’ve called it right six times including last year with "Slumdog Millionaire" and the year before with "No Country For Old Men." This is very concerning considering the absence of "Up in the Air," despite it earning three nominations elsewhere and featuring additional support from the likes of Jason Bateman, Danny McBride and Zach Galifianakis. This is a huge snub, and taking its place in the lineup appears to be "An Education", a film that has seemed to only get recognition this award season through its lead actress, Carey Mulligan.
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney, “Up In The Air”
Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”
Jeff Bridges and George Clooney lead the pack, like Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn last year, while it seems Colin Firth and Morgan Freeman will be getting Oscar noms as well. This leaves one spot, one that has seemed to go to a different person with each awards presentation. The Globes gave it to Tobey Maguire, while others went for Daniel Day-Lewis, but we believe the dark-horse is deservedly represented here with Jeremy Renner. Renner made "The Hurt Locker" what it is, and what it is is a film that has a hell of a good shot at winning Best Picture, which helps Renner out a lot. It doesn’t mean he has a lock though, and we could easily see Matt Damon in the 5th slot for "The Informant," or maybe even the long-shot, Viggo Mortensen, for "The Road." But this move is yet another strong vote of confidence for "The Hurt Locker" overall.
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
Sandra Bullock remains in the running, while Emily Blunt didn’t make the cut this time. Instead, they nominated Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia, a move you can expect Oscar to replicate. Everything is as we (and you) expected (it will probably be a Sidibe vs. Mulligan showdown in the end).
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
These are the exact same nominees as the Golden Globes, and we don’t expect them to change a bit for the Academy Awards. Tucci is lucky to be on the list as his character was more of a caricature, while Damon might have to settle for a supporting nom instead of a leading one. Again, we’re very excited to see Woody Harrelson be included, but it’s not going to matter since Christoph Waltz is going to win. Why is it the Supporting Actor category, despite having the best nominees, always has the shoe-in? From Heath Ledger last year to Javier Bardem the year before, it seems it’s never a surprise, but if it was up to us, Harrelson would win for outstanding performance in "The Messenger"
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Penelope Cruz, “Nine”
Vera Farmiga, “Up In The Air”
Anna Kendrick, “Up In The Air”
Diane Kruger, “Inglourious Basterds”
These are also the exact same nominees as the Golden Globes with one small exception…Diane Kruger?! We’ve already seen the hate begin against Kruger, with fans citing Melanie Laurent was better, but we’ll stand by the SAG’s decision. If anything, it provided the only true surprise out of the whole bunch even if it’s one Oscar won’t go for. Unfortunately, it did bump Julianne Moore out, which is a shame considering she’s so good yet under-appreciated. The two gals from "Up in the Air" will probably cancel each other out, while we think we can count out Penelope Cruz since she won it last year. Like with the supporting males, this category does have a front-runner, and that is Mo’Nique for "Precious." She’s already won a number of awards for her performance and since Gabby Sidibe won’t win for actress, someone’s got to represent right? This one's probably a lock unless Mo'Nique herself fucks it up with her big, brassy mouth. -- Jonathan Helms
Studios are super-keen to get trailers for their big 2010 movies in front of "Avatar," and we've already seen premieres for "Robin Hood," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Iron Man 2" in the last few days, and a couple more hit last night.
Swords-and-sandals re-make "Clash of the Titans" has a second, longer trailer (although the middle section is pretty much the teaser in its entirety), and gives a little context to the action. It's still hampered by that terrible hard-rock score, and what appears to be another super-bland leading role by Sam Worthington, but we have to admit that the money-shot with the Kraken at the end is kind of cool, even if the creature design makes it look like a refuge from "Gears of War." In fact, the whole thing just looks like a videogame — far more so than "Avatar" ever did. "Avatar" didn't show three or four end of level bosses in the trailer, for one...
More hopeful is the trailer for "Hot Tub Time Machine," the Steve Pink ("Accepted") directed comedy starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke (who plays Cusack's little brother, hence the age difference...) as four friends who go on a ski trip together, and are accidentally transported back into the 1980s via the titular jacuzzi. We like all the talent involved, and quite enjoyed the script, which definitely has the potential to be 2010's equivalent to "The Hangover," even if the premise does sound completely ridiculous. The opening to the trailer is deeply irritating, but there's a few good laughs, and the cast seem to have pretty good chemistry. It opens on March 19th, the week before "Clash of the Titans."
If Terrence Howard is watching the just-released trailer for "Iron Man 2" he's probably seething with envy.
Sure, some of it seems, generic, predictable, a little too cocky and what you'd expect from a sequel to this surprisingly good summer tent pole, but we have to admit, the moment that shows Don Cheadle as War Machine (captured above in this still), is pretty fucking cool. Or at least, it tends to bring out the little boy in us (and obviously that's generally not our thing).
Is "Iron Man 2" which stars Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson and Cheadle on top of Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow from the original film, going to suffer from the "Spider-Man 3" syndrome: i.e., too many villains and characters and not enough story? "Written" by Justin Theroux and Jon Favreu (heavy sketches with lots of improvising) is the script — that wasn't even finished in the first place, and tended to unnerve actors like Jeff Bridges on 'IM1' — at least in place enough to allow the actors to freestyle on set in the same successful manner?
RDJ definitely looks and sounds like he's riffing the entire time in the trailer, but hopefully they're keeping it in check, because the fine balance was exactly what made "Iron Man" not feel tossed off. Either way, we'll find out soon. "Iron Man 2" hits theaters May 7, 2010. We think this looks... fine, good enough. It's not dazzling, but it looks fun. All we're asking for is a semi-intelligible and entertaining work of mainstream pop cinema. We're not asking the world. You can see the entire thing over at Apple and an embed we'll surely pop up any second. Ah, here it is.
OK, it didn't make our Best Documentaries of the Decade — though we probably should have made an honorable mention for it — but Spike Jonze and Lance Bangs co-directed' film about "Where The Wild Things Are" creator, Maurice Sendak, titled, "Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak," is a beautiful, spare and raw piece of work. We called it a melancholy and perfect companion piece to Jonze's "Where The Wild Things Are" live-action adaptation just before it aired on HBO earlier this fall.
But in case you missed it (and it is a must-see doc), it sounds like Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's Oscillioscope Pictures is going to release the documentary on DVD sometime in 2010. Working on extras, bonus material and artwork obviously suggests its definitely not a theatrical release; plus Oscillioscope just started a new direct-mail subscription DVD club earlier this year, so it's kind of a perfect match. Here's the snippet from an interview with Gothamist:
We're also hoping to release a film soon that Spike Jonze did, a documentary about Maurice Sendak, called Tell Them Anything You Want. So we're in the process of getting that together right now. Spike's working on the DVD extras. He did it with another guy, Lance Bangs, the two of them directed it together, so they're working on putting together the bonus material, doing the artwork together, the cover and all that. It's been fun hanging out with Spike lately.It must be fun, they ostensibly haven't partnered up in some time. The last connection we can recall is Jonze directing a second version of their "Root Down" song in 1998 and before that the director obviously made his name creating a pretty a pretty spectacular body of work directing some of their most creative music videos ("Sabotage" immediately comes to mind...), which allowed him to make the leap to feature-films.
You'll recall that back in 1997 it was reported that the Beasties would be starring in a Spike Jonze-directed comedy, called "We Can Do This," which was supposed to be a cross between "Zelig" and their wacky video for "Sabotage," but obviously that never happened and surely that plan is long dead.
But Yauch does reference the film in the Gothamist interview and a few other ideas they've had, ala the 1964 Richard Lester/ the Beatles' "A Hard Days Night" film. "I think we've actually started on three different Beastie Boys movie projects at various times, but for one reason or another, they never really managed to come to fruition.But maybe someday, something will come together. It would really be fun, you know. I love working with Adam and Mike, and we definitely have a lot of fun together. We just work quicker when we develop music than when we work on films." Either way, nice to see Spike and Yauch working together though.
As for Yauch's health situation (he was diagnosed with throat cancer earlier this year), he says, "I'm doing all right! I'm in Hawaii right now, feeling good. The sun is shining, the waves are breaking. There's some giant squall coming through and there are sixty foot waves hitting. It's pretty crazy." We hope he has a speedy recovery.
Yesterday we spoke with "Crazy Heart" director Scott Cooper, today singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham, nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, talks to us about his role in the Oscar fave, opening in NY and LA today. "Crazy Heart" (read our review) stars Jeff Bridges as a washed-up country star searching for a real life off the road. Bingham knows something about life on the road, having released two albums on Lost Highway with his band, The Dead Horses, and touring constantly. We spoke to him about working with heroes like T. Bone Burnett (co-composing the score with the legend) the late Stephen Bruton, and of course, The Dude himself.
Did you have any acting experience before this film?
No, not at all.
How did you get involved?
A friend of mine, Jack Wigam at CAA, had got some songs to Scott Cooper, the director. He gave me a call before they got started and asked if I wanted to participate and write some songs for the film.
Did he know that you are a New Mexico native? The setting plays a big part in the film.
No, I don't think so. He just kinda called me up and said "Hey man, let's meet for lunch." So we met and I told him who I was and what I was all about and he told me what he was doing with the movie and everything. He got me a script a day or so later and we kinda went from there.
At what point did you realize you would be working with T. Bone Burnett? Writing songs with him?
It wasn't until after Scott gave me that script. I had just got off the road and that song just kinda came out. From wherever those songs come from, it came from that place. I called Scott and said "Hey man, I think I've got a song for the movie." He's like "Cool, man. Send it along let's check it out." The next day Scott called and was like "Hey man, come over to T. Bone's house. He wants to meet you."
Were you a fan?
Oh yeah. And Stephen Bruton, that whole crew.
Did you get to spend time with Stephen Bruton on the set? He was a big inspiration for Bad Blake.
Yeah, I did. I went over to T. Bone's house that next day. T. Bone was there, Jeff Bridges, Bruton was there, and Scott and Colin [Farrell]. A whole group of people, just going over songs, having fun, talking about this movie. They were kinda like "Hey kid, what d'ya got?" They liked the song and right off the bat T. Bone was like "Ok, we got the title song."
So you went into the studio with him?
Yeah. We were at his house for a while, collaborating on different stuff. Then they got my whole band to be in the movie.
So that is your real band in the film, in the bowling alley?
We're the real bowling alley band.
Ever play a bowling alley?
Oh yeah, that's why they wanted us. They needed an authentic bowling alley band.
Did you put the band together in New Mexico?
I met all those guys around Austin, TX. Half of us are in Austin now, me and my drummer are out here in LA.
So all the sudden you're performing with Jeff Bridges. Obviously you must have been a fan---
Oh yeah man, The Dude! [laughs]
What was that like to be on your first film---
Smoking a joint with the Dude in a bowling alley! It was fantastic, it was great. It was really, really cool.
Do you want to do more acting in the future?
I don't know about taking it on as a career, I don't know. To do something like this, hell yeah. With Jeff and T. Bone and playing some music. I don't know if I'm a good enough actor to carry a movie. I'm having fun with it. I could do this everyday if it was like that.
What's next for the band? You had a record out, Roadhouse Sun, in June on Lost Highway.
Yeah, record out in June. We've been on the road since June, just got done yesterday. I flew in last night. T. Bone's going to do a record for us next spring and keep on going. A band in a van.
If ghettoizing was a concern with our Best Documentaries of the Decade list, you can be sure it's an even bigger one here. With the controversy surrounding the immensely patronizing Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars (initiated in 2001), the notion of how to appraise animated films has become an issue of major debate among critics. Thanks in no small part to the astonishing critical success of Pixar, the marco polo effect of Hayao Miyazaki, and a generally widening reception to animated features from overseas. A wider audience is finally beginning to notice that animated films are capable of handling the same subjects as live action, with the same level of sophistication, and can perhaps thus be judged on the same scale. In other words, it was in this decade that we finally began to realize that animation is (and has always been) a medium, not a genre.
And yet we have the gall to make a list like this? Well, the bottom line is that of the many great animated films we saw this decade, we just wanted you to know which 10 were our favorite. You may recognize one or two of our pics as runners up in the best of the decade list (be assured, there were fights for their inclusion), but in the end, if we happen to be undermining our own stance on this issue in order to give them their due, so be it.