The Weinstein Company
In an era where every franchise gets a two-part finale, The Weinstein Company is taking a different approach to releasing Ned Benson's film duality The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. Retitled as The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, the two distinct films (Hers and His) will be edited into one for a wide-release on September 26, while the individual installments will get a limited release later that fall. Starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby attempts to tell the story of a failing marriage from two different perspectives, with the audience finding the "truth" of the situation somewhere in the middle.
The original, two-part cut premiered to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, but when Harvey Weinstein acquired it for distribution shortly afterwards, he approached Benson about cutting them together into one film. The result, Them, will premiere at Cannes before arriving in theaters in the fall. From a distribution standpoint, it makes a great deal of sense to combine the film, as the average moviegoer would be less likely to see two separate films that tell the same story than one coherent take on it.
Though studios often split films up in order to make double the profit at the box office, in this instance, it's a smarter move for Weinstein to release just one film, since there's no guarantee that a mainstream audience will flock to see one installment of the story, let alone two. Chastain and McAvoy are both well-known and well-respected actors, but neither one of them has established themselves as a major box office draw yet, and so Weinstein can't simply rely on their star power to bring in audiences to both parts of the movie.
And since it's easier to get people to watch one film instead of two, it will likely also help Weinstein earn the film some awards attention. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby's mission to tell the same story from different perspectives helps it stand out from the other movies being released in the run-up to Oscar season, but having a single, two-hour cut of it will help encourage voters and critics to see it.
However, Benson's story was designed to be told in two parts, so cutting it into one might mean that Them loses some of the impact that the two-part film would have. Since the director himself is the one who edited it, much of his vision for the film will likely stay intact, but the additional editing a release plan means that the audience who will get to experience the film the way he intended will be much smaller.
We'll have to wait until the Them premieres at Cannes to find out whether or not a single film is the best way to present the story, but in the meantime, here's hoping Peter Jackson has learned a thing or two from this situation.
Of course, the real issue is the incongruity in the function of the pronouns at the end of the titles. Hers and His are possessive, Them is not.
I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Dance was one of the stars, including Dev Patel, Ed Westwick and Jermaine Jackson, who flocked to Aqua nightclub in the British capital to launch the short film, The Commuter.
But he was allegedly left fuming when the Baywatch beauty held up the evening with her late arrival, which she blamed on a wardrobe malfunction.
A source tells Britain's Daily Express, "Charles was furious, going on about how annoying it was that Pamela was so late to her own premiere."
According to the report, Dance's fiancee Eleanor Boorman was on hand to calm him and he was smiling again after a chat with his partner.
Music attorney Lopez, who spent seven years working for Michael Jackson, was found dead outside the family home in Encino, California last week (30Apr10) after paramedics were called to the house following reports of a shooting.
Cops are investigating the case as an "apparent suicide" and his sudden loss has left Bach, known for her role as Daisy Duke on U.S. TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, in a severe state of shock.
Her mother-in-law Eleanor Lopez tells the National Enquirer, "She's like a zombie. She's completely out of it, in a daze. She keeps saying, 'What are we going to do now? Why would Peter do this? Why?'
"She's under doctor's care and has been given heavy medication, but she just can't accept what's happened. None of us can. My granddaughters can't stop crying. It's a house of grief over there."
Bach, 57, was married to Lopez, 60, for 20 years and the couple shared two girls together - 14-year-old Sophia and 11-year-old Lauren.
Lopez was laid to rest in a private ceremony in Santa Monica, California on Thursday (06May10).
Video of the tiger attack isn't being released
Despite two subpoenas from federal authorities, the company behind the Siegfried & Roy Las Vegas magic show has refused to turn over video of last year's tiger attack on illusionist Roy Horn, The Associated Press reports. In an investigation into the incident, where Horn was mauled by a 300-pound tiger during an Oct. 3 live performance at The Mirage hotel-casino, the U.S. Department of Agriculture attempted to obtain video of the show under the federal Animal Welfare Act to see if there were possible violations of the act. Feld Entertainment, however, would not hand over the footage, a USDA source familiar with the case told AP. USDA spokesman Jim Rogers said Tuesday from Washington D.C. that the probe into the tiger attack remains open and if violations did occur, the USDA can take action against violators, imposing fines and suspending or revoking licenses.
No ****! Dave Matthews Band sued for dumping poop
The state of Illinois sued the Dave Matthews Band on Tuesday for allegedly dumping up to 800 pounds of liquid human waste from a bus into the Chicago River and dousing a tour boat filled with passengers, the AP reports. According to the lawsuit, a bus leased by the band was heading to a Chicago hotel on Aug. 8 where members were staying. The driver allegedly emptied the contents of the septic tank through Kinzie Street Bridge's metal grating into the river below. More than 100 people on an architecture tour were showered with the waste. After the incident, the boat's captain turned the vessel around and took passengers back to the dock and given refunds. The boat was cleaned with disinfectant. The lawsuit seeks $70,000 in civil penalties. A spokesman for the band said the driver stated he was not involved in this incident, and added that the band "will continue to be cooperative in this investigation."
Rodney Dangerfield hospitalized for heart trouble
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, best known for his trademark line "I don't get no respect!" was admitted on Tuesday to a Los Angeles hospital for heart valve replacement surgery, his publicist told Reuters. The surgery at UCLA Medical Center had been planned since last year when Dangerfield had brain bypass surgery to reduce the chances of stroke during the heart procedure. The surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning and Dangerfield is expected to make a full recovery, his publicist, Kevin Sasaki, said. The 82-year-old comedian quipped that he planned on a brief hospital stay. "If things go right, I'll be there about a week, and if things don't go right, I'll be there about an hour and a half," he said.
Toronto Film Fest announces complete lineup
The Toronto International Film Festival unveiled its 328-film lineup, which includes 100 world premieres and 81 North American premieres, Reuters reports. The festival opens Sept. 9 with the world premiere of Istvan Szabo's Being Julia, starring Annette Bening, and closes Sept. 18 with the Martin Short starrer Jiminy Glick in Lalawood. Among the other 20 high-profile films to receive red-carpet treatment are Mike Barker's A Good Woman, a comedy about Americans in Italy that stars Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson; and Beyond the Sea, which Kevin Spacey directed and stars in as Bobby Darin.
Apprentice runner-up scores major deal
Kwame Jackson, last year's runner-up in the hit NBC reality show The Apprentice, is turning into his former boss, Donald Trump, after completing a multibillion dollar real-estate deal of his own, AP reports. With two other partners, Jackson has made a deal with officials in Prince George's County in Maryland to develop an 80-to-130-acre area into commercial and residential property. The deal is worth $3.8 billion and will provide over 32,000 jobs, Jackson explained. "For me, The Apprentice was the beginning," he told AP. "It's not a ceiling, it's a floor."
Whoopi returns to Broadway
Whoopi Goldberg is returning to Broadway in the show that jump-started her career 20 years ago, the AP reports. Goldberg's self-titled show opens Nov. 17 at the Lyceum Theatre in New York, the same house where her one-woman show premiered in October 1984 and ran for 156 performances. Since then, the comedian has appeared on Broadway in the revivals of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Goldberg, who won a supporting actress Oscar in 1991 for her role in Ghost, will first try out her show in Philadelphia, playing a week's engagement at the Merriam Theatre starting Oct. 13. Preview performances will start in New York Nov. 6.
Spector hires former Gotti attorney
Music producer Phil Spector has hired an attorney who used to work for mob boss John Gotti to defend him on murder charges after his previous attorney resigned from the case, the AP reports. But Leslie Abramson said Tuesday she and her co-counsel were taken by surprise when Bruce Cutler filed a motion to take over the case. "We were put in an untenable position, and we were forced to resign," Abramson told the AP. Cutler, however, said he signed on as Spector's personal attorney before Abramson and Marcia Morrissey took over the criminal case. "Leslie and Marcia were brought on in February, and they quit in July. They just jumped ship, and I had to take control of the ship and bring it into port," Cutler said. Spector, 64, is charged in the fatal shooting of 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson at his home in February 2003. He is free on $1 million bail.
Metallica to release vinyl box set
Heavy metal group Metallica will release a boxed set of albums on vinyl on Oct. 26, Billboard.com reports. Vinyl Box will include special editions of the group's first four studio albums along with the long-out-of-print Garage Days Re-Revisited EP and the Creeping Death picture disc, which was previously unavailable in the U.S. Metallica, currently in the middle of a North American tour, has been in perpetual spotlight this year: The band has already released a documentary feature, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and published a coffee table book tiled So What! The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly. Vinyl Box, distributed by Elektra/Rhino Vinyl, will be limited to 5,000 numbered copies and will carry a suggested retail price of $99.98.
TV director Petrie dies
Emmy Award-winning television and film director Daniel Petrie Sr., who also made such motion pictures as A Raisin in the Sun and Fort Apache the Bronx, died of cancer Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. He was 83. Petrie, who earned his Emmys for the TV miniseries Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years in 1976, also earned television's Peabody Award in 1977 for Sybil, starring Sally Field. Petrie is survived by his wife of 57 years, TV producer Dorothea Petrie, and their four children--screenwriter Dan Petrie Jr., director Donald Petrie, actress Mary Petrie, and producer June Petrie. The family has asked that memorial donations be sent to the American Film Institute or the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.
This film is based on Elegy for Iris literary critic John Bayley's biography of his late wife the brilliant writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch. Iris is unconventional in the sense that it does not adhere to a structured plot or story line but instead focuses on their relationship by flashing back and forth between the present and 40 years ago when the two first met. In the sequences taking place in the past Kate Winslet plays a young confident Murdoch in her formative years a woman revered by men and openly bisexual. Hugh Bonneville plays the young and apprehensive Bayley hopelessly pursuing her. The present however reveals a drastic role reversal for the couple: We see Murdoch in her 70s as played by Judi Dench and witness her descent into Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on her husband played by Jim Broadbent. The once-subservient husband has been thrust into a caretaker position and painfully tries to cope with his beloved wife's illness and loss of sanity.
Dench deservedly received a best actress Oscar nomination for the fabulous job she does as the older Murdoch. She is convincing as a brilliant thinker and even more believable as her condition worsens--check out the heartbreaking scene when Bayley locks himself in the study to get away from her irrational behavior and she scratches the windowpane on the glass door like a cat while looking at her husband with utter helplessness. Dench conveys her character's vulnerability in a single glance. As an older Bayley Broadbent is as impressive as Dench especially as he struggles to be assertive yet avoid being too harsh. Bonneville as a young Bayley could almost be Broadbent's clone. At first glance he looks like the same actor made to look older through some sort of makeup or special effects wizardry. Bonneville skillfully hatches the young Bayley's traits and tics later perfected by Broadbent. Winslet also Oscar-nominated for Iris (in the supporting actress category) well plays Murdoch's early audacity and boldness.
Director Richard Eyre does a beautiful and seamless job flowing from the past to the present throughout the film. Although the film barely delves into Murdoch's work the importance of her writing is established with scenes from a BBC interview or a luncheon given in her honor. Eyre also does an exceptional job conveying Bayley's hopeless predicament: he fusses over Murdoch like an overprotective parent intermittently lashing out at her only to apologize sobbing afterward for having done so. It's sweet and pitiful especially since Bayley believes that the Iris he fell in love with is still in there somewhere. But while the film is visually exquisite and convincing the subject matter is not necessarily entertaining. We know Murdoch will eventually succumb to her illness but it's even more dreadful to have to watch every agonizing step. By the time Murdoch was reduced to playing in the dirt and watching Teletubbies I found myself wondering When is she going to die already?