The Weinstein Company
Before The Butler, few people knew anything about Eugene Allen, the fascinating inspiration behind the film's Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker. Though we've seen plenty of Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and MLK, there are tons of similar lesser-known historical figures out there who have lived exciting, influential lives. It might just take a well-scored, sumptuously costumed biopic to bring one of these historical unknowns into the spotlight.
Elisha KaneKane was a U.S. naval officer who journeyed into the Arctic twice, trekking across the ice for 83 days and saving many lives through his bravery and medical skill.
Adele AstaireThis story has serious romantic and musical potential; Adele Astaire was considered a far more talented performer than her famous brother Fred, but chose to give up show biz when she fell in love with a British lord.
Empress MyeongseongKnown as Queen Min, which is also what I would call the biopic, this 19th century Korean feminist used her position as the emperor's wife to wield diplomatic power, form alliances, and encourage the modernization of Korea.
Edward BernaysThough there has already been an excellent documentary made about Bernays, the advertiser who shaped modern consumerism deserves a lavish dramatization, perhaps starring Martin Freeman.
Amos Bronson AlcottThe father of better-known Louisa May, Amos was far ahead of his time; he was a vegan, a women's rights activist, an abolitionist, and a teaching reformer who attempted to create an Eden-like utopia for himself and was revered by Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
On Friday, a judge sided with filmmaker Woody Allen in his lawsuit against former business partner Jean Doumanian and her boyfriend and business partner, Jacqui Safra. Allen is suing both Doumanian and Safra, claiming they cheated him out of profits on eight movies since 1993, including Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, Deconstructing Harry and Small Time Crooks. According to The Associated Press, Justice Ira Gammerman disagreed with the defendants' position that the films were an extension of a three-picture agreement they had with Allen in computing profits. The case is scheduled to resume today.
Newspapers reported Sunday that Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger could be headed for knighthood. The News of the World and the Sunday Times both reported that Jagger will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth in her honors list next weekend, but a spokeswoman for the British government told Reuters they never comment on honors until they are published.
Eminem reportedly brought in his old car, a purple Ford Mustang, for trade-in last week at a Detroit-area dealership. According to the AP, Eminem's uncle brought the car in to Russ Milne Ford while the rapper waited outside, where one of the workers recognized him. Russ Milne said it is considering selling the car and donating the proceeds to charity. Unfortunately, the car's $7,000 stereo system and Cobra tires were removed prior to the trade.
Former teen idol Johnny Depp is in talks to star in two action pics for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The two-picture deal with the Walt Disney Co. would have Depp working with Bruckheimer on Takedown and Pirates of the Caribbean, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Depp last starred in the historical thriller From Hell by director Albert Hughes.
Fritz Lang's 1927 expressionist film Metropolis will premiere at the Film Forum in New York on July 12, Variety reports. The new version, a digitally restored 35mm print, premiered at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival as a work-in-progress, with the final reel of footage still unrestored.
It looks as though Brad Pitt's big-budget sci-fi epic The Fountain is set to begin production soon after a change of co-financiers. The film, budgeted at upwards of $70 million, will be directed by Darren Aronofsky from a script he co-wrote with Ari Handel. The film is being produced by New Regency and Warner Bros.
New Line Cinema is in talks with Antz scribe Todd Alcott to write the live-action adaptation of the adventure series Samurai Jack. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will be directed by Rush Hour 2's Brett Ratner.
Two songwriters have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia against Britney Spears, her publishing company, Zomba, and her record company, Jive Records, claiming they own the copyright to a song on her Oops!...I Did It Again album. According to Sky News, Michael Cottrill and Larry Wnukowski say they wrote the song "What You See Is What You Get" in 1999 and want recognition for the tune.
Herman Cohen, the originator of the teen fright flick, died of throat cancer at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on June 2, Reuters reports. Cohen produced the 1957 cult classic I Was a Teenage Werewolf, which launched the late Michael Landon's career. Cohen went on to produce six more teen horror pictures, including I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and How to Make a Monster. Cohen is survived by a brother and sister.