May 31, 2013 7:23am EST
Forest Whitaker has been tipped to play civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. in a new movie. The Oscar-winning actor is said to be in talks to tackle the lead role in Memphis, a new film by Paul Greengrass, the British director responsible for two Bourne films.
The movie will recount the final days of King's life before he was assassinated in 1968 and will be shot in a documentary-style format similar to Greengrass' 9/11 movie United 93.
Whitaker is currently favourite to take the coveted role of King, according to Thewrap.com.
May 18, 2013 9:04am EST
British director Paul Greengrass has urged officials in the U.K. to intervene after plans to expand the iconic Pinewood Studios were rejected, insisting it is in the "national interest" of the country to boost the movie industry. Bosses at the facility, where the James Bond films are shot, had proposed a $310 million (£200 million) scheme to extend the studios onto nearby land in Buckinghamshire, England and warned the work was necessary if Britain was to attract big productions in the future.
Officials at South Buckinghamshire District Council turned down the plans on Wednesday (15May13), but The Bourne Supremacy moviemaker Greengrass has urged them to reconsider their decision.
He tells the London Evening Standard, "We have to make strategic decisions for the economy and for generations to come. It's not about special treatment... It's an economic issue. We're not over-blessed with industries that create jobs and are global players. Our film industry is one of those. Film production in Britain is at bursting point. They're having to turn business away. Pinewood is the perfect site to expand.
"It has been going for more than half (a) century, it is close to London and an airport. Where else is there? We can't put film studios in central London. Expansion at Pinewood would create growth, create jobs and opportunity for young people.
"What does it say to the world about one of our major industries if we don't support growth? Are we in such a strong position that we can say no to up to 4,000 jobs? I don't think so. We simply can't afford not to support something when it is clearly in the national interest."
May 08, 2013 2:01pm EST
When you think of Tom Hanks you probably think of all his Oscars or Hollywood royalty or Joe Versus the Volcano. You don't necessarily think of him as an action hero. But that seems to be what he's playing in Captain Phillips, the new movie from Bourne trilogy director Paul Greengrass.
Based on a true story, Hanks plays Capt. Richard Phillips, who faced off against a crew of Somali pirates who took over his ship in an international incident in 2009. Check out Hanks dodging bullets, running for cover, and facing off against the enemy in the movie's first trailer below.
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February 22, 2013 3:46pm EST
"Too soon!" It was a literal cry that rang out when trailers for Paul Greengrass' United 93 — an unflinching dramatization of the events that unfolded aboard the hijacked United Airlines flight that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 — played in theaters. As Newsweek reported, the response to the preview was so upsetting to movie patrons in New York City, that it was pulled from certain theaters. The Oscar-nominated United 93 was released in 2006, five years after the tragic events of 9/11, but for many, the nerve of that terrible day in American history still felt too raw.
While United 93 was a cinematic achievement (it has a staggering 91% on Rotten Tomatoes), the hard-to-stomach drama only made $31 million at the domestic box office. That same year, Oliver Stone's notably less critically beloved World Trade Center did better at the U.S. box office, bringing in $70 million. But, with the exception of Michael Moore's anti-Bush administration documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 (the Palme d'Or winner made $222 million worldwide), no post-9/11 narrative film has been able to appease both wary critics and audiences alike.
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They have either been too divisive (Reign Over Me, and, of course, Stephen Daldry's 2012's unexpected Best Picture nominee Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which earned just $31 million at the box office and has a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where it's described as "treacly and pretentious") or too exploitative (see: Robert Pattinson's Remember Me) in the past decade to accomplish that. Leave it to Kathryn Bigelow — who turned a suspenseful, if uneasy film about the Iraq War into a Best Picture winner (The Hurt Locker) — to turn the tables once again.
Just 17 months after the killing the al-Qaeda leader, which executed the attacks on America on 9/11 Osama bin Laden, Bigelow's Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty was released. To date, it has made over $88 million, was one of the best critically received films of 2012 (it wound up on over 200 Top 10 lists), not to mention one of the most talked-about and debated films in post-9/11 cinema.
Paul Dergarabedian, Hollywood.com's box office analyst, says the reason why Zero Dark Thirty has clicked with audiences and has the potential to cross the $100 million mark is actually quite simple. "I think because of what this event is and what it represents — the capturing and killing of bin Laden — is one of redemption, of national pride, of hope for the future," he says. "Movies that were related to an unresolved issue and how it effected the U.S., that's not escapist entertainment."
"But, in its most pure form, Zero Dark Thirty is [about] escapism and redemption and validation," Dergarebedian adds. "I think that's why it's doing so well and I think the timing for this is better. It's been over a decade, there is enough time and space between 9/11 ... I think Zero Dark Thirty is just the right movie at the right time."
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Maura Spiegel, a professor of American Studies and English at Columbia University, who agrees that Zero Dark Thirty touched on the wish fulfillment aspect of our collective movie going psyche, adds, "We are pretty hungry to understand this war and understand who these people are. To me, one of the primary differences between this story of bin Laden, and 9/11 is that we're not grieving bin Laden's death. The sense that this was an American victory story, as opposed to a tragedy."
But the sense of closure that came with bin Laden's death in the chapter of 9/11 history (Spiegel noted that the film fed some moviegoers' "hunger to see" the actual killing of bin Laden) wasn't just what made Zero Dark Thirty a must-see film. Bigelow's action drama, which stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as a CIA operative relentlessly tracking down bin Laden, has been plagued by controversy. (The film has been under investigation by the Pentagon and the Senate Intelligence Committee.) Those very discussions allowed moviegoers and critics alike to face big, if not unanswered questions. As Spiegel puts it, "Movies about subjects like this are quite preoccupied with questions: Who is the enemy and who are we?"
Author, theorist, and chair of the Philosophy of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, Douglas Kellner, who had a hard time getting past the torture sequences and calls the film a "very uncomfortable experience," says that unlike the Vietnam War era — which had "very little footage of the war and it usually came in days after the event" — this post-9/11 world consumes media differently. "All the media, cable news channels, the Internet, blogging, YouTube — [with] all of this media talking about current politics, there's just mega-interest in contemporary history and people knowing about these events like the killing of bin Laden," Kellner says.
NEXT: Are the torture scenes too soon or just too much?
"I think audiences want contemporary history, whether its political or social. I think people are ready," Kellner adds. "They see so much through the Internet and television and social networking that they're ready for Hollywood to jump right in. I think people are intrinsically patriotic, but if you overdo it and sentimentalize it, it's corny. However, if you do it well ... it definitely works."
Don Mann, a former Seal Team Six member and training officer and author of books like Inside Seal Team Six and the recently released Hunt the Scorpion, loved the film and praises it for allowing the public to see what Seam Team Six is like without putting the team's identity in harm's way. Mann appreciates that Zero Dark Thirty gives viewers an unprecedented look into government and armed forces, particularly the CIA and the SEALs. "I really thought for a Hollywood movie, and we've had some pretty bad Hollywood SEAL movies like Navy Seal, they did an incredible job," Mann says before adding, like so many others, "Except for those torture scenes."
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According to Mann, the brutal scenes were "grossly over-exaggerated." And those scenes are hindering some audience members' ability to truly enjoy the film. "There's still a debate going on about torture and about how to deal with terrorism," Kellner says, echoing Spiegel, who says, "The representation of the torture raised questions for me"). So while Zero Dark Thirty may have avoided the post-9/11 pitfall of feeling "too soon," perhaps the open wound of the topic of torture didn't. How do we come to terms with that dark page that is still very much open? (Not being able to answer that question, or not providing an easy answer for it, could explain Bigelow's otherwise inexplicable Best Director snub).
Still, if anything, that raging debate and those very moral questions that it has raised has only made Zero Dark Thirty the water cooler film it's become. "Like they say, there's no such thing as bad press, and it's pretty much true, particularly in this case," Dergarabedian points out. "At the end of the day, the numbers don't lie and the fact that a movie based on this subject matter is doing so well proves not only what an important movie it is, but what a good movie it is."
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[Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures]
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December 16, 2012 4:15am EST
The movie star turned down the chance to star in a fourth film and Jeremy Renner took over the lead in what became blockbuster hit The Bourne Legacy earlier this year (12) - but Damon insists he might not be done with Jason Bourne just yet.
And even though he feels producers may have "taken the Bourne series out back and shot it in the head" with the plotline of the latest film, the actor is still interested in exploring another installment.
He tells Playboy magazine, "I love the character, and the three movies we did, so I'd love to figure out a way to do another one. I'm going to talk to Paul Greengrass about it."
But he doubts a new film would bring him and Renner together: "I don't see those characters teaming up with anybody."
Damon also admits he still hasn't seen The Bourne Legacy - but he plans to.
He adds, "Jeremy Renner is a terrific actor. I love everything he does. I have not seen the movie yet, but it isn't in protest or anything. When it came out last summer, I was filming a movie about Liberace right up to the end of August. We then had to rush back to New York, where we live, so we could get the kids settled and into school."
November 08, 2012 12:15pm EST
"I was always open to doing it with (director) Paul Greengrass and they never had a script... What happens in these big budget movie is they'll get a release date and they'll book everybody's time and they'll just send you off to a location with no script and that's your problem and you've gotta figure it out... I didn't want to put myself in that situation again because that takes years off your life." Matt Damon on turning down the latest Bourne franchise movie.
October 11, 2012 1:15pm EST
Damon stepped aside after starring in three movies when studio executives and director Paul Greengrass fell out over the proposed story line for a fourth film, and Jeremy Renner and director Tony Gilroy replaced the pair in summer (12) hit The Bourne Legacy.
Renner has often hinted at the possibility of teaming his character, Aaron Cross, up with Damon's Bourne in a future film, but the original franchise star insists the plot of Legacy has ended his involvement in the films for good.
Despite previously stating he would be interested in another Bourne film as long as Greengrass is onboard to direct, Damon now tells Movieline.com, "Because they (writers and Tony Gilroy) use our actors and characters... whatever they said (in Legacy) is true and so we'd have to acknowledge it in any Bourne movie that we'd do.
"That makes it really tough. I don't think we can do the Dallas (TV drama) it-was-all-a-dream scenario. I don't think the audience would go for that after they paid money to see a movie."
Patrick Duffy's Dallas character, Bobby Ewing, was re-introduced to viewers in 1986 - after leaving the show the previous year - when he stepped out of the shower. His character's wife, played by Victoria Principal, realised Ewing's death and everything that had come after it during the previous season had been a dream.
August 27, 2012 8:52am EST
Star Wars is not reserved for eras and galaxies long dead — thirty-five years after the release of the original movie, the various chapters of George Lucas' culturally unparalleled space fantasy series are still winning theatrical spots. In February, Lucasfilms brought Episode I – The Phantom Menace to the big screen for a 3D incarnation of the 1999 flick, and a new announcement from the Star Wars Facebook page informs fans that Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith will get the same treatment. Episodes II and III will be released in theaters in 3D on September 20, 2013 and October 11, 2013, respectively.
The back-to-back releases might be a bit of a surprise, due to the initial implication that the studio might release one film per year, spacing the releases out as large cinematic events. What it really looks like they are doing now is pushing through the prequel trilogy following the underwhelming box office performance of Phantom Menace 3D, and setting up to resume a more grand approach to each of the original trilogy films when their times come.
Phantom Menace 3D came out on February 10, against the successful trio of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Safe House, and The Vow. The latter two far exceeded their box office projections, with Journey 2 maintaining the top spot through the opening weekend, as assumed. While a big brand like Star Wars was expected to outperform titles like Safe House and The Vow, it was perhaps the alternative 3D option of Journey 2, the exciting word of mouth surrounding The Vow, and Phantom Menace's negative connotations from most Star Wars fans that contributed to a meager intake. Phantom Menace 3D earned only $43,456,382 in total domestic grosses.
Episodes II and III are more strategically placed, set up to release against films like Ron Howard's Formula One film Rush, and Paul Greengrass' Somali pirates movie Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks (respectively). However, the movies aren't quite in for an easy ride: presently scheduled for the weekend prior to Attack of the Clones' release is The Little Mermaid 3D. Additionally, the week prior to Revenge of the Sith, the highly anticipated 3D Sin City sequel is scheduled for release.
Beyond this, the simple quality of the second and third episodes of the prequel trilogy should warrant a step up from Phantom Menace performance: both films are widely considered superior to Episode I. As are pretty much all other films in the history of cinema. Although the studios do seem to be approaching the back-to-back release with a less emphatic attitude, hoping to get to A New Hope as quickly as possible, they are likely in for a better turn (thanks to this more strategic placement, as well as to the quality of the movies themselves) this second/third time around.
[Photo Credit: Lucasfilms]
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August 15, 2012 6:17am EST
Whenever you're forced to read biographies in sixth grade (and then dress up as the person who you read about for class), someone in the class always picks Cleopatra. And why not? The Egyptian queen has an amazing story and an even better outfit. That makes everyone think she'd be perfect for the screen, right? Wrong! Cleopatra is always a dud, so maybe it's time to find another historical figure to fixate on.
NBC, that bastian of quality programming that brought you a rebooted Knight Rider and refuses to cancel Whitney is working on a new historical drama series about Cleopatra, according to Deadline. And let us not forget that Angelina Jolie is planning on playing her in a movie that has had both Paul Greengrass and David Fincher attached. And because three is a trend, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stephen Soderberg are shopping an idea for a Cleopatra rock musical.
Guys, I don't know if any of those are good ideas. Doesn't everyone remember that Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra is one of the most notorious bombs of all time. Even Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra is rarely produced and relegated to the likes of Cybelene and Troilus & Cressida when it comes to studying his work. It just seems like no one can really do the queen justice.
Maybe it's because we all know her story so well. She was a girl who fought her way to become queen, bedded Julius Caesar and Marc Antony after him and tried to make herself the queen of all of Rome. She even started a Civil War before losing and killing herself with a snake. Yes, even her end was dramatic. But with all those great scenes and rewriting her as a powerful woman and pre-feminist icon, it seems impossible to capture her in a movie. Everyone is reading into her what they think she should be, so no matter what happens with the movie (or TV show) there will be people who don't like it. Because she's something different to each person, she can't be the same thing to the populace.
As for the TV show, it just seems like there isn't enough material. The story can fit into a movie and it's not like they can really tease out or change the central love triangle in a way that wouldn't piss off the history departments at most major universities (and every fifth grader who dressed as her for the biography assignment). What about focusing on someone we know a little bit less about, but who has equally amazing costumes. Mary Queen of Scots? Pocahontas? Eleanor Roosevelt? Oh, never mind, her costumes are awful. So, yes, Cleo may seem like a grand slam, but, just like those mummies in movies of old, trying to disturb her slumber is going to cause a curse to fall down on your house.
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August 09, 2012 12:16pm EST
Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.