After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
While last week we delved into the slightly esoteric by pondering on the whereabouts of director Fred Dekker, this week the name on our list is just a tad more familiar. This week we turn our searchlight from the director’s chair to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Make sure to shake, but not stir, plenty of vodka martinis because this week we’re searching for Sean Connery.
Why We Love Him
You’d have to travel a great distance to find someone who hadn’t at least heard of James Bond; somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy would possibly suffice. This is a character deeply ensconced in both international cinema and pop culture and while many actors have played the role, Connery was the very first and, in the minds of many Bond fans, the very best. He was a powerful force of manliness with razor-sharp good lucks, quick wit, and lethal coldness. He was everything Ian Fleming had created in his original James Bond novels.
While donning the mantle of James Bond, Connery starred in some of the most seminal films of the franchise. Dr. No developed the formula, From Russia with Love already sought to improve upon that formula, and Goldfinger’s doomed, gilded beauty is among the most iconic images in cinema. Connery succeeded in proving himself as both a fantastic actor and a formidable action hero. He turned what could have been a couple of popcorn genre movies about spies into one of the most successful film franchises in history. His efforts ended up commanding him record-breaking salaries; much of which the man donated to charity for crying out loud.
The incredible thing about Sean Connery is that he was every bit as powerful a screen presence in his old age as he was in his youth. The roles he would play as a distinguished actor approaching his 60s were among some of his very best. I would mark the beginning of this period with his turn in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables playing a tough, flat-footed Irish cop helping Eliot Ness take down Al Capone. His final scene in that film is still absolutely devastating even upon repeat viewings.
But Sean wasn’t finished yet. He would then turn in an instantly endearing performance as the father of one of moviedom’s greatest heroes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The comic relief he provided as a bumbling, but still very lovable archaeologist was phenomenal and further demonstrated his amazing range. I also love that there are several jokes made throughout the film related to his retention of his sex appeal; a nod to Connery’s incredible the staying power. Top that off with sensational turns in The Hunt for Red October and The Rock and it becomes clear that ol’ Sean hadn’t lost a single step in his old age. His being voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1989 at the tender age of 59 certainly serves as evidence of this.
What Happened to Him?
What happened to Sean Connery? The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen happened to Sean Connery. Now granted, this was far from the first flop of Connery’s career, but it was apparently one he felt so personally embarrassed by that he decided to retire from acting altogether. While I not at all prepared to defend The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, I am confident that, had he not retired, Connery would have easily bounced back from it. This of course begs the question as to why others in Hollywood didn’t follow this same model; I will dance for joy the day I find out that Friedberg and Seltzer, humiliated to find they have absolutely no talent, retire from filmmaking forever.
Where’s He Been?
Apparently, and unfortunately for all of us, retirement really seems to be agreeing with Sean. He’s been playing loads of golf, enjoying his knighthood, and winning a slew of lifetime achievement awards. Despite announcing his retirement, several roles have been offered to Sean in the hopes that they would entice him back to the silver screen. He has turned down roles in The Matrix sequels and even the opportunity to reprise his role as Dr. Henry Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He had said that if anything could have pulled him from retirement it would have been another Indiana Jones film, but in the end decided he was having too much fun being retired.
Perhaps with the sweet relief he must feel for turning down the enormous pile of festering waste that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, he may have gained a slightly renewed confidence in his ability to choose roles. I’m of course grasping at straws, but it pains me to no end that Sir Sean is no longer making movies. I will tip my hat to him for somewhat reprising his role as James Bond by lending his voice to the 2005 From Russia with Love video game. It seems these days the only work he will even consider taking is voice work for animated fare like Scotland’s Sir Billi series. I cling desperately to the hope that we will get to see Connery on the big screen again, but for now it seems nothing can revoke his license to chill.
Eminem has seen some ups and downs since he made his first feature, 8 Mile, in 2002. At the time, the rapper was at the top of his game, with three bestselling albums under his belt and plenty of critics surprised to find themselves praising his acting work. After his initial success, Em got hooked on prescription drugs and released the two worst records of his career - Encore in 2004 and Relapse in 2009. Now things are looking up again for the newly sober rapper, whose recent self-proclaimed comeback album Recovery just received ten Grammy Nominations, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for "I Love the Way You Lie" with Rihanna.
In other words, it's the perfect time for Eminem to head back to Hollywood.
Deadline's Mike Fleming reports that the rapper also known as Marshall Mathers is set to team up with Sons of Anarchy writer-creator Kurt Sutter for Southpaw, a starring vehicle that will see Eminem playing a welterweight boxer fighting his way to stardom. As in 8 Mile and his rap lyrics, Southpaw will deal with the same struggles and tragedies that Eminem has battled throughout his life.
"I know he's very selective and doesn't do a lot," Sutter told Deadline. "But he shared so much of his personal struggle in this raw and very honest album, one that I connected with on a lot of levels. He is very interested in the boxing genre, and it seemed like an apt metaphor, because his own life has been a brawl."
DreamWorks co-chairman Stacey Snider, who was one of the first to champion 8 Mile when others were still skeptical, brought the pitch to her studio, which quickly acquired the project. Sutter will start writing a script immediately, with plans to turn in a draft by February, before his FX series begins gearing up for its fourth season.
"I took meetings with Marshall's producing partners over the past seven years," Sutter said. "In a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but rather than a literal biography, we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life. He'll play a world champion boxer who really hits a hard bottom, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter. At its core, this is a retelling of his struggles over the last five years of his life, using the boxing analogy. I love that the title refers to Marshall being a lefty, which is to boxing what a white rapper is to hip hop; dangerous, unwanted and completely unorthodox. It's a much harder road for a southpaw than a right handed boxer."
While Paramount and Marvel Entertainment’s Iron Man 2 doesn't hit theaters until May 7, a promotional blitz is already reaching consumers at virtually every imaginable touchpoint, says AdAge.
The trade today takes a look at the summer tentpole's marketing bonanza that's valued at more than $100 million and reports on who's getting what and how many brands are too many.
Blue-chip marketers such as Burger King (with an Iron Man 2-branded sandwich, the "Whiplash Whopper"), Audi (Tony Stark's vehicle of choice is the R8 Spyder convertible), 7-Eleven, LG Electronics, Hersheys and Dr. Pepper along with smaller brands like Royal Purple motor oil are attached to the marketing blitz -- but are they at risk of getting lost in the clutter?
"The key here is to get excitement about our brand to all of our partners," Dave Fleming, Dr. Pepper's director-brand marketing, told the trade. "And to be able to do a promotional spot where a Dr. Pepper machine is being made in Tony Stark's lab is really one of a kind," he added.
The first Iron Man shattered estimates in 2008 with a $318.4 million take, and the sequel is listed at No. 2 on Rotten Tomatoes' list of most-anticipated films ahead this year.
See AdAge for a breakdown of each sponsor's partnership.
Meanwhile, in a related story, The New York Times examines the tie-ins set to come for Sex and the City 2, which debuts May 27.