MSN Movies Blog

The actress to work with 'District 9' director

By Kim Morgan Jan 3, 2011 4:44PM
Here's an interesting bit of casting news.

After directing "The Beaver" starring Mel Gibson (a movie I can't wait to see -- no apologies -- it looks kind of amazing), Foster has gone back to actress again (though she plays Gibson's wife in "The Beaver" ... and that was verging on a "Naked Gun" joke for about a millisecond), for Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium."

Here's more from ComingSoon:

"[The movie] is set in the far future on another planet and is filled with many sociopolitical ideas.

"Blomkamp, who wrote and directed 'District 9,' is reteaming with Sharlto Copley for the sci-fi pic, which will also star Matt Damon.

"The Media Rights Capital project is produced by Simon Kinberg and hasn't been shopped to studios yet.


Six great New Year's moments in movies

By Kim Morgan Dec 31, 2010 11:39AM

It’s that screwy, depressing time of year again. The holidays. And they are almost over -- thank God, Satan, Gaspar Noe, David Fincher, Rooster Cogburn, whomever. I'm sticking with Rooster. I despise New Year's Eve parties, so I’m all set for the new year, 2011, safely tucked away in the middle of nowhere, away from the parties. Movies for me! Movies!

So, rather than think of the year ahead, I'm looking at movies -- those celluloid dreamscapes that offer fantasy, reality or a potent mixture of the two (or just that depressing party hat). And with these (lucky?) six pictures, we have some memorable New Year’s moments, moments many of us can relate to, become inspired by, feel disturbed by, dream about, yearn for, love or … give our brother a big kiss, particularly if he’s named Fredo. Chaos reigns.

"Rosemary’s Baby" (1968)

Though the New Year’s Eve moment in Roman Polanski’s (yes, more Roman) classic horror movie is brief, it provides an important transition for lead character Rosemary and her attempts toward personal freedom. Those attempts will be in vain, of course, but at least she tries, which, again, makes her situation incredibly sad (again, "demonized" Polanski makes one of the most touching stories about a woman). You know the story: Young mother-to-be Rosemary (Mia Farrow) has been impregnated with the child of Satan after her husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), strikes a deal with their eccentric, Devil-worshiping neighbors the Castavets (Sydney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon). Rosemary’s been on board with all of the Castavets' pregnancy tips, even agreeing to switch to Dr. Sapirstein (played by a condescendingly evil Ralph Bellamy), resulting in an unusual painful pregnancy. At the Castavets' New Year’s Eve party, Rosemary informs Sapirstein of both her intense pain and, unknowingly, the horrible situation she’s innocently stumbled into: “It’s like a wire inside me getting tighter and tighter.” After assuring her she’ll be fine, Roman Castavet rings in the new year with this frightening exclamation: “To 1966! To Year One!” Cut to Rosemary catching herself eating a piece of raw meat in the kitchen and thinking, something is very, very wrong here. But as I always say (when making any decision), what will Dr. Saperstein think? Poor Rosemary, her year will only get worse.

"The Apartment" (1960)

Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning dark comedy laid the groundwork for the running-to-your-beloved scene copied in later films like "When Harry Met Sally" and Cameron Crowe’s "Jerry Maguire." Here, it’s lovable squirrely Jack Lemmon receiving the run-to-you treatment, and he deserves it. As the too-nice office worker attempting to climb the corporate ladder, while being used by his sleazy bosses for his apartment (they cheat on their wives in his cozy bachelor pad), nice guy Lemmon falls for one of the “other women” (Shirley MacLaine), a flawed but ultimately warm human being who deserves to be treated with much more respect than cad Fred MacMurray is giving her. It’s during an especially depressing New Year’s when she comes to terms with how much of a heel MacMurray is and (duh) how sweet Lemmon is. Running out of her New Year’s celebration, she pulls the iconic movie moment of rushing to Lemmon’s apartment (where he sits alone) with smiles and tears in her eyes – she’s done the right thing. And it’s blissfully powerful -- especially when MacLaine's response to Lemmon's affirmation of amour is simply “Shut up and deal.”

"Sunset Boulevard" (1950)

There are certain critics (no, not all, but there are some) who believe Billy Wilder was cruel toward his characters, even blithely contemptuous of them, but I say he was merely a realist about the human condition. And as such, he was sympathetic toward his creations -- warts, scars, cigarette burns and all. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his masterpiece, "Sunset Boulevard," and especially during its important New Year’s Eve sequence. It’s here where we manage to feel sorry for both of the potentially despicable protagonists. Washed-up silent-screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), with her deranged, desperate attempts to re-enter pictures (for all "those wonderful people out there in the dark") has brought forth a younger, struggling screenwriter turned hustler, Joe (William Holden), and he’s become her kept boy, living in her rambling, ultra-bizarre (but gorgeous) mansion off Sunset Boulevard. He kids himself that he’s something of a writing partner, but he realizes the depth of his situation on New Year’s Eve, when his grand party turns out to be a waxed dance floor consisting of … Norma Desmond. This “sad, embarrassing revelation” that he’s the lone guest causes him to flee from a night in which he feels “caught like the cigarette in that contraption on her finger.” He runs to a “regular” party, with people his own age and excitedly makes the decision to leave Norma, but … he learns that she’s attempted suicide. With pangs of guilt, he returns, telling her, “You've been good to me. You're the only person in this stinking town that has been good to me,” which is unspeakably sad. When we hear “Auld Lang Syne” and she says “Happy New Year, darling” … oh, he really made the wrong decision. 

"The Godfather: Part II" (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary sequel to "The Godfather" finds favorite son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) expanding the family business, spreading it into Las Vegas, Hollywood and Cuba. But expansion comes at a cost – particularly to one’s conscience -- and Michael’s new year will reveal his new ideas concerning family and business. At this point Michael’s already alienated wife Kay (Diane Keaton), but Kay isn’t blood, and one would think (at least deceased Godfather Vito Corleone would think) that blood is thicker than … knowing Hyman Roth or Johnny Ola. Not so for Michael, who after learning troubled brother Fredo (a superb John Cazale) has lied to him, makes his deadly decision. In the midst of a New Year’s Eve party, Michael faces Fredo at the stroke of midnight, grasps his head tightly and plants the kind of kiss no one wants to ring the new year in with -- the kiss of death. In one of cinema’s most famous moments, Michael says: “I know it was you Fredo; you broke my heart.” Though Fredo’s days are numbered after this coldly threatening, though weirdly touching exchange, it is Michael who’ll suffer the most. The decision will linger in his soul until his last breath.

"The Poseidon Adventure" (1972)

In terms of big-budget, bloated all-star movies in which boats meet disaster-ridden, screaming-passenger consequences, "The Poseidon Adventure" is the mack daddy of them all. And the deed goes down on New Year's Eve. So how in the hell did I almost miss mentioning this one? I must have been so transfixed by rewatching Roman Polanski's wife's ripe body in that blue dress, writhing on the dance floor, that I managed to blank out my other enormous object of lust, Gene Hackman, TCB'ing on the U.S.S. Poseidon. So ... "The Poseidon Adventure" ... cheesy? Sure it is. Kind of ridiculous? You bet. Filled with stereotypical characters? Yep (and in the case of Ernest Borgnine, double yep). But, then, so is "Titanic," which some might consider the more serious cinematic boat catastrophe. Fine. But, hey, "The Poseidon Adventure" was nominated for eight Oscars -- and it won for best song, the infinitely less-annoying-than-Celine-Dion ballad “The Morning After.” The story sets sail when, quite suddenly, an underground earthquake flips over the luxury liner that should be enjoying its New Year’s cruise. The last group standing is an interesting bunch of disparate types who’ll have to work together in order to climb their way upward through the ship. Not easy. Especially with Shelley Winters involved. Leading the crew is not the ship’s captain (a pre-"Airplane!"/"Naked Gun" Leslie Nielsen, whom you can’t watch with a straight face) but a preacher played by, oh yes, Gene Hackman. Hollering at people has always been one of Hackman’s fortes, and his talent is utilized to great, hilarious effect as he corrals the rest of the bunch and screams at them to get their butts in gear to … live! Dammit! Like most Irwin Allen-produced extravaganzas, the cast is filled with stars -- old and new -- including Borgnine as a cranky cop, Stella Stevens as a former prostitute (who continually riles her hubby Borgnine), Carol Lynley as a freaked-out singer, Roddy McDowall as a waiter (one wonders who talked him into the role of waiter), Eric Shea and Pamela Sue Martin as the requisite kids, Red Buttons as the requisite oldster, and Winters and Jack Albertson as an old married couple. With deaths galore (and a few pretty mean ones at that), some impressive visual effects and a general feeling of chaos, "The Poseidon Adventure" surprisingly holds up well through time. And I love it when Stella Stevens quips, “I'm going next. So if ole' fat ass gets stuck, I won't get stuck behind her.” Ah, happy new year!

"Holiday" (1938)

George Cukor’s blissfully exultant movie is also curiously sad -- sad because you get the feeling that all of the explorative dreams its lead character, Johnny Case (a joyous Cary Grant), has, well, they might not work out in the real world. With that, it’s the perfect New Year’s movie, filled with fresh starts, all-night parties, dreams and happy revelations -- those things we make lists about before the clock strikes midnight and usually ditch a few weeks into the month. And a large portion of the movie does indeed take place on New Year’s Eve, during a society family’s party where Johnny is set to announce his engagement to wealthy Julia (Doris Nolan). But he’s falling in love with her luminous, down-to-earth sister Linda (a rapturous Katharine Hepburn) who digs his rather counterculture desires. The movie works subtly and elegantly, infused with an almost startling blend of comedy and pathos. As Johnny and Linda clearly fall for each other, even literally tumble for each other (in a jubilant scene, the two stars perform a beautiful bit of acrobatic talent) they leave us buzzed and charged up for something ourselves. But what? Is it possible to ever feel elation like that? Is it? I guess I can always hope for next year, but … doubtful. We can always do as Cary Grant does and try a little blind faith. Blind faith can get you through the night.


For J. Edgar Hoover biopic

By Kim Morgan Dec 31, 2010 11:26AM
Judi Dench? I'm in. (Have I discussed my James Franco-like love for Judi Dench? No? Perhaps in another post).

Anyway, ComingSoon learned via a site called "Sandwich John Films" that Clint Eastwood has cast Dame Dench in his newest film, the Dustin Lance Black-penned J. Edgar Hoover biopic "J. Edgar."

Here's more:

"In fact, they learned this when they asked about Charlize Theron's rumored casting in the movie, to which the filmmaker responded:

'We think she will be in the film, and Judi Dench is definitely in the film, and there we are.'


Actor toys with Hawkeye speculation

By Kim Morgan Dec 30, 2010 2:58PM
OK, I'm actually confused even after TheWrap has made things clear concerning the work of Jeremy Renner ...  I think.

Admittedly, I'm still contending with major sugar crashes due to copious cookie consumption over Christmas, not to mention Chinese dumplings (my parents live next to a family much like Eastwood's neighbors in "Gran Torino," and, boy, did they bring a lot of food over. Great food, God bless them all ... but I ate about as many dumplings as Oh Dae-Su in "Oldboy.")

Anyway, I'm wrapping my mind around this Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in ... how many movies? And, excuse me, this has nothing to do with "M.A.S.H."? They aren't remaking "M.A.S.H." because studio executives forgot it was a movie to begin with? What? (Where's that Russian tea ball?) Also, where's James Franco in all of this?

Here's more from TheWrap:

"Everyone knows that Jeremy Renner will play Hawkeye in Joss Whedon's "The Avengers," but that's not the first time we'll see the Oscar-nominated "Hurt Locker" star drawing the bow and arrow.

"Renner will first appear as Hawkeye in a cameo in the Kenneth Branagh-directed 'Thor,' TheWrap has learned.

"There has been a lot of confusion about whether Hawkeye would be popping up in 'Thor,' as Empire Online speculated in November 2009 that the character would appear at the end of the film, similar to how Samuel L. Jackson was introduced as Nick Fury at the end of 'Iron Man.'


'If I was a betting man, I would bet that Hawkeye would probably show up in 'Thor,' and then be in 'The Avengers,' Renner told Empire. 'But do I know for sure? I can’t say. But I’d love for that to happen. It’d be fun.'

"However, just a month later, Renner told Movieline that there was "no truth" to rumors of Hawkeye first appearing in 'Thor.'"


Death reports once again prove to be hoaxes

By Kim Morgan Dec 30, 2010 12:24PM
My unsteady feelings about all those mosquitoes (including myself) fluttering around Twitter, using limited characters, spilling private news and joking about things that require a deft writing style and comic timing to convey ... jokes, continues.

I love it. I loathe it. It freaks me out.

Particularly with these rumors (you may have heard them yesterday), reported by TheWrap.
"Twitter and other social media portals flared up Wednesday afternoon with news that Owen Wilson died in a snowboarding accident in Switzerland.

"It turned out to be utter nonsense, of course -- just like earlier reports that Charlie Sheen and Adam Sandler suffered the exact same fate this holiday season.  

"'Absolutely false,' Ina Treciokas, Wilson’s spokesperson, told TheWrap.  'I spoke with him earlier. He's not in Europe.'"


THR talks to David O. Russell about his temperament -- and his temper

By Kim Morgan Dec 30, 2010 12:07PM
The Hollywood Reporter continues its terrific roundtable series, discussing movies and the work that goes into them with actors, directors and producers.

Here, editors talk to "The Fighter" director David O. Russell, a notorious hothead but a wonderful filmmaker, who discusses some of his famous on-set feuds -- with some regret: "I'm not a tactful or political person ... to my own detriment."

Watch below:


IFC picks them!

By Kim Morgan Dec 30, 2010 11:40AM
IFC is done with the top 10-list thing -- for 2010, apparently. So to make up for the year-end-list lust that seizes us all, they've already listed a string of films they think will be the best of 2011.

They're even ballsy enough to title it "The Top Ten Films of 2011."

They do follow with the parenthetical subtitle: "Or At Least Those We Think Will Be Really, Really Great." They really have to cover themselves regarding Sean Penn in drag. Who I'm starting to think looks really effing cool at this point.

Here are two of them:

"'This Must Be the Place'

Directed by Paolo Sorrentino

Though not yet known much outside of his home country or the festival circuit, Italian auteur Sorrentino received considerable acclaim -- including a Cannes Jury Prize and even an Oscar nomination for best makeup -- for 'Il Divo,' his 2008 tale of political corruption. In his follow-up English-language debut, Sean Penn stars as a retired rock star on the search for his father's torturer, an ex-Nazi war criminal who is hiding in the U.S. Frances McDormand also co-stars. What might be the result is anybody's guess, but the pairing of Sorrentino and Penn is reason alone for great anticipation.

"'The Dangerous Method'

Directed by David Cronenberg

The last time Cronenberg tackled the medical profession, we got the eerily creepy 'Dead Ringers.' The idea that the Canadian maestro is now taking on the birth of psychoanalysis should send shivers down your cerebellum. Based on a play by Christopher Hampton called 'The Talking Cure,' the film stars Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud (he never looked that good), Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung and Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein, a patient of Jung's who was also a huge influence on both their theories. A sort of ménage-a-trois of the mind, the 'Method' has all the components of a wonderfully disturbing psychological thriller."


2010's memorable movie moments

By Kim Morgan Dec 29, 2010 2:49PM
Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy have once again done MSN's annual Moments Out of Time feature, a list of scenes, gestures, flashes, monologues, songs or buckets of water floating downstream (see "True Grit") that made so many great (or even not-so-great) films interesting in 2010.

It's a terrific read. Here's a start:

- The wall that is, and isn't, there: "The Ghost Writer" ...

- In the hills at night, car lights on a distant curve of road: "The American" and "Let Me In" ...

- Gold-brown chicks cupped in Teardrop's (John Hawkes) palms; memento mori in "Winter's Bone" ...

- The nub of a dark quill growing out of Nina's (Natalie Portman) shoulder blade: "Black Swan" ...

- "You'd do that for me?" — a line spoken to, and later by, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in "The Social Network"; the addressee not getting it in either case ...

- Nic (Annette Bening) getting lost in singing Joni Mitchell's "All I Want" during a dinner party — "The Kids Are All Right" ...

- Catherine Keener's cheekbones in "Please Give" ...

- "Hereafter": Three blocks away, down the street, trees are falling: Marie's (Cécile De France) first awareness of the tsunami ...

- Mattie's (Hailee Steinfeld) bucket floating away downstream after she sees Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), "True Grit" ...

- Stretching away from his dead arm to dabble his toes in a spill of sunlight ... Aron Ralston (James Franco), sometime during "127 Hours" ...

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