Friday, 27 April 2007

Fantasy films and the degree in difficulty

There are so many fantasy films that are being made, thanks to the success of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. However ,since those films and to a lesser degree the Harry Potter franchise, everything else in the fantasy genre has failed.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” were ok, but it did feel a little too sugary, and perhaps should have been made even darker (imagine if Guillermo del Toro had done it!).
Eragon and Path Finder flopped big time, which makes me realise that of all the genres of film, fantasy is the hardest to pull off. The most recent acclaimed film was del Torros “Pan’s Labyrinth” which was deserving of all the kudos it received, but was also not purely a fantasy film.

I think failure is mainly because in order to hold cynical audiences attention, and to make it believable, it needs to be ground in an organic reality while stirring your imagination. LOTR was so successful because it not only appealed to children, but it appealed to adults even more. The magic used was not too fantastical, only done sparingly and the creatures were all based on natural history (unlike George Lucas and his creatures pieced together by bits of insects, dinosaurs and mammals – like The Wuzzles ).

What we have coming up is a slew of films that could go either way. “Stardust” got a rave review from Harry Knowles , but he is not often taken seriously.
His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass looks to thrill, but could be a disaster if the lead child actress is awful in it, and also if it feels too much like a children’s film. If Nicole Kidman can pull off evil, then watch out. A lot of the success will ride on her performance.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is in pre production, so lets us hope it adult-fies the source material since the people who originally read the books are now adults, and I doubt they want to be pandered too.
Then we have “Beowulf” about The Scandinavian warrior Beowulf who must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing towns, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge, directed by Robert Zemeckis. Advance stills look impressive, and lets hope the dark source material does not get covered in glitter and effects to hide a lazy screenplay.

Looking to the future there are some exciting movies coming up. So if you are looking to 2008, here you go:
”An Affair of Scorcerers”, “Dante’s Inferno”, “He Man”, “The Spiderwick Chronicles”, and finally Where the Wild Things Are.

Trailer Park

Well it is time to see what is new in the world of the movie trailers. As the summer approaches, we will be getting more and more of the high brow Oscar bait trailers to view. People say to never judge a book by it’s cover, but a good trailer can give great insight into who will be the big players come awards season. Remember Helen Mirren in the trailer for “The Queen”? Every knew it was her year from that. Remember how lack luster the trailer for “Dreamgirls” was? Remember how we took one look at “The Last King of Scotland” and we all knew.

First off is the the trailer for “The Golden Age”. Expect this to be huge, especially for Cate Blanchett and Samantha Morton who is considered by many to be the front runner for Best Supporting Actress. To early you say? Well early front runners for this category have included: Jennifer Connelly – “A Beautiful Mind”, Catherine Zeta Jones – “Chicago”, Renee Zellweger – “Cold Mountain”, Cate Blanchett – “The Aviator” and Jennifer Hudson – “Dreamgirls”.

Next we have Goodbye Bafana. Based upon the infamous book written by the prison guard who spent day in day out with Nelson Mandela during his lengthy prison sentence. The film follows that relationship between Mandela (Dennis Haysbert) and the racist white guard (Joseph Fiennes) assigned to him and the changes they both go through. Small film, but if the performances are right it could do well. The trailer doesn’t really hint at that though.

Whilst fishing on holiday away from their Australian home-town Jindabyne, Irishman Stewart Kane (Gabriel Byrne) and three other men see a dead girl in the river. For some reason, they decide to keep fishing and only report their find many days later. The disturbing behaviour shown by Stewart, terrifies his wife Claire, (Laura Linney) who was the last to find out, and makes her strongly doubt her relationship with him. In an attempt to show sympathy to the victims parents, she distances herself from her husband, family and friends, whilst also faced with a vengeful family, whom she is desperate to help. Looks interesting, and one can always count on Laura Linney. The trailer looks very intriguing.

And even more!

Nicole Kidman is a busy busy woman. She has two high profile films coming out this year. “ The Invasion ” a remake of “ Invasion of the Body Snatchers ” for Warner Bros. Pictures, “ Margot at the Wedding ” for Paramount and New *cough* Line’s “ The Golden Compass ” in which she plays the films central villian, which is a nice change of pace for our Nicole.
There is a possibility she could be nominated for one or two of these films, depending on how competative the year turns out to be for actresses, and how well the films in general are received.

After a few disappointments, both commercially and critically, it would be nice to see Nicole back on track. She has amazing acting ability, but she does seem to come off as quiet and cold on screen. Even in her warmest moments in “Moulin Rouge” you could still sense the chill in the air. I guess being contractually married to a gay leprechaun for all those years would freeze one up a little. Here is hoping some good ole Australian meat will melt her.
With “Margot at the Wedding” we should see a warmer Nicole emerge playing a mother who takes her son visit her sister over the weekend, in a story about coming to terms with one's family in distress, and oneself. Written by the very talented Noah Baumbach, who knows how to write fully drawn and realised characters.
She also had “Need” coming up where she plays a suicidal patient having an affair with her therapists (Naomi Watts!!) husband. And finally, what everyone is waiting for and chomping at the bit to see, the wonderful and visualistic Baz Luhrmann come back with “Austrailia” with Hugh Jackman (yummmm). Baz directing Hugh and Nicole in an Australian epic….I am there!!

The main reason for this post is because Nicole Kidman is going to the altar with 20th Century Fox for a remake of " How to Marry a Millionaire ".
Sacha Gervasi , who wrote Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal," has been tapped to pen the screenplay, which will be a contemporary-set reinterpretation of the Marilyn Monroe classic.
Yet another remake.
See what I mean….fresh out of ideas is ole Hollywood.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

And More Remakes

But this one sounds more promising than the one outlined in my previous post, and qite frankly, most of the remakes out there (Ron Howard doing ”Hidden” - you have got to be joking!!
I have yet to see ”Brothers” but have heard wonderful things about it, and have been meaning to see it for a while now. It was one of those movies that has always been on the back of my mind to rent, but I keep forgetting to.
So before I continue let me go and add it to my Love Film list and through the magic of the internet it will be delivered to my door.

Now the original starred the ever lovely Connie Nielsen and was directed my the wonderful Susanne Bier (who we will see direct Halle Berry in “Things We Lost In The Fire”) was not seen by many outside of the film loving world……I have been publicly shamed.
The story involves two brothers -- one an officer in the Army, the other an ex-convict -- whose lives are irrevocably changed while one tries to cope with the scars of war while his troubled younger brother, becomes increasingly drawn to the first brother's wife.

Sony Pictures have announced that Jim Sheridan will direct a remake. I greatly admire this man, and “In America” is one of my favourite movies and those who where there know I broke my “never cry in a cinema” rule, and sobbed for hours afterwards.
I can imagine him doing good things with this, and hold out hope that he will succeed.
Sources close to the project say that Sheridan's involvement is expected to attract three A-list actors to the cast in the upcoming weeks.
Now with all these remakes happening, I need to do some research on what original screenplays are being made.
I mean, lets face it, the Original Screenplay category at the Oscars is by far the more prestigious.

Remakes, remakes everywhere

Ever since the whole “Lord of the Rings” controversy with Peter Jackson, my daily opinion of New Line goes down faster than a cheerleader at a frat party.
With this news, I have to wonder if there are no more original stories out there. Is the world out of fresh ideas?
New Line has signed Queen Latifah to topline a remake of "All of Me," the 1984 comedy that starred Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin. The original "All of Me," directed by Carl Reiner, starred Tomlin as a dying heiress whose soul inhabits the body of a successful attorney, played by Martin. This time Wanda Sykes is in talks to play the Tomlin role. Is it me or are they just remaking old white comedies, and casting black actors, changing the setting, and dialogue a bit and adding some R-n-B and hip hop and calling it a black film? I am sorry, but that is just lazy.
Then again it will probably make millions.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as I do love my Latifah, but could her talents not go to better projects? She has some interesting ones coming up. She plays Motormouth Maybelle in ”Hairspray”, is currently working on ”Mad Money” in Louisiana along with Diane Keaton, Ted Danson and Katie Holmes. However I do miss the Latifah who stole my heart in films like “Set it Off” and “Living Out Loud”.
So I pose a question:
What film should be remade and star Queen Latifah?

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Box - The bloggers juke box

If you lovely ladies and gentlemen look over to your right you will see my box (not that one you filthy minded people). This box will allow me to share music I love and am listening to at the click of a button.
This is a wonderful little web gadget that I discovered over at The Film Experience (y'all know the link by now, if not scroll down and look on the right hand side).
So, yes, I have ripped off someone elses idea, but good ideas are always going to be ripped off.

This weeks selection is:

Bloc Party - Waiting for the 7.18
M.I.A. - Bucky Done Gun (pictured)
Snow Patrol feat. Martha Wainwright - Set Fire To The Third Bar

Hope you enjoy.

Depressed suicidal artist bio pic alert!!!

Upon first meeting my lovely BF, I read him ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and he read me ‘Tales of the City’. He laughed so much at my book, he thought he would buy me a book he thought was similar that I would enjoy. "The Bell Jar" tells the story of Esther Greenwood, a young reporter who seeks to make a name for herself in New York but spirals into depression and moves back to Boston. She eventually undergoes electroshock therapy and makes several attempts to take her own life….so….not exactly like ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’. Bless him. I read the back and that is about it. I was in my comedy phase then...guess I will have to pick it up and read it.

The novel is a thinly veiled account of author Silvia Plath’s life, and will star “10 Things I Hate About You ” star Julia Stiles, who will also produce.

Book is dark, but it is said the project will emphasize some of the more uplifting elements. "Esther Greenwood has a strong outlook on life, and we're really looking to bring out the humour in the character," Plum Picture's Celine Rattray, who will co-produce, said. "We don't want to do a depressing descent into the world of suicide."

Hmmm, so they are going to do a “Miss Potter” version of The Bell Jar, how will that work? Will they have happy little cartoon manifestations of her depression? Then again there are so many bio pics about suicidal artists (“The Hours”, “Pollock”, “Fur”, “Sylvia”- a straight forward bio pic on Plath starring our Gweneth, and on and on) that one has to wonder if we really need another. However it would be nice to see Stiles tap into some of that promise she showed in films like “The Business of Strangers”.

Hopes do not hold high for this. I guess I am just overly cynical of the whole awards bait of literary adaptations and portraying real life people, unless it is the Freddie Mercury bio pic (When will that happen???). I guess we will have to wait and see what happens with this, but it is interesting at how many of these types of movies are being made, most likely in the hope of catching Oscars eye.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Who will have doors opening for them?

The lovely Sasha Stone of Oscar Watch has a great article about who will be getting awards attention this year. But before I link you over there I wanted to give my thoughts. So many people are already predicting front-runners, and a few of them get through to the end.
What is near impossible is to predict those smaller, break out, performances. Last year bought us Rinko Kikuchi , Adriana Baraza , Ryan Gosling and Mark Wahlberg . This is what is exciting about the awards race, no one knows who is going to come along and surprise everyone and steal a movie.
Remember Amy Adams ? I hope there are more of those this year, just to break the monotony.
I recommend taking a look at who Nathaniel Rogers over at The Film Experience has in his advance predictions.

Over to Oscar Watch
”Can historical costume dramas have sequels? Is “Hairspray” bound for the Oscars or the Razzies? Can Johnny Depp sing, or will it be a failure of Gerard Butler-like proportions? (Worst. Phantom. EVER!) All of these questions and several more must be answered before any responsible predictor would consider making any calls. Luckily for you, I am not responsible.”

Continue reading over at Oscar Watch

The Oscar bait of 'Revolutionary Road'

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are teaming up again (I know old news) for Revolutionary Road, directed by Kate’s hubby Sam Mendes.
If this does not scream Oscar bait then I do not know what does.
This has all the callings of the type of film the Academy LOVES!
Oscar calibre cast…check.
Respected Director…check.
Adaptation of beloved literary novel to make the academy feel high brow…check
Plus so much more!!

There is also news of the casting of fellow Titanic alumni Kathy Bates. It will be good to see Bates with another role, and we know what she can do with supporting work (steal the film) and I wouldn’t be surprised if she found herself up for Oscar nomination number four in 2009. (Beloved veteran actor…check)

Set in 1955 (period costume…check), the novel focuses on the hopes and aspirations of Frank and April Wheeler, self-assured Connecticut suburbanites who see themselves as very different from their neighbours in the Revolutionary Hill Estates in which they have just moved. (American setting…check)

April Wheeler (Kate Winslet), with her thespian ambitions and her plans to move to Paris, is doomed, ultimately, to failure. (actor, playing actor…check)
Her fantasies about Parisian life are the more absurd for being supported by her belief that her husband is fluent in French but he knows the language hardly at all, he once drunkenly boasted about his proficiency. (Suffering wife...check...the Academy loves this type of role more than any other)

Frank Wheeler's (Leonardo DiCaprio) sense of his lawless masculinity coexists with his bland acceptance of a futile corporation job. To cope with his failings he often drinks too much and finds himself engaging in an affair with a co-worker. The narrative details the day-to-day lives of this couple and their concerns for their future. (drug dependency and extra marital affair…check)

Basically it will be pretty tough for this to fail in all aspects. The Academy are going to be looking at rewarding both DiCaprio and Winslet, and this looks like it could be the one to do it.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Something pretty to break the Monday blues.

Not is the best mood today and movie news is few and far between (unless you really care about box office figures..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.).
My poor cat Murphy is not well at all, and with her being in her twilight years, I am a bit emotional, a bit like poor Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal. Why do we get pets? In times like this it just seems like needless pain, although I love my little girl more than my luggage.
She will be fine!!!!
Anyway, in order to cheer me up I decided I needed something pretty to look at, and it is in the form of Rodrigo Santoro, that stunning beauty who captured my loins in “Love, Actually” and made me hate Laura Linney for taking that phone call. WAS SHE MAD????
Anyway, here he his….sigh.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

New International Harry Potter trailer

Not the biggest Harry Potter fan out there (Really should read those books) but I have to say this does look rather exciting. I do hope this installment is more like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban than the other 3 installments. Whether it is or not does not really matter Box Office wise though.
View the trailer here!!!

There is nothing Ugly about Betty.

So much has been made about America Ferrera, and her ugly drag on Ugly Betty.
People have been praising the show for not succumbing to the unrealistic ideals of how a women should look, and it should be praised, even if Betty is the only woman on the show who does not bend to the size ‘0’ requirements.

What I am personally happy about is that the lead star, America Ferrera, as not gone out and hired a personal trainer and dietician in light of her new found fame. She hasn’t crumbled under pressure.
On the show she is consistently endearing, bringing heart and soul to a character that could easily be a cartoon. It is a shame that Hollywood had to first make her ugly so that she could be seen as beautiful, since it was always there.

When she first came into the spotlight, it was for her award winning turn as ‘Ana Garcia’ in 2002’s wonderful ‘Real Women Have Curves’. The basic premise is centers on Ana, who refuses to succumb to popular-culture's super-model ideal. The recent high school grad also is struggling to reconcile the values of her Mexican-American background, while trying to keep her independence and self-expression.
This is something that America has stayed true to in her career, always paying homage to her heritage as well as her size. She had some of the most moving scenes in 2005’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as the mixed race sister of size, visiting her white father and his new white and skinny family.

If you have been reading my blog before, you will know what movie role I would love her to play if given the chance, but she seems to have a focused idea of how she wants to use her fame.
On looking at her IMDB profile, she has some interesting movies coming out this year, Hacia la oscuridad, Muertas,La Misma Luna.
These are all low profile movies centred around her heritage, and not high profile ones based around her bank account. It is a shame there are not more young actresses out there like her.