Two top spies fight for the love of Reese Witherspoon
Tarsem Singh's latest colorful epic focuses on mythological battle
Filmmaker Tarsem Singh has only crafted two singular and wildly expressive films in his somewhat brief feature film career, but both films (“The Cell” and “The Fall”) established the former commercial director as an emerging auteur to watch. Tarsem (as he often goes by) is currently working on one of two in-production Snow White films (his is the untitled one featuring Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, and Julia Roberts), but before his surely colorful confection is released in 2012, the director has a new release hitting screens this year.
Tarsem’s third feature is his biggest film yet, a 3D outing about an epic battle between gods and men. “Immortals” also has a star-studded cast packed with new and established talent, including Mickey Rourke, Henry Cavill (soon to be seen as Superman), Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz, John Hurt, Isabel Lucas, Frieda Pinto, Stephen Dorff, and Greg Bryk.
The film tells the Greek mythological tale of the ancient war between the God and the Titans. The Gods have long since imprisoned the Titans in the walls of Mount Tartaros, but the Titans are dead-set on revenge, and when the insane King Hyperion (that mangled Mickey Rourke to the right) declares war on humanity and goes searching for the Epirus Bow which will allow him to finally free the Titans and use them for his own aims, the stage is set for a battle like no other. Enter Cavill as the peasant Theseus, a mortal chosen by Zeus to defeat Hyperion, and Tarsem has all the pieces to make one spectacular film.
"Immortals" opens on November 11. After the break, check out another exclusive picture from the film, featuring Stephen Dorff, Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, and Greg Bryk as Starvos, Theseus, Phaedra, and Nycomedes.
The gang's back together again for more raunchy shenanigans
We're not kidding, that's the title of 'Die Hard 5'
Each country selects its own entry which is then viewed by a special committee from the Motion Picture Academy
Although the 84th Academy Awards presentation is still months away, this town is starting to get that familiar buzz. On Friday, screenings begin at the Academy’s headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard for the candidates for Best Foreign Language Film. Deadline reports that this year there are 63 contenders, two less than last year’s roster.
A few years ago, a friend of mine who is a member of the Academy served on the Foreign Language Film committee. The selection of the nominees for this category follows a different process than the other awards. The people on the committee must commit to seeing a good percentage of the submitted films or their votes are not counted. The year my friend served, I accompanied her to all of the screenings and was in movie heaven (especially since the vast majority of these films never get a theatrical release in this country). I loved it even though the process was a bit grueling—you have to stay for multiple films on any given screening day. The films are shown in the posh Samuel Goldwyn Theatre (complete with gigantic golden Oscars on either side of the stage) that naturally has state-of-the-art sound and projection. The only downside? No popcorn allowed in the theatre! I watched dozens of films and while I couldn’t vote, of course, I got very excited when one of my favorites made the final list.
According to Deadine’s Pete Hammond, the first double feature this week will be Aki Kaurismaki’s “Le Havre,” Finland’s official entry (even though the film is set in France), and “Patagonia,” the UK entry (in Welsh and Spanish) that tells of two parallel journeys to Patagonia and Wales. It will take three months to show all 63 entries. I like that the Academy voters have to see the movies in an actual theater instead of getting home screeners. I only wish the viewings were open to the public since my friend is no longer on the committee.
Hammond points out several of the highly anticipated screenings such as Israel's “Footnote” (Cannes screenplay winner), Iran’s much-praised “Separation,” and famed director Agnieszka Holland’s harrowing “In Darkness” (Poland’s entry). Some of the films may be challenging to sit through, such as Taiwan’s “Warriors of the Rainbow” at 4 hours and 24 minutes (oy), but the diversity of the films' topics and styles is always exciting to see. No word, yet, of the one entry I’ve seen: Norway’s “Happy, Happy” directed by Anne Sewitsky. As much as I liked that film, it probably doesn’t stand a chance since the Academy tends to veer towards epics or films with intense themes.
There are always controversies in this category. This year, there was a lot of tongue-wagging about Albania’s official entry, a film called “The Forgiveness of Blood,” because its director, Joshua Marston, is an American who was raised in Los Angeles even though the film was made in Albania about Albanian themes. The Academy’s Executive Committee met this week and declared the film ineligible. Marston was quite unhappy with the decision but the plot thickens. Albania will now be sending a film called “Amnesty” directed by Bujar Alimani, the very person who filed the formal protest against Marston’s film.
The Best Foreign Language Film category was created by the Academy in 1947. Since it began, 62 Oscars have been handed out, 51 to European films, 5 to Asian films, 3 to African films, and 3 to films made in the Americas. Italy’s Federico Fellini directed four of the winners, Sweden’s Ingmar Bergman directed three. While many of the films never became hits in this country, several became very well known. Films such as De Sica’s “The Bicycle Thief,” Kurosawa’s “Rashomon,” Tati’s “My Uncle,” Costa-Gavras’s “Z,” Truffaut’s “Day for Night,” and Schlondorff’s “The Tin Drum” were very successful with American audiences thanks, in part, to their recognition by the Academy.
What if you ended up in your favorite book?
Filmmaker Nora Ephron has made some beloved rom-com classics (including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” both of which she wrote and directed, and the script for “When Harry Met Sally…”), some seriously underrated comedic gems (“Mixed Nuts” and the script for “My Blue Heaven”), and recently rounded out her resume with the charming (if uneven) “Julie and Julia.” So what’s next for Ephron? Well, a period piece, of course! A period piece, sort of.
According to Variety, Ephron has been tapped by Sony to write and direct an adaptation of the 2008 British miniseries “Lost in Austen,” which is a modern spin on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” The miniseries itself was not a hit, but critics liked it, and Ephron should do well with the female-centric material.
The “Lost in Austen” series could ostensibly be classified as the sort of revisionist history that Austen’s work has been getting turned into as of late (see the dismal Seth Grahame-Smith book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” for proof of that), but the material Ephron is working from is much more light-hearted and fun. The original miniseries focused on Londonite Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), who found herself in a body-switching pickle with “Pride and Prejudice” heroine Elizabeth Bennett (played by the then somewhat unknown Gemma Arterton), thanks to a magic portal in Amanda’s bathroom. A huge fan of Austen, Amanda attempts to stick to the script, as it were, by trying to have events play out as they do in the novel, but all that is rendered moot when she ends up having feelings for the ever-dashing Mr. Darcy (Elliot Cowan).
Ephron’s take will move the present day action to New York City. There’s no word on casting yet.
Is this the actress' Oscar-winning role?
The film is a passion project for Close, who actually helped adapt the screenplay from Irish author George Moore, along with John Banville and Gabriella Prekop. The film has a wonderful cast beyond even the immensely talented Close, one that includes Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Brendan Gleeson, Janet McTeer, Johathan Rhys Meyers, Pauline Collins, and Brenda Fricker.
The four-year-old film starring Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, and Willem Dafoe is finally being released in the U.S.
When writer/director Dennis Lee was getting ready to make his first independent feature, an intense family drama called “Fireflies in the Garden,” he assumed he’d get a cast of unknown actors. Through an unusual series of serendipitous events, he wound up with a slate of respected A-listers that would make any director drool: Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hayden Panetierre, Ioan Gruffud, and Oscar winner Julia Roberts. One of the film’s producers knew Danny Moder who came on early as the film’s Director of Photography. Moder, who is married to Roberts, shared the script with his wife who was captivated by it and agreed to play Willem Dafoe’s beleaguered wife.
So how did a film with all that star power fail to get a theatrical release in this country for almost four years? Lee’s film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2008 and subsequently played in several European countries. As this was happening, however, the film’s American distributor went belly up and despite the best efforts by Lee and his team, they were unable to secure a release date in the U.S. Finally, the producers got the rights back and the film will open in several cities on October 14.
“Fireflies in the Garden” tells the story of the Taylor family. Charles (Willem Dafoe) is a domineering father who has a troubled relationship with his son, Michael (Cayden Boyd as a child, Ryan Reynolds as an adult). Michael’s mother, Lisa (Julia Roberts), loves her son and protects him as best she can, but she is suffering from putting her own dreams on hold for so long. When a tragedy strikes the family just before they are gathering for a happy event, years of frustration and resentment come crashing to the surface. The film is a searing portrait of a family in pain. When I sat down recently to talk to Lee, I asked him how hard it was to see “Fireflies in the Garden” shelved for so long.
Dennis Lee: To be honest, I’m incredibly happy that the movie was delayed for that amount of time. Of course, while it was happening I thought it was awful. I definitely had my moments when I thought, “I give up, I need to move on and do other things.” But then one of my producers, either Sukee Chew or Vanessa Coifman, would pull me back in and say, “No, we have to get this movie released in the United States and we have to get it with your cut.”
So the version we’re seeing here is different from what was shown in Berlin and throughout Europe?
Lee: Yes, that cut was something that was rushed for the Berlin Film Festival and so it was never something that any of us were really happy with. The new domestic version was much more of a collaborative effort, and it’s much closer to the vision of the film we had when we were shooting.