Why you should be getting excited about their collaboration
Henry Cavill faces off against Mickey Rourke in a mythological epic
Want to see Superman in action before "Man of Steel" comes out in 2013? Henry Cavill plays a stonemason pitted against King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) while the Gods of Olympus look on in "Immortals." Director Tarsem Singh — best known for visually stunning films with short titles ("The Cell," "The Fall") — helms the Bronze Age brutality. Check it out:
On the Epic, the Intimate, and Shoulder Pads
With its low-wattage cast and Brit-lit pedigree, no one expected "An Education" to become a hit -- but it did, garnering Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress Carey Mulligan and Best Picture. Director Lone Scherfig returns to the fields of British literature with her newest film, 'One Day," based on David Nicholls best-seller, following two people -- Anne Hathaway's Emma and Jim Sturgess's Dexter -- through two decades of their lives by checking in with them every July 15th. We spoke with Scherfig in L.A. about boiling two decades down to two hours, the surprise success of "An Education" and how the changing film industry makes it harder and harder to make films about, and for, grown-ups.
How did you become aware of David Nicholls' novel?
Scherfig: He had written the script before I was involved, so I drafted the script and then read the book. It was the other way around. I spent a lot of time here at that time, and the book wasn't out in the United States -- or in Denmark, where it wasn't out, either. It was in all the bookshops in London and all the windows and all of the counters. It was very quickly very popular. It's a great book; it's now on the bestseller's list here again. It's a good read.
In a lot of ways, it's got to be the emotional equivalent of a page-turner: You want to know what happens next.
Scherfig: You like them very much; you enjoy being with Dexter and Emma. They're easy to identify with. The structure where you check in on them on the same day every year forces, the structure he has forced upon himself, makes him make strange decisions or interesting decisions about what happens when you do meet them. Of course that had to be turned into something that was cinema in a way so that you feel it can only have been done as cinema so you don't feel you've been watching an adaptation and where you forget that it's a book and it feels like a film.
Hollywood and history, critics and comfortable lies
In this Sunday's L.A. Times, critic and writer Stephen Farber contributed a piece called "Middlebrow, eh? Well, more please," lamenting the cold critical reception offered by some to "The Help," opening with the statement "If it had been released 50 years ago, "The Help" would have been the cinematic event of the summer. " According to Farber, something changed, and for the worse, "when a new generation of critics decided that once-disreputable genre pictures -- film noir thrillers, screwball comedies and low-budget westerns -- had been slighted while the press was slavering over movies with weightier themes."
Farber notes that "The Help" is in the same tradition as "such Oscar-winning films as 'Gentleman's Agreement,' 'All the King's Men,' 'The Defiant Ones,' 'Judgment at Nuremberg,' 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'In the Heat of the Night.'" Farber concludes by saying, "here's my advice to today's persnickety critics: Don't be ashamed to champion humane, emotionally satisfying films that dare to tackle subjects that matter. In other words, let's hear it for the middlebrow." (Farber is arm-in-arm with other commentators, like David Poland at Movie City News, who think that "The Help" is getting unfairly berated and belittled.)
And while I don't think of myself as persnickety -- and while I regard Mr. Farber's work -- I was more confused by his article than convinced, and I can tell you why. The simple fact is that, to paraphrase Mr. Farber's opening sentence, if it had been released 50 years ago, "The Help" would have been a commentary on the issues of the day, not a cozy narcotic of nostalgia. (All the examples Farber cites, as well, were either films about their present day or a look back of 10 years. Movies like "The Help" and "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Invictus" say racism was a problem -- but not anymore, and not now, and mostly thanks to white people.)
This sweet "Jane" is a magnificent production
"Jane Eyre" (Universal), the new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's beloved Gothic romance starring Mia Wasikowska as the fiercely self-possessed governess Jane and Michael Fessbender as the darkly attractive and grimly tormented Edward Rochester, is the best kind of reminder why the classics remain alive after centuries and can be effectively remade every generation or so.
This one comes from American director Cary Fukunaga and British screenwriter Moira Buffini, both interestingly making their respective second features in an American/British co-production. The otherwise beautiful and buoyant Mia Wasikowska is amazing as the plain Jane who glows with the fire of intelligence and a sense of self-worth that the most soul-crushing abuse can't smother. Michael Fessbender makes the most of Rochester's grandly cinematic entrance, charging into the film and into Jane's life with all the power of an untamed animal. The dark shadows over his spirit and the gruff edges under the moneyed manners makes him all the more seductive, which of course puts Jane on her guard even as it slowly seeps through her defenses.
Shot on wind-scoured landscape of the chilly highlands of Northern Britain, this new incarnation embraces the gothic gloom and lonely isolation of the novel but, like its stoic, strong heroine, never gives in to the darkness. It is gorgeous but never what you would call pretty. And for all of Jane's careful social front, never letting her true feelings show through, she is forthright and true and unfailingly honest.