Even author Stephen King thinks it's a toughie to film
Despite copious reports a few months back that "Harry Potter" duo, director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves (the pair worked together on the final three films), were set for the project, Deadline now reports that Warner Bros. has picked Ben Affleck to adapt and direct Stephen King's seminal novel "The Stand" for the screen. King's work is a big one - a grand post-apocalyptic drama that tracks warring factions (of good and evil, natch) in an America ruined by a super-flu developed by the government. It's a wonderful example of the genre, but it's a huge, sprawling epic - King himself has expressed doubt that it could be properly adapted for the screen.
The book has already gotten the television miniseries treatment in 1994. The results of that outing were mixed - while it made Gary Sinise a more recognizable star, and though Jamey Sheridan made a solid Randall Flagg (an evil character that reappears through King's work), it still had the production value of, well, a television miniseries. Back when Yates and Kloves were attached the project, they were set for a multi-film project, likely a trilogy. There's no word on whether Warner Bros. plans on sticking to that, but they would likely have to in order to do any justice whatsoever to the work.
Kloves was perhaps a more obvious pick for screenwriter - he adapted six of the seven Harry Potter films into a total of seven films, so he's certainly more adept at condensing down big mythologies. Affleck is currently filming his third film, "Argo," which is based on a magazine article, and his previous features "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town" were also based on novels, so while he's yet to attempt something of this magnitude, he's not a total novice when it comes to adaptations.
Are you a fan of Affleck's films? Do you think he's a good pick for "The Stand"?
The move comes too late for Debbie Reynolds’ recently sold-off collection of one-of-a-kind artifacts
I was thrilled to hear the news earlier this month that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was partnering with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to create a museum dedicated to the art of filmmaking. The long overdue museum will be housed in a 300,000 square-foot landmark structure on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire that used to be one of the May Company’s flagship department stores and is now owned by the Art Museum and called LACMA West.
But don’t start planning a visit just yet. While film buffs who have long bemoaned the lack of a serious movie museum in this town are encouraged by the news, there are still endless hoops to jump through before the Academy can start moving its collection into the historic structure. The biggest hurdle will be raising the necessary funds for the required renovations as well as the actual planning of the exhibits.
A spokesperson for LACMA said that the Academy hopes to sign a long-term lease for the facility, and will “retain autonomy over all aspects of its museum while benefiting from LACMA’s experience in managing a premier arts institution.” No timetable yet, but the plans are for the museum to feature both permanent and rotating exhibits.
I only wish the move had come a few years earlier and that the museum could have housed the amazing collection of movie costumes and memorabilia that actress Debbie Reynolds had been collecting for over 50 years. Reynolds spent decades trying to build a museum to showcase her priceless items. There were several close calls but nothing worked out in the end and Debbie was ultimately forced to break up her collection and start selling it off. The first major sale occurred this past June. I went to see the items which were on display at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.
The reality star/”actress” will appear in a sizable role in Tyler Perry’s next film
Okay, let’s not be haters here. I’ve never actually seen any of Kim Kardashian’s TV ventures, so I’m not in a position to comment on the bizarre phenomenon of her fame. Deadline reports that in addition to her continued involvement in various television shows and product endorsements, Kardashian has signed on to play a substantial role in Tyler Perry’s next project, a film version of his play “The Marriage Counselor.” The Lionsgate production begins shooting next week in Atlanta. Kim will play a character named Ava, the co-worker of the title character who gives her advice and a makeover as she struggles with her personal issues. Can Kim Kardashian act? Apparently she’s had small roles in two other films: “Deep in the Valley” in which she played a character named Summa Eve (ouch), and “Disaster Movie.”
Maybe this film will be the launching pad for a brilliant career in the cinema. Kim may find her niche as a powerful dramatic actress, win a slew of Oscars, and be honored with the AFI’s 2045 Lifetime Achievement Award. And maybe Elvis and Marilyn are really alive and living together in a motel in Barstow.
Oh well, I’ll try to reserve judgment on Kim’s acting chops, even though I’ve already commented several times on the agonies of Snooki, Kardashian’s sister-in-crime, appearing in the upcoming “Three Stooges” movie with her “Jersey Shore” cohorts.
But who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be interviewing Snooki about her bravura performance in the remake of “Sophie’s Choice.” I just hope it goes better than my actual encounter with the diminutive reality star earlier this week. I was walking to my car at the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles when I was suddenly flattened by Snooki, her entourage, and a group of ruthless photographers ignoring everything in their path as they strained to get a photo of Snooki and her boyfriend Jionni. I was literally moaning on the ground as the group stepped over me—it felt like a scene straight out of “Day of the Locust.” But I still had the wherewithal to whip out my camera and snap this photo of the clueless Snooki. Sigh.
Forgive me, film buffs!
'These traders ... imagined more money than ever actually existed. That's pretty imaginative.'
In J.C. Chandor's financial thriller "Margin Call," Paul Bettany ("Firewall," "Master and Commander") plays Will Emerson, a mid-level manager caught up in high-level machinations as a huge brokerage firm realizes that it's over-leveraged itself -- and decides to implode the entire system rather than face the music. Speaking by telephone, bettany spoke about what he learned about the world of high finance, risking his life in pursuit of a shot and his own thoughts about the gulf between the haves, the have-nots and the thin silver sliver of have-too-much at the very top.
So how exactly and what exactly do you get into the mental state of playing the apex predator of modern capitalism?
Bettany: I don't know. What did I do? I went and met a lot of traders and I tried to figure them out, and they were all bright, creative, imaginative, funny people. And that gave me pause for thought, because I suppose I was imagining some sort of dry robotic cold human being, and nobody like that showed up. So that was interesting. And then I kind of liked my character. I know it's really terrible to say, but I kind of liked him. I don't agree with him politics necessarily, but he certainly isn’t a hypocrite, and he is certainly honest, and certainly knows who he is. And I think he sees life as a sporting event, and it's his intention to be first through the tape. But if somebody else gets through the tape before, he's not all worried about it. I think he's competitive by nature, and I am not like that.
The character, Will, does have this slightly unrepentant air of, 'Now look they told me to play this game until they blew the whistles, so I'm going to play the hell out of this game.' Do you meet guys like that?
Bettany: Yeah, I think so. Well I mean, I think you meet guys who you know -- here's the thing, we've been all f##king the third world for centuries, you know nobody was complaining then -- its only when its come home to bite us in the ass, we're all up in arms about it. Right?
The “Cougar Town” star shines along with Richard Jenkins and Emily VanCamp in this must-see indie
While I am often grateful for the alternative experience provided by small, independent movies, a film like “Norman” makes me want to organize car pools to the theater and pass out free popcorn so that widest possible audience can see it and encourage the Powers That Be to continue taking a chance on such gems.
On the surface, “Norman” (which opened today in limited release) seems to tread the familiar territory of many coming-of-age indies: disgruntled teen, trouble at home, can’t fit in with his peers, crush on the cute girl at school, even a hipster soundtrack (by singer-songwriter Andrew Bird). What sets this film far above the pack, in addition to the confident direction by Jonathan Segal and the excellent script by first-time screenwriter Talton Wingate, are the pitch-perfect performances by Dan Byrd, Richard Jenkins, Emily VanCamp, Billy Lush, Adam Goldberg, and the rest of the cast.
Unlike the typical explorations of teen angst, Norman is facing some challenges that would rock anyone's world: his mother has recently died in a car accident and his father has made the decision to stop treatment for his terminal stomach cancer. Facing all that pain and loss, Norman finds some unique ways to cope. Most notably, he tells a friend that he himself is suffering from cancer and then starts mirroring his father’s symptoms. This news spreads like wildfire and provides Norman the attention that he simultaneously craves and abhors.
I had a chance recently to talk with Dan Byrd who is currently shooting the third season of “Cougar Town” (in which he plays Courteney Cox’s son, Travis). While Byrd had a nice role in last year’s “Easy A” opposite Emma Stone, he’s never tackled a part as big as “Norman”—he’s in nearly every scene. I asked the actor how it felt to be in his first leading role.
Dan Byrd: I was definitely nervous going into it. I’ve never had such a weighted acting responsibility, I’ve always been part of an ensemble. The only way I could ease the nerves was to prepare myself as much as possible. Being a small, independent film, we only had 21 days to shoot the film (up in Spokane, Washington) so it was all about being prepared and knowing where the character was supposed to be emotionally in each moment.
How did you get involved with the project?
Byrd: Well, the film was shot in June 2008—it’s taken quite a while to get it out there! I auditioned about a year before we actually started shooting. It was a long process but shortly after I got the part, I found out that this pilot I’d done for a show called “Aliens in America” got picked up. I hated to miss out on making this film but by then Jonathan had me in mind for the character and he was willing to wait for me. I’m incredibly grateful for that! So once my show show ran its course I was able to do the film.
The teacher and the student are both too wise for their own good
Jonathan Segal's festival darling indie, "Norman," revolves around the whipsmart Norman Long (Dan Byrd), a high school senior who is far beyond his peers. But Norman isn't just intellectually superior to the rest of the students in his high school, he's also emotionally advanced. Norman has recently lost his mom to a fatal car accident, and his dad (played by Richard Jenkins) is slowly dying of stomach cancer. That's probably why, from the outside, it looks like Norman's just a mouthy kid who doesn't care about much.
In this exclusive clip from "Norman," the titular character's quick wit and charming attempt to save a drowning (metaphorically speaking) classmate backfire quite spectacularly at the hands of his English teacher, Mr. Angelo. Played by Adam Goldberg, Angelo is just as sardonic and dry as Norman, so the two bring a real spark to what could be just a standard classroom debate. When Angelo bitingly equates Norman to a modern day Camus, it's half-funny, half-sad. And when Angelo apparently punishes Norman by volunteering the student for a school-wide speech, he unknowingly sets the stage for the secret at the heart of the film to be revealed to all.
"Norman" opens in select theaters today. Check out our exclusive clip after the break.
War-set romance is Angelina Jolie's directorial debut
But what she really wants to do is direct. Angelina Jolie has spent enough time in front of the camera on a very wide range of films, so it was only a matter of time before the Academy Award-winning actress decided to slide into the director’s chair instead. Jolie’s personal pursuits have long included those with a philanthropic edge, so it’s no surprise that her directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” isn’t some fluffy rom-com, but rather a topical war-set drama.
The film is set during the Bosnian war of the early 90s, and Jolie has pumped up the high drama and high stakes of a war flick by adding in a Romeo and Juliet style romance. “In the Land of Blood and Honey” features Zana Marjanovic and Goran Kostic as lovers ripped apart by the conflict, due to the fact that Kostic’s character is a Christian Serb and Marjanovic is a Bosnian. To add veracity to her project, Jolie cast Bosnian locals for the film, including a number of people who actually lived through the civil war themselves. Jolie also reportedly shot two versions of the film – one in English and one in Serbo-Croatian.
The first trailer for the film is mighty impressive for a debut - showing both the sensual side of the romance at the film's heart and some large-scale gunfire and explosions. Should this piece of marketing prove to be an accurate representation of the film, Jolie may very well prove to be a stunningly adept director, even with difficult material.
"In the Land of Blood and Honey" opens on December 23. Check out the first trailer for the film after the break.
'You make the movie that you make, and you just do it how you do it.'
Writer-director Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" is a film borne of a thousand pieces of good fortune -- from finding breakout star Elisabeth Olsen to play the title character, a woman on the run from a cult, to the fact that producer Antonio Campos just happened to have family property in upstate New York that would serve perfectly as the home base for the 'community' led by a fearsome-but-seductive John Hawkes. We spoke with Mr. Durkin via telephone.
Where did the first idea to do "Martha Marcy May Marlene" come from?
Durkin: I wanted to make a cult movie. Basically, I wanted to accomplish a naturalistic approach to, I guess what we refer to as a cult. And it really just started with that. I felt like it was something I hadn't seen before, and I wanted to get into that world – and I say that, because I never actually use the world cult -- even though it’s a word we have to use after to talk about it, because it’s the only thing that encapsulates it. It started then, and then I started reading about groups and meeting people, and then you know the specifics of the story and what I get passionate about within there, and you know follow it.
There's a great line in the film "Near Dark," and that it’s a vampire movie, where you never hear the word 'vampire.' And we never here the word cult in "Martha Marcy May Marlene." How much of when you write, is writing, and how much of it is cutting?