Charles Dickens has been attached to a great deal of controversy. He's been called a racist. An anti-Semite. An adulterer. At least that last one can be romanticized. And it will, thanks to Ralph Fiennes! In his directorial debut Coriolanus, Fiennes celebrated William Shakespeare. Now, The English Patient star is working on a tribute to another great British writer in Invisible Woman, a story about Dickens' extramarital affair with a much younger woman. It has been announced that Felicity Jones, who recently reminded us all just what it is to be in love in Like Crazy, will star as Dickens' mistress in Fiennes' film.
I'm not too certain what impact this woman had on Dickens' life, or his writing, but my initial reaction to this film isn't one of much eagerness. Sure, a great love story about the married, middle-aged novelist and an eighteen year-old girl could be interesting. But if you're going to explore a writer as brilliant as ol' Charlie D, then why focus on this aspect of his life specifically? Hopefully, the answer to this will be apparent in the film itself. This is just some premature skepticism.
On the bright side, Jones is the tops, and everybody seems to know it: Drake Doremus has cast her in his teacher-student romance film. Warren Beatty has cast her in his Howard Hughes film. And Fiennes has cast her here. Jones is no longer an invisible woman. Her career is heating up. Like crazy.
Soon-to-be 'it' girl Felicity Jones has reportedly been cast as the female lead in Warren Beatty's upcoming film about Howard Hughes.
Jones will play a young woman who ultimately falls in love with Hughes (played by writer/director Beatty), the late, notoriously wealthy and reclusive tycoon.
Jones is becoming one of Hollywood's hottest up-and-coming talents, following her critically acclaimed breakout in the recently released drama Like Crazy.
Beatty's longtime wife, Annette Bening, and friend, Jack Nicholson, are also said to be in consideration roles in the untitled film. Ditto Owen Wilson and Alec Baldwin.
Like some of his A-List contemporaries, Leonardo DiCaprio started his career young, tackling any small screen role that would come his way. His breakout came from the Cousin Oliver-esque role of Luke Brower in the Kirk Cameron/Alan Thicke sitcom Growing Pains. The role could have seen him typecast, but DiCaprio had versatility and charisma that his co-stars lacked. Miraculously, the young actor parlayed his 23-episode stint into a full-fledged movie career, making his big screen debut in the Robert De Niro familial drama This Boy's Life, and earning his first Oscar nomination at the age of 19 for What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
There are two types of true movie stars: One whose face a studio can slap on a poster and make bank, regardless of quality, and one whose raw talent has every director in town clamoring to work with them. After that first nomination, a few test runs with notable names (Sam Raimi in The Quick and the Dead, Baz Luhrmann in Romeo + Juliet) and a star turn in Titanic, DiCaprio became both. From there, the former-heartthrob continued his evolution, utilizing his fame and status in Hollywood to help some of the last decade's riskier dramatic fare take flight. He took commanding leads in Danny Boyle's The Beach, Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, Edward Zwick's The Blood Diamond, Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road, and Christopher Nolan's Inception. Peppered between those prestige dramas, DiCaprio fostered a relationship with legendary director Martin Scorsese that resulted in four quality films: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island (and the duo are rumored to have more movies in the works).
But since his first swing at Oscar gold in 1993, DiCaprio has only been nominated twice: for Best Actor in 2004's The Aviator and 2006's Blood Diamond. The actor can deliver, but apparently, not enough for the Academy.
That's the fundamental problem with the Oscars. There are some talented folk that, no matter what they do, they'll receive a nomination (see: Meryl Streep). Then there are others of which the Academy demands more. In the eyes of the Academy, Leonardo DiCaprio gives great performances–but not the BEST performances. Over the years, he's never taken on a truly "showy" role, an extravagant performance wild enough to have voters say, "Yeah, he is acting!" Think something like Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, a tour-de-force that's poetic, ferocious and BIG. But in DiCaprio's movies, the actor strives to make his characters' eccentricities relatable, using suave mannerisms and his reserved facade to keep an array of personalities and emotions grounded. Even his Howard Hughes, a man who locked himself away while battling psychological duress, drawing up airplane blueprints and peeing in bottles, felt restrained. That could be a personal choice—either he fears slipping of the edge and overacting on screen, or doesn't find those types of roles all that interesting. It really doesn't matter. He does great work, just not the kind of that earns a guy an Oscar.
Flashy parts aren't the only hurdle standing in DiCaprio's way to Oscar glory. By Hollywood standards, he's still a young guy—at 37, DiCaprio's body of work is astounding, but he's never been in the running when someone else didn't deserve it more. Award prognosticators, picking up buzz from the inner voting circles, are able to venture guesses for possible Oscar contenders early, because the Academy is notorious for following tradition. Rewarding time-honored actors in memorable roles, as a proxy for the celebrity's lifetime of work, is common practice (unless you think Pacino's finest role really was in Scent of a Woman). DiCaprio isn't far enough along in his career to be thrown that bone.
My fear is that the constant cold shoulder for his body of work will push DiCaprio to strive for awards recognition, instead of allowing accolades land in his lap. His new movie, the Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar, feels like a strategic move. The movie chronicles the turbulent, controversial life of the infamous FBI director—and if there's one thing the Academy has been known to love, it's biopics that pull an actor through the ringer (in the last ten years, five of the Best Actor winners portrayed real people). This isn't to say the performance is lackluster—he's great in the movie, even under ten pounds of old age make-up—but J. Edgar may be too serious, too restrained, too soulless for his own good. DiCaprio needs a colorful role. He needs to spice it up.
Once upon a time DiCaprio was set to play the wicked Nazi Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds (a role that earned Christoph Waltz an Oscar), but allegedly turned it down because it wasn't good for his image. Thankfully, he seems to have put reputation aside in order to join Tarantino's latest, Django Unchained, where he'll play a villainous slave owner. That's a big move, and it feels right. If anything will catch the eye of the Academy, including the new wave of young ruffians filtering in to the voting scene, it's risk-taking. I have no doubt that Leonardo DiCaprio will one day march to the podium to accept his Academy Award for Best Actor, but, for now, he may be standing in his own way. There's a wild, unfiltered version of the actor lurking underneath his oh-so-serious exterior. Once it comes out, the statue will be his for the taking.
Dominic Cooper is in talks to star in Warner Bros.' revenge thriller Motor City, Variety reports. The actor, who recently won widespread acclaim for playing dual roles in the indie thriller Devil's Double, will play a falsely imprisoned ex-con who, upon being released from jail, goes to work hunting down the men who put him away. Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) is slated to direct, with Joel Silver (Whiteout) producing.
Dominic Cooper was last seen in the blockbuster comic-book flick Captain America: The First Avenger, in which he rocked a dandy 'stache as Howard Stark, father of Tony. He can next be seen in My Week With Marilyn, opening December 4, 2011. Click on the image below to view our photo gallery for the charismatic young actor:
Russell Crowe has donned a fedora and trench coat to join Mark Wahlberg in Broken City. Which I can only assume is set in New York City in August—that wonderful time of year when the city is empty except for tourists and you can’t take the subway two stops without a route change. Actually, the film is set to be a neo-Noir, in which private eye Wahlberg is hired by the Mayor (Crowe) of the titular city to investigate if his wife is having an affair. As is often the case in noir films, nothing is as it appears and Wahlberg will find himself drawn deeper into a world of crime and corruption. Also, there will probably be venetian blinds.
Broken City is directed by Allen Hughes of the Hughes Brothers, who have directed From Hell, Menace II Society, and The Book Of Eli together. Not quite the Coen Bros, but not a bad filmography. And, this is the man who was smart enough to abandon the American Akira remake. So he must have some sense.
This isn’t Crowe’s first foray into neo-Noir- the Oscar winner had his first major Hollywood role in 1997’s L.A. Confidential. While that film had Crowe on the side on justice (manly, grizzled justice), Broken City should see Crowe taking a more villainous role. Crowe can be seen next in The Man With The Iron Fists, and is rumored to make an appearance in Zack Snyder’s new Superman film as Jor-El.
Broken City should hit theaters in 2014. Hopefully Hughes will be able to cast Guy Pierce in the film as well, so that I can pretend that it’s actually a sequel to L.A. Confidential.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Mark Wahlberg likes to play tough characters, this much we know. So, it makes sense that he would team up with Allen Hughes to play an ex-cop turned private investigator who winds up getting in too deep with a crooked mayor. Broken City just screams Wahlberg. Which is why he’s signed on to produce and star in the movie. It just makes sense.
As I mentioned, Hughes will be directing the film, though he's normally one half of the Hughes Brothers with his twin Albert. They’re some pretty hardcore directors considering they're responsible for The Book of Eli. And they also got Tupac sent to jail back in the '90s. That’s pretty ballsy. Normally, I’d be a little underwhelmed at the thought of ANOTHER Wahlberg cop movie, but teaming with Hughes gives the movie a much-needed dose of potential.
Quite frankly, Chris Colfer's job as playing Kurt on Glee is the probably the obligation that takes up the least of his time. He's shown us that he's simply not content being just another actor, and that he's much more interested in expressing his creativity through writing, and he's working really hard to fill up his schedule with as many other projects as it will allow. For instance, he previously wrote a feature-length screenplay called Struck By Lightning, which is a coming-of-age indie story and written in the style of a John Hughes movie (he is expected to shoot it when he's on break from Glee, which happens to be now). Colfer also just sold a pilot to the Disney Channel called The Little Leftover Witch, and it's based on a Florence Laughlin children's book where a witch is adopted by a family after her broom breaks and she tumbles out of the sky. Those two endeavors bring us to the newest one, which is that Colfer has signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown Books. The first one will be called The Land of Stories, and it will be a chronicle of the adventures that a set of twins experience in a modern atmosphere. The second book is untitled, but judging from Colfer's determination and foresight, I think it's a safe bet that he already knows what it it'll be and is just keeping it to himself.
Sources: AOL TV, THR, Firstshowing
Dropping out of big-budget film projects seems to be the flavor of the year. Following Darren Aronofsky’s departure from Fox’s The Wolverine, two acclaimed directors left two anticipated movies yesterday, leaving their respective fates in limbo. David O. Russell (who ironically collaborated with Aronofsky on last winter’s The Fighter) exited Sony’s video game adaptation of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, while Albert Hughes walked out on Warner Bros. Akira. If you’re a fan of either property and are upset because you think these films are doomed, fear not. Hollywood always has a plan B, C and D. Another filmmaker will surely be hired for both and you’ll end up seeing them on the big screen one way or another. If I had my choice, however, I’d let one of these guys take on the responsibilities.
I’ve long been a fan of Natali’s work, which has largely been in the realm of sci-fi. Most recently, he got icky with the psycho-sexual creature feature Splice, but he’s also done great things in the genre with Nothing, a comedic take on the exploration of a complex existential situation, and Cypher, in which he made a thrilling action-adventure on a shoestring budget. Warner Bros. came on board Splice at the last minute to distribute the film to a wider audience, so the studio must have confidence in his unique vision. That’s why I think he deserves a shot at Akira, a project that would benefit from having a not-so-expensive director at the helm (gotta save for those special effects, you know).
Jones has become a bit of a savior for studio sci-fi in the last two years. He burst onto the scene with his trippy mind-game Moon, which rewarded him with the chance to helm a bigger project in Summit’s Source Code. The latter is actually one of the best-reviewed mainstream releases of the year and an all-around cool flick. It’s clear that this guy knows what works and what doesn’t within the genre, and he’s proven that he’s capable of handling a mid-range budget. The fact that Fox was considering using him to replace Aronofsky on Wolverine means that his stock is rising, so Warner Bros. should get on the DJ train quick.
My first thought was to go with Tony, because he’s not currently committed to a film like his older brother Ridley is. The veteran filmmaker has no problem managing hundred-million-dollar movies and even makes a good one every once in a while. The only reason I’m not totally gung-ho about having him direct Akira is because he’s rarely venture into the realm of science fiction (the one exception was Disney’s Déjà Vu, a convoluted but underrated adventure), but that’s where Ridley comes in. He’s responsible for some of the genre’s very best, including Alien and Blade Runner (and he’s currently working on what could be another milestone, Prometheus). The blockbuster brothers have never co-directed a picture in their long careers, so why not try it with Akira?
If there’s one thing that an Uncharted movie should be, it’s raw and intense. As writer of urban action hits like The Fast and the Furious, S.W.A.T. and Training Day and director of Harsh Times and Street Kings, I think that Ayer can bring a lot of adrenaline to the international adventures of Nathan Drake. Without question, he’d make the hand-to-hand combat as painfully authentic as it could be and would give the story a real sense of danger. He’s currently filming a new police thriller called End of Watch, but should be done in time to helm Uncharted for its planned 2013 release.
This is one guy who knows a thing or two about started a franchise out on the right foot. From James Bond to Zorro to Green Lantern, he’s taken these characters from page (or radio) to screen with style and high energy. He rarely returns to a series once he gets it out of the gate, so I wouldn’t expect him to stick around for the long haul, but he’d definitely deliver an engrossing picture with well-developed characters and a kick-ass pace.
Sure, he’s plenty busy with Cowboys and Aliens and Magic Kingdom, but I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable to think that Favreau would give this Indiana Jones-inspired character a great origin story. His films are very well balanced, focusing equally on story, character and spectacle. They combine in the form of highly watchable, exciting movies that are perfect for all audiences. If he could find the time, I think Favreau would nail Uncharted.
Damn you, Warner Bros. You had to twiddle your thumbs and wait for all the right pieces of the puzzle that is Akira to fall into place on its own, and now that hesitation has caused Albert Hughes to walk away from the project. That's right, folks: Akira is now without a director or star, and it seems very unlikely that this ambitious film will ever get made.
Deadline just broke the news that Hughes, who recently made The Book of Eli at the studio with his partner/brother Allen, has departed the adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s seminal graphic novel and will move on to pursue other gigs at WB. It's just one of many problems that the film has faced on its way to a start date, though the most troubling issue thus far has been casting the teenage characters at the center of the sci-fi tale. Originally the studio wanted young up-and-comers, and was considering everyone from Zac Efron and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield for the roles of Tetsuo and Kaneda, but after a change of heart (and a ballooning production budget) decided the film would require an ultimate A-lister. Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves were offered roles but smartly turned them down, as the characters are teens and both of the actors are pushing 50.
All these game-changing plans must've been awfully frustrating for Hughes to deal with, so it's no surprise that he's dropped the film. WB will now seek out another director to fill the void, but I've got plenty of reservations about the project moving forward. As my colleague Peter Hall put it, with Akira you either go big or go home. If the company is balking over the high price tag, it should just cut its losses and move on. Sure, Akira COULD be an enchanting, philosophical science fiction epic for the ages, but it needs to be treated with utmost respect. You can't cut corners on a movie like this. Whoever steps in to Hughes' shoes needs the full support of the studio, and unless Warner's are ready to give a filmmaker whatever he/she needs to make this happen, I'd rather just watch the anime over and over again.