Even more news from Swedish director Lasse Hallström. On top of evidently just taking over the sex-change drama, "The Danish Girl" from Tomas Alfredson ("Let The Right One In"), starring Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow, the "Dear John" director apparently has another high end project in the works according to his native media.
Apparently he is also set to go behind the camera for an upcoming on-screen union of real life couple Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis in "My American Lover," the story of French feminist philosopher, writer and theorist Simone de Beauvoir and American novelist Nelson Algren.
Bullshit made up from the European media you say? Not so, Depp told BangShowbiz about this a few days ago and apparently it slipped under everyone's radar.
"It's called 'My American Lover,' " he explained on February 25 of his new project. "Vanessa plays the French feminist Simone de Beauvoir and I play her lover Nelson Algren who is real macho.”
While Paradis is better known for her music than her acting, she most recently starred in Pascal Chaumeil's "L'arnacoeur" which is due to hit European theaters later in 2010 and has been in a dozen or so films over the years. However, this will be the first time her and Depp have been on-screen together.
"My American Lover" will almost certainly be based on de Beauvoir's "A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren," a collection of correspondences she sent Algren in the late 1940s. The letters center on their transatlantic affair and their travels together through Latin America in 1949.
Here's the Amazon synopsis:
Simone de Beauvoir met Nelson Algren in Chicago in February 1947, when a mutual friend arranged for him to serve as her tour guide for two days. The attraction was immediate, and within two months they were in love. Because Algren was so alien to de Beauvoir's world, she spent time describing events and people to him she might otherwise have taken for granted. The result is that de Beauvoir's 300 surviving letters to Algren are unusually rich in detail--love letters with a conscious undercurrent of French social history. Translated and annotated by Kate Leblanc, they offer amusing insights into postwar Parisian life and characters, delivered with the charm of the nonnative writer.The 20th century French writer-philosopher de Beauvoir is perhaps most famous for her tome, "The Second Sex" which explored women's oppression, contemporary feminism and her open relationship with famous existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (if you have no clue who these people are, you might want to question your education or reading habits).
Johnny Depp seems to be circling back to all the directors he worked with early on in his film career. Next year, Depp will reteam with Slavic filmmaker Emir Kusturica for his long-gestating Pancho Villa biopic. It will be their first collaboration since 1993's highly underrated (and mostly because not many people have actually seen it) absurdist comedy, "Arizona Dream" co-starring Lily Taylor, Jerry Lewis and Faye Dunaway. Hallström previously worked with Depp on "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" (1993) and "Chocolat" (2000).
Considering Depp's schedule, the earliest "My American Lover" could probably shoot would be spring 2011 when Kusturica's epic is done shooting in Europe.
Even more news from Swedish director Lasse Hallström. On top of evidently just taking over the sex-change drama, "The Danish Girl" from Tomas Alfredson ("Let The Right One In"), starring Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow, the "Dear John" director apparently has another high end project in the works according to his native media.
Yes, we know it's a Miley Cyrus movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book, an author whose fans don't seem to mind reading the formula over and over, and then watching the same movie of that formula over and over, but we digress. The reason that we're writing this on a Saturday afternoon when we should be doing anything but blogging is that the soundtrack boasts some music that we didn't think we'd ever find in a movie like this.
The soundtrack for "The Last Song" has been revealed and alongside such dreck by OneRepublic, Maroon 5 and the aforementioned Cyrus, are tracks by Iron & Wine, Jose Gonzalez and The Ravonettes (we're sure the guys over at Vice Records had a good laugh when Disney came knocking to license a song). While we're not sure what a song like "Heart Of Stone" is doing in a three-hanky teen weepie, Iron & Wine and Jose Gonzalez's lighter fare sort of make sense. The soundtrack is rounded out by smaller indie acts VHS Or Beta, Ra Ra Riot and The Paper Raincoat ensuring Disney's marketing department that all their target demographics have been hit.
After a release date shuffle, "The Last Song" will arrive in theaters on March 31st, with the soundtrack streeting a week earlier on March 23rd.
"The Last Song" Soundtrack Tracklisting
1. OneRepublic “Tyrant”
2. VHS or Beta “ Bring On The Comets”
3. Eskimo Joe “Setting Sun”
4. Miley Cyrus “When I Look At You”
5. The Paper Raincoat “Brooklyn Blurs”
6. Ra Ra Riot “Can You Tell”
7. Jose Gonzales “Down The Line”
8. Iron & Wine “Each Coming Night”
9. Miley Cyrus “I Hope You Find It”
10. Maroon 5 “She Will Be Loved”
11. Alpha Rev “New Morning”
12. Edwin McCain “Broke Down Hearted Wonderland”
13. Allstar Weekend “A Different Side of Me”
14. Valora “No Matter What”
15. The Ravonettes “Heart Of Stone”
16. Aaron Zigman “Steve’s Theme”
Iron & Wine "Each Coming Night"
Jose Gonzalez "Down The Line"
Lasse Hallström Takes Over Transgendered Drama 'The Danish Girl' With Nicole Kidman & Gwyneth Paltrow
"Dear John" director Lasse Hallström has revealed to the Swedish press that he is now set take over Tomas Alfredsson's gig in directing the transgendered-drama "The Danish Girl," starring Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The film is based on a novel by David Ebershoff and focuses on the 1930s-set story of the first ever sex-change patient, Einar Wegener, a male Danish artist whose love affair with his wife — fellow Danish artist Gerda Wegener — and art set him up on the path to an eventual male-to-female operation. Kidman will play the transgendered protagonist and Paltrow will play the wife, and according to reports, we should see the pair as male and female initially. That will be interesting. Hilary Swank, watch out.
Tomas Alfredson ("Let The Right One In") was originally slated to direct the film but evidently left after being refused more time to develop the script, written by Lucinda Coxon. Is this a bad sign for Hallström's iteration? This also comes after Charlize Theron was replaced by Paltrow last year. Shooting will reportedly begin this May in Budapest, Prague and Denmark if this report proves to be correct.
The soundtrack to the forthcoming "The Runaways" biopic has been revealed and it's pretty much what you might expect, though that's not a bad thing at all.
The '70s based rock saga about Joan Jett's all-girl teen rock band earned mixed reviews when it premiered at Sundance, though it seemed everyone agreed that Michael Shannon steals the show as the sleazebag manager/promoter Kim Fowley.
But whatever the merits of the film, the soundtrack seems like a solid evocation of the period featuring tracks by David Bowie, MC5, The Stooges, Sex Pistols and (duh) The Runaways. Dakota Fanning also gets a few solo cuts and teams up with co-star Kristen Stewart for a couple of tracks as well.
The film hits theaters on March 19th, with the soundtrack in stores a few days later on March 23rd.
"The Runaways" Soundtrack Tracklisting
1. “Roxy Roller” by Nick Gilder
2. “The Wild One” by Suzi Quatro
3. “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by MC5
4. “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie
5. “Cherry Bomb” by Dakota Fanning
6. “Hollywood” by The Runaways
7. “California Paradise” by Dakota Fanning
8. “You Drive Me Wild” by The Runaways
9. “Queens of Noise” by Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart
10. “Dead End Justice” by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning
11. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges
12. “I Wanna Be Where the Boys Are (Live)” by The Runaways
13. “Pretty Vacant” by Sex Pistols
14. “Don’t Abuse Me” by Joan Jett
The Runaways "Hollywood"
The Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog"
Sex Pistols "Pretty Vacant"
“I couldn’t understand Bob’s obsession with it, until, finally, I went through that rough period of my own. I came out the other side and woke up one day alive … still breathing.”
journalist, cough, sorry, lowly blogger, one must and should always feel envy of the access these kinds of stories afford you. The time and research that allows for building and crafting such a narrative is a real luxury. And obviously the access is unparalleled.
So did you read Richard Schickel's Vanity Fair story on the making of Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull"? If you haven't you should.
Essentially, the story is that it was actually a Robert DeNiro project, not a Scorsese one, and the filmmaker was absolutely not interested in making it, didn't understand boxing one iota or the character, but eventually changed his mind when he had a near death experience during a trip to the 1978 Telluride Film Festival — the air being very thin, the filmmaker, a sickly asthmatic all his life and a cocaine addiction slowly wearing down his body, became deathly ill (his then wife Isabella Rossellini had to leave his bedside for a film project and assume she would never see him again).
It's also interesting to note that while Paul Schrader, who wrote "Taxi Driver," is credited with the screenplay, it was actually Scorsese and DeNiro who rewrote the script several times to get it to the place they needed to start shooting (Schrader's version was deemed "too cold" and without humanity; incidentally can you believe he's never been nominated for an Oscar of any kind, not even writing?).
Anyhow, it's a fascinating read and a great story. Give it a whirl when you have some time to sit down with it.
Angelina Jolie & James Franco To Star In 'The Golden Suicides' Penned By Gus Van Sant & Bret Easton Ellis?
Have Angelina Jolie and James Franco joined "The Golden Suicides"? The project was written by iconic '80s author Bret Easton Ellis and then later, Portland-based indie filmmaker Gus Van Sant was brought on board to help with the screenplay.
The rumor, if you can even call it that, was first picked up by CinemaTeaser in France. However, it all starts with Easton Ellis himself, who wrote over Twitter, "Keep looking at the script...Angelina and Franco for Theresa and Jeremy?...It doesn't matter...I wrote it for them anyway...I just spaced..."
As Premiere speculates, is Easton Ellis hinting at something he knows is in the works? Doubtful. Screenwriters often write for certain actors in mind, but that doesn't mean they'll get them. Then again, it is a fascinating story and the two could eventually be interested, but it feels like early days and Easton Ellis says he just finished the screenplay.
There's no mention of Gus Van Sant, which makes sense right now. When would he have had time to collaborate on this script or even take pass at a draft? In the fall the director was in pre-production for his new surreal and angsty teen film, "Restless" (though it's actually untitled at the moment), in December he shot the film in Portland and surely in the new year the production wrapped and Van Sant moved on to editing and post-production.
Our guess is Van Sant hasn't had a moment to look at it, begging two scenarios: 1) Easton Ellis is done with his draft and will be submitting it, but it will be months before Van Sant can even look at it, or 2) Easton Ellis is now simply writing it on his own? We're betting on the former.
So back to "Golden Suicides." In early 2009, Easton Ellis was hired by Lionsgate to write a screenplay based on Nancy Jo Sales' riveting Vanity Fair article about the death of artists Theresa Duncan and her partner Jeremy Blake — the East Village couple who mysteriously committed suicide last year.
Their story is a bizarre, tragic one, full of conspiracy theories and mystery and if you're at all intrigued we highly recommend reading the aforementioned VF article.
Duncan and Blake were well-known downtown L.A. and New York artists, Blake being particularly known in music film circles for having contributed digital paintings to the cover of Beck's Sea Change and the stylized transition scenes of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Punch Drunk Love." Beck, who was a friend of the couple, is also strangely tied to this tale (probably more so than he would like publicly) because he was allegedly almost involved in a beloved Duncan film project called, "Alice Underground," that Beck denied ever having discussions about, but others dug up interviews where the musicians talked about the film explicitly and suggested his denials were flat-out lies.
Then Scientology theories started popping up as well — the couple alleged Scientologist were harassing and stalking them — and the story, a modern-day, Romeo & Juliet-like tragedy, became stranger and stranger.
Van Sant had never signed on for anything other than to help pen the script; whether he would direct at all was speculation by pretty much every film outlet out there, including ours. Truthfully though, we would love him to direct this film. It feels and sounds like it would have the ambiguous and distanced tone of his experimental tetralogy —"Elephant," "Gerry," "Paranoid Park" and in particular, the melancholy and quiet, "Last Days."
Some might suggest that this project is why Angelina Jolie allegedly turned down Alfonso Cuarón's new sci-fi thriller, "Gravity," but we don't buy that for a second. The timing on the two projects are in two stratospheres. Stay tuned for more, but don't expect any concrete news for awhile.
Matt Damon Talks 'Contagion,' 'Liberace,' 'True Grit,' Robert F. Kennedy Biopic, Ben Affleck's 'The Town' & Own Directorial Ambitions
Speaking at a junket for his upcoming collaboration with Paul Greengrass on "Green Zone," Matt Damon has taken to discussing his massive slate of upcoming projects, as well as revealing his own ambitions to follow BFF Ben Affleck's footsteps to work behind the camera.
"Scott Burns who wrote 'The Informant!' handed in this great script [for 'Contagion'] and it's timely," the actor revealed. "So it's more of an ensemble piece and I'm going to play a small part in that and then we're going to do 'Liberace' sometime next year. None of [these movies] are actually lined-up like we're starting here and we have a green light. They're all things that I'm really excited about that are movable pieces depending on Steven's schedule."
Though, Damon goes on to note another potential delay to the "Liberace" biopic if his newly-announced biopic of Robert F. Kennedy falls into place.
"If this RFK thing goes then that might change. There's a play I really want to do. But they're all just really exciting things that are out there...Eben Thomas wrote a new biography of [RFK] and Gary Ross has the rights to it, so yeah, we're hoping to [do that] but there's no script yet. It's a little ways off, but a script's supposed to come in next month, so hopefully, it'll be great and I'll have a job for the fall."
Soderbergh's "Contagion" is currently slated to shoot in the fall as well but, being a pretty big production, it would probably take precedence, and if Damon's role is small enough, he could probably squeeze in both (though Ross and Soderbergh are good friends, the former producer of the latter's directorial debut, "Pleasantville" so don't doubt that there is a lot of goodwill there and schedules could be massaged). "Liberace" is seemingly the most likely candidate to be pushed if Ross can get RFK together, which would be a shame as it feels like one the riskier of the bunch, but the tentative plan is early 2011, so it could still be managed.
But before all that, Damon will be teaming with the Coen Brothers for their remake of classic Western "True Grit," which he describes as "a really great script. They adapted it from the book and the book is amazing, I'd never read it, but it's worth the read. I love Westerns, but I really love the Coen Brothers, so I'm looking forward to that, definitely."
Damon also addressed his recent reunion with Affleck on a first-look producing deal with Warner Bros. which he reveals could be the beginning of a new road for him and Affleck and looks set to begin with New York Yankee wife-swapping pic, "The Trade."
"His last movie is great, 'The Town,' I've seen the rough cut, it's fantastic. That's the idea of the first look deal we set up at Warners, because I want to direct, too, so there are a bunch of different ways we can end up working together. It's weird that twelve years has gone by since we've worked together, it just kind of happened. We were just reacting to the work that was out there and starting families, but we definitely want to try and find stuff. It's tough though. We wrote 'Good Will Hunting' because we were unemployed and had all this time. We definitely don't have that kind of time anymore, so that's been the biggest obstacle to writing is just been all the acting work we've been getting... and now directing work for him."
He's certainly come a long, long way since unemployment. Blowing up with the success of the 'Bourne' franchise, Damon has gone from strength to strength ever since, now establishing himself as one of biggest names working today. Not many actors have the privilege of saying they've collaborated with the likes of the Coens, Soderbergh, Greengrass, Francis Ford Coppola, the dearly departed Anthony Minghella, Martin Scorsese, Gus Van Sant, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford just to name a few. Is it any wonder he wants to move into directing?
Here is your first look at Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas (and his crazy new beard) in Steven Soderbergh's upcoming spy-thriller "Knockout."
The film is the feature-debut of former Mixed Martial Arts champion Carano and will see her play a black ops specialist who goes on the run once she's been double crossed and framed by her own teammates overseas. From there she goes about trying to make her way back to the U.S. to protect her family, and exact revenge on those that have betrayed her.
Co-starring in the picture are the likes of Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Michael Angarano and Matthieu Kassovitz.
Production is currently taking place in Barcelona having already shot in Dublin, Ireland and before shifting to New Mexico (the film's three central locations). A short clip of the Dublin shoot was also unveiled at a Carano fan site, and features Carano on the run from authorities and SWAT teams. Blink and you'll miss her but she's there.
Do New Christopher Nolan Quotes Confirm The Leaked 'Inception' Details of Last Summer? Essentially, Yes.
Yes, more from this month's print edition of Empire magazine (not online yet).
This time it's Christopher Nolan talking about "Inception" and everyone seems seems to be ravenous about the details.
Once again, it seems these details confirm that InContention's spoiler-ish report about the plot, written late last summer, are correct. It's interesting how every little thing said sort of slowly unravels the puzzle (and/or confirms what has been said to be the basic storyline).
[We'll be discussing some of these spoilers in detail from here on in, so if you don't want to know anything about "Inception," don't read on. Really].
Essentially, one of the alleged main plot points of "Inception" is that it's about a crew of people trying to steal the technology to enter people's dreams. And Nolan definitely eludes to this and all but confirms the rumored concept.
"Basically the film deals with levels of reality, and perceptions of reality which is something I'm very interested in. Its an action film set in a contemporary world, but with a slight science-fiction bent to it. Cobb [Leonardo DiCaprio's character], who is the center of things and expert in a particular technology that the film revolves around, has put this team around him [Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt]. It's very much an ensemble film structured somewhat as a heist movie. It's an action adventure that spans the globe."Dunno about you, but that pretty much seals the deal, a "particular technology" a "heist" film? This all jives with the report that DiCaprio's character is less of a hero and more of a thief of sorts (stealing the dream technology).
The special effects guy on the picture, Chris Corbould, tells the magazine, " 'Inception' is a very different picture from 'The Dark Knight.' That and 'Batman Begins' were a certain genre that we all know and love, whereas this film seems very bizarre.
Sounds like Nolan took the heady, enigmatic approach of "Memento" and "The Prestige" and got Warner Bros. to foot the bill of an $150 million dollar action art film. It kind of keeps sounding better and better frankly.
Here's our guess. You know how "Memento" and "The Prestige" center on flawed protagonists and it ends badly for them? Same thing with "Inception," especially when you have a morally dubious protagonist like DiCaprio's Cobb looks to be.
Call it premature "Gravity"? Or something is slightly amiss or out of synch.
Yesterday it was reported that Angelina Jolie had signed onto Alfonso Cuarón's new sci-fi thriller called, "Gravity" instead of doing a sequel for "Wanted."
Cuarón back in the game with a sci-fi thriller and Angelina Jolie? Hell yes, we're there and excited, it's been too long since Cuarón made a film (2006's dystopian picture "Children of Men," though he was one of the directors on the 2007 doc, "The Shock Doctrine," not to be confused with the Michael Winterbottom 2009 documentary of the same name).
But EW is reporting something else. That something else being that Jolie passed on the "Gravity" project. And it gets even more confusing from there. "Gravity" was once a Universal project and then was reportedly picked up in turnaround by Warner Bros. Fine, easy to make sense of.
But no one at Warner Bros. can actually confirm that's actually the case. The only thing that seems to be crystal clear? Angelina Jolie will not be making a "Wanted 2" film. Stay tuned, we're sure more will come to light soon enough, but if "Gravity" is not happening, we'll definitely be disappointed.
Jolie is currently in Venice with Johnny Depp and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ("The Lives of Others") shooting the spy romance film, "The Tourist" (which, ironically, had Cuarón's name attached to it at one point).
Are Paul Greengrass & Matt Damon Actively Endorsing The 'Bourne' Prequel/Reboot Idea? Giving Career Franchise Advice To Universal?
Last night was the premiere of "Green Zone," and while Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass were there, junkateers for this weekend seeking to find 'Bourne 4/Bourne franchise' info from the duo might want to be prepared to pull teeth.
All Damon told MTV was that's all everyone wants to know, "Is there going to be another Bourne movie?" and effectively side-stepped the question. But the guys said a bit more to Roger Freidman, with Greengrass concluding "I don’t think I’ll do it. I’ve done it." A Universal source said, “We have to wait for a script” (does this mean Universal might be actively working on a prequel script? or a new one to entice Damon?). And Damon didn't know and was more interested in talking about the Coen Brothers' upcoming "True Grit" film, which he will star in alongside Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin. “It’s based on the original novel, not the John Wayne movie. The script is amazing. And yes, it’s violent.”
Update: Ok, now this is really definitive and very nice work from Ed Douglas over at Coming Soon.
You'll see a lot of yokels out there who talked to Paul Greengrass today and say the director is now officially not doing "Bourne." That's nonsense. Greengrass has obviously been off the project since December and confirmed this to the trades shortly thereafter. That made it official. But Douglas' interview with both Greengrass and Damon is more of a final word on the matter. In short, they're both not really interested in pursuing this story right now. Shocker, it's something they've said all along and even hinted at for months, suggesting no ideas or scripts had made them happy (then they kept saying no scripts existed, but ideas were obviously being generated by two different writers, George Nolfi and Josh Zetumer, both of whom were publicly hired in the trades).
The strange thing is that when Damon spoke/speculated about a potential 'Bourne' reboot or prequel, we assumed it was mostly just that, speculation on his part. In fact, Universal responded to his remarks, made on a red carpet in the U.K., and said any putative plans for the 'Bourne' series were definitely premature.
But now both Greengrass and Damon keep talking about rebooting the franchise, as if that's their polite way of saying, 'here Universal, no hard feelings, take it, do what you want.' Greengrass obviously knew last fall he didn't want to do a fourth film.
"When I was honest with myself last Autumn, and I was starting to get going on other things, you just come to a point where you realize you've done it. You don't have anything more to contribute to a franchise that needs to continue obviously, and in order to continue, a franchise needs to be rebooted and reenergized by new perspectives. I just felt that I'd done it, and there's nothing unnatural about that."Greengrass ultimately discovered he wanted to do other things when he couldn't decide on a relevant storyline for a character that had now completed his arch and had discovered who he was and where he came from. "I did spend some time thinking that I might [do 'Bourne 4'] and getting myself to a place of 'what would [that] be?' and it's only when you do that where you find, 'You know what? I'm gone. I'm onto other things.' "
When asked the same question, Damon even suggests actors to play the parts! Is he suggesting ideas or is he saying, Universal knows what next steps it wants to take, it's hard to say.
"I think they have a good way to do a prequel with someone else, and basically make it about 'The Bourne identity,' the actual identity. Any studio is interested in making it an evergreen that can just go on and on and on, and it never will with our character because he's resolved his issues now. He's got his memory back three times now. I don't think anybody wants to see me say 'I don't remember' again, but I think what we could do is that you can do some movies with another actor, anyone, whether it's Ryan Gosling or Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington, and he's Jason Bourne, and at the end of his one or two or three movies, you see them getting ready to pass the identity onto me, so it just becomes like a 007, it becomes the name that they give this certain person who is uniquely positioned. So then if Paul and I come back and do a fourth one in ten years, we'll pass it onto someone else and then the thing can kind of go on."Odd, very odd. So it's like Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass are passing some tips to Universal on how to prequelize the 'Bourne' series, wipe their hands clean and then move on to other films?
This is so bizarre, we honestly don't even know what to make of it. Anyhow, Universal, if you want to move forward with a fourth film, or even a prequel here's five good, plausible directors you could use. Most of them were written up with the intention to use Matt Damon as the lead still, but all of them would still work (though whether any of the them would want to be part of a prequel surely remains to be seen).
Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet (Un Prophete)" is an epic prison story /criminal journey in the vein of "Scarface" — except, you know, good. But veteran French director Audiard ("The Beat That My Heart Skipped," "Read My Lips") doesn't deserve all the credit for this skillfully crafted film; newcomer Tahar Rahim (one of our picks for best breakthrough performances of last year) creates a role that capitalizes on his youth and naivete, allowing him to slowly and cunningly evolve into the part of an experienced kingpin.
Rahim's Malik El Djebena is an illiterate half-Arab criminal whose short life has been devoted entirely to petty crime. However, when he condemned to six years in a grim Parisian prison, he is forced to go beyond small sins into deadly ones. He arrives in the middle of a gang war between the Corsicans and the Arabs, and his mixed heritage causes each group to view him as the "other." Eventually, however, he is recruited, against his will, by the Corsican leader, Cesar Luciani (Niels Arestrup, who worked with Audiard previously on "The Beat That My Heart Skipped"), a dysfunctional father figure who threatens him into doing his group's least pleasant work. He is essentially their housekeeping slave and treated like dirt.
His first prison-bound crime is a visceral viewing experience for the audience, and it's worse for Malik — you can feel the pulsing queasiness of a murder about to be committed and its emotionally harrowing stuff. But even this early in the film, Rahim displays an impressive authenticity that gives "Un Prophete" an almost observational, documentary-like feel at times. Malik begins at the very bottom of Cesar's gang and is forced to kill an Arab witness. In surreal,but highly effective moments, this experience haunts him (literally) as he starts to ascend the ranks of the gang, beginning to read, slyly learning to speak Corsican, and developing a business that straddles the prison walls when he's allowed out on day trips for his good behavior.
Malik may be in the classic mold of the gangster anti-hero, a la Michael Corleone of "The Godfather" and Henry Hill in "Goodfellas," but there's an added layer to his character. Race plays a primary role in "Un Prophete," and Malik's half-Arab, half-Corsican status informs his experience. He isn't an archetype we're used to seeing, and it seems all the more fresh because of Rahim's easily identifiable talent. It's not a polarized portrayal of an Arab man, but the actor brings both a skewed heroism and humanity to his character. With an inescapable presence in almost every scene, he is impossible to ignore and even difficult to dislike, despite the crimes his character commits. Malik's intelligence and ambition are admirable traits, even though they're fueling less-than-legal efforts. While that morality obviously rests on shaky ground and the concept of the man being a prophet is therefore somewhat dubious, the careful filmmaking, superb acting and overall strength of the sprawling crime saga are too good to deny (And some may feel the protagonist thus does not earn his sort of feel-good ending; which is admittedly somewhat iffy, but these issues do not derail the overall picture).
The combination of Rahim's freshness and Audiard's experience works well within the film. As we've seen in the director's previous, praised work such as "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" and "Read My Lips," he has a defined visual style, occasionally using obscured shots that somehow illuminate the action and his brief, but pointed stylistic tricks (title cards that slam the screen with jail-cell-door like conviction) are never over-abused (one slow motion shot in a hail of bullets with a resigned smile on the face of Malik as if he's about to welcome death is particularly striking). And aesthetically, the film is very much on point all the way through Alexandre Desplat's moving score (one of his recent bests), to Stéphane Fontaine's exquisitely framed and thoughtful lens that elevates the picture and lends it a potency far greater than your average gangster tale.
There's an obvious love for gangster B-movies here as it plays with the genre conventions, but the film's look, its strong script, and impressive performances put it on par with top-level dramas such as "Casino" and "The Departed." [A-]
Matt Damon Says 'The Trade' Script Doesn't Exist? Is Finding Re-Write Scribes? Or Is Roger Friedman Drunk?
An interesting update from Roger Friedman's 411 site about the recently announced project, "The Trade" — the true story about two New York Yankees pitchers who caused a national scandal by swapping wives in the sexually-free 1970s, which would star Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
Friedman says Damon tells him that the project is "a long way down the road, since no script exists and no one’s sure how to write the saga of teammates who switched wives." However, screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien ("Oceans 13,” “Rounders”) have been clocking that story for years and collecting information so they could eventually end up writing the film. But right now, it's just in the early stages.
However, this is odd, considering "The Trade" by Dave Mandel was named #35 on the 2009 Black list.
Does this somehow mean Damon didn't like the script, but liked the idea and they've optioned the script with the intentions of modifying it (it was mentioned in the original report by Deadline)? Or does 411 have his wires crossed in the conversation he had with Damon? (It was at a cocktail party with drinks after all, and Friedman did erroneously report initially that there were only two 'Bourne' films so far, and ran his own correction). Hmm, would be interesting to find out. “Ben has always wanted to make that film,” is the only quote he scores from Damon about the project. Thanks to the reader for the tip.
Interesting anecdote: A friend in the know tells us that Richard Linklater was attached to this up until recently. Would make sense. Linklater likes his sports movies, he directed the "Bad News Bears" remake and was offered the "Moneyball" project when Steven Soderbergh's version was unceremoniously dumped by Sony, but didn't take it.
Rumorville: Will Smith Hitchock Remake? Greg Berlanti To 'Flash'? Jonah Nolan Won't Direct 'Superman' Reboot
-Mike Vogel ("Cloverfield") has confirmed a screen test for "The First Avenger: Captain America," though he's just one of six recent candidates, a field that is likely to grow even bigger. The recent rumors that the "Captain America" production is being delayed to jettison Joe Johnston are, unfortunately, false.
Nicole Kidman To Do An Uncredited Comic Cameo In Adam Sandler & Jennifer Aniston's 'Just Go With It'
Is it a cameo if everyone already knows about it? Nicole Kidman is set to take a page from her ex-husband's playbook and is ready to shake up her image by doing an uncredited comic cameo in the forthcoming Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston romcom "Just Go With It."
While Kidman is coming off a string of big-budget bombs ("The Golden Compass," "Australia" and "Nine") her public image is nowhere near what Tom Cruise's was when he did his fat suit cameo in Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder." It's an interesting development to be sure, but perhaps the actress wants a moment of levity between the forthcoming dramas "Rabbit Hole," directed by John Cameron Mitchell and the previously announced gender bender "The Danish Girl" with Gwyneth Paltrow.
Two other casting announcements were also made today. Birkenstock and hacky sack favorite Dave Matthews and model Brooklyn Decker will be joining the cast as well, with the latter playing her first big screen role as Sandler's love interest.
The plot details are being kept secret, but the film "involves Sandler recruiting Aniston to pose as his soon-to-be-divorced wife and her kids to pretend to be his fake family." Sounds wacky. Filming is set to start next month in Los Angeles with Valentine's Day 2011 circled on the calendar for the release date.
Bong Joon-Ho Will Tackle Horror Next, Park Chan-Wook Will Produce His Post-Apocalyptic Film, 'Snow Piercer'
We like to imagine there's some kind of friendly rivalry between South Korea's preeminent genre auteurists, Bong Joon-Ho ("The Host," "Memories of Murder") and Park Chan-Wook ("Old Boy," "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance"), two of the best filmmakers in the world right now.
Turns out though, they're much more on each other's side. Promoting his upcoming murder-mystery "Mother" (we saw it at Cannes, it's fantastic) when one Playlist reporter asked about the perceived rivalry between himself and Park Chan-Wook, the auteur said, via his translator, that "they're from different generations" and in one of the few times he broke into English he said, "He's John Ford. I'm David Fincher."
A product of different eras or not, they're on each other's side. The director also revealed to us that Park Chan-Wook would be producing the younger filmmaker's next project, called "Snow Piercer," which is based on a post-apocalyptic graphic novel from France called, “Le Transperceneige,” about a group of people on a train without a final destination, struggling to survive after the end of the world brings on a cataclysmic ice age.
So when will "Snow Piercer" go forward? The project will be done with its pre-production by the end of the year and the filmmaker is working on the script now, "as he watches the snow fall in New York City." He then hopes to shoot and release the picture in 2011.
The movie after "Snow Piercer" however, is going to be a horror film. "Not a monster movie like 'The Host' or a crime movie like 'Mother' but something really, really scary," the director said.
Then of course we had to ask him about "Zodiac," which is very reminiscent of his murder procedurals (and one of his, "Memories of Murder," was made before David Fincher's) and Joon-Ho said he loved it so much he had a meeting with Jake Gyllenhaal, but for what project he didn't say ("Snow Piercers"?). In fact, when the director was in San Fransisco he wanted to visit all the locations in the movie; "Zodiac" was one of his favorite films of 2007.
Bong Joon-Ho's fabulously dark, absurdist, twisted and sprawling "Mother" (which we highly recommend) hits theaters on March 12 via Magnolia Pictures. Watch the trailer if you haven't already. Park Chan-Wook's next film will be a remake of Costa-Gavras' 2005 picture, "Le Couperet (The Ax)." — reporting by Drew Taylor
With just a couple of modest releases going wide this weekend, Scorsese's "Shutter Island" should probably still reign supreme. Though Warner Bros. is marketing the shit out of "Cop Out" and middle America does love Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan.
In Wide Release: Frequent Flyer Kevin Smith marks his first time directing a script he did not write with this week's "Cop Out." The genuinely insane Tracy Morgan stars alongside genuinely bored Bruce Willis as two, you guessed it, cops on the trail of a baseball-card obsessed gangster. Smith and co are clearly trying to recapture some of the flavor of 80's odd-couple police comedies like "48 Hours" or "Lethal Weapon" and the casting is spot-on--although you get the feeling that these two would sign on to just about anything for a paycheck. We reviewed the formerly titled "A Couple of Dicks" yesterday, finding that it lives up to its inspiration as a poorly written and shot '80s timewaster. Rotten Tomatoes tracks the film with a 17% rating, while Metacritic gives it a score of 32.
Generating surprisingly positive buzz this weekend is "The Crazies" a remake of the George Romero film from director Breck Eisner. After a small Iowa town's water is contaminated with a unknown toxin, insanity sets in among the locals. Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell star as the town's Sheriff and his wife set with defending the town from its unruly inhabitants. Pretty standard stuff nowadays, but maybe he concept was more exciting when the original was released in the 70's. We posted our review earlier today, finding the movie to be more dull than scary. The low budget film should find a decent audience though, after thrill seekers had their appetite whetted with "Shutter Island." RT gives the film a 73% rating, with a 59 from Metacritic.
In Limited Release:
Our Pick of the week: This week finally sees the stateside debut of "A Prophet," the latest picture "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" director Jacques Audiard. Considered a front runner along with "The White Ribbon" in the Best Foreign Film races at this year's Oscars, the film stars Tahar Rahim as an illiterate 18-year old beginning a six year prison term. He quickly is cornered by the Corsican gang ruling the prison, carrying out various "missions" and learning the intricate politics involved with the rival gangs. Critics have been buzzing for months, so it is no surprise Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 95%, with Metacritic close behind with a score of 89. Our review will hit shortly, but it's certainly one of the best films of the year so far and our editor-in-chief thinks it should have won the palme d'Or over Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" which is some pretty big praise (though Cannes 2009 was a bit mediocre in the scope of things).
In very limited release, the low budget superhero film "Defendor" comes out today. Woody Harrelson stars as possibly mentally-impaired regular Joe who, despite his lack of superpowers, decides to slip on some black tights and defend the streets from crime. The always adorable Kat Dennings co-stars. Depending on the reception on one screen in LA this weekend, the film should roll out to other markets in the coming weeks, but for those of you anticipating it, the DVD release is not far off. With Harrelson in the lead, it could be a shoe-string charmer and we're looking forward to a chance to check it out. RT has it at 64%, while Metacritic a score of 59.
Also out this week, the fantastic documentary "The Art of the Steal" from director Don Argott. It focuses on the story of outsider art collector Dr. Albert C. Barnes, who in 1922 created a foundation for his collection outside of elitist circles in Lower Merion Pennsylvania. Upon his death, the collection was entrusted to a small local college who find themselves in a war with the establishment to retain control. Check out our review from yesterday, it really is worth a look if you have the chance. RT: 80%, Metacritic: 76.
Also in theaters is the Kristen Stewart indie,"Yellow Handkerchief" co-starring William Hurt and Maria Bello. It has a 76% on RT. Lastly there's the indie film, "Easier With Practice" starring Brian Geraghty from "The Hurt Locker," which boasts a soundtrack that features Grizzly Bear, Deer Tick, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene and many more. It has a very strong 91% RT score.
Johnny Depp Joins Shane McGowan, Nick Cave And More For 'I Put A Spell On You' To Benefit Haiti Relief Efforts
Update: Video of the recording and a stream of the finished song have hit the web and you can have a look/listen below. It's actually not that bad (certainly far better than that "We Are The World" remake) and it's a pretty spirited version of an already very spirited original. If you like it, think about making a purchase of the single as all proceeds are going to relief efforts for Haiti.
With Haiti still reeling from a devastating earthquake, celebrities worldwide are continuing to throw their efforts behind projects that will help benefit the citizens who are still in dire need of food, water and medicine. But as far as celebrity projects go, this one is definitely the most out there.
The Pogues frontman, legendary drunk and dentist's best friend Shane MacGowan recruited a formidable group of players who recorded a cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic "I Put A Spell On You" last Friday in London. Among the participants were Nick Cave, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, the Clash's Mick Jones, the Sex Pistols' Glen Matlock, singer Paloma Faith and uh, Johnny Depp. And not just content to show up in the studio, sing a few lines, drink a pint and get his picture taken, Depp actually played guitar on the track.
The track will go on sale later this month with all proceeds to going to Dublin-based charity Concern Worldwide's Haiti relief efforts. Have a listen to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' version below (which was put to good use by Jim Jarmusch in "Stranger Than Paradise"):
"I Put A Spell On You" - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Taylor Lautner, who is like the Justin Beiber of young Hollywood actors these days, seems to be commanding a frankly baffling amount of attention lately. The latest news surrounding Lautner is that he's dropped out of the "Max Steel," to tackle "Stretch Armstrong." Why? Apparently, Habro has their shit together and Mattel doesn't.
Lautner was signed to "Max Steel" first but only after Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner watched SNL hosted by Lautner, where in the opening monologue he did backflips, cracked some jokes and was generally very pleasant, did he get on the phone and get a contract in place for "Stretch Armstrong." Universal, Hasbro and Lautner's agency WME moved quickly, getting Brian Grazer on board, making a decision to shoot the the film in 3D and securing a 2012 release date. Meanwhile, Mattel did -- nothing. Universal and WME continued to get projects moving foward, with schedules coming in place for "Risk," "Candyland" and "Battleship." Again, Mattel seemed stalled. Lautner eventually just made the decision to drop "Max Steel" and keep working with an agency, studio and toy company that actually manages to get films moving and in front of cameras quickly.
Lautner, of course, will next be seen in "Twilight: Eclipse" and recently signed on star in the "Bourne"-like thriller "Abduction." And we have to add that we have no interest in any of these, but a cinematic landscape littered with board game adaptations, toy franchises and Lautner films is certainly a frightening one.
Trailer: 'Perrier's Bounty' With Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson & Jim Broadbent, Film Arrives May 14
The trailer for the TIFF 2009 film, Ian Fitzgibbon's "Perrier's Bounty" has arrived. We're curious about this crime comedy, as it boasts a score by Steven Soderbergh go-to DJ David Holmes and features a solid cast including Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Jim Broadbent. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and according to Box-Office Mojo will hit theaters on May 14th via IFC Films which will undoubtedly be a limited release. Synopsis and trailer below:
When Michael’s (Murphy) debt to Dublin kingpin Darren Perrier (Gleeson) is called in and one of Perrier’s goons accidentally ends up dead, Michael escapes to the mountains with his father Jim (Broadbent) and best friend, Brenda. Flat broke, on the run and with only 24 hours to pay up, Michael is forced to confront his true feelings for Brenda and make amends with his father. However, with Perrier and his gang in hot pursuit, time is running out for Michael and only fate, a bit of luck and possibly a gang of savage dogs will save him, in this cracking gangster comedy.