Timing, and timeliness, is everything. Especially when it comes to films. No one is more aware of that than Kieran Evans, the writer/director of Kelly + Victor, and its two leads Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Julian Morris, respectively. While their harrowing indie drama was filmed over the course of around six weeks (in what Morris described as "a hot, lovely summer in Liverpool"), it began to hit the festival circuit in late 2012 and early 2013 — including here at SXSW — right when the Fifty Shades of Grey frenzy hit a fever pitch.
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So how does E.L. James soapy saga factor into Kelly + Victor, Evans' big screen adaptation of Niall Griffiths' gritty novel of the same name? Kelly + Victor follows the story of a young couple who meet at a Liverpool nightclub and begin an intense emotional and sexual relationship, one that includes S&M. But don't mistake Kelly and Victor for Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey: theirs is a thoughtful, more realistic, and ultimately tragic tale.
That doesn't mean Evans and his stars don't appreciate the timing though. "It's been surprising," the writer/director said. "American audiences are not usually open to this kind of topic. But I think with [Fifty Shades of Grey]...maybe it's a zeitgeist thing. With taboo sex, the lid is kind of being lifted. We seem to be in the right place at the right time."
For Campbell-Hughes, who plays the titular Kelly — a woman she described as seeing as "a puppy that keeps getting kicked... it's sweet, but it will bite back" — exploring her character's intrigue with S&M had no taboos. "I met Kieran and I knew it was going to be handled well," she said. "The rawness of it is the fact that its very honest."
"Nudity has never really bothered me that much, but I'm learning it should more," the actress added. "It's not about how much you see, its about how it's shown. The movies that we see all the time are filled with violence and nudity, but its sort of saccharine, it's glorified, its fake, its glycerin, it's horrible."
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While Kelly and Victor's sexual relationship, one which does not shy away from realism, is a major aspect of the film, it's the emotional one that really drives the film. (And, much like 2012's sex drama Shame, while Kelly + Victor has plenty of sex, it can often be decidedly un-sexy and hard to watch at times).
That very relationship at the core of the film — which Morris (who describes his character Victor as "quite a gentle soul" who finds his outlet in Kelly, while Campbell-Hughes sees him as someone who "gets off... on stepping into the void") likened to "obsessive love they have for each other, this frantic physicality that you get in any sort of new relationship when you're just clawing at each other" — is what drew the stars and the writer/director to the project the most. "What's interesting is the relationship between Kelly and Victor isn't about the consequences of S&M," Evans said, "It's about the consequences of what they do and what happens if two atoms collide at such a great speed. "
Another aspect that played into the film, was what Morris described as a "massive character" in the film: the city of Liverpool. "This [shoot] was really unique because to get that essence of Liverpool and the characters for it to be quite engulfing, we really lived Liverpool and the characteristics of the people. That's where the intensity was, it was everywhere in Liverpool,"Campbell-Hughes said, adding that the location is much like an analogy for Kelly and Victor's love: "Liverpool is shown as such a beautiful place, but its full of cracks."
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The actress also described "Kelly and Victor are wanderers in their home land" and Morris himself took to wandering the streets of Liverpool to get into character, both for Victor and the city itself, by going on a pub crawl. "It was the most informative thing to me, under the slight haze of alcohol," he said. "I met the local lads, got down the dialect, [learned] the politics, just walked around."
But, in the end, the film is not about S&M, or Liverpool, or even relationships. It is, as Evans simply said: "Ultimately the whole thing is about human needs."
[Photo credit: SXSW]
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Rosie O'Donnell's ex-wife Kelli Carpenter is getting married - she will tie the knot with her new partner, singer Anne Steele, on 1 June (13) in Rockland County, New York. Carpenter shares four children with the funnywoman, who married Michelle Rounds over the summer (Jun12).
The saucy book, written by author E. L. James, recently became the fastest selling paperback of all time and earlier this year (12) it was announced bosses at Universal and Focus Features were planning to bring the tome to the big screen.
Now British star Marcel, who penned Tom Hanks' upcoming project about the production of Disney classic Mary Poppins, Saving Mr. Banks, has been tapped to write the script.
The Social Network producer Michael De Luca, who will also work on the film, tells industry publication Variety, "Kelly's work demonstrates her flawless structural technique and passionate commitment to emotion, humour and depth of character, which is particularly visible in the celebrated screenplay for the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks."
Casting for the romantic thriller, which follows the exploits of kinky lovers Anastasia Steele and billionaire businessman Christian Grey, has not yet been revealed, but fans of the book favour the likes of Harry Potter star Emma Watson and The Vampire Diaries hunk Ian Somerhalder for the leads.
While it might be more fitting for the movie adaptation of ebook-to-phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey to star complete unknowns, be shot on a Flip Cam, and randomly pop online before it actually hits theaters and makes a billion dollars, it appears the producers are taking normal steps to bring author' E.L. James' erotic drama to life. Oh well.
After meeting with several options, James' official Facebook page and Focus Features have both confirmed that a screenwriter has been hired to Rumpelstiltskin the former fan fiction into something worthy of Hollywood. 50 Shades producers Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti have settled on Terra Nova creator Kelly Marcel to pen the feature script. Comments from the official press release are filled with appropriate innuendo: on Marcel, Brunetti says, “We were all taken with the depth and passion of Kelly's engagement with the characters and world E L James has created and we knew she was the right person to augment our Fifty Shades family."
Marcel's past work is sparse, and while Terra Nova wasn't a major success (or evidence that Marcel can whip up a steamy romance not involving velociraptors), her hot script for Saving Mr. Banks sold De Luca and Brunetii on her abilities. The in-production true story of Walt Disney's efforts to court Mrs. Poppins author P.L. Travers, which De Luca describes as having "flawless structural technique and passionate commitment to emotion, humor and depth of character,"lured big name talent like Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, and Oscar-winning director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side). If she brings half the effort to her work on Fifty Shades, the big screen S&M extravaganza could court the same kind of names.
It's evident from the fervor surrounding fantasy casting and leaked names pegged as producer "favorites" (which include the likes of Ryan Gosling, Emma Watson, Ian Somerhalder, and most recently, Mila Kunis) that the casting game for Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the biggest question marks in Hollywood at the moment, but with the announcement of a screenwriter, the mystery inches towards an answer. Just in case you want to come up with your own suggestions, take a look at our rendered sketches of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Vintage]
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The British writer recently signed off on a movie deal and now Hollywood gossips are desperately trying to nail down who will play the characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele on the big screen.
During an appearance on U.S. newswoman Katie Couric's daytime talk show on Monday (17Sep12), James revealed she has a few actors and actresses in mind - but she refused the name names.
She does, however, have someone in mind for one of the lesser characters in the novel.
James says, "I've actually written myself into the book; I play a very tiny cameo role and I might try and do that if I'm asked to... We'll see. But it'd be interesting to know if people can find me in the books."
Prior to a TV special about the book and its author on Monday (17Sep12), newswoman-turned-chat show host Katie Couric asked her fans and readers of the saucy book to vote for the stars they'd like to see play kinky billionaire Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele on the big screen - and The Vampire Diaries hunk Somerhalder and actress Bledel were the clear winners over the likes of Ashley Greene, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and Alexander Skarsgard.
James, who was a guest on the show, revealed she has her own wish list, but she refused to divulge who is on it.
She told Couric, "I have three people who I think could play Christian and about four people who could be Ana."
"I'm definitely a huge fan of the books. Obviously I'd be thrilled to be a part of it, but I think it's in the very beginning stages of it all." Actress Lucy Hale is interested in playing Anastasia Steele in the upcoming film adaption of steamy book series Fifty Shades Of Grey.
There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
Suddenly and inexplicably, Fifty Shades of Grey drove housewives, grandmas, and 20 million other American women into a book-buying tizzy this summer. And, while there's been plenty of chatter about who will play kinky billionaire Christian Grey in a big-screen adaptation, are you all really sure this is a good idea?
The book's graphic bondage and S&M made for an interesting page-turner (c'mon, even if you hated it, you had to admit you wanted to see where it was going). But let's just remember: some things look a helluva lot better in your imagination.
And out of the New York Post today comes physical proof of that.
Real-life NYC couple Frankie Santiago (aka our Anastasia Steele) was the live-in sex slave of Edward Sonderling (aka Christian Grey) for three years. But it all went horribly wrong when Santiago, 27, found out Sonderling, 53, had been training her submissive replacement.
A jealous Santiago exploded in a fit of rage, allegedly shattering his car windshield and threatening him through dozens of insane text messages. At one point, sources tell the Post that Santiago pulled a knife and threatened to kill herself.
What's the takeaway here?
"Mommy porn" fans, please take a good long look at this picture on the cover of the NY Post and enlarge it times 50 in your head. Even though (spoiler alert!) Ana and Christian get their happy ending in the book, the kinky, leather-clad truth can be an ugly place to go.
Butt plugs, Ben Wa balls, and Red Rooms of Pain may be marginally interesting to read about. But, I'm pretty confident they will scare the bejeezus out of you on a 50-foot screen.
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The British actress has emerged as one of the fan favourites to play Anastasia Steele in the racy big screen version of E.L. James' hit erotic novel, but she's not sure she wants the job.
She tells HollyScoop.com, "I haven't read it... but the whole idea of that sounds very exhausting to me."
Should she land the raunchy role, Beckinsale will be employing the same simple hygiene tactics she uses on the red carpet at big premieres and events.
The beautiful Brit adds, "Make sure you have deodorant on."