Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite, (500) Days of Summer - while Sundance shepherds many traditional dramas and comedies, the festival has also become a breeding ground for the alternative. Fusing clever writing with stylistic techniques, these off-beat films walk a fine line between traditional narrative and experimental filmmaking. They've also been huge hits.
In the wake of success, everyone and their mother wants to whip up the next "quirky" hit. They're producing them in such mass quantities, filmmakers have it down to a science: start with a coming-of-age drama, throw in a lead character with several ridiculous occupations/hobbies, add in a fun-loving romantic interest and spice it up with a variety of camera angles and tricks.
But obsession with visual flair and unconventional characters can overlook another important part of crafting a film: heart. This year's Homework is the perfect example: looked good, had a few laughs, but at its core was cold and empty. The IT Crowd and Mighty Boosh actor Richard Ayoade's first film Submarine is the polar opposite. The film reminds us what we loved about "quirky" movies before the word became a stigma on independent film.
Submarine stars newcomer Craig Roberts as Oliver Tate, a high school control freak who sees his surroundings a chaotic biopic of his life (whose budget is too small for sweeping crane shots, settling for zoom outs). Oliver, a cultural scholar, has his hands in everything, attempting to salvage his parents marriage and his own budding relationship at the same time.
What separates Submarine from every teen romance of the last five years is its commitment to weaving its colorful methods into its story and comedy. It makes sense why Oliver would narrate Submarine like a film noir detective or imagine the funeral procession for his own death. Like the fabricated worlds of Fight Club or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the weird world complements the character.
Festival-goers are quick to compare Submarine to the aforementioned films and the eye-popping work of Wes Anderson, the king of quirk. But unlike Anderson's films, Ayoade has crafted something both slick and emotional. Think of Submarine as the BBC original to the American remake - they may both deliver laughs, but only one has the cojones to dig deeper.
Doug Liman's name has been associated with Warner Bros' sci-fi novel adaptation All You Need Is Kill since early this summer, but it has now been officially confirmed that the director of Jumper, The Bourne Identity, and Swingers has signed on to helm the project, described as "Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day."
That means Liman is officially off Warner Bros' in-development The Three Musketeers, which was likely going to lose out to Summit Entertainment's version anyway, since director Paul WS Anderson is already casting his own adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel.
All You Need Is Kill follows a young solider who dies in battle against a relentless alien invasion force, only to wake up the next morning to fight another day. And another. And another. As the recruit realizes he is trapped in some kind of infinite time loop, he begins to approach the battle like a video game, eventually transforming from a poor fighter into a powerful warrior in his repeated attempts to change his future.
Warner Bros. acquired screenwriter Dante Harper's adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's 2004 novel in a seven-figure spec deal earlier this year, and though there's no talk of a rewrite, it has been suggested that the script badly needs one. There's no set budget yet either, though obviously a movie of this kind would carry a hefty FX price tag if it's to be done right.
While it's still too early to be talking about a cast, All You Need Is Kill could provide an interesting opportunity for a number of up-and-coming young actors looking to play the lead ('Kiji Kiriya' in the book but an Anglicized 'Billy Cage' in the script). The part requires someone with a bit more brain than brawn, perhaps Aaron Johnson or Jamie Bell. And it's an exciting opportunity for Liman, who would've been great for The Three Musketeers but wasn't fast enough on the draw. Having seen a number of his films, I know this sci-fi studio tentpole is going to be in capable hands, whether the script is 'Grade A' material or not.
Enigmatic Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) and Dana Brunetti of Trigger Street Productions have signed a first look deal with HBO to develop the cult drama The Crux, reports Deadline Hollywood. Though there's not yet any pilot order, Spacey is attached to star in the series, which centers on a charismatic cult leader.
Spacey and the project's production team shopped around The Crux to various cable networks earlier this summer, eliciting interest from HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Fx, before eventually ending up at HBO, where Spacey had previously worked on the network's 2008 movie Recount, for which he earned an Emmy nod.
For better or for worse, The Crux sounds strongly reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson's upcoming drama The Master, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic cult leader in the 1950s. If it is as critically successful as I expect, the release of Anderson's film in 2011 could very well generate enough popular interest in the subject matter to push Spacey's Crux into production.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Best of Seven
Finding something worthwhile on TV can be such a hassle. With all of your favorite shows having ended for the summer, you find yourself drowning in an endless sea of television programming; you gorge yourself, and yet are left somehow unsatisfied. And of course all those damn digital channels take just a half-second too long to load for you to channel-surf comfortably like you did back in the day. So: we are going to make things easy for you. Check in here each Monday with Best of 7, beginning this week, and we'll tell you what to watch, when, where, and why. Of course there's always the old standbys - The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, all of the other Late Night fluff - but each Monday we're going help you wade through the crap and get right to the good stuff. That's what TV should be about. The good stuff.
9PM: The Bachelorette, ABC. Nine bachelors will accompany Ali to Iceland - land of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano - and only seven will leave! Horseback riding, spelunking, spa-ing, and a poetry contest are just some of the frightful challenges the men will face.
9PM-11PM: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Comedy Central. It's Always Sunny, FX's edgy comedy series, is getting a second home on Comedy Central. If you haven't seen it, check out this mostly hilarious show (the earlier seasons are considerably better) with a four-episode marathon from 9 to 11 Monday night, featuring some of the show's best episodes: 'Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass,' 'Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad,' 'The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby,' and 'The Gang Gets Invincible.'
10PM: The Hard Times of RJ Berger, MTV. This new half-hour comedy series from MTV, about a nerdy teen blessed with a large 'package', is actually pretty funny - which is surprising, since this is MTV. In 'The Berger Cometh,' RJ tries out for the school musical to get closer to his dream girl, Jenny, but problems arise when the two get too close for comfort.
9PM: Mean Girls, ABC Family. Remember Linday Lohan's halcyon days in this surprisingly funny comedy, written by Tina Fey (who also co-stars), wherein high school girls are mean to each other in every imaginable way. With Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Amanda Seyfried, and some other people - but Tim Meadows is my personal favorite as the school's alternatively awkward and bad-ass principal.
10PM: Deadliest Warrior, Spike. Have you seen this show? A team of 'experts' line up behind two different 'deadliest warriors' (say, William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu), test out their weaponry with tons of slow-mo cameras rolling, and then analyze the results to determine who is indeed, the deadlier warrior. This week: KGB vs. CIA.
9PM: Top Chef: D.C., Bravo. This season's Top Chef is in our nation's capital! The remaining chefs must plate healthy kid food at a local middle school to support First Lady Michelle Obama's national initiative to end childhood obesity. No word yet on whether Mrs. Obama will appear, but my guess is she will! Watch it and find out.
5pm-1AM: Stephen King's 'The Stand', SyFy. When 99.9% of the population dies after the accidental outbreak of a government-engineered Super-flu, the mysteriously immune survivors must help each other rebuild civilization, even as they begin to realize that they are involved in a struggle between good and evil of literally Biblical proportions. Loosely based on the novel by Stephen King, 'The Stand' miniseries has horror, gore, and - as in every Stephen King movie - a mystical black person who has all the answers (seriously - Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption, Michael Clark Duncan in The Green Mile, Scatman Crothers in The Shining, the list goes on).
Does that not interest you? There's not much else on. Go watch Toy Story 3!
7PM and 10:30PM: There Will Be Blood, FX. Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film, the story of a early 20th century oil prospector with a borderline pathological lust for wealth, is a hands-down masterpiece. There Will Be Blood came out in 2007 but is already considered a classic piece of American cinema. Daniel Day-Lewis stars, along with Paul Dano, in this epic study of American capitalism, religion, and greed.
11PM: Se7en, Bravo. This dark, satisfying crime thriller stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as two police detectives - one just beginning his career, the other retiring - who aim to hunt down a megalomaniacal serial killer whose 'work' is inspired by the Bible's 'Seven Deadly Sins.'
8PM: Edward Scissorhands, ABC Family. Hey, it's Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton movie. This time, Depp's got scissors for hands and the simple town folk don't take to kindly to that. This movie is actually a classic, and one of Burton's best, so don't be dissuaded if you hated Alice in Wonderland.
9PM: Dinocroc vs. Supergator, SyFy. Saturday's are the worst days for television. Dinocroc vs. Supergator. That really says it all, doesn't it? Your level of enjoyment of this film is going to be heavily dependent on your... 'state of mind,' let's say. Go watch Toy Story 3 again!
10PM: Khloe and Kourtney Take Miami, E! The Kardashian girls failed to take Miami in the first season, but they are back, and trying harder than ever. Watch, enraptured, as the glorious spectacle that is their lives unfolds before you. Bask in it. Savor it. Now spit it out.
10PM: True Blood, HBO. Are you watching True Blood, yet? You should. The deliciously trashy, sexy, bloody vampire drama is not your little sister's Twilight. Nor is it The Vampire Diaries or The Gates. So get over yourself and catch up with seasons one and two before jumping headfirst into the latest season, because this is great television. The upcoming episode finds Sookie scouring Mississippi for Bill with a werewolf escort, Jason struggling with his police exams, and Bud stumbling across some new gruesomeness. Spicy!
Since the release of his 2007 masterpiece There Will Be Blood, we have waited with bated breath for the latest rumors about Paul Thomas Anderson's next upcoming project, tentatively titled The Master, the story of "a charismatic intellectual who hatches a faith-based organization that begins to catch on in America in 1952 called The Cause." First we heard that Philip Seymour Hoffman would be playing the titular lead as "The Master" of the Scientology-like cult, with Jeremy Renner as his protegé, Freddie Sutton. The role of his wife, Mary-Sue, has been reportedly offered to Reese Witherspoon. Now, as Anderson prepares to begin shooting this summer, it has been revealed that he is currently looking at three up-and-coming actresses to play Hoffman and Witherspoon's daughter, Elizabeth: Amanda Seyfried, Emma Stone and Deborah Ann Woll are all potentially in the running for the part.
This could be a break-out role for whichever actress lands the gig; Anderson is a huge name in Hollywood right now, and his last several films (There Will Be Blood, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia, Boogie Nights) have all been highly critically acclaimed. Both Seyfried and Stone have upcoming commitments, which could put them out of the running: Seyfried in The Girl with the Red Riding Hood and Stone in The Help. Woll also has various upcoming films she's purported to be involved in, as well as a continuing commitment to HBO's True Blood (she plays the newly-turned teenage vampire Jessica).
Still, this is a Paul Thomas Anderson movie, and any one of these actresses should probably be willing to change their schedules to accommodate Anderson's latest production. The Master could seriously bolster any one of their resumés just as There Will Be Blood legitimized Paul Dano's career. No matter who he picks, expect Anderson's next opus of Americana to turn heads sometime next year.
Image via The Playlist
Bloom Joins 'Three Musketeers' Cast
According to reports, Orlando Bloom is joining the ensemble cast of Paul W.S. Anderson's The Three Musketeers.
James Corden has also joined the 3D project, which will shoot late this summer for a summer 2011 release. Others in the cast include Logan Lerman, Christoph Waltz, Matthew MacFadyen, Mads Mikkelsen and Milla Jovovich.
Bloom will play the Duke of Buckingham, the arch-nemesis to the Musketeers who is described as "so cool that you can chop him into cubes and serve with vodka," the Heat Vision blog notes.
Corden is playing the servant Planchet.
The screenplay is adapted from the Alexandre Dumas novel by Andrew Davies and Alex Litvak. Anderson is also producing, along with Impact partner Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer of Constantin.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Since as recently as Tuesday, Summit Entertainment has agreed to distribute Paul W.S. Anderson’s tale of “The Three Musketeers." Shooting of the famous French "all for one, one for all" story will begin almost immediately in August, to meet the film’s target release date of summer 2011.
Warner Bros. also has a production of “Three Musketeers” lined up, with Doug Liman directing. Filming for that production is set to begin filming in the fall, which is certainly one of the reasons Summit is looking to get the ball rolling so quickly on their production.
Ray Stevenson (“The Book of Eli”) will play Porthos, Luke Evans (“Clash of the Titans”), will play Aramis, and Matthew Macfayden (“Robin Hood”) will appear as Athos. The villans Cardinal Richelieu will be embodied by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, and Mads Mikkelsen will represent the other offender, Rochefort. Mila Jovovich (Anderson’s wife) was cast as Milady de Winter.
The once overweight star had a heart-to-heart chat with Wolf when he was first hired for the show in 2008 - and the producer's concerns for his health made Anderson kickstart a slim down.
He has since lost 35 pounds (15.8 kilograms) and plans to lose the same amount of weight again this summer (10).
Anderson says, "We sat down and he said, 'Hey Anthony, I like the way you look. Promise me you wont get any fatter.'
"From that day on, I was like, 'OK, I got your number...' It was motivation."
The former Baywatch babe launched her namesake non-dairy delight at Millions of Milkshakes in Los Angeles on Friday (09Apr10).
Anderson's shake consists of pineapple, coconut, banana and vegan ice-cream - and is already available at the Santa Monica Boulevard parlour in West Hollywood.
She didn't have to spend too much time dreaming up the ingredients, explaining, "It's what I make for my kids at home in Malibu."
The actress, who has been a vegan for 15 years, was thrilled to learn that hers is the first all-vegan shake served up at Millions of Milkshakes, where Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, David Beckham and other celebrities all have signature menu treats.
She adds, "I did want to take a few minutes to prove that one can create a truly delicious treat without having to rely on any animal products in the process. It is going to be a Vegan Vanilla Coconut Pineapple shake! I've always liked to shake things up, so I'm thrilled to
create the first vegan item on the menu."