Depression-era photographer took some of the period's most iconic photographs
David Fincher is reportedly set to executive produce a film about one of America’s most talented female photographers, Dorothea Lange, a truly talented woman who unintentionally provided one of the most iconic photographs of the Depression. The film’s script will come from Angela Workman, who previously wrote the adaptation of “The Zookeeper’s Wife” for the 2013 film, along with the screenplay for recent release “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.” Workman is also responsible for the script for “Brontë,” an original film based on the lives of the Brontë sisters. It’s clear that Workman’s wheelhouse is very much historical films with a feminine bent, so this seems like a crack assignment for her.
Lange is best known for her iconic photograph, “Migrant Mother” (shown at left), which the photographer captured in 1936 when she was working for the Resettlement Administration. Lange worked as a photographer for the RA from 1935 and 1939, and she was tasked with capturing the myriad migrant workers who had moved to California in search of a better life. While Lange’s work was meant to show the promise of life in California, she ended up using her lens to document the immense poverty and horrible conditions of the migrant workers. It is often Lange’s photos that spring to mind when images of the Depression and the Dust Bowl come to mind.
But the photographer contributed much more to the world than just her Depression-era images. Lange also documented the post-Pearl Harbor internment of Japanese-Americans to similarly haunting and upsetting effect, as well as being a member of the faculty for the first fine art photography department at CSFA and one of the founders of photographic magazine “Aperture.” And while Lange’s professional accomplishments are already impressive on their own, she did them all as a survivor of polio. Variety reports that film will “chronicle the life of Lange,” so here’s hoping it covers all of the major elements of her amazing life.
Dorothea Lange is truly an American icon and it’s wonderful that her life is finally going to come to the big screen. While there’s no word on who will direct the project, with a tremendous filmmaker like Fincher backing it, we should expect a great team to form for this production.
UPDATE: Writer Workman herself chimed in below (awesome) with the news that producer Leslie Dektor is directing.
Includes rare footage from Ken Kesey’s psychedelic cross-country trek
I was a little kid during the heyday of the hippies and so wished I could don my beads and Nehru jacket and head to Haight-Ashbury for the Summer of Love. Instead, I was forced to hang out with a bunch of pre-pubescent squares. What a bummer!
But now, thanks to “The Magic Trip,” a documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) and co-director Alison Ellwood, we can all feel as if we were there at the dawn of the movement.
In 1964, counter-culture icon Ken Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip on an old school bus painted in bright psychedelic colors. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a group of renegade truth-seekers that included Neil Cassady, a major figure from the Beat Generation who was immortalized in Jack Kerouac’s classic, “On the Road.” Cassady became the driver of the bus and participated with the rest of the Pranksters in a series of wild adventures. Tom Wolfe wrote about the trip in “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” and Kesey himself shot a bunch of 16mm footage for a documentary about the group’s mind-expanding pursuits. But the film was never finished and very little of the footage was ever seen by the public.
Gibney and Ellwood were given unprecedented access to the amazing raw footage by the Kesey family and have produced one of the most entertaining, visually stunning, and accurate depictions of this tumultuous time in American history. The documentary, which also features Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, and the Grateful Dead, opens in theaters on August 5.
Take a look after the break.
Latest Muppet caper reunites the old gang against a a new foe
Multi-hyphenate Jason Segel has never been shy about expressing his love for the Muppet gang. This year, Segel’s dream of heading up an all-new Muppet feature film is finally coming to fruition, as he starring in “The Muppets,” a project that he has also co-written and executive produced. It's been a labor of love for the funnyman, who seems determined to honor the legacy of Jim Henson and the Muppets, so fan of the puppets should be in for a real treat.
“The Muppets” sees Segel’s Gary and Amy Adams’ Mary hitting Los Angeles with stars in their eyes, only to find that the evil Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is going to tear down Muppet Theater in order to drill for the oil beneath it. Mounting a plan to stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever, they end up reuniting the classic Muppets, long-estranged and toiling away in various jobs that don’t capture even an ounce of the magic of the Muppets. The film has a giant cast that also includes Mila Kunis, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrik Harris, Emily Blunt, Zach Galifianakis, Katy Perry, Ricky Gervais, Rashida Jones, John Krasinski, Danny Trejo, and Whoopi Goldberg.
The final poster for the film has now been released and it's a fuzzy, felty affair that shows Gary, Mary, Walter the strangely Segel-alike Muppet, and all the classic Muppets we know and love. Will they succeed in saving Muppet Theater? Well, probably, but they’ll likely be quite charming while doing it. “The Muppets” opens on November 23, 2011.
Are you a Muppet fan? Are you excited about this latest chapter? What is your favorite Muppet film?
Take a break from the blockbusters and see one of these newly released gems
Feel like going to the movies this weekend but you’re not interested in cowboys and aliens, you can’t stand crazy stupid lovers, and you can give a rat’s ass about a bunch of little blue men? You’re in luck! You can ditch the blockbusters, grab a large bucket of popcorn, and settle in to watch several excellent films opening today in cities around the country. You may have to hunt a little harder for these gems but at least you’re more likely to get a seat at the last minute.
Here are some films to look for:
Attack the Block. This British science fiction/horror film won the Midnight Feature Award at this year’s South by Southwest Festival as well as an Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Directed by Joe Cornish, it's an odd look at of a group of South London thugs who terrorize their neighborhood until they suddenly encounter a band of alien creatures that drop down from the sky and seem intent on going after the street gang. While battling the invaders, the British thugs learn some important life lessons and get a taste of a different kind of future. This film was well received in England and has been heralded by critics. Ben Rawson-Jones of Digital Spy gave the movie four stars and said “it is exactly the kind of distinctly homegrown product that the British film industry should be making.” Screen Gems, the American distributor, was so worried that audiences here wouldn’t be able to understand the working class London accents that they contemplated adding English subtitles. Is this the film that “Battle: Los Angeles” should have been?
Why Ethan Hunt's December shuffle seems like a shot in the foot
The actor will again use his most evil charms as a comic book villain
This summer has already seen two great, albeit very different, performances by Kevin Bacon in villainous roles. In “X-Men: First Class,” he played enemy of mutants Sebastian Shaw with scenery-chewing glee, and this week’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” sees Bacon starring as a perfectly slimy “other man” to Steve Carell’s nice guy husband. Bacon has now added another bad guy role to his resume, as he’s in final negations for the villain role in Robert Schwentke’s “R.I.P.D.”
Based on the Dark Horse graphic novel, “R.I.P.D.” already has Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges signed on to star in the film about the “Rest in Peace Department.” The story revolves around an otherworldly (underworldly?) police department made up of undead police officers. They patrol the “deadbeat” and report to no less than the devil himself. Reynolds will play a murdered police officer who trades one hundred years of working for R.I.P.D. for the opportunity to find the man responsible for killing him in the first place. The reports comes from Variety and only lists Bacon's role as "villain," so it’s safe to assume that Bacon is that responsible party.
Funnyman Zach Galifianakis was originally slated for Bridges’ role, but had to leave the project due to scheduling conflicts. While it would have been fun to see the comedian buddy around with Reynolds, the inclusion of such actors as Bridges and Bacon adds more weight to the project and should likely improve its overall quality. Bacon has played some great bad guys before – from his murderous turn in “The River Wild” to his sadistic work in “Sleepers” to his gloriously nutty role in “Hollow Man” – so he can absolutely deliver the goods.
Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi have adapted the script from Peter M. Lenkov’s graphic novel. “R.I.P.D” will hit theaters in 2013.
'Riding with a gun, and riding in a dress, was very different...'
The title's great, but what made "Cowboys and Aliens" more than just the title for you?
Wilde: The people involved; knowing that I would be working with such an amazing creative team really interested me. I knew it was Favreau, who I adore and I've been a fan of his since "Swingers" -- I love him as a director, I think "Elf" is one of the greatest Christmas movies ever, and I watch it every year. I love what he did with "Iron Man": He elevated that genre and made it really smart and interesting. In the way Christopher Nolan did to "Batman," I thought Favreau had redefined the event movie in a way. I knew he was the right man for this job; I knew that (Producers) Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer were involved and they were all passionate about this. I knew everyone was trying to make a real movie: This was not a kitschy, wink-wink movie, it wasn't "Wild Wild West" or "Jonah Hex." It's a real Western, and you can tell by the way they cast it, I think: People like Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano -- really amazing actors. I felt very lucky being invited to that party.