A Polish-born, English-trained Australian writer-director, Ben Lewin impressed the world with his creative gifts. Using crutches after contracting polio as a child, Lewin overcame his physical challen...
27 Dresses: 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Ugly Truth: 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. Killers: 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. One for the Money: 2% on Rotten Tomatoes.
As time has proved, critics aren't the biggest fans of Katherine Heigl. Audiences are a slightly different story: while Heigl's post-Knocked Up career looked promising with big box office winners like 27 Dresses ($76 million)and Ugly Truth ($88 million). Her most recent outing, 2012's One for the Money saw a major dip for Heigl, taking in only $26 million. A.O. Scott of The New York Times notes that the film "offers a data point for those studying the cultural decline of cinema."
The string of disastrous, demographic-constructed vehicles turned Heigl-bashing into the Internet's national pastime, each bit of casting news, trailer, and major release provoking a barrage of quips aimed at the former Grey's Anatomy cast member. Late Thursday night, The Hollywood Reporter got the scoop that Heigl's latest "infraction" against pop culture will team her up with The Sessions writer/director Ben Lewin for an adaptation of A Moment to Remember, a romantic drama based on a Korean film that itself is based on a Japanese TV show. According to the report, the film "centers on a fashion designer who is stricken with a disease that wipes away her memory, forcing her husband to desperately try to give her one last memory of their love."
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Hear that? That's the sound of a thousand zingers being deployed to Twitter.
We'll have to wait to see if Heigl's A Moment to Remember is a genuine bomb or an underrated gem suffering from prejudgment. But to the naysayers, I say, "bring it on."
Heigl may not be batting a thousand at the multiplex, but I always look forward to her movies. Yes, even the awful ones. Because if there's one thing I can count on, it's the quality of a Katherine Heigl movie trailer. Heigl possess an amazing trait that works wonders in the small doses of her trailers and implodes in the feature length format: she actively appears to not give a s**t.
The passive attitude turns two minute previews into Funny or Die-level spoofs. It helps that the plots are routinely ludicrous; whether she's wigging out over the discovery that her husband is an assassin or learning how to use a gun in order to nab a criminal who is also the guy who took her virginity, Heigl plays it all with a wink. An incredibly necessary wink.
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In the hands of Lewin, A Moment to Remember could be Heigl's return to legitimacy. She has real talent — marred by a slate of films that make easy targets for the bloodthirsty Internet — and could find a nurturing collaborator in Lewin.
Or, at the very least, it'll make a glorious trailer.
The Ugly Truth
One for the Money
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[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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Silver Linings Playbook, The Sessions, Life of Pi and acclaimed independent hits Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom have also been shortlisted.
Meanwhile, Oscar favourites Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), John Hawkes (The Sessions), Denzel Washington (Flight) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) will be among those battling out for the best acting prizes at the 17th annual Satellite Awards gala later this month (16Dec12).
The best supporting actor and actress categories will be a fight between the likes of Amy Adams (The Master), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench (both Skyfall) and Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln).
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Ben Affleck (Argo), Ben Lewin (The Sessions), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) are up for the Best Director prize.
European Film Awards winner Amour will be up against A Royal Affair, The Intouchables, Our Children, Kon-Tiki, Pietra, Beyond The Hills, War Witch and Caesar Must Die for Best International Film, and ParaNorman, Wreck-It-Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, Brave, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Frankenweenie will duke it out for Best Animated Film.
Meanwhile, special awards will be given to Terence Stamp (Mary Pickford Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution), Paul Williams (Auteur Award), Bruce Davison (Honorary Satellite Award) and acclaimed Beast of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis (Newcomer Award).
In the Satellite Awards' TV categories, Kevin Costner's Hatfields & McCoys, Sherlock, Game Change and Wallander will compete for the Best Miniseries/Motion Picture Made for Television trophy, while Downton Abbey, The Newsroom, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Homeland lead the Best Drama category and Girls, The Office, Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory lead the Best Comedy list.
The Satellite Awards are handed out annually by the International Press Academy.
The Fargo star plays a priest in the new drama and he shot most of his lines with John Hawkes who portrays real-life lead character Mark O'Brien, a quadriplegic who hires a sex therapist to help him lose his virginity at the age of 38.
Macy was not on set for intimate scenes between Hawkes and Helen Hunt, who plays his sex therapist, and when the project premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January (12), he was overcome by the work of his co-stars and their director Ben Lewin's beautiful vision.
He tells New York Magazine, "Generally speaking, the first time I see myself in a film, it's a wash, it's a horror.... It's horrible to watch myself... But I was swept away at Sundance. I just wept like a baby. I didn't know it was a love story.
"He (Lewin) suckered us. This was just 'boy meets girl' when it comes down to it, and oh, I fell like a ton of bricks for that. I'm so impressed with John and Helen, with their acting. The actor in me saw the technical difficulties that they were surmounting, and they're formidable."
The Winter's Bone star is gaining Oscar buzz for his convincing portrayal of Mark O'Brien, a paralyzed 38 year old desperate to lose his virginity, but he wasn't his director's first choice.
And Hawkes admits he too was wondering why polio survivor Lewin didn't hire a disabled actor for the part.
Hawkes says, "That was my first question: why not a disabled actor? (They are) a uniquely qualified group of people for this role, who are undervalued and underused.
"It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room in a way, but it's something that Ben, being a polio survivor himself... felt like, 'Would it be politically correct to hire a slightly disabled actor to play a severely disabled actor?' He ultimately just hadn't found his guy, and (when) we met, he felt like I could do it."
And Hawkes hopes disabled moviegoers aren't offended by the project - because he gave the character his all.
He adds, "There are those who are going to be militant, who are going to raise a fuss; that's certainly their right. I did my best, and I hope I touch people, not only the disabled community, but other people as well. It's all human beings, after all, and that's the point of the film."
Hawkes risked permanent back trouble and health issues to convincingly play O'Brien, using props and painful poses to perfect his subject matter's frail and contorted state.
After delivering a surprisingly touching performance in Soul Surfer, Helen Hunt is continuing an apparent quest for career resuscitation through the indie world -- despite being a Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy winner. According to Variety, the actress just signed on for The Surrogate with John Hawkes (Winter's Bone). The drama centers on a paraplegic polio victim who must deal with his various physical ailments. Hawkes will play Mark O'Brien, who lived the majority of his life paralyzed from the waste down in an iron lung. The story will follow Hunt as a sex surrogate contacted by O'Brien to take his virginity as she struggles to understand what her life has become both personally and professionally and how to explain that to her 12-year-old boy. It actually sounds like a very moving narrative, the stuff that the term "Oscar bait" was created for.
Moon Bloodgood and Rhea Perlman will co-star in the picture while veteran TV helmer Ben Lewin, himself a polio survivor, is writing and directing the pic.
Wrote the screenplay for "Plead Guilty, Get a Bond," about a tribal aboriginal woman and her conflict with the Australian legal system
Directed the season's highest-rated episode of Fox's "Ally McBeal" (titled "Let's Dance")
Joined the BBC as a director on the Nationwide program
Directed two episodes of popular Australian drama series "SeaChange"
Returned to feature writing and directing with drama "The Sessions"; also produced
Helmed the murder mystery feature "Georgia," starring Judy Davis; won eight Australian Film Institute nominations
Wrote and directed the messianic farce "The Favor, the Watch and the Very Big Fish," starring Bob Hoskins, Jeff Goldblum, and Natasha Richardson
Helmed the film "Hollywood Gold," a personal documentary of his misadventures in the Beverly Hills jewelry trade during Oscar time
Helmed much-honored and multi-award winning "The Dunera Boys," starring Bob Hoskins
Helmed the comedy "Paperback Romance," a crazy love story about disabilities starring Anthony LaPaglia and Gia Carrides
Breakthrough project as a writer and director, "The Case of Cruelty to Prawns," a comedy-drama for "ITV Playhouse"; won Best Television Film Award at the Melbourne Film Festival
Directed award-winning "Matter of Convenience," about marriages of convenience
A Polish-born, English-trained Australian writer-director, Ben Lewin impressed the world with his creative gifts. Using crutches after contracting polio as a child, Lewin overcame his physical challenges and built an international screen career, winning Australian Writers' Guild Awards for "The Dunera Boys" (BBC, 1985) and "The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish" (1991), as well as an Australian Film Institute (AFI) award for "Plead Guilty, Get a Bond" (1990) and two AFI nominations for "Georgia" (1988). After making the leap to Hollywood by lensing installments of "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002) and "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003), Lewin scored his biggest American film success when he wrote, produced and directed "The Sessions" (2012), the based-on-real-life story of a paralyzed man (John Hawkes) who hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). Hilarious, heartbreaking and honest, the Sundance Film Festival award-winning film showcased Lewin's unique strengths and was tapped to be a major awards contender. Gifted with a deep compassion and quirky sense of humor to match his filmmaking prowess, Ben Lewin was able to tell powerful stories that reflected the human condition, regardless of country or culture.
Born in 1946 in Poland, Ben Lewin was only a small child when he and his family immigrated to Australia. Although a childhood bout with polio would necessitate his lifelong use of crutches, Lewin was blessed with a vibrant creativity and intelligence that manifested in a passion for photography, writing and the study and practice of the law. Ever the adventurous spirit, Lewin decided to abandon his law career to take advantage of a scholarship to England's National Film School, where he made the fateful decision to devote his life to the entertainment industry. Making a major splash by writing and directing "The Case of Cruelty to Prawns," an especially memorable installment of "ITV Playhouse" (ITV, 1967-1983), Lewin developed a reputation in both the United Kingdom and Australia, and he performed double duty for "Destination Australia: The Migrant Experience Since 1788" (1984).
A highly respected chronicler of Australian history and stories, Lewin's string of successes continued when he wrote and directed the WWII deportation drama "The Dunera Boys" (BBC, 1985), the Judy Davis-starring thriller "Georgia" (1988), and the quirky Bob Hoskins, Jeff Goldblum and Natasha Richardson farce "The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish" (1991). Winning Australian Writers' Guild Awards for "Dunera" and "The Favour ," he won a Best Screenplay Award from the Australian Film Institute for his dramedy depicting the clash between Australian and Aboriginal law in "Plead Guilty, Get a Bond" (1990). After writing and directing "Paperback Romance" (1994) and several installments of the Aussie series "SeaChange" (ABC, 1998-2000), Lewin stuck his foot in the American door when he helmed episodes of "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002) and "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003).
Although he had already built an impressive international career, Lewin earned even more global notice when he wrote, produced and directed the drama "The Sessions" (2012), based on the autobiographical essay "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate" by the late writer Mark O'Brien, who had been the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary short "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien" (1996). Telling the story of a paralyzed man (John Hawkes) who hires a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity, "The Sessions" spoke to Lewin's strength - the ability to place unexpected characters in seemingly bizarre situations and still find universal truths within them. Rapturously received by many critics, the film won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and gained enormous buzz that many believed would lead to additional honors.