Forget Black Swan – Natalie Portman’s real crowning performance is to be found in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached in which director Ivan Reitman asks her to convey sincere unqualified affection for Ashton Kutcher. Portman much to her credit gamely complies and though she may not have the emaciated figure bloody nails and bandaged ankles to tell of her labors the psychic scars must no doubt be just as severe.
Exhibiting strong chick-flick leanings and a rambunctious soft-R comic tone (i.e. lots of F-bombs some menstrual humor and a few shots of Kutcher’s naked ass) No Strings Attached is built around a basic relationship role-reversal: The dude Adam (Kutcher) longs for a deeper lasting commitment; the chick Emma (Portman) insists on keeping matters purely physical. Emma’s motive is a practical one: As a doctor-to-be her busy residency schedule with its 80-hour work weeks and intensive exam preparations precludes a serious relationship. But alas a woman has certain needs (foreplay apparently not being among them) and who better to fulfill them than Kutcher’s non-threatening boy-toy?
Thus a “friends with benefits” arrangement is cemented whereupon the ripcord is to be pulled on the occasion that either of them develops stronger feelings. This does not last long for soon Adam is cloyingly lobbying for escalation. Emma demurs – not out of disinterest we are told but because she’s intimacy-averse and afraid of a broken heart. Why else would she resist a more permanent attachment to someone like Adam?
Perhaps it’s because Adam as played by Kutcher is about as interesting as cabbage. And yet No Strings Attached would have us believe he’s some kind of floppy-haired Albert Schweitzer. This despite the fact that his greatest aspiration in life is to join the writing staff of a High School Musical-esque television series the shallow inanity of which is one of the film’s recurring jokes. In vain support of his cause the filmmakers decorate Adam’s apartment with various props – vintage posters books about 1920s movies a guitar that is occasionally picked up but never actually played – that hint at a depth that Kutcher himself never manifests.
Still Portman sells us on Adam and Emma’s inevitable union with every ounce of her not inconsiderable talent. (And her comic chops are legit – as those who’ve glimpsed her appearances on SNL and Funny or Die can attest.) But she asks too much. And Elizabeth Meriweather’s script while witty and stocked with some keen observations on the evolving nature of relationships in the modern age becomes weighed down by sentiment unbecoming an R-rated comedy not directed by Judd Apatow. In the end Kutcher seals the increasingly contrived deal with the climactic line “I’m warning you: Come one step closer and I’m never letting you go ” (I’m paraphrasing but not loosely) by which time the film's already lost its grip.
The Star Wars actress has set up the firm with her business partner Annette Savitch and they aim to emulate the style of raunchy comedy made famous by Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie Knocked Up.
Describing the projects as "female comedies", Portman tells Vogue magazine, "Women... are generally not allowed to be beautiful and funny, and certainly not vulgar.
"There's a difference between being in a bra and underpants as an object on a men's magazine cover and playing yourself - a woman with desires and needs who loves and laughs with her friends - in a bra and underpants."
December 11, 2009 4:11am EST
Natalie Portman is set to star in and produce Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an adaptation of the book by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen.
Austen, of course, wrote Pride and Prejudice almost 200 years ago, but Grahame-Smith took the liberty of adding bloodthirsty flesh-eaters to the narrative for his tome. Lionsgate will finance and distribute.
Portman will produce through her Handsomecharlie shingle with Annette Savitch, plus Darko Films' Richard Kelly, Sean McKittrick and Ted Hamm, says Variety.
The book tells the story of a woman's quest for love and independence amid the outbreak of a deadly virus that turns the undead into vicious killers.
Portman will play Elizabeth Bennet, who is distracted from her quest to eradicate the zombie menace by the arrival of Mr. Darcy.
Portman currently stars in the Jim Sheridan-directed drama Brothers. Her production company recently set up Booksmart at Fox and is partnered with Plan B at Paramount on an adaptation of the Leanne Shapton book Important Artifacts, a potential screen vehicle for Portman and Brad Pitt.
Story : http://www.hollywoodwiretap.com/?module=news&action=story&id=43298
The Hollywood star has been lined up for a role in new movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's book which adds flesh-eating monsters to Austin's period novel.
The film will see Portman star as heroine Elizabeth Bennet, who continues her quest for love amid a deadly battle with bloodthirsty zombies.
Producer Annette Savitch tells Variety, "Natalie and I are longtime passionate fans of Jane Austen's books and this a fresh, fun and thought-provoking way to approach her work. The idea of zombies running rampant in 19th Century England may sound odd, but it lends a modern sense of urgency to a well known love story."
Austen's classic novel was previously revived in a 2005 version starring Keira Knightley, who won an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the leading lady Elizabeth Bennet.
Meet Roger (Jon Heder) a beleaguered New York City meter maid who can’t even get a kid to like him in the Big Brother program he’s that much of a loser. In a desperate attempt to change Roger joins a top-secret confidence-building class taught by the suavely underhanded Dr. P. (Billy Bob Thornton). The doc guarantees that if you employ his unorthodox and often dangerous techniques you WILL unleash your inner lion. The class turns out to be just the incentive Roger needs and he takes to it like a duck to water. He even finally gets up the courage to ask out his pretty neighbor Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). But here’s the catch: Because Roger is such a star student it catapults Dr. P. into ultra-competitive mode and he makes it his mission to infiltrate and destroy Roger's life including going after Amanda. Well that’s not very fair. Can Roger use his newfound king of the jungle-ness to beat the master at his own game? Hmmm. It’s mostly because of the two leads that Scoundrels feels like you’ve been there and done that. First of all Heder best known as THE Napoleon Dynamite is playing a nerd...again. And although he’s far more lovable this time around—with the full lips and shaggy hair—and you instantly cheer him on the actor doesn’t really evolve by movie’s end. With his limited comic abilities he may not be the right choice to carry an entire film. Thornton who has been known to carry a film is just doing his same Bad Santa shtick he’s done in about the last four films he’s made. Wonder if he’ll ever go out on a limb again like he did with Sling Blade. As for the other band of misfit classmates—Walsh (Old School’s Matt Walsh) who's dying to move out of mother's basement; Diego (SNL’s Horatio Sanz) a punching bag for his hen-pecker of a wife; and Eli (Jerry Maguire’s Todd Louiso) a shy guy just looking for female companionship—they are hilarious. Barrett (The Last Kiss) too works fine as the ingénue. And there is a well-placed cameo by Ben Stiller as a former student of Dr. P who also got in his way. Based on the 1960 British film of the same title Scoundrels reunites director/writer Todd Phillips with his writing partner Scot Armstrong—the guys who brought us Old School Starsky and Hutch and Road Trip. It’s obvious these guys know comedy and they turn an uppity British laffer into a cross between Anger Management and Rushmore. Not a bad combination actually. They set up the big comedic payoffs such as the class’ painful attempt at engaging in a paint ball fight in the woods or the one-upmanship competition between Roger and Dr. P and let the chortles roll in. But overall Scoundrels seems almost too paint by the numbers and tad superficial. It could have definitely benefited from either a little more star power (as with Anger Management’s Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson) or more off-beat humor (as between Rushmore’s Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray). Oh well better luck next time.