Earlier we reported that Christopher Mintz-Plasse and David Tennant were joining the cast of Fright Night; now British actress Imogen Poots has also signed on to DreamWorks' remake of the 1985 horror cult film. Poots will play the female lead opposite Anton Yelchin, along with Colin Farrell and Toni Collette.
For those who haven't seen the original, directed by Tom Holland (whose company Dead Rabbit Films will be releasing the remake), the new Fright Night will follow Charley (Yelchin), a teen who becomes convinced that his new new neighbor (Farrell) is a vampire. When his friends begin disappearing, Charley turns to his childhood hero Peter Vincent (Tennant), a 'Mindfreak'-like television magician with a history of hunting Vampires, for help. But Charley and his celebrity magician-mentor will also have to contend with Charley's nerdy best friend 'Evil' Ed (Mintz-Plasse), who is the first to suspect that there's a vampire in the neighborhood, and who ultimately decides to join forces with vampire-Farrell.
Poots joins the cast as Yelchin's girlfriend, a girl from the popular clique who is unaware of his past as a nerd (back when he hung out with Mintz-Plasse, no doubt). The talented actress is best known for her work in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's 28 Weeks Later and Solitary Man with Michael Douglas. Poots recently finished work on Cary Fukunaga's upcoming adaptation of Jane Eyre, in which she stars as Blanche Ingram, opposite Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.
With 28 Weeks Later being a sequel to 28 Days Later surely you weren't expecting normalcy to sweep over a still-rebuilding London right? The movie opens with one of the more memorable sequences in recent years—that is if you can refrain from covering your eyes and ears. Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife (Catherine McCormack) are amongst a houseful of sitting ducks who think they've outrun the last of the Rage-infected. It's not long before Don leaves his wife for (un)dead as he runs like hell to save himself. Cut to 28 weeks later when the last of the infected have seemingly died off and London is close to achieving that aforementioned sense of normalcy albeit with a caveat: It is only inhabitable in a quarantined "green" zone. Slowly British refugees are being allowed back in. Among them are Don's kids (Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots) who are devastated about what apparently happened to their mum and eager to venture to their old house. So they do slipping through the security barriers set up by the U.S. military that now guards the city and in the process they—by way of a massive plot twist not to be revealed here—indirectly trigger the return of the virus. Now they're on the run from the infected and the trigger-happy American forces while being chaperoned by an American doctor (Rose Byrne) and sniper (Jeremy Renner). All hell once again has broken loose. Like 28 Days Later 28 Weeks opted to spend most of its likely modest budget on everything other than the cast. But as always an actor's talent can't be measured by his or her per-movie quote. Lost's Harold Perrineau as a helicopter pilot who serves as the eyes in the sky will be the only actor most people will recognize but his presence is mostly intermittent until the end. The true star is Carlyle whose name might draw blanks but not his vast resume (which includes Trainspotting The Full Monty and Eragon). Carlyle's performance it's safe to say has two very different shades to it and both are compelling—let’s leave it at that! His onscreen kids newcomers Poots and Muggleton wind up with the most screen time and handle it like seasoned vets. It's always a risky proposition to have inexperienced child actors with big roles—in a horror movie no less—but these two deliver and make the wholly unrealistic seem more real. As do rising stars Renner (North Country) and Byrne (Wicker Park) both of whom give us some grownups to root for in addition to the kiddies. Trepidation is usually warranted with sequels especially when no one from the original has any involvement other than an exec-producer credit for the original’s writer and director. But this sequel doesn’t play by those rules. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo—whose thriller Intacto was highly regarded—has absolutely everything to do with that. He outdoes 28 Days’ director Danny Boyle visually creating images of a post-zombified London that are somehow scarily realistic. You can’t help but marvel at the end product and then ponder the logistical undertaking it must’ve involved. The director also knows how to frighten the living daylights out of us even if we know what is coming and when. When he puts his visual skills together with those scare tactics of his though that’s when unforgettable sequences are created like the assault-on-your-senses opening. Oddly enough however that kind of horror occasionally holds 28 Weeks back. When Fresnadillo doesn’t leave any room for daylight literally and figuratively the film can get a tad claustrophobic. The script is partly to blame. Initially clever the story evaporates in favor of Fresnadillo’s fun. That usually means our fun too but a break from the bleak every now and then wouldn’t hurt.
It's turning into a great week for Mary J. Blige--just three days after taking home nine Billboard Awards in Las Vegas, she looks set to be crowned the queen of the Grammys.
The “Family Affair” singer leads the Grammy Awards nomination list, which was announced this morning in Los Angeles, with eight nods.
The R&B star, who was among the presenters reading out the nominations, will compete for Record of the Year and Song of the Year (both for “Be Without You”), while her duet with Bono on U2's “One” re-recording is among the nominations in the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal category.
All her other nods come in R&B categories, where she'll fight for awards with the likes of Prince and Beyonce Knowles.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers garnered six nominations, while Brit James Blunt, John Mayer, Danger Mouse, the Dixie Chicks, Prince, Black Eyed Peas star Will.I.Am, producer Rick Rubin and composer John Williams claimed five nods each.
Beyonce Knowles, Bryan Michael Cox, Gnarls Barkley, Israel Houghton, rapper T.I. and Justin Timberlake each have stakes in four categories.
In the leading categories, the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way, St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley, Continuum by John Mayer, Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Timberlake's Futuresex/Lovesounds will fight for the Album of the Year prize.
Meanwhile, the nominees for Record of the Year are Blige's “Be Without You,” Blunt's “You're Beautiful,” “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks, “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, and newcomer Corinne Bailey Rae's “Put Your Records On.”
And the Song of the Year nominees are the writers of the hits “Be Without You” by Blige, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood, the Dixie Chicks' “Not Ready to Make Nice,” Bailey Rae's “Put Your Records On” and James Blunt's “You're Beautiful.”
Blunt is also up for Best New Artist, alongside Chris Brown, Bailey Rae, Imogen Heap and Underwood.
The Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 11.
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The tragic opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius (Gerald Butler) who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera waging a reign of terror over its occupants [cue the organ music]. Think The Elephant Man meets The Hunchback of Notre Dame--except this particular "monster" has some serious sex appeal. I mean honestly his only "disfigurement" is some scarring on one side of his face which he covers with a rather classy mask. No big whoop. But I digress. When he falls desperately in love with the lovely ingénue Christine (Emmy Rossum) who has lived in the opera house for most of her life the Phantom devotes himself to molding the young soprano into a star exerting a strange sense of control over her as he nurtures her extraordinary talents. But when Christine falls for the dashing Raoul (Patrick Wilson) all hell breaks loose as the Phantom's growing jealousies threatens to tear everyone apart [OK now it's really time to cue the organ music].
Fans will no doubt be happy their favorite musical has finally made it to the big screen but the musical's original stars Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman have been replaced in the movie version by hot young actors. This is a very wise decision considering the film's rather longwinded nature. In other words even though the Phantom performers keep singing and singing and then sing some more at least they are appealing to watch (and they did do all their own singing). Butler (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) is particularly effective as the Phantom all brooding mysterious and far more intriguing a suitor than pretty boy Raoul played blandly by Wilson (HBO's Angels in America). With her alabaster skin and long luscious locks Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow) also does a nice job as Christine. But she is unfortunately limited to only a few range of emotions--either all doe-eyed and somber over her Phantom doe-eyed and gushy over Raoul or just plain doe-eyed. As for the supporting players Minnie Driver nearly steals the show as the Italian soprano diva La Carlotta. As the only breath of fresh air in the musty opera house you definitely crave more of her.
It's taken about 15 years to bring Webber's smash hit to the big screen. Apparently after winning every known theater award for Phantom the legendary producer-composer approached director Joel Schumacher in 1988 to do the movie after being impressed by Schumacher's work on The Lost Boys. Hmmm The Lost Boys to Phantom of the Opera--I'm still trying to tie that one together. Anyway Webber had to postpone production for personal reasons and then Schumacher was busy doing such films as Tigerland and Phone Booth. Finally the time was ripe to make Phantom coming on the heels of the musical movie boom started by Moulin Rouge and Chicago. Schumacher certainly incorporates all the right elements from the young and talented cast to the opulent sets and magnificent costumes. The problem is the material: Phantom really isn't all that compelling of a story. Sure the stage production was and still is a theatrical event especially as the Phantom moves on catwalks all over the theater and the impressive chandelier comes crashing down on the stage. But for the film adaptation there needs to be something more than just grand posturing set pieces and operatic music. Maybe a little more dialogue? A sex scene? Anything?
The vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Stuart Townsend) wakes from a hundred-year sleep to the rock 'n' roll present day and likes what he sees and hears. Tired of the vampire's solitary life he becomes the frontman for an unknown rock band and transforms it into the latest greatest thing gaining the adulation of millions. He also decides to disregard the unspoken rule that vampires must hide away from the rest of world and writes songs encoded with specifics of the secret life of vampires. As expected Lestat's lyrics draw the attention of both the bloodsuckers who want to destroy him and the human vampire scholars (called the Talamasca) who want to study him. One young Talamascan student Jesse Reeves (Marguerite Moreau) becomes obsessed with Lestat after reading his journal from the 1800s. She learns that Lestat had a brief encounter with Queen Akasha (Aaliyah) the most ancient and dangerous vampire to ever exist and the mother of all who walk the Earth in search of blood. He gets his chance to meet Akasha again when his music awakens her from an ancient slumber. She rises and seeks out Lestat to become her king and join her in ruling the world.
The film truly belongs to Townsend and fans of the Anne Rice's novels will be happy to know he completely embodies the charismatic vampire Lestat. The little-known Irish actor who starred in last year's indie About Adam with Kate Hudson rules the screen whenever he is on it and luckily he's on it quite a lot. He's especially powerful when he is in rock star mode. Although Moreau's Jesse is fairly one dimensional she comes alive in her scenes with Townsend. Let's hope they keep asking him to play Lestat (when and if they make any more films from Rice's vampire novels) and next time give him an actress he can have some real chemistry with. The late R&B singer Aaliyah made her second film appearance in Damned as the queen. Even though she is only in the film a short time she possesses a certain charm as the ancient and evil Queen Akasha and makes a great first impression by destroying a vampire coven. Yet her acting skills are just not up to par with the rest of the cast including the charismatic Vincent Perez as the vampire Marius and Lena Olin as the kind-hearted vampire Maharet.
Damned was set to be released in the fall of last year but word of mouth had the film destined for the video shelf before it even made it to the big screen. Then tragedy struck and as the news of Aaliyah's untimely death echoed throughout the world of entertainment Warner Bros. wisely decided to hold onto it and release it in theaters at a more favorable time knowing there would be an audience who'd want to see the singer's last film. Yet for all the bad press surrounding it Damned actually pleasantly surprises you due largely in part to Townsend's mesmerizing performance. Michael Rymer's direction is not a masterpiece of filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination but it has a certain MTV quality about it which makes it appealing. That same quality however also makes it too slick glossing over the meatier parts of Rice's novel making the dialogue and action trite and sometimes downright silly. Come to think of it the 1994 Interview With the Vampire also suffered from the same thing. Maybe translating Rice's words is harder than it looks.