Actress Elizabeth Olsen has signed on to play Hank Williams' wife, opposite Tom Hiddleston, in a new biopic. The British actor was cast as Williams in I Saw The Light in June (14), and now he has been joined by fellow The Avengers franchise star Olsen, who will play Audrey Mae.
Williams, who battled drug and alcohol problems, wed Audrey Sheppard in 1944. She served as his manager until the couple divorced in 1952.
Marc Abraham will direct the film from a script based on author Colin Escott's book, Hank Williams: The Biography, which chronicles the singer's meteoric rise to fame and his untimely death in 1953, at the age of 29.
Production on I Saw The Light is scheduled to begin in Louisiana this autumn (14), ahead of a 2015 release.
Olsen joined the cast of The Avengers sequel Age of Ultron as Scarlet Witch last year (13), but she did not work with Thor star Hiddleston, because his evil character, Loki, is not featured in the next instalment of the superhero franchise.
If you’re an animal lover, particularly if you have a special affinity for man’s best friend, watching movies can sometimes be a risky endeavor. Whenever a canine appears in a film outside of Disney, there is always the risk that it will not make it to the final credits. For dog lovers, it’s a bit of an emotional minefield.
This attachment we develop to our canine pets, and the agonizing experience of their death, is certainly not lost on director Tim Burton. He understands it so much that he’s remaking a short film on the subject that he directed at the dawn of his career. The newer, animated version of his Frankenweenie similarly tells the story of a boy whose closest friend in the whole world is his dog Sparky. After Sparky dies, the boy, Victor, is so distraught that he brings his four-legged pal back from the dead with his formidable knowledge of science. It’s like a Mary Shelley story…with fleas!
We began to think about the possibility of using Victor’s technology to resurrect other cinematic pooches that sadly expired before the run time of their respective filmic adventure. Dogs like…
Old Yeller — Old Yeller
Let’s face it, Old Yeller’s fate was beyond cruel. Not only did he contract rabies and ultimately have to be violently put down, but also he only became infected when he saved his owner and family from a rabid wolf. Talk about a raw deal! We would not only bring Old Yeller back, we would also force Travis to give him a better name. Yeller? Seriously? You can do better than that, kid.
Blue Heeler — The Road Warrior
Obviously the desolate wasteland bred from the fallout of a nuclear war is a tough place for anyone to survive. But it’s even more difficult for a dog. At first, the poor pouch who pals around with The Road Warrior seemed to have it pretty easy. He was well fed, had his own nook in Max’s street machine, and was generally happy. But then, through no fault of his own, he was murdered by some poorly dressed scoundrel with a crossbow. A dog has no concept of post-apocalyptic politics; all he wanted to do was look adorable in a neckerchief.
Sam — I Am Legend
Though we dog fans may hate it when those beloved furbeasts kick the bucket on screen, there are times when their passing can yield the most emotionally poignant scenes in the film. Take for example the German Sheppard Sam in I Am Legend. Will Smith’s character believed himself to be the last man on Earth, so his dog was not merely a pet, but an honest-to-goodness friend; one he constantly talked to and treated as a compatriot. When Sam contracted the disease that wiped out, seemingly, all of humanity, the only response Will could muster was to hold him tightly enough to suffocate him, all while tears streamed down his face. Yeah, we’re going to need a moment.
Hooch — Turner and Hooch
Junkyard dog Hooch never asked to be the key witness in a murder, in fact we’re pretty sure he doesn’t know what any part of that sentence means. But through conspiring circumstances, poor Hooch loses his mater, and must move in with a neurotic Tom Hanks, for whom he later takes a bullet. It’s bad enough to have to sacrifice yourself for the star of Bosom Buddies, but to also suffer the indignity of always being compared with K-9 is intolerable.
All The Huskies — The Thing
It’s especially difficult to be a horror fan if you harbor affection for dogs. For whatever reason, dogs seem to be a favored expendable commodity for horror filmmakers. In John Carpenter’s The Thing, an entire pen of Alaskan Huskies are mutilated and eviscerated by an alien lifeform. It’s one of the most horrific things any pet owner can watch. Rob Bottin’s effects work is stellar, but perhaps a little too realistic for comfort. Bring them all back, Victor!
Pippet — Jaws
With all the delicious, dopey Amity Island swimmers, you’d think one shark would be able to slate his appetite on human flesh alone. But no, that greedy great white had to go and devour a poor little beach pup too. At least the death of Pippet in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is entirely off-screen and merely alluded to, but we still think he deserves a comeback.
Marley — Marley & Me
This choice may seem a bit out of place considering the deaths of the other hounds on this list. It is true that of the dogs mentioned heretofore, Marley is the only one who lived a long, full life and passed away of natural causes, or at least causes more natural than alien attack or crossbow. However, we would want to bring Marley back so that we might be able to show him the charity and due kindness of putting him into a better movie.
[Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures]
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
I'm going to level with you. What you're about to read is going to be hard to get through. So...brace yourselves.
As you are probably at least marginally aware, there is a web series, created about two years ago, called The Annoying Orange, which is about an orange with an eyes and mouth that says really stupid, really annoying things to other fruits/vegetables/humans/whatever comes off the top of creator Dane Boedigheimer's head. I'm not even bothering to deliver the synopsis with more distinguished diction, because there's really no reason to. Anyway, the series—which consists of over a hundred episodes, just about all of which have many millions of YouTube views—has recently been picked up by Cartoon Network for a TV show. Developing the series are Boedigheimer and Pinky and the Brain writer Tom Sheppard, who I'm shaking my head at right now. I trusted you, Tom.
Now, this news alone is...grating. But the reason it hits extra hard is that it comes in the very same week that we learned that NBC is putting Community on the bench for the upcoming spring season. Community is the absolute best, most well-crafted, ingeniously written and acted, and truly emotionally dense (not to mention laugh-out-loud funny) show on television. The catch: it requires brain-power. It requires people to allow themselves to get involved intellectually and emotionally with the characters. It requires its viewers to dissect what's going on on the surface to understand what the creators and writers are really trying to say about television and about humanity/interpersonal relationships. And though Community's very dedicated fans are clearly on board with investing themselves to this degree in the show, the benching of the series and the adapting of The Annoying Orange indicate a sad fact: so many people are distinctly complacent not enriching themselves with entertainment of intellectual merit.
And I know I'm coming across a bit rough, and probably pretty arrogant. But it's significantly saddening to me that a work of art so fueled by originality, so arduously perfected, and so instilled with a love of cinema and a really sincere appreciation for what makes people people, is being cast aside as something unimportant and unworthy of a slot on television, when an orange with a mouth shouting annoying things is being eagerly pursued as a viable source of entertainment for American viewers.
To all of you Community fans reading this, I highly recommend this excellent recap of last night's excellent episode, "Documentary Filmmaking Redux."