Director Spike Lee is still keen to turn his hit film Do The Right Thing into a Broadway musical, but insists he will not appear on stage as he did in the movie. The filmmaker revealed last year he was in talks with theatre mogul and producer Sir James Nederlander and had big plans to take the cult 1989 movie, which earned him a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nod, to the stage.
Lee reveals he has started work on the project, but insists he will not be reprising his role as main character Mookie.
He tells U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America, "We might be doing a Broadway musical of Do The Right Thing. I'll just direct it. I'll write it and I'll direct it. I'm not in it, I'm too old to play Mookie."
The film, about racial tensions boiling over on a hot day in Brooklyn, New York, was written, produced and directed by Lee. It featured Danny Aiello, Samuel L. Jackson and Rosie Perez.
Spanish actress Penelope Cruz is in talks to become the oldest Bond girl in the untitled 24th 007 movie. A source close to the production tells blogger Perez Hilton the Vicky Cristina Barcelona will get up close and personal with Daniel Craig and steal Honor Blackman's title as the oldest Bond beauty.
If the rumours are true, pregnant Cruz will have to bounce back to her pre-baby weight after giving birth to her second child with husband and Skyfall bad guy Javier Bardem in time for the start of production next summer (14).
Reports suggest Sam Mendes is reconsidering not returning to direct the next Bond film, and Sony Pictures boss Amy Pascal recently confessed she has been trying to persuade Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow to become the first female to helm a Bond movie.
Won't Back Down is as strident and willfully heart-plucking as you'd expect from a movie about two mothers from different socio-economic backgrounds who want to change the broken school system.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is as charming as ever as Jamie Fitzpatrick a single mom working two jobs who has a punky plucky look about her. (We should note her visible tattoos lack of a college education and financial struggles as a marker of a wild and free past that she now regrets or even worse doesn't regret at all.) Her equally adorable daughter Malia (Emily Alyn Lind) is dyslexic and the public school she's at Adams is full of zombie-fied teachers who fail upwards or just plain phone it in. Jamie can't afford sending Malia to the private school that was starting to help her and all the teachers at her new school are like "Whatever my shift ends at 3 PM see ya!" because of unions. Their only hope is a charter school with a few precious slots open. (The charter school's headmaster is played by Ving Rhames so you know he gets s**t done.) Of course Malia doesn't snag a spot there despite her mom's aforementioned pluck and cute prayers to "foxy lady luck."
When Jamie sees Nona Roberts (Viola Davis) one of the teachers from her daughter's school at a lottery for a charter school Jamie corners her. She tries to get Malia transferred to Nona's class but that doesn't work. Why she does this isn't clear since we saw Nona's class at the beginning and Nona was one of those teachers phoning it in; none of her students are paying attention to her as she drones on and who could blame them? They don't care that she's actually a highly educated woman who was once fired up about education and changing lives and all that inspired by her late mom's work as a teacher and her students' lifelong love. But whatever that doesn't work either and with her can-do attitude Jamie stumbles upon the "Pennsylvania Fail-Safe Act."
Won't Back Down relies on the Fail-Safe Act as its hook which is problematic because while it is based on "parent trigger laws " it's also sort of made up. This makes things especially confusing since "Won't Back Down" is basically a call to arms for parents to take charge of their children's schooling and the movie oversimplifies a complicated matter. As someone who isn't a parent isn't involved in any sort of labor movement and is barely privy to the trials and tribulations of my friends who are teachers (even one who used to work at a charter school) even I know that this movie is a big flashing neon sign of a message about how great charter schools are. Although it touches on how it's more complex than that through the character of the hot hippie teacher love interest Michael (Oscar Isaac) the characters who are in support of or belong to the teachers' union are generally vilified. It is perhaps worth mentioning that production company Walden Media was also involved in the documentary Waiting for Superman which highlighted the struggles of a few families hoping to get their kids into charter schools. We can assume that whatever "actual events" this movie is based on didn't include a cute single mom with a can-do attitude and a teacher who suddenly finds her joie de vivre once again by osmosis.
Everything is as on the nose as the theme song by Tom Petty. This is to say nothing of the uninspired direction which relies heavily on dark grays and blue tones at the beginning to denote how depressing and hopeless everything is and eventually turns to rosier tones as things begin to come together. The music is equally overbearing. As if we didn't get it "Norma Rae" is even invoked.
Won't Back Down wastes a very talented cast on a story that has no real arc as any possible question the viewer might have about the story is answered by the very title. They won't back down. Maggie Gyllenhaal won't back down. Viola Davis won't back down. Oscar Isaac wants to back down but is way too smitten to stick to his pro-labor stance. Even Holly Hunter an executive-type teachers' union person who waxes philosophical about how much unions meant to her family eventually backs down. And Rosie Perez as a fellow frustrated teacher? You guessed it. While it's clear that the filmmaking team behind Won't Back Down care a great deal about a crucial issue facing America today dumbing down something so complex for mass consumption is not the way to fix anything. And it's certainly not a way to make a good movie.
Want to know what happens when Desmond Tutu and a bunch of other Nobel Peace Prize winners get together to watch TV? They see that NBC's got a new reality competition show in the works (you remember it, don't you? It's called Stars Earn Stripes), and well, they get pretty upset about it. It's pretty surprising! Since, you know, reality television is rarely ever criticized for glorifying things it shouldn't, right? (He're looking at you, Teen Mom!)
According to CBS, the award-winning peaceful folk are outraged at the content of the show. "This program pays homage to no one anywhere," started the note penned to NBC that featured signatures from Tutu as well as Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Betty Williams. The Nobel winners went on to say that the show trivializes the seriousness of war, by "trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition."
The series--which oh-so-conveniently premieres tonight on NBC--pairs celebrities with U.S. military personnel for simulated military challenges. These celebrities include Laila Ali, Dean Cain, Picabo Street and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin. The show, hosted by former Presidential candidate retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, is being framed as an homage to the hard work done by our nation's soldiers. "I'm doing this series for one reason," explains Clark from the show's onset; "to introduce you, the American people, to the individuals that sacrifice so much for all of us." It is said that the show gathers its celebrity contestants at a remote training facility where they have to execute missions inspired by real military exercises.
The Nobel laureates also threw their weight behind a protest against the show scheduled to take place Monday outside NBC's headquarters in Manhattan.
Do you think the criticism is warranted or overstated? Sound off in the comments!
[Photo Credit: NBC]
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The filmmaker is currently tasting success on the New York stage after taking charge of Mike Tyson's one-man show Undisputed Truth, which opened last week (31Jul12).
Now Lee is looking to take his 1989 drama, about racial tension in the rough Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, to the theatre on the advice of his wife, Tonya, and he's begun discussions with a well-known Broadway mogul about the project.
Confirming the news on U.S. breakfast show Today, he says, "I'm talking to Sir James Nederlander about it (taking Do The Right Thing to Broadway)."
The film was written, produced and directed by Lee and he also stepped in front of the camera to star alongside Danny Aiello and Ruby Dee. A young Martin Lawrence and actress Rosie Perez also made their feature film debuts in the movie.
December 14, 2011 12:53pm EST
Let’s put the cards on the table: I have not read Steig Larsson’s best-selling “Millennium Trilogy” and therefore cannot comment on whether or not Columbia Pictures’ big-budget (American) adaptation of its first novel is a spot-on transfer of the shocking story or if Rooney Mara has lived up to the punk-goth-genius of an anti-heroine he created. This review is about director David Fincher’s craft and the dream cast he has assembled to make The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo one of the most brutal and engrossing films of 2011.
Right from lustrous sexy title sequence evoking torturous S&M imagery to the ultra-cool Karen O/Trent Reznor rendition of Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” the Oscar-nominated filmmaker plunges his audience into a very specific experience. This is not to say that the story itself is notably inventive; Dragon Tattoo is more or less a standard serial killer thriller wherein a pair of investigators attempts to solve a decades-old murder that has ties to other gruesome mysteries and a wealthy Swedish family. It’s the sinister atmosphere and tone he cultivates using color music and lighting that makes this tale so unique and highly watchable in spite of the terrible events that occur throughout.
Perhaps most compelling though is its mixed bag of characters from different walks of life including Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) a recently disgraced financial journalist in need of an assignment Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgard) a yuppie-ish corporate tycoon charged with running the family business started by his uncle Henrik (Christopher Plummer) and Lisbeth Salander (Mara) the alpha-outsider and titular character of this eerie epic. All are emotionally scarred and the actors charged with portraying them go the darkest corners of their own souls to make them their own. Mara in particular must be praised for her ghoulish and extreme embodiment of Salander who suffers physical and emotional torment unlike anything we’ve seen in cinema this year. This more than her scene-stealing presence in Fincher’s The Social Network is no doubt her star-making turn; expect to see her name on a marquee soon. Though she and Craig at times struggle with the Swedish diction (the latter’s native British accent slips through more times than I can count) they more than make up for it with their physical personifications facial expressions etc. Yet it’s Skarsgard who is most impressive as the younger Vanger (he’s of Swedish descent) and delivers a stunning and chilling performance that will rival Mara’s in defining this film in years to come.
Still this is a Fincher film through and through and I cannot think of source material better suited for the maker of Se7en and Zodiac than this disturbing chronicle. Visually he’s given the opportunity to create damp decaying interiors familiar to fans of his work but contrasts them with beautifully filmed exteriors including some terrifying whiteout conditions that are sure to lower your body temperature. In terms of form he and editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall effectively lay out dual character arcs (that of Salander and Blomkvist) that run parallel but connect in uncanny ways until their eventual convergence resulting in a highly literary feel. Both Baxter and Wall won Oscars for cutting The Social Network and I’m afraid that their penchant for quick transitions between shots has a decreasing effect on the terror; for a film that so closely treads the line between horror-thriller I felt that letting certain shots play out a bit longer could’ve had more dreadful results.
Still in no way I am saying that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn’t come with its share of nail-biting suspense. Fincher takes tense situations to the next level using unconventional camera angles and Reznor’s unnerving score making many sequences in the movie hard to watch. It’s a tiring but entertaining task; one that is a pleasure and pain to endure but the auteur’s masterful methods are quite magical even when being used to tell a story as menacing as this one.
There’s nothing else playing at the multiplex this season that’s quite like it and should you choose to view it you’ll carry its shocks with you for days after.
DeGeneres comes in second behind Apple boss Tim Cook on Out magazine's 2011 Power 50 List. Cooper is third and Ross is 10th.
Designers Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford, film producer Scott Rudin, Glee creator Ryan Murphy, blogger Perez Hilton, music mogul David Geffen and actor Neil Patrick Harris make the top 20.
Jodie Foster, singer Adam Lambert, Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black and The Kids Are All Right director Lisa Cholodenko also make the 2011 list.
The film, which won two Academy Awards including a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Whoopi Goldberg, is heading back to the big screen under the direction of Taro Otani with an all-Japanese cast.
The project will begin filming in June (10) and is slated for an autumn release (10), according to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.
The 31 year old, who won an Academy Award for writing 2007 movie Juno, is said to have quietly tied the knot with her boyfriend, who has not been named, and is preparing to welcome the couple's first child, according to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.
A post on Hilton's website claims Cody has wed a "nice, normal, non-celeb dude" and is "pregnant and due to give birth soon".
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Like hundreds of others in the mad-for-baseball Dominican Republic Miguel Santos (aka Sugar) struggles to try to make it in the local major leagues which would help pull his family out of poverty. His big break comes when U.S. scouts transfer the pitcher to a minor league team in Iowa giving him the opportunity to succeed in America. But when his game goes bad on the mound and an injury occurs he must decide what he really wants to become.
WHO’S IN IT?
Writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) spent months scouting teams in the Dominican Republic to find a ball player capable of acting the leading role finally settling on Algenis Perez Soto who had never been in front of a movie camera. He’s authentic and mesmerizing to watch as Sugar — his performance owing a great deal to his own similar background. He nails it and is completely convincing as a pitcher even though he wasn’t initially comfortable on the mound (his own position was really second base). Many of the other roles are also cast with amateur actors adding to the realistic tone of the film.
Boden and Nelson clearly show the love they have for the game but their film is really a striking document of the immigrant’s journey reminiscent in many ways of Elia Kazan’s Oscar nominated America America (1963). We usually only hear about the superstar players but these filmmakers put the emphasis on the great majority that never make it past the minors.
Many scenes are long and drawn out but despite the fact that the film could have used some tighter editing (particularly in the baseball segments) there is still a nice rhythm established.
Due to its desire to be as authentic as possible much of the film is not in English; so those who don’t like to read subtitles might be advised to steer clear.