Pioneering French director Jean-Jacques Annaud has often seemed as much anthropologist as filmmaker, taking great pains to faithfully create the disparate cultures that have driven his films. Time aft...
Effects wizards have used CGI technology to splice the silver screen stars into a scene with Theron as she prepares to walk in a fashion show at the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles in France.
The advertisement, for Dior's J'Adore perfume, sees Theron change into a gold gown backstage while appearing to mingle with Dietrich, Kelly and Monroe.
The shoot, which was directed by Oscar-winning director Jean-Jacques Annaud, was a dream come true for Theron.
She says, "It was incredibly glamorous and fantastic. I don't think I'll experience something like that again in my lifetime."
At the turn of the 20th century we meet a tiger family living peacefully in the jungle ruins of an ancient Southeast Asian temple. The two male cubs--Kumal and Sangha (their given "human" names as we come to find out)--are tight as two brothers can be with Kumal being the more brave and adventurous of the two while Sangha remains the shyer more sensitive one. Their happy existence comes to a screeching halt however when a British hunter Aidan McRory (Guy Pierce) invades their world in search of sacred temple artifacts and inadvertently separates the two tiger cubs. Kumal is eventually sold off to a circus where captivity robs him of his spirit. Sangha on the other hand finds brief happiness as the beloved pet of a governor's lonely young son Raoul (Freddie Highmore) until an accident forces the family to give him away to a spoiled prince whose animal trainers turn Sangha into a fierce fighter for sport. A year later the full-grown brothers are finally reunited in a ring where they are forced to do battle for the enjoyment of bloodthirsty patrons--but the tigers end up recognizing each other instead and renewing their long-lost kinship. Together Kumal and Sangha escape their confines and head out to rediscover their roots in the jungle--that is if the big bad white men will let them.
Two Brothers focuses all its attention on the tigers leaving the human actors to serve only in perfunctory roles but Pierce stands out the most as the kindly McRory. The actor infuses the skilled hunter with a realistic outlook; he kills what he considers a dangerous man-eater. Yet by bonding with Kumal McRory eventually becomes the tiger's friend rather than its foe--and it's very gratifying to see him gain respect and admiration for the animals thus laying down his arms. Young Highmore (who will play Charlie Bucket in the upcoming Tim Burton remake Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) also adds a nice touch as Raoul whose innocence and pure love for Sangha teaches the adults around him a thing or two about caring for wildlife. But of course in a film of this nature mankind will ultimately be the bad guy; there's no way around it. And Two Brothers is chock-full of them--ignorant greedy and mean-spirited as they are.
"This movie is a combination of three of my greatest passions: the animal world a love of monasteries and temples and my fascination with the European colonial period. It was a world that irritated and fascinated but its buffoonery and quirky characters also amused me " explains Two Brothers filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud. As the critically acclaimed director of the 1989 The Bear Annaud knows what he is talking about having done the almost impossible again with Two Brothers--a compelling heartwarming film in which beautiful wild potentially dangerous and very real tigers are the main stars. How does he do it you may ask? Apparently he surrounds himself with the best animal trainers in the world including head trainer Thierry Le Portier. Annaud and Le Portier use about 30 different tigers in all each with their own unique personalities and specialties (i.e. some are better for the maternal scenes; others for the stunts). As well Annaud employs High Definition digital rather than just 35mm cameras (an upgrade since The Bear) which allows longer uninterrupted takes with the tigers. The end effect is mesmerizing as it puts you right there with the gorgeous animals. Some animatronic tigers are used but only in cases where the animals may have been in danger especially in one scene where the brother tigers escape a jungle fire. Of course there really isn't a story per se only vignettes in which you sort of gear yourself up for something bad to happen; that somehow the evils of mankind will prevail--and while Two Brothers still chokes you up it's more out of relief and happiness when everything turns out right.
Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) becomes an unwilling hero of World War II when he rises from the bottom of the Russian ranks to a coveted sniper position with the help of Soviet political officer Danilov (Joseph Fiennes). A master at publicity Danilov turns Vassili into a national hero by publishing Vassili's extraordinary sniping exploits and together they boost the flagging spirits of the Russian army as it attempts to resist the Nazi invasion of Stalingrad. But Hitler wants this city which means Vassili's got to go. Enter the celebrated Major Konig (Ed Harris) a ruthless Nazi sharpshooter sent to Stalingrad to hunt Vassili down and kill him. Oh yeah and there's this love triangle thing between Vassili Danilov and Tania (Rachel Weisz) a female soldier.
This reviewer would watch eye-candy Jude Law in a bad Internet short and as grimy and bloody and war-torn as he gets in two hours he's still mighty fine. Oh yeah and he's good as the humble somewhat bewildered Vassili. You can't help thinking though that no backwoods kid from the Urals (Russia's version of hillbilly country) is going to have the effortless grace beauty and upper-crust Brit accent that make Law more suited for roles like the one he played in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Fiennes is fine as his backstabbing best friend. Weisz as Tania is unnecessary (and please no more closeups of her having sex fer chrissakes - her love scene with Law is so over-the-top it looks more like he's killing her than making love to her. It's a particularly cruel-looking Harris though who commands the screen in a skillful performance almost solely conveyed through his eyes and facial expressions.
Why is it Hollywood used to be able to tell a good war story without a) the nonstop carnage and b) the backside-numbing two-hour-plus run time? Director Jean-Jacques Annaud (Seven Years in Tibet) proves once again that his movies are nice to look at but lack much substance - probably why a promising epic with a good cast like this was released in March instead of Oscar season. Accents were weirdly inconsistent settings improbable and characters virtually undeveloped. Good points: The opening scene reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan with all the bloodshed but less f/x is quite chilling and Annaud gives us glimpses of creativity (the showdown between Harris and Law in the broken glass-strewn factory is one of the few inspired scenes in the movie).
First collaboration with screenwriter Gerard Brach, "Quest for Fire"
Last screenplay credit for 13 years, "Coup de Tete/Hot Head", which he also directed
Began career as film director making educational films while serving in French Army
Founded Paris-based production company, Reparge Productions
First English-language film, "The Name of the Rose"
Wrote and directed the dramatic adventure "Two Brothers" about two tigers who are separated from their parents and each other
Directed Brad Pitt in the $70 million biopic "Seven Years in Tibet"
First screenplay credit in 13 years, "The Lover", adapted from Marguerite Duras's novel in collaboration with Gerard Brach
First film as director and screenwriter, "Victoire en chantant/Black and White in Color"; won Oscar as Best Foreign-Language Film
Signed a three-year deal with Sony Pictures to direct English-Language movies
Wrote and directed the first IMAX 3-D fiction film, the 40-minute "Wings of Courage"
Co-wrote (with Alain Godard and director Pierre Richard) the screenplay for a film he did not direct, "Je suis timide, mais je me soigne/I'm Shy But I'm Treating It"
Fulfilled mandatory period of military service in Cameroon, Africa
Helmed "Enemy at the Gates"; screened at the Berlin Film Festival
Helmed "The Bear", a wildlife coming-of-age movie told from the bear's point of view
Pioneering French director Jean-Jacques Annaud has often seemed as much anthropologist as filmmaker, taking great pains to faithfully create the disparate cultures that have driven his films. Time after time he has depicted the conflict that occurs when one culture bumps up against another and the resultant emotional transformations that arise from these clashes. His globetrotting has taken him from Vietnam (where he became the first non-Asian in 50 years to shoot anything but live ammunition) to the Andes (substituting for the Himalayas), the Canadian Rockies (standing in for the Andes) to colonial Africa, pursuing a recurrent theme--the quest for humanity in a world that has lost all sense of what being human is.
mother Monique Rossoignol
born c. 1988; mother Laurence Duval
mother Monique Rossoignol
married in 1982
married in 1970; divorced in 1980
Ecole Nationale de Photo et Cinema
Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques
Sorbonne, University of Paris
Ecole de Vaugirard
Awarded the Cinema Prize from French Academy in 1989 for career's work and the Grand Prix National du Cinema (1990).
Named Best Director by the Japanese Critic Association for "The Lover" (1993).
Made Officier des Arts et Lettres, Merite National
When asked if he was among the Hollywood Buddhists: "No. No. In a way, I resent those people who are parading in front of His Holiness [the Dalai Lama], bent in obedience. I respect the man immensely, but I'm not a Buddhist, I'm a filmmaker. I don't want to convert people. I want to entertain them and give them a glimpse at another civilization. I have seen a lot of Hollywood Buddhists who produce violent movies and give three percent of the gross to nonviolent organizations. That doesn't work for me. I think, if you want to promote nonviolence, don't make violent movies." --Jean-Jacques Annaud in Movieline, October 1997