Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has been unveiled as the unlikely source of inspiration for British actor Douglas Hodge's new take on Willy Wonka. Roald Dahl's classic kids' book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted for the London stage by filmmaker Sam Mendes, with Hodge playing kooky candy boss Wonka.
Hodge insists his performance isn't based on actors Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp, who previously played Wonka on the big screen, but instead rocker Yorke: "It's the way he dances. He's so tiny and birdlike."
The theatre star has also taken cues from rock icons Sir Mick Jagger and David Bowie, as well as the late King of Pop Michael Jackson.
He adds, "Bowie has been in my mind as someone who disappeared from the public for a long time and then emerged. A strange, exotic creature, he seems to inherit a tradition of enigma and exclusiveness (like Wonka)."
Mendes' musical officially opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the British capital on 25 June (13).
The remake of Total Recall never escapes the shadow of its Arnold Schwarzenegger-led predecessor — and strangely it feels like a choice. With a script that's nearly beat-for-beat the original film Total Recall plods along with enhanced special effects that bring to life an expansive sci-fi world and action scenes constructed to send eyes flipping backwards into skulls. Filling the cracks of the fractured film is a story that without knowledge of the Philip K. Dick adaptation's previous incarnation is barely decipherable. Those who haven't seen Paul Verhoeven's 1990 Total Recall? Time to get a few memory implants. 2012 Recall makes little sense with the cinematic foundation but it does zero favors to those out of the know.
Colin Farrell takes over duties from Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid a down-on-his-luck factory worker hoping to escape his stagnate existence with a boost from Rekall a company capable of engineering fake memories. Quaid calls the damp slums of "The Colony" home (one of two inhabitable parts of Earth) but he dreams of moving to the New Federation of Britain a pristine metropolis on the other side of the planet. When the futuristic treatment goes awry — caused by previously existing memories of our blue collar hero's supposed past life as a secret agent — Quaid emerges from Rekall with lethal power hidden under his mild-mannered persona. He quickly goes on the run escaping squads of soldiers robots and his assassin "wife " Lori (Kate Beckinsale) all hot on his tail. Total Recall turns into one long chase scene as Quaid unravels the mystery of his erased memories.
But when it comes to answers and heady sci-fi Total Recall falls short. Farrell isn't a hulking action star like Schwarzenegger but he's a performer that can sensitively explore any human crisis big or small. Director Len Wiseman (Underworld Live Free or Die Hard) never gives his leading man that opportunity. Farrell makes the best of the films occasional slow moment but the weight of Recall's mindf**k is suffocated in a series of fist fights hovercar pile-ups and foot chases pulled straight out of the latest platformer video game (a sequence that sends Quaid running across the geometric rooftop architecture of The Colony looks straight out of Super Mario Bros.). When Jessica Biel as Quaid's former romantic interest Melina and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston as the power-hungry politico Cohaagen are finally woven into Farrell's feature length 50 yard dash it's too late — the movie isn't making sense and it's not about to regardless of the charm on screen.
The action is slick and the futuristic design is impeccable but without any time devoted to building the stakes Total Recall feels more like a HDTV demo than a thrilling blockbuster. The movie's greatest innovation is the central set piece "The Fall " an elevator that travels between the two cities at rapid speed. The towering keystone of mankind is a marvel but we never get to see it explore it or feel its implications on the world around it. Instead it's cemented as a CG background behind the craze of Farrell shooting his way through hoards of bad guys.
Science fiction more than any other dramatic genre twist demands attention to the details. New worlds aren't built on broad strokes. But Total Recall tries to get away with it in hopes that audiences will recall their own movie knowledge to support its faulty logic. The movie repeatedly prompts viewers to think back to the 1990 version with blatant fan service that's absolutely nonsensical in this restructured version (no longer does Quaid go to Mars but there's still a three-breasted alien?). The callbacks may have given Total Recall a "been there done that" feel but rarely is it coherent enough to get that far. By the closing credits you'll be struggling to remember what you spent the last two hours watching.
Ralph Fiennes (the esteemed actor now best known for embodying Voldemort in the Harry Potter films) gave himself no small challenge for his first directorial effort. Coriolanus is a dense political Shakespeare play modernized by Fiennes and writer John Logan (Gladiator The Aviator Hugo) into a raw bloody war movie. The film maintains the play's original text a theatrical speech that manages to both heighten and impede the drama in certain instances. But Fiennes injects the material with unfiltered energy and even when the story is lost in its own intricacies it's visceral and commanding.
Presented against the nightmarish backdrop of "Rome " a Children of Men-esque land devastated by raging battles Coriolanus follows the troubled political career of Caius Martius Coriolanus (Fiennes) a general who fights resistance movements butts heads with local protestors and evades attack from influential statesmen. Martius is driven by one goal: to defeat his former friend and long-time nemesis Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) leader of the opposing Volscian army. Rather than attend to the city's rioting population the general joins his military squad to breach the Volscian's walls in hopes of going mano a mano with Aufidius. Martius achieves victory after victory (without putting an end to his Aufidius troubles) becoming a hero to his government. Eventually through his overbearing mother's persuasion Martius is convinced to put down his semi-automatic and begin an ascent to political greatness. It doesn't go so well.
Even if the abridged version of Coriolanus presented in the adaptation was a slow-paced talky drama every detail of Shakespeare's complicated narrative may still be difficult to parse but Fiennes isn't looking to hold any hands. He shoots his movie with the kineticism of a Bourne movie or the recent Hurt Locker full of shaky cam movement and too-close-for-comfort close-ups. He uses the extreme presentation of 24 news networks to replicate in Shakespeare's expository asides while bombarding our senses. He has a cast who can deliver The Bard's poetic dialogue with a cadence that fits realistic setting. The sound and feel of the language is as important as the meaning.
Fiennes isn't as concerned with audiences registering every last minutiae of Coriolanus and he takes every opportunity he can to let his cast off their leash to dig into the drama's inherent intensity. The director/actor plays Caius Martius Coriolanus like a rabid dog—crazed behind the eyes and ready to unleash a barrage of hellfire and spit. Butler's Tullus Aufidius is a low-key foil but when the two finally butt heads neither gentleman holds back. The real stand out is Vanessa Redgrave as Martius' mother Volumnia whose hushed manipulation is even more terrifying than Martius' over aggression.
Coherence isn't the priority in Coriolanus and attempts to connect with the characters becomes a chore but Fiennes's first foray into directing is enjoyable in the exhilaration it delivers to a time-honored text. Forget your memories of 11th grade English—this is unique adrenaline-infused Shakespeare.
The theatre impresario's Phantom of the Opera sequel has received nods in the Best New Musical category, as well as musical acting nominations for the show's stars Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and Summer Strallen, despite mixed reviews from critics.
Acting veteran Sir Derek Jacobi is up for the Best Actor prize for his acclaimed turn in King Lear, and will compete for the honour against David Suchet (All My Sons), Mark Ryland (La Bete), Roger Alam (Henry VI) and Rory Kinnear (Hamlet).
Emma Thompson's sister Sophie is up for Best Actress for Clybourne Park alongside Episodes star Tamsin Greig for The Little Dog Laughed, Tracie Bennett for End of the Rainbow and Nancy Carroll for After The Dance.
Clybourne Park, The Little Dog Laughed, Sucker Punch, Tribes and End of the Rainbow will compete for the Best New Play honour.
The awards, which celebrate the best of the year's West End shows, will take place at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 13 March (11).
Love means never having to say you're sorry; it's a many splendored thing; it's all you need. But in tennis love means zero; it means you lose. Or does it? For Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) a British pro tennis player seeded near the bottom of the world tennis ranks love actually inspires him. After scoring a wild card to play in the prestigious Wimbledon tournament he meets and falls for the rising and highly competitive American tennis star Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) fueling a winning streak he hasn't had since he began his career. For Lizzie however the love thing doesn't necessarily work out as well. Her feelings for Peter become a distraction throwing her off her game. Hmmm. Can these two crazy kids keep it together long enough so Peter can fulfill his lifelong dream of winning the men's singles title even if it means his muse might have to sacrifice her first Wimbledon title?
Kirsten Dunst may be what draws you in but Paul Bettany is the reason you don't walk out. The British actor who made an impression with American audiences playing the oh-so-witty Chaucer in A Knight's Tale and then wowed them in Oscar winners such as A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander doesn't disappoint in his first lead role. Bettany's Peter embodies all that charm we've come to love and expect in our British actors--although thankfully not as floppy as Hugh Grant--he stumbles about and apologizes profusely. It's so cute. And he makes a pretty darn believable tennis player to boot (one would hope so after the intense training session the actors apparently had to go through to prepare for the movie). Unfortunately Dunst does not fare as well. Her Lizzie is appealing and she adequately handles the tennis stuff--but she ultimately fails to connect with her male lead making their relationship seem forced. Their beginning sparks are fun but when there's suppose to be a real flame igniting between them you're left scratching your head wondering just when where and why they fell in love so hard so fast. Yep that's a big red flag.
I've said sports movies usually work (see the Mr. 3000 review). To clarify: That is team sports. Sport movies where the action revolves around a single competitor are harder to pull off. It's just not as exciting watching an underdog struggle with himself in order to win. Luckily director Richard Loncraine (HBO's My House in Umbria) seems to know this fact. Even though Peter takes Centre Court (that's the British way of spelling it) Loncraine tries to at least create a more complete picture giving us a glimpse into the world of tennis as well as delving into the traditions of Wimbledon and how the Brits feel about the prestigious tournament where British champions are few and far between. Loncraine also utilizes real-life tennis pros such as John McEnroe and Chris Evert who appear as announcers to liven up the proceedings. Even the action on the court with close-up shots of the ball whizzing over the net gets the blood pumping a little--wish there was a lot more of that. But then of course one could just turn on the TV and watch the real Wimbledon instead watching a silly run-of-the-mill romantic comedy set there.
Hundreds of stars are expected at the British Academy Television Awards in London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane tomorrow. This year's BAFTA TV Awards, which cover news, documentary and sports programs, will be hosted Chris Tarrant, who hosts the television quiz show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?. The event could attract criticism if the current affairs spoof Brass Eye wins either of the two major awards for which it was nominated: best comedy and best innovation. The controversial program was the subject of thousands of complaints following a show about pedophilia, the BBC reports. The Television Awards will air on Monday, April 22 at 8:30 BST.
'N Sync member Lance Bass has some competition for his paid seat on a space flight sometime in October or November. According to PageSix.com, 40-year-old mom and former space-mission planner for NASA Lori Garver is also under consideration, as is 39-year-old Polish millionaire Leszek Czarnecki. Bass, you may recall, has already begun a documentary on his preparation for the 10-day mission called Celebrity Mission: Lance Bass.
Just when you thought Tonya Harding's life couldn't possibly take any more bizarre turns, the former figure skater was cited for drunken driving early Saturday morning in Battle Ground, Wash. According to The Associated Press, Harding crashed her pickup truck into a ditch and failed a field sobriety test and breath test administered by deputies from the Clark County Sheriff's office that arrived on the scene. Neither Harding nor her passenger was hurt.
In the Biz
Paramount Pictures was granted exclusive television rights to H.G. Wells' 1938 science fiction novel The War of the Worlds by a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge, Reuters reports. As trustees of the author's estate, Wells' grandchildren had started negotiations with Hallmark to produce and distribute a television miniseries based on the novel. But Paramount asserted exclusive ownership of the TV rights based on a contract signed by H.G. Wells' son Frank in 1951. In a ruling made public Friday, Judge Ira Gammerman said Paramount has the right to televise the motion picture since it has the right to produce it.
Lisa Bonet, who played Denise Huxtable on NBC's The Cosby Show, will not be taking part in the show's upcoming reunion next month. While NBC blames her busy schedule for her absence, Bonet told People magazine that she was uncomfortable with the whole vibe of the show, saying she was offered a "take-it-or-leave-it" type of deal. Bonet also went on to say she thought the reunion project "felt disingenuous and motivated by corporate profit" and that the deal made her feel devalued and disrespected. The episode airs May 19.
It's official: The Osbournes is the biggest hit series in MTV's 21-year history. Last Tuesday's episode was watched by 6.3 million people--up from 6 million the week before--and according to Nielsen Media Research, it's bumped professional wrestling as cable television's biggest show. MTV has three more original episodes on tap before the season ends and is talking to the family about filming another season's worth of shows, the AP reports.
The two surviving members of Nirvana want Kurt Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, the AP reports. Bassist Krist Novoselik and drummer David Grohl want Love to be removed from the business partnership they formed in 1997, which Love argues should be dissolved because her judgement was significantly impaired when she signed it three years after her husband's death. A lawyer representing Novoselik and Grohl said a psychiatrist's evaluation would most likely show that Love was competent when she signed the agreement and that her competence has since deteriorated.
Always willing to embrace controversy, Grammy-winning rapper Eminem is appearing in the video for his new single "Without Me" dressed up like Osama bin Laden and spoofing the Sally Jessy Raphael Show. According to MTV.com, the song is the first single from Eminem's album The Eminem Show, which is due out June 4. The video for "Without Me" will debut in early May on an episode of MTV's Making the Video.
A new scholarship fund will be established at Park City High School in Utah in the name of actor Robert Urich. Urich, who was best known as Dan Tanna on Vega$, and his wife, Heather Menzies, were strong forces in the Utah art community, People reports, helping to raise funds for a performing arts center at the high school when Urich was alive.
Antonio Banderas received the first Anthony Quinn Award for Excellence in Cinema and the Arts Friday at the 10th annual Providence New Latin American Cinema Festival. Quinn, who was born in Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles, died last year at age 86.
Rusty Burrell, a retired sheriff's deputy who served as bailiff on The People's Court, died Monday at his home in Rosemead, Calif., after suffering from lung cancer, the AP reports. He was 76. Burell was a real-life bailiff during the high profile trials of Charles Manson and Patty Hearst, and joined Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Wapner in the reality TV show The People's Court in 1981. The series ended in 1993, but the two reunited several years later to work on Animal Planet's "Judge Wapner's Animal Court.