Actor Vincent D'onofrio is close to signing on to portray Brazilian soccer coach Vicente Feola in an upcoming Pele biopic. The Law & Order: Criminal Intent star is expected to join Rodrigo Santoro, Diego Boneta, Colm Meaney and Seu Jorge in the project, about the sporting legend's life and career as soccer's greatest player.
Pele led Brazil to its first-ever World Cup victory in 1958 as a 17-year-old phenomenon. Meaney has been cast as George Raynor, the British coach of Sweden - the team Brazil beat to lift the title.
Boneta will play Jose, Pele's arch rival, while Jorge will portray the soccer great's father, Dondinho, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Newcomers Kevin de Paula and Leonardo Lima Carvalho will share the role of Pele from the age of 10.
Brazilian actor Santoro's role is being kept under wraps.
Meet internationally renown oceanographer and documentarian Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and some of his Team Zissou: Eleanor Zissou (Anjelica Huston) his estranged wife and the "brains behind the operation"; Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe) the loyal chief engineer; and Oseary Drakoulias (Michael Gambon) the septuagenarian producer. Unfortunately Zissou's days are numbered having been pushed close to bankruptcy by his arch rival Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum). But what's really bothering Zissou is that his best friend and longtime collaborator Esteban (Seymour Cassel) has been eaten by an underwater assailant known as the Jaguar Shark. Charged by vengeance Zissou sets out on his boat The Belafonte to hunt down the predator in one last filmed expedition. He is joined by two new Team Zissou members: Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) a young airline copilot who may be Zissou's son and Jane Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchett) a beautiful and pregnant journalist assigned to write a profile of Zissou. Along the way they face overwhelming complications including marauding pirates kidnappings and a maelstrom of human yearning.
Bill Murray has got to be one of the funniest people on the planet without ever seeming to be and his collaborations with director Wes Anderson (Rushmore The Royal Tenenbaums) have happily exploited that wellspring of comic talent. Zissou is pure Murray: slightly acerbic slightly aloof not terribly likable but deeply vulnerable. Sure the actor can play this part in his sleep but somehow he never makes it boring. The rest of the cast also measures up. Huston is striking as the austere Eleanor who is basically the glue that holds Zissou together. Wilson another Anderson staple is once again playing a very earnest fellow who simply wants to connect with the man who could be his long-lost father while also finding a little love with Jane. As the journalist the always good Blanchett who was actually pregnant during the making of Aquatic is perfect as the emotional conduit between Zissou and Ned. Dafoe finally gets to be funny in a film--and we don't count his turn as a surly fish in Finding Nemo--as the fiercely devoted Klaus who's a bit jealous of Ned. But the pièce de résistance is Brazilian actor Seu Jorge as The Belafonte's safety expert who regularly serenades the team with Portuguese renditions of David Bowie songs. Classic stuff.
In what is definitely the director's most ambitious film to date--and he may be tired of hearing that--The Life Aquatic further highlights Wes Anderson's twisted yet exquisitely witty sensibilities that were evident in his three previous efforts Bottle Rocket Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Paying obvious homage to the stiff documentaries made by the legendary Jacques Cousteau as well as incorporating references to such movies as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach expertly hand us the skewed universe of Zissou in hilariously played-out sequences. We can also clearly see where the bigger budget went when Team Anderson sets out to sea. There's the spectacular Belafonte set with its individual compartments in which the actors move about and the campy stop-motion special effects of the odd sea life Zissou and gang encounter. While all of this makes for an enjoyable ride the movie ultimately lacks a cohesive soul. There is a small amount of redemption at the end when Zissou comes to terms with his life and ambitions but it seems tacked on as a way to tie everything up.
Of the three new releases to open wide this four-day holiday weekend, Jerry Bruckheimer's down under comedy Kangaroo Jack leaped to the top of the box office, followed closely by the Martin Lawrence vehicle National Security. There was nothing fanciful, however, about the romantic comedy A Guy Thing, which opened to an uninspiring seventh place.
Kangaroo Jack, about two Brooklynites who are forced to deliver mob money to Australia but lose the loot to a maniacal marsupial, took in $17.6 million*, while National Security safeguarded $15.7 million.
In its second week, Just Married, which captured audience's hearts and the No. 1 spot last week, fell to third place with a still chivalrous $12.4 million.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers came in fourth with $11.3 million, while Catch Me If You Can almost caught up with $11.3 million, trailing only by $75,000. The much talked about musical Chicago, which expanded to 557 screens this weekend, came in sixth with $8 million.
A Guy Thing 's mushy $7.1 million take, meanwhile, coldheartedly placed the romance in seventh place.
Two of Miramax's limited releases, the Brazilian drama City of God and George Clooney's directorial debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, played in five theaters each, and both enjoyed this week's highest per theater averages. City of God averaged $18,000 per theater, while Confessions averaged $16,400.
THE TOP TEN
(NOTE: Today's projections are for the three-day period from Friday-Sunday. The studios will issue four-day estimates on Monday, when America observes the birthday of Martin Luther King, with final data due out on Tuesday.)
Warner Bros.' Kangaroo Jack opened with an ESTIMATED $17.6 million at 2,818 theaters ($6,272 per theater).
Directed by David McNally, it stars Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson and Estella Warren.
The PG rated film, written by Elizabeth Hurley impregnator Steve Bing, focuses on two Brooklynites who are forced to deliver $50,000 in cash to a mobster living in Australian. But a kangaroo with a plan of his own gets hold of the dough, forcing the two to track him across the outback.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated action comedy National Security came in second with an ESTIMATED $15.7 million take at 2,729 theaters.
Directed by Dennis Dugan, it stars Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn.
The buddy actioner revolves around two L.A.P.D. rejects who are partnered as security guards and end up uncovering a sophisticated smuggling operation led by crooked cops.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Just Married honeymooned in third place with an ESTIMATED $12.4 million (-29%) at 2,729 theaters (+3 theaters, $4,496 per theater). Its cume is approximately $34 million.
Directed by Shawn Levy, it stars Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy.
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated fantasy sequel The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers dropped to fourth place in its fifth week, with an ESTIMATED $11.3 million (-23%) at 3,110 theaters (-367 theaters; $3,658 per theater). Its cume is approximately $298.9 million, heading for $300 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen.
DreamWork's PG-13 rated crime biopic Catch Me If You Can fell two rungs to fifth place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $11.3 million (-23%) at 3,050 theaters (-175 theaters; $3,705 per theater). Its cume is approximately $135 million.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Miramax's PG-13 rated musical Chicago expanded in its fourth week to a solid ESTIMATED $8 million at 557 theaters (+195 theaters). Its $14,363 per theater was the highest of any Top 10 film this weekend. Its cume is approximately $27.7 million.
Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
MGM's PG-13 rated romantic comedy A Guy Thing opened in seventh place with an ESTIMATED $7.1 million at 2,515 theaters ($2,828 per theater).
In the film, a groom-to-be wakes up with a beautiful stranger in his bed after his bachelor party and, not remembering what happened, proceeds to try to cover up the evil deed he can imagine himself having done.
Directed by Chris Koch, it stars Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair and James Brolin.
New Line Cinema's R rated comedy About Schmidt slipped to eighth place in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $6.6 million (-2%) at 946 theaters (+81 theaters; $6,633 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.1 million.
Directed by Alexander Payne, it stars Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney and Kathy Bates.
Paramount Picture's PG-13 rated The Hours climbed to the ninth spot this week with an ESTIMATED $4.7 million (+421%) at 402 theaters (+357 theaters, $11,754 per theater). Its cume is approximately $7.4 million.
Directed by Stephen Daldry, it stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris and Claire Danes.
Rounding out the Top 10 was Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice, which dropped six slots with an ESTIMATED $4.1 million (-40%) at 2,240 theaters (-515 theaters; $1,830 per theater). Its cume is approximately $85 million.
Directed by Marc D. Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Miramax's R rated Brazilian drama City of God. The film opened with an ESTIMATED $90,000 at in five theaters, with a stunning $18,000 per theater average, the highest average of any film this week.
The film revolves around Cidade de Deus (City of God), a housing project built in the 1960s that--in the early 80s--became one of the most dangerous places in Rio de Janeiro.
Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund, it stars Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino De Hora Phellipe, Seu Jorge and Jonathan Haagensen.
Miramax's other limited-release film, the R-rated biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind pushed back its wide release until next week, settling over the holiday weekend for an ESTIMATED $82,000 at five theaters ($16,400 per theater).
Dirceted by George Clooney, it stars Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts and Clooney.
The top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $105.9 million, down 2.64 percent from last weekend when they totaled $108.7 million.
The top 12 were up a measly 0.668 percent from last year when they totaled $105.1 million.
Last year, Sony's R rated Black Hawk Down dominated the box office in its fourth week with $28.6 million at 3,101 theaters ($10,844 per theater); Buena Vistas' opening week of Snow Dogs was second with $17.8 million at 2,302 theaters ($10,299 per theater); and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came in third in its fifth week with $15.28 million at 3,266 theaters ($4,675 per theater).
Built in the 1960s the City of God has by the 1980s become a very dangerous place to live. A lack of opportunities and hope often leads the children of the City of God onto a path of drugs crime and corruption and it seems more palatable to many of them to have their 15 minutes of fame and die young than to live a life of misery and submission. But some manage to break the cycle of violence--and the main character and narrator of City of God Buscapé (Alexandre Rodrigues) is one of them. A poor black youth who leaves a life of crime behind to become a professional photographer Buscapé must struggle against the odds to make his way through the violence that surrounds him shooting pictures instead of people and finding redemption in his artistic vision. As his story unfolds we meet others in his world: his friend Bene (Phelipe Haagensen) the most popular guy in the slum and a partner in crime to Zé Pequeno (Leandro Firmino) an ambitious and powerful villain who wants to be the slum's drug leader; and Mané Galinha (Seu Jorge) who tries very hard to have a decent life but ultimately gets dragged deep into crime.
With few exceptions real slum kids and actors from local amateur drama clubs were cast in City of God and the result is truly believable characters and a gritty realistic film. The richness of details slang and backgrounds are a true portrait of a Brazilian slum where people live on little more than hope for a better future. Firmino Rodrigues and Douglas Silva (Dadinho) do a wonderful job of acting out a fiction that is indeed their lived reality.
Brazil's entry for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award director Fernando Meirelles' (Domesticas) City of God is seen as a very strong contender for the prize--and well it should be. The quick cuts and fast pace of the editing goes a long way toward visually portraying the violence of the streets as does the lighting which evolves over time from the warm colors of the naïve and happy childhood years to the dark anguished shadows of streets that grow ever more violent. The mosaic of stories in the screenplay also works to bring the various aspects of the slum vividly to life so that the setting actually becomes a mute character as the drama unfolds.