It was perplexing enough when the world decided to give one biopic to software engineer/documented oddball John McAfee. But perplexing enough just isn't perplexing enough: The Hollywood Reporter has linked Warner Bros. to a second developing film about the antivirus mogul and his various legal troubles throughout South America. News broke on Monday that the studio could be funding a cinematic project based on a Wired article ("John McAfee's Last Stand") about McAfee's alleged criminal activity. All this on top of December's announcement that McAfee would play the focal character in Running in the Background: The True Story of John McAfee, a film by Impact Future Media, to whom McAfee himself sold his life rights.
That's right, two John McAfee movies. The major studio exploit and the independent project with questionable objectivity, as it always goes. See, the dueling biopics phenomenon is not one unique to the case of McAfee. Recent years have seen competing forces vie for the presentation of a shared subject's life story — a couple of instances are even in the works presently. Is there always a clear winner to the showdown, or are we left torn between contrasting portraits of great figures? Take a gander at what we think:
The Studio Movie: John McAfee's Last Stand adaptation (no official title)
Source Material: Wired article "John McAfee's Last Stand"
Creative Forces: Unknown
The Independent Film: Running in the Background: The True Story of John McAfee
Source Material: McAfee's life rights
Creative Forces: Unknown
The Champion: Yet to be determined, although we can bet that the latter, which McAfee himself is at least marginally involved on a production level, might be a little skewed away from objectivity... which could, actually, be quite interesting.
The Studio Movie: Hitchcock
Source Material: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello
Creative Forces: Director Sacha Gervasi; stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Scarlett Johansson
The HBO Film: The Girl
Source Material: Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto
Creative Forces: Director Julian Jarrold; stars Toby Jones and Sienna Miller
The Champion: The Girl is a far superior, more intricate and compelling film to the bland Hollywood output
The Studio Movie: Steve Jobs
Source Material: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (authorized biography)
Creative Forces: Writer Aaron Sorkin
The Independent Film: jOBS
Source Material: Unknown
Creative Forces: Director Joshua Michael Stern; stars Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad
The Champion: As much as we like Gad in costume as the Woz, we have to bet on the Sorkin power for this one.
The Sundance Premiere: Lovelace
Source Material: Unknown
Creative Forces: Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman; stars Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, and Sharon Stone
The Muddling-in-Oblivion Machination: Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story
Source Material: Unknown
Creative Forces: Director/writer Matthew Wilder; stars Malin Akerman, Matt Dillon, and Harold Perrineau
The Champion: Another TBD, but Sundance provides us with some very favorable thoughts about the former.
And one from the archives...
The Studio Movie: Capote
Source Material: Capote by Gerald Clarke
Creative Forces: Director Bennett Miller; stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Clifton Collins, Jr.
The Independent(ish) Film: Infamous
Source Material: Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Careerby George Plimpton
Creative Forces: Director/writer Douglas McGrath; Toby Jones (again!), Sandra Bullock, and Daniel Craig
The Champion: The Oscars were right on this one: Miller and Hoffman's rendition of the story was a dazzling feat — while Infamous, too, is a film worth your while, it doesn't quite live up to the spectacle that a character like Truman Capote deserves
Alfred Hitchcock is noted as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and rightfully so — his body of work comprised of over 60 films is skillfully composed highly dramatic and eclectic from beginning to end. So pulling back the curtain on the legend in his own medium was only a matter of time a how'd-he-do-it biopic that could pay respects to the collected works while revealing the master's process. Hitchcock directed by Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil) pays its respects but also reveals another unexpected quality of the auteur's behind-the-scenes life: it wasn't all that dramatic.
Anthony Hopkins slides into the silhouette of the recognizable director and does a reasonable job nailing his cadence and posture. Side by side with his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) who as the movie reveals was the director's close collaborator Hitchcock strides confidently into the world of independent cinema for the first time balking at studio heads who demand something more audience-friendly than the gruesome Psycho. Investing his own money into the film Hitchcock risks everything to turn the story of murderer Ed Gein into a high art horror picture. He finds a leading lady in Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) a script in a screenwriter with mommy problems and a closeted actor to portray the sexually exploratory Gein.
And that's about it. Hitchcock disguises the usual stresses of moviemaking as major hurdles even representing Gein as a specter who haunts Hitchcock's every decision. Aside from the brief suspicion that Alma abandons him mid-production for charming writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) which feels stuffed in and meandering rather than intrinsic to the making of Psycho there's little explanation for Hitchcock's anxiety and downward spiral. The film even dabbles in Hitch's well-known infatuation with his leading ladies — explored to a terrifying degree in last month's The Girl — but places the director on too high a pedestal to ever dig deep.
The real star of the show — and perhaps one who would have made a better subject for feature film — is Alma a complex second fiddle overshadowed by the greatness of Hitchcock. Mirren once again delivers a lively performance as a woman desperate to live her own life; the scene when she lets loose on Hitchcock is easily the high point of the movie. But like the audience who unknowingly appreciated her work behind-the-camera Hitchcock is too obsessed with the man at the center of it all to open up and give the character or Mirren the spotlight.
Hitchcock's time period flourishes and camera work are presented simply (Gervasi keeps hat tipping to the auteur's oeuvre to a minimum) while Danny Elfman whips up a score that riffs appropriately on longtime Hitchcock collaborator Bernhard Hermann's works. But there's no hook to elevate the film from a puff piece and even the biggest Alfred Hitchcock fan will be grasping for something more.
The world premiere of Hitchcock took place Thursday night at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, serving as the opening film of the AFI Film Festival. Before the screening, director Sacha Gervasi stood in front of a packed house — which quickly became choked up by the director's emotional display — speaking about the support Fox Searchlight gave the debut director. (Gervasi lovingly called Fox Searchlight “filmmakers disguised as a studio.”) It was a heartfelt moment that was followed by a video clip of Hitchcock co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren — who are currently in London working on only their second film together Red 2 — recounting their experience starring as the legendary director and his beloved wife Alma, respectively. The short video clip closed with Mirren thanking the audience for attending the screening and Hopkins, in his best Hitchcock impression, bidding the audience the classic, “Good evening.” The lights went down and the film began.
Hitchcock is a hugely entertaining and riveting account of the making of the classic horror film Psycho and the behind-the-scenes machinations of bringing the controversial film to the big screen in the early late 1950s/early '60s. However, the actual making of the film Psycho serves mostly as a fascinating backdrop for the film to explore the intricate, complex, and challenging relationship between the brilliant yet tortured genius Hitchcock and his adoring, equally brilliant and often neglected wife Alma. Based on the excellent book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello with a taut screenplay by John J. McLaughlin, the film perfectly captures the mood of the early '60s and the challenges of bringing the very controversial book Psycho by Robert Bloch — with its then very taboo themes of transvestitism, incest, and overt sexuality — to the big screen. Ralph Macchio of Karate Kid fame, in an interesting bit of casting, plays the neurotic Psycho screenwriter Joe Stefano.
Beyond the intrigue associated with simply getting the movie made (one example: Paramount studio boss Barney Balaban, played by Richard Portnow, so hated the idea of making the movie that he would not finance the picture), the film also explores the complicated relationship between “Hitch” and his beautiful female stars. Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) is singled out for poor treatment (and given a pretty thankless supporting role in Psycho) because she dared to chose having a child and family instead of allowing the director to “make her a star” when she declined the lead role in Vertigo (a role that went to Kim Novak). However, Janet Leigh, who is portrayed brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson (in a nuanced and striking performance), is presented as a woman who knows exactly how to handle the temperamental director and their relationship is perhaps the most perfectly uncomplicated in the film.
In the final analysis, it is the relationship between Alma and "Hitch” that holds the movie together; Hopkins is as brilliant as he’s ever been and creates an indelible portrait of the legendary director — he will certainly add this to his impressive list of iconic chracterizations. His mannerisms, voice and larger-than-life physical presence are manifested brilliantly in the transformation of the actor who perfectly channels the spirit, the essence and the well-known persona of Alfred Hitchcock, one of cinema’s most famous directors. Mirren’s performance is an absolute showstopper, with her quiet resolve and unwavering admiration for her husband’s talent simultaneously comingled with her feelings of disdain for his ill treatment of her and his lustful yearnings toward his beautiful young female stars. The essential beauty of Hitchcock is fully realized when the pair emotionally, romantically, and touchingly reconnect by putting their differences aside and work in earnest on the fledgling production together. Ultimately, Hitchcock presents a portrait of the truly deep love between Alma and Hitch tempered, tested and strengthened throughout the years and ultimately reinvigorated through their collaboration in making Psycho the massive financial, critical and cultural success it would become.
The highly anticipated biopic Hitchcock directed by Sacha Gervasi, features an all-star cast including Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, Mirren as his wife Alma Reville, Johansson as actress Janet Leigh, James D’Arcy as actor Anthony Perkins, Biel as actress Vera Miles, Portnow as Paramount Studio boss Barney Balaban, Kurtwood Smith as the Director of The Production Code Administration, Michael Wincott as serial killer Ed Gein, Macchio as Psycho screenwriter Joe Stefano, and Michael Stuhlbarg as Lew Wasserman. The director of photography is the brilliant cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (son of legendary “Blade Runner” DP Jordan Cronenweth) and the music score is courtesy of Danny Elfman. Producers include Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollack. A Fox Searchlight release.
[Image Credit: Suzanne Tenner/Fox Searchlight]
Hitchcock: The Horrors of Making Psycho — TRAILER
Alfred Hitchcock Movie Is a Love Story, Naturally — POSTER
Anthony Hopkins is Nearly Unrecognizable as Alfred Hitchcock — PHOTO
THR reports that Dame Helen Mirren is close to joining the cast of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, a film whose title is more than adequately explanatory and requires no further elaboration on the part of yours truly. The star of The Queen and The Debt will work alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins, who is already attached to play the legendary film director. Mirren will play Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville, marking the first time ever that two Oscar winners and recipients of British Orders have portrayed spouses on the big screen.* I'm sure they'll have plenty of amusing Queen Elizabeth II anecdotes to share.
Sacha Gervasi is directing from a script by John McLaughlin (Black Swan) and Stephen Rebello, author of the book on which it's based.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Click on the image below for more pics of Dame Helen Mirren:
*This may or may not actually be true.
Knowledge is power, mostly! But sometimes, for people like James Franco who just can't seem to get enough of it, it ruins relationships that have lasted four or five years (which is curious because they've probably survived much crazier crap than the pursuit of higher education). Anyway, in the latest issue of Playboy, James Franco told contributing editor Stephen Rebello that he and Ahna (who again, he'd been with for somewhere between four and five years), was over. Franco broke the news when Rebello asked him how he manages -- despite his extremely public persona -- to keep his personal relationships to himself, and he said "It's over. That lasted about four or five years. We'd been living together in L.A. and then came to New York to go to school for two years. Then I signed up for more school at Yale. I think that was it for her."
So let this be a lesson to those of you with girlfriends who are planning on going to college to get more knowledge. It turns out you should really reconsider it because chicks don't really dig the lifestyle.