Clooney will co-star with Ryan Gosling in the political morality tale
Based on Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North,” multi-hyphenate George Clooney is bringing the political morality tale to the screen, starring himself and a fantastic cast, including Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Marissa Tomei, and Max Minghella. Clooney’s take on the play will be released under the title “The Ides of March,” and is already set to premiere on August 31 at the Venice International Film Festival.
The first trailer for the film has been released, and it serves as a solid first look, especially in terms of introducing the major players of the film’s story. Though Clooney is getting top billing here as Mike Morris, a governor campaigning for the presidency, the plot of “Ides” truly belongs to Gosling’s character, Stephen Myers. Stephen’s official title within Morris’ campaign is press secretary, but he’s much, much more than just that – he’s the brains behind Morris’ entire operation. Within the first ten seconds of this first trailer, Stephen’s philosophy is laid bare – he believes in doing the “right thing” (sometimes). The film plots some of the most important days on the campaign trail, as Stephen finds his loyalty called into question by a number of outside influences – other staffers, a sexy intern, a reporter out for a big story, and another campaign.
Willimon’s play is loosely based on the 2004 campaign of Howard Dean, but some of the biggest similarities that are fairly obvious in the play seem to have been sloughed off in this new version. I saw the play (twice, it was just that good) back in 2009. Gosling’s role was played by Chris Pine (whose theatrical experience is rarely discussed, which is a shame, because he’s magnetic on the small stage), with Chris Noth playing the character Hoffman will portray in the film. It’s a dynamic, engaging work, and it really toys with the ideas of hubris, pride, ambition, and loyalty to heart-stopping effect. I hope that the pounding sense of urgency and involvement that runs through the play translates to the screen in Clooney’s version.
How do you make a gripping sci-fi film with no money?
When they were shooting their new indie flick “Another Earth,” director Mike Cahill and co-writer/star Brit Marling clearly had no budget to speak of. They used Cahill’s mother’s home in Connecticut, they borrowed cars from family and friends, and they engaged in guerilla filmmaking techniques to get the shots they needed.
Marling described some of their tricks on a recent interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” When the film’s main character, Rhoda Williams (Marling) is seen leaving the prison where she’d been incarcerated for a drunk driving episode that killed a little boy and his pregnant mother, they did not have the financial means to secure a prison location for the scene. What to do? Go to an actual prison building…and shoot fast! With cameras trained on the front of the facility, Brit grabbed a yoga mat and waltzed through the main entrance, cheerfully announcing that she was there to give the prisoners a yoga lesson. After a few blank stares from puzzled prison officials, Marling simply dropped the yoga mat and walked out of the building as Cahill’s cameras turned. The required shot was in the can!
In some cases, the lack of an adequate budget might sink a fledgling film, but for “Another Earth,” a brooding, introspective look at how individuals with once-promising futures grapple with sadness, guilt, and redemption, the budget challenges may have helped create the tone that gave the film such a buzz at Sundance and sparked a bidding war for the rights (Fox Searchlight is distributing the film).
Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth will play opposite Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence
As a nod to the rabid fans of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, Entertainment Weekly has released the cover of this week's issue, featuring a first look at Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson in character as Gale Hawthorne and Peeta Mellark, respectively.
Collins' wildly popular three-book series imagines a future where the world has been changed by a global war, and North America has become Panem, a collection of various "districts" that live under a strict rule by the Capitol. The government of Panem is so obsessed with keeping its citizens indebted to its leaders that all districts are stringently divided and only capable of producing one or two main exports. The people of Panem are at the mercy of the Capitol, a fact only hit home by the annual Hunger Games. During the yearly event, each district is forced to send one male and one female "tribute" to the Capitol to battle each other in a wickedly designed arena. And it's real battle - to the death. Only one tribute can live. It's all part of the Capitol's plan to keep everyone terrified and under its thumb.
The books' central character is Katniss Everdeen, the female tribute from District 12. In Gary Ross' film adaptation of the book, Katniss will be played by Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence. Peeta and Gale are, ostensibly, the men in her life - and the two characters with which she forms an uneasy love triangle. Peeta is the male tribute from District 12, a clever and sweet baker's son who professes his love for Katniss early on, but it may just be a rouse. Gale is Katniss' best friend, a tough older boy she hunts with who may see her as someone who's more than just a reliable archer.
This first look, though not much to go on, does show that the boys have adopted looks that match their characters' descriptions in the books. Gale is tough, strong, and manly. Peeta is younger and sweeter, but still ready to battle. Hemsworth and Hutcherson have both changed their hair colors for their roles, as Gale is a dark-haired and Peeta is blond. There was some fan outcry when both actors were cast, as fans of the books railed against both actors for their unsuitable looks (Lawrence also suffered some backlash). As a fan of the books, I think that Hemsworth and Hutcherson look much better than expected. And while something like hair color may be a minor detail in the grand scope of things (and the books in "The Hunger Games" trilogy certainly open up into their own grand scope), it does show that Ross and his team are dedicated to presenting a vision that will (hopefully) suit and please fans.
"The Hunger Games" will be released on March 23, 2012. If the film does well, expect it to turn into a four-film franchise. Fans of the books, what do you think of this first look?
"The title's a blessing and a curse; the trick is to make a good movie."
You've had a great career -- great early films, great films now. But at what point do you wake up and go, 'I guess I'm the go-to guy for your $100 million movie?'
Favreau: What's nice is that I think I could survive a bomb and still work, which is a big deal in your career. Most people aren't at that level, so thanks to "Iron Man" and hopefully this one, I'm at a point where I'm going to be making movies for a while longer. Every morning you wake up, whether you're an actor or a director, you have instilled in you this sense of anxiety that 'If I slip, I get thrown out of the party.' It's true to some extent: Your career is constantly being evaluated; there are lists that the studios make of who's good. Then, are you plugging into an idea that you don't love? I've been very fortunate that I've only worked on projects that I'm passionate about; they've all been things I've loved, and I haven't been compromising -- even for the little films. I've been very blessed to be able to bring all of my passions to bear on the projects that I work on.
'G.I. Joe' sequel will take its mid-summer tentpole slot
Ralph Fiennes continues to explore his dark side
What’s an actor to do after playing “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” the former Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort? Only one role I can think of—Hades, King of the Dead and God of the Underworld.
Ralph Fiennes, after his delicious scenery-chewing stint as the Dark Lord in multiple Harry Potter films, is reprising his role as the Greek God everyone loves to hate in the upcoming sequel to “Clash of the Titans.” This time Fiennes gets some fabulous long locks and loses the Michael Jackson nose. Though they may have similar ambitions, Hades is an absolute Hottie compared to the skeletal Voldemort.
What’s that you say? They’re already making a sequel to the poorly received “Clash of the Titans?” That 2010 film was itself a remake of the cheesy 1981 classic starring Harry Hamlin as Perseus and featuring a distinguished group of paycheck-seeking Greek Gods from Sir Laurence Olivier and Claire Bloom to Dame Maggie Smith. That film epitomized the phrase “It’s so bad it’s good!” and played an important role in movie history as the final film of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. Former sex goddess Ursula Andress played Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, and, true to her name, began a torrid affair during the filming with Harry Hamlin, 15 years her junior. She became pregnant and gave birth to their son at the age of 45 (Greek Gods apparently don’t know from fertility issues).
The recent remake featured Sam Worthington (of “Avatar” fame) as Perseus and allowed Fiennes to reunite with his “Schindler’s List” co-star Liam Neeson as those wild-and-crazy brothers, Hades and Zeus. While the original film was not exactly a darling of the critics, the remake fared much worse. Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone" summed it up by calling the film “a sham, with good actors going for the paycheck and using beards and heavy makeup to hide their shame.”
But with a net gross of over $61 million on its opening weekend, and an unbelievable worldwide total of nearly half a billion dollars (mostly from overseas markets), Warners Brothers was hardly going to let a rash of negative reviews put the kibosh on such a guaranteed payday.
Some of the reviews of “Clash of the Titans” criticized the 3D technology that was added after the fact, never a very effective approach. The sequel, which picks up the story of Perseus 10 years later, is being shot in 3D from the get-go, and will be directed by Jonathan Liebesman who most recently helmed “Battle: Los Angeles.” Titled “Wrath of the Titans,” the film will be released on March 30, 2012. Following that film, Ralph Fiennes goes from Hades to yet another super-villain in the next James Bond flick. To avoid permanent typecasting, Ralph, may we suggest a 2013 rom-com opposite Anne Hathaway?
'You feel terrible laughing, but you laugh anyhow.'
With her shock of hair and distinct features, Julianne Moore's possessed of a charm as distinct as her talent -- able to jump from raw, risky indie projects ("The Kids Are All Right," "A Single Man") to big-scale studio diversions fueled by her charisma ("Next," 'The Laws of Attraction"). In "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Moore's the wife whose decision to leave ruins Steve Carrell's world -- and yet, her character's determination may not be as firm or as fully-thought out as it first seemed.
'Crazy, Stupid, Love.' is this really interesting blend, because there's a lot of funny stuff in it, but it all comes form this strong, principled, emotional realism. How tough is it to get that balance?
Moore: It's fun, actually. I have to say, with everything -- all acting -- you're trying to find an emotional truth. The challenge with comedy is to find emotional truth with timing, as they say. The emotional stuff comes naturally if you're seeded in the character and story, but then the fun part is put into kinetic spin on it. I enjoyed that, and sometimes I think tonally life is closer to comedy than it is to tragedy, because we laugh our way through tragedies; we make jokes. It's not as even as our film dramas tend to be. It's exciting and challenging to find that tone in a film.
Do you find in life, as in the best comedies, the funny place is also the dark place?
Moore: Oh God, yes. Absolutely. Somebody was saying something about crying and it being funny -- I said, 'Crying is always funny, believe it or not, if you have some distance from it.' If you remember 'Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,' she's crying in a cab -- she's actually sobbing and sobbing, and you can't stop laughing. You feel terrible laughing, but you laugh anyhow.
Is "based on a board game" now a genre?
Can someone please call me when the Connect Four movie gets greenlit? I’ll just be over here working on my Twister feature film. I also have a really solid idea for a Double Trouble flick, with a special 4D “Pop-o-Vision” gimmick. I’m looking for investors – care to roll the dice with me? Okay, that's more than enough on the puns, I'll lay off until a tiny silver dog comes bouncing over to me and asks if I know where Park Place is located.
Peter Berg has inexplicably made his own board game feature, this one based on the classic Battleship, a game that everyone knows just for its super-fun tagline: “I sink your battleship!” It’s this year’s “I drink your milkshake.” Berg’s “Battleship” follows a wily young Navy boy (Taylor Kitsch) who starts up a secret affair with his superior officer’s (Liam Neeson) daughter (Brooklyn Decker), against Neeson’s wishes and demands. It’s oddly similar to “Armageddon,” but without the asteroids. But don’t think for one minute that there’s not something otherworldly afoot because, ahem, aliens.
That’s right, “Battleship” will not see two standard battleships facing off while beautiful people kiss each other tearfully back on the mainland, it features aliens. Was there not some other existing property that was more applicable for this adaptation? Sea Monkeys or something? However, Berg is definitely on to something here - big explosions! lots of battles! romance! "Battleship" is just the sort of crazy popcorn flick that's perfect to kick off a summer movie season, and it will, when it opens on May 18 of next year.