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Long emancipated from its reputation as the place where has-beens go for one last snag at the limelight, television is attracting big screen folks at the top of their games. A new league of blockbuster movie stars, admired thespians, and Oscar-nominated filmmakers alike are flocking to the comforts of premium cable, all with intriguing projects in tow. Here are a few big name figures taking to the TV game with promising prospects.
Who's that again? The guy who directed Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and NoahWhat's he working on? MaddAddam, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's speculative sci-fi novel trilogy (Oryx and Crake, Year Of The Flood, and MaddAddam).For whom? HBO.What's the deal? The story depicts a dystopian future in which genetic engineering has swept the human race. Aronofsky might direct, and is executive producing with his fiancée Brandi-Ann Milbradt and regular collaborator Ari Handel.[Deadline]
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
Who's that again? Iron Man.What's he working on? An untitled drama about a drug rehab community set in 1980s Venice Beach.For whom? Showtime.What's the deal? Downey obviously has personal ties to the project considering his history with drug abuse; he and his wife Susan are producing, and Orange Is the New Black writer Gary Lennon is handling the script (so we can expect some wit).[Deadline]
WENN/Adriana M. Barraza
Who's that again? Walter White from Breaking Bad, Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, or Tim Whatley from Seinfeld, and President Lyndon Johnson on ol' Broadway.What's he working on? A narrative adaptation of the Conn and Hal Iggulden book Dangerous Book for Boys.For whom? No word just yet.What's the deal? Although the Igguldens' book takes form as a "how to" manual of sorts, Cranston's television series will draw a narrative out of the variety of rituals established as recommended rites of passage for American youngsters.[Variety]
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Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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Carly Rae Jepsen, Kiss, Bruno Mars, Tim Mcgraw and the Dixie Chicks have all cancelled concerts in Canada after severe floods hit Calgary. Officials in the city declared a state of emergency last month (Jun13) as a result of heavy downpours, which caused major devastation throughout the area.
Calgary's Saddledome arena was badly hit by the floods, and venue bosses have been forced to call off a number of high-profile gigs as they begin the massive clean-up operation.
The concerts were part of a series held in connection with the annual Calgary Stampede, which has also been affected by the flood problems.
Stampede chief executive Vern Kimball says of the axed gigs, "We understand that this news is disappointing and we're disappointed too... It became evident late (on Monday) to the Stampede and the (venue bosses) that the services necessary for an acceptable concert experience just weren't available given the current status and limitations of the building.
"Given the size of the four shows, and that they're all intended for indoor setup with tailored effects and lighting, there was no feasible alternative to host any one of these shows at another Calgary venue during Stampede."
Organisers hope to reschedule the gigs.
First it was sequels. Then it was remakes. Then it was reboots. Now, as Hollywood responds to the ever-changing needs of audiences hungry for both mind-blowing cinematic experiences and nostalgic throwbacks, studios are taking cues from the practices of repertory movie theaters. Why figure out new ways to revive old movies when you can just bring them back to the big screen?
This week sees the re-release of Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg's science-infused monster movie. Timed to the defining blockbuster's 20th anniversary, Universal has imbued the movie with the new re-release standard: pristine, eye-popping 3D. So there's still a twist — it's the movie you know and love, modernized in a way that feels familiar alongside today's mega-tentpoles.
Reviving Jurassic Park— a kid-of-the-'90s staple that has never faded from memory thanks to ad nauseum repeats on TNT — screams cash-grab and, in some ways, it is. A 2011 report from the Los Angeles Times pegged the post-conversion cost for a non-3D movie at around the $10 million mark. Plus promotional costs, re-releasing a well-known title back into theaters with fanfare to contend with new releases costs a fraction of what goes into making a modern movie a hit.
REALTED: The 20 Most '90s Moments in 'Jurassic Park'
In Sept. 2011, Lion King 3D surprised the industry when it opened to over $30 million at the box office, working its way up to a $94 million over the course of its theatrical run. After the success of Lion King, delivering their classic animated films for kids with eyes for 3D became an imperative for Disney. They followed it with Beauty and the Beast 3D ($57.9 million), Finding Nemo 3D ($41.1 million), and Monsters, Inc. 3D ($33.8 million).
3D works so well for animation because traditionally 2D cartoons are created with layers. When Simba clings to a cliffside above a stampede of wildebeests or Belle and Beast dance in the castle ballroom, the drawings are physically laid on top of the backgrounds and can be separated for 3D using computers. Live-action is a bit tougher, and so audiences' perception for the post-conversion process was an inherently harder sell. The images look different — but clearly, not so much so that audiences backed away from the films.
George Lucas took his first stab at 3D-ifying Star Wars with the 2012 re-release of The Phantom Menace, bringing in a decent total of just under $43.5 million. Doing even bigger business was 3D veteran James Cameron with his re-release of Titanic. The record-holder for highest grossing movie of all time added another $57.9 million by the end of its 3D release.
RELATED: 'Jurassic Park' Inspiration Jack Horner Is Actually Reviving Dinosaurs
Will Jurassic Park see the same success? The movie is tracking for an opening around The Phantom Menace, but should have even better luck at the box office thanks to the pure love of the audience. As one fan of the film told me, Jurassic Park was his life back in '93. He caught it several times in theaters; the film even spurred him to write a letter to Spielberg professing his love for the movie (and pitching him a few sequel ideas, in case the director needed any). People love Jurassic Park — especially the key demographic, 20- and 30-somethings, who flood movie theaters.
Not only is the promise of Jurassic Park back on the big screen enough to get butts in seats, but the conversion serves the story. The 3D works because the movie is equipped for it — Spielberg's camera as always pushed the limits of the frame, putting faces in the foreground and eye-catching objects behind them. Is it a better film? No, but the 3D amplifies the terror, and the effects compliment what's already been shot. Take the legendary T-Rex attack: Timmy in the back of a jeep, playing with nightvision goggles behind a rain-covered window; Grant and Dr. Malcolm watching from the front seat as the animal emerges from its broken pen; the T-Rex snapping at Tim and Lex as they hold it away with a pain of glass. Spielberg composes the entire attack with layers, like the animation of Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. Adding a dimension was easy.
RELATED: 'Jurassic Park 4' Finds a Director
It's hard to call Jurassic Park 3D a "cash grab" even though it's easy money in the studios pockets because Jurassic Park is just that good. Unlike most of the movies we'll see this summer, every moment in the film feels thoughtful, each character woven into the larger-than-life narrative with a personality (for example: of courseNedry wipes shaving cream on to a slice of pie when first receiving his fake Barbasol canister!). The movie is a spectacle — and a terrifying one at that — but it's also about ambition, about people struggling with personal issues (c'mon Dr. Grant, kids aren't that annoying), and grand concepts of science we're still wrestling with today.
Spielberg may not have planned for his Michael Crichton adaptation to be resurfaced in movie theaters 20 years after he unleashed to audiences, with an added 3D effect then normally utilized for the shoddiest of B-movies, but that's the thing with the entertainment industry. Re-releases find a way.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Universal Pictures]
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Forget that the latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's sweeping romance novel comes from the man who brought us the slick-but-stuffy Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Every frame of director Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is a wonder to behold overflowing with visual spectacle and roaring performances. Keira Knightley Jude Law Aaron Taylor-Johnson and the rest of the cast fit perfectly in the high drama epic but it's really Wright's playground. Following Hanna an artful spin on the action movie Wright returns to the period drama but injects it with dazzling daring choices. A book like Anna Karenina could once fit in reality but its larger-than-life legacy precedes it. Wright acknowledges that from frame one approaching the film like a grand ballet or opera where grand gestures broad emotions and overt theatrics are commonplace. That vision clicks transforming Anna Karenina into an exhilarating moviegoing experience.
The storyline of Anna Karenina isn't far off from a daytime soap: It's 1874 and Anna (Knightley) is floating through existence as the wife of influential government player Karenin (Law). But when her brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) summons her to Moscow to save his marriage Anna's entire world is shaken up. She meets Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson) a cavalry hunk who finds himself smitten with the taken lady. She's in the same boat: The two strike up a flirtatious relationship that evolves into one of sexual passion. A scandalous affair would incite trouble in the preset day but in the 19th century it's the ultimate crime. Quickly Anna's life comes crumbling down.
The intertwining melodrama of Anna Karenina earned the novel its classic status but Wright uses the material as a launching pad for imagination rather than a tome to translate to screen. Many of the scenes are staged in a theater creating an instant awareness of the production. Sets shift and are reconstructed into new rooms; actors costume change in the span of single shots; action sequences like a thrilling horse race are conducted on stage with special effects you might see on Broadway. Wright works this sort of stylization in the other direction too; a character could walk an empty stage open a door and suddenly be on a snow-covered hill. Anna Karenina isn't the first film to use the effect but in Wright's hands it's exhilarating.
The movie is Wright's third collaboration with Knightley and easily their most successful. Knightley never struggles to stay on the same page as the heightened material whether she's nailing a dance sequence or breaking down in a flood of tears. Casting an ensemble around Knightley is no easy task but Taylor-Johnson gives his best work yet as the debonair love interest and Macfadyen steals the show with moments of physical comedy.
We have expectations of the texture and structure of period romances. Anna Karenina defies them. Masterpiece Theater it is not.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The star-studded Nashville Rising benefit show was organised by Bullock's The Blind Side co-star Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill to help those affected by the recent flooding in the city.
The line-up featured big-name stars including Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood, but fans were stunned when Hollywood actress Bullock stepped on to the stage, according to People.com.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, Bullock told the crowd, "I'm going to bring the house down. And I'm going to do it Nashville style!"
She then picked out the first few notes of Deep Purple's Smoke on The Water, before giving up with the admission, "I can't play for c**p!"
The concert also featured a brief appearance from another Hollywood star - Reese Witherspoon, who hails from New Orleans, Louisiana, taped a video message which was played at the show, in which she told the audience, "(In Nashville) we get together and take care of each other."
The event raised an estimated $3 million (£2 million) to help flood victims rebuild their communities.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.