Coriolanus, the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated thespian and general British bad-ass Ralph Fiennes, has long been completed, but so few have seen his adaptation of the Shakespeare play. With a cast that includes Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave, the demand to see the film is certainly out there, but there hasn't been a distributor brave or bold enough to carry it. Enter The Weinstein Brothers.
The boys from Queens have stepped up to the plate to bring this seemingly splendid motion picture to the masses, as the company today announced that they'll distribute the movie sometime this year. I personally can't wait to see Fiennes' revisionist take on the classic tale, which centers on a banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city. The wonderful wordsmith John Logan (The Aviator, Sweeney Todd) penned the screenplay, providing yet another reason to get excited about the production. Have a look at a pair of photos from the film below, and read on for the official press release:
New York, NY, February 11, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that it has acquired from Icon Entertainment International (IEI) U.S. rights and Pan Asian pay TV rights to CORIOLANUS, the feature directorial debut of Academy Award® nominated actor Ralph Fiennes. A contemporary staging of Shakespeare’s classic play about the titular Roman warrior, CORIOLANUS stars Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Academy Award® winner Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain and James Nesbitt. CORIOLANUS will make its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival this Monday, February 14. TWC plans a 2011 release. Said TWC Co-Chairman, Harvey Weinstein, “My brother’s and my relationship with Ralph stretches back many years and includes two of our most cherished productions, THE ENGLISH PATIENT and THE READER. He’s a brilliant artist, and we are honored and delighted to partner with him in bringing CORIOLANUS to American moviegoers.” Ralph Fiennes said, “I'm thrilled that Harvey and TWC will distribute CORIOLANUS in the U.S. His response to the film was overwhelmingly passionate. He really embraced it. This has been a long road and I cannot think of a better company to do it in the U.S.” Said IEI Managing Director, Hugo Grumbar, “TWC is the perfect U.S. home for Ralph’s visceral, stunning debut.” The deal was negotiated for TWC by David Glasser, Chief Operating Officer, Michal Steinberg, Senior Vice President Business Affairs, Kelly Carmichael, Senior Vice President Production and Daniel Guando, Vice President Acquisitions; and for IEI by Grumbar and Estelle Overs, Head of Legal and Business Affairs. CORIOLANUS is produced by Ralph Fiennes; Julia Taylor-Stanley for Artemis Films; Gabrielle Tana for Magnolia Mae Films; and Colin Vaines for Synchronistic Inc. It was adapted for the screen by John Logan, (SWEENEY TODD, THE AVIATOR, GLADIATOR). Barry Ackroyd (GREEN ZONE, THE HURT LOCKER, UNITED 93) is the Director of Photography. The film is being distributed in the U.K. by Lionsgate UK. Source: The Weinstein Company
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.