Gavin O’Connor’s (Miracle Pride and Glory) stirring new drama Warrior is an underdog tale set in the nascent sport of Mixed Martial Arts fighting. In its relatively short life MMA has yet to inspire much quality cinema of note. It now has its Rocky.
Warrior’s twist on the traditional underdog formula is to provide us with dual protagonists: the fightin’ Conlon brothers Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy). Neither have spoken to each other since the dissolution of the parents’ marriage fourteen years earlier. Both of late have fallen on hard times. Tommy is an Iraq war veteran who has turned to pills and booze since returning from abroad; Brendan is a high school science teacher and devoted family man victimized by the financial crisis. Circumstances compel them both to seek salvation in the fight game.
Conveniently enough the opportunity of a lifetime arrives in the form of Sparta a brand-new winner-take-all MMA tournament that awards its champion a cool $5 million – more than enough for Brendan to save his house from foreclosure or for Tommy to make good on his pledge to provide for the family of a friend killed in Iraq. By this point we know for certain that fate has determined Brendan and Tommy will meet in the final and we know for certain how utterly ridiculous this scenario is. And yet we accept it because by this point Warrior already has us in its corner.
The origins of the brothers’ enmity are ultimately traced to their father Paddy (Nick Nolte) a monstrous alcoholic whose abusiveness led their mother and Tommy to flee fourteen years prior. Brendan stayed behind and Tommy never forgave him for it. When we see Paddy he’s broken-down husk of a man God-fearing and 1000 days sober his face creased with shame and regret. Neither son can stand the sight of their old man but Tommy in need of someone to train him for the tournament reluctantly enlists his father’s help. Paddy eyeing a last chance at redemption enthusiastically complies.
Cue the training montage. A fighter rising from obscurity to the upper echelons in his sport within a matter of weeks is hard to swallow; when two fighters do it it’s a borderline insult to the sport. MMA aficionados might blanch at watching Tommy and Brendan gain one unlikely win after another; more likely they’ll be too absorbed by the action to care. It helps that Hardy and Edgerton both look the part and are both skilled enough at their craft to lend the film’s many brutal fight scenes a distinct realism. It helps even more that the story and the actors' stellar performances have us firmly aligned with their goals.
O’Conner a veteran of the genre deploys the underdog tropes at his disposal freely but assiduously crafting a tale that is unabashedly far-fetched but grounded in characters who are intensely appealing and who feel authentic. The storytelling is clumsy at times – that Nolte’s character listens to a book-on-tape of Moby Dick throughout the film feels particularly heavy-handed – but Warrior wisely steers clear of bombastic speeches or cloying sentiment.
Warrior’s climactic final fight in which the estranged brothers at last meet in the ring is both gut- and heart-wrenching. When the film’s suitably happy ending does eventually arrive the film gives way ever-so-briefly to hokeyness. But after what these kids have gone through you can forgive them for getting a little emotional.
The Irreplaceable hitmaker will play rising singer Esther in the fourth re-imagining of the classic, following in the footsteps of Streisand, Judy Garland, and Janet Gaynor.
Beyonce admits the role will be especially poignant as she fell in love with Streisand's voice during screenings of the movie with her mother when she was a young girl.
She tells Reuters, "It's when I became a fan of Barbra Streisand's. And I then saw Judy Garland's version of A Star Is Born and I realised every 20 to 30 years a new star is born and a new talent represents that generation and era - so I didn't think that I would ever get the opportunity to be the star."
Despite her stellar previous success, Beyonce has hailed this movie role as "the biggest opportunity" of her life, and can't believe Eastwood chose her to front the film.
She adds, "I met with Clint and I was so nervous and I know that it is the biggest opportunity of my life. I will work as hard as I can. Because I can't wait. And I am so happy that he trusts me and I am in good hands and I am so fortunate."
The 1937 original, starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, has already been remade twice - with Judy Garland in 1954 and with Barbra Streisand in 1976 in the lead role of a rising artist who marries a fading star.
Russell Crowe confirmed last year (10) he was in talks to tackle the older, male role, while Beyonce, who reportedly quit the project, is still said to be attached to the picture, according to Deadline.com.
Studio bosses at Warner Bros. have now confirmed Eastwood will take charge of the fourth movie.
Based on the bestseller by Nicolas Sparks the film begins with Duke (James Garner) and Allie (Gena Rowlands) an inseparable couple living in a nursing home. While Duke remembers their life together Allie who suffers from progressive dementia does not. Their only bond is a faded notebook from which Duke reads to Allie every day telling her the same story over and over. It's a sweeping tale of two South Carolina teens country boy Noah (Ryan Gosling) and city gal Allie (Rachel McAdams) who spend one glorious summer in the early 1940s falling madly in love. Unfortunately the couple is soon separated first by her disapproving parents and then by World War II but after seven years apart after taking different paths they are passionately reunited. There's a catch though; Allie is now faced to choose between the man she once loved and the successful businessman (James Marsden) she is engaged to. It's really no surprise who the young Allie chooses in the end--but for Duke the only thing that keeps him going is the fact that every day somehow through the power of this story the mentally impaired Allie miraculously remembers their love if only for a very brief moment before slipping back into oblivion. Tears being jerked from your eyes yet?
The talented cast certainly elevates The Notebook's romantic drudgery. McAdams takes a departure from all the Mean Girls she's played lately (including The Hot Chick) and easily wins you over as the spirited young Allie while the usually intense Gosling also tackles something lighter so to speak than his previous darker roles such as his Jewish-turned-American Nazi leader in The Believer. While infusing a certain sense of brooding and melancholy into Noah especially in the years he spends pining for Allie Gosling manages to exude Noah's genuine warmth and sensitivity as well. And between the two of them real sparks fly as the actors paint a fresh and inviting picture of young love that stands the test of time. Marsden is completely wasted however as Allie's fiancé Lon a upstanding Southern gentleman Allie's parents expect her to marry who offers little as to why Allie should stay with him. As the older contingency veterans Garner and Rowlands who take the sappiest material and turn it into something meaningful inspire some truly heart-ripping moments as the aging couple holding onto their love as tight as they can. In the supporting cast Joan Allen has some shining moments as Allie's uptight mother with a secret of her own.
In bringing the popular novel about enduring love to life director Nick Cassavetes (Unhook the Stars) may have used his own experiences having seen his parents--the late John Cassavetes and his lady love and muse Gena Rowlands--play out their own real-life love affair. Cassavettes gets to the heart of the material right away and permeates the screen with the beautiful surroundings of South Carolina where The Notebook was filmed. We glide through lush moss-filled swamps and sleepy Southern towns marvel at languid shots of the South Carolina coastline. It's very clear Cassavetes has a way with actors much like his father did gently coaxing realistic performances from his young somewhat untested leads while allowing old guards like Garner and Rowlands to simply work their magic (imagine telling your Oscar-nominated mother how to act. Right). The problem is the story itself which not only offers nothing new to the romance genre but also isn't very compelling. There are no great tragedies (save perhaps for the whole dementia thing) no real villainous presence to keep the lovers apart no peril at all. It's boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl boy-wins-girl-back--ho-hum. Where's the sudsy soap opera when you need it?
Previous rumors that Jermane and Randy Jackson had refused to attend the Jackson 5 reunion for the Michael Jackson: 30 Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years can now be dismissed. All five brothers from the eponymous Jackson 5 music group have confirmed their attendance at the event.
After feuding for the last month with the show's producer, David Gest, over the ticket prices, the guest list and the lineups for the all-star events, Jermaine agreed on Friday to perform at the September 7 and 10 shows, to be held at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"Having been accused of not wanting to be a part of my brother's 30th anniversary concert for publicity reasons is not right," Jermaine Jackson said in a statement Friday. "My concern was that our loyal fans were not invited nor able to attend because of excessive prices," he told SonicNet.com.
A combined total of 40,000 tickets for the September 7 and 10 Michael Jackson celebration concerts--priced $45 to $2,500 per ticket--sold out just five hours after going on sale on July 31, Launch. com reported.
"I place my family above all else and I would like to perform with my brothers in spite of all that has gone on. I'm sorry that loyalty to my fans and family has been perceived as betrayal," Jermaine added.
The Jackson brothers convened in Los Angeles on Friday to begin rehearsing for the shows.
A complete list of confirmed special guests goes as follows:
Friday, September 7: Marc Anthony; Ray Charles; Deborah Cox; Destiny's Child; Gloria Estefan; Billy Gilman; Whitney Houston; James Ingram; Quincy Jones & the Legends of Jazz including Al Jarreau, Herbie Mann, Les McCann, David "Fathead" Newman, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry & Cassandra Wilson; Liza Minnelli; Monica; Mya; *NSYNC; Jill Scott; Shaggy featuring Ricardo "Rikrok" Ducent & Rayvon; Britney Spears; Tamia; 3T; Usher.
Monday, September 10: Marc Anthony; Mary J. Blige; Deborah Cox; Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott; Gloria Gaynor; Al Jarreau; Gladys Knight; Lil' Romeo; Ricky Martin; Liza Minnelli; Monica; Mya; 98 Degrees; Jill Scott; Usher; Luther Vandross; Dionne Warwick.
In addition, stars from television, sports, movies, and the recording industry will honor Jackson during the concerts. Confirmed guests include: Marlon Brando; Elizabeth Taylor; Samuel L. Jackson; Willem Dafoe; William Shatner; Dr. Dre; Snoop Dogg; Yoko Ono; Sean Lennon; Jane Russell; Chris Tucker; Liam Neeson; Vanessa Redgrave; Franco Nero; Muhammad Ali; Kobe Bryant; Magic Johnson; Esther Williams; Gregory Peck; Jennifer Jones; Angie Dickinson; Master P; Robert Wagner; Jill St. John; Sir John Mills; Hayley Mills; Janet Leigh; Reggie Miller; Ann Miller; Jane Powell; Macaulay Culkin; Patricia Neal.
The third time was apparently not charming enough for Oliver Stone.
The filmmaker -- heretofore best known for blowing up stuff and shooting things in high-octane flicks like "Platoon," "JFK" and "Natural Born Killers" –- is looking to direct yet another version of the classic rags-to-riches/riches-to-rag Hollywood tale, "A Star Is Born," today's Hollywood Reporter says. So, what will make the fourth take on this romantic Tinseltown fable unique?
Well, um, take a look at the would-be star: Jamie Foxx.
Yes, the "In Living Color" comic, a relative no-name in the movies, is being talked up as the successor to Fredric March, James Mason and Kris Kristofferson -- the previous "Star Is Born" leading men. (All right, maybe the Kristofferson shoes won't be so hard to fill.)
Foxx is living his own "Star Is Born" story these days. The actor is said to be Stone's first choice to replace (get this) Will Smith in the new "Star" project. (Smith opted out of the film to make "Ali," that planned Muhammad Ali biopic.)
"A Star Is Born" would be the second time Stone has helped make Jamie Foxx a movie star. Last year, the director called on Foxx to replace wannabe actor Puff Daddy as the arrogant QB in Stone's "Any Given Sunday."
In the all-new "Star Is Born," Foxx would play a falling-star guy who falls in love with a rising-star girl. So, the next question mark in this curious project is: Who'll play opposite Foxx? According to the Reporter, candidates for the leading-lady slot include singers Lauryn Hill and Mariah Carey.
This new, hip-hop duet would tread a few footsteps over their old-fashioned predecessors. The first "Star," released in 1937, starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. George Cukor helmed a second (musical) version for Warner Bros. in 1954, with Judy Garland and James Mason. The latest remake, in 1976, featured Barbara Streisand and the aforementioned Mr. Kristofferson.
A source tells the Reporter that the latest film hopes to capitalize on Warner Bros.' music catalog. A diva all-star affair with tunes by Garland, Streisand and Mariah Carey? For pop aficionados everywhere, it's reason enough for a remake. Even a weird one.
FOR RICHER OR ROBBERS: Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito could be swapping goods in the MGM caper comedy "What's the Worst that Could Happen." The Hollywood Reporter says that Lawrence has climbed aboard, and DeVito's in negotiations to star in the film, about a billionaire (DeVito) who swipes a good-luck ring from a con (Lawrence). The production's set to roll 'em in June.
HURRYING TO 'RUSH': Chris Penn's stuck in traffic again with Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. Variety reports that the heavy from "Rush Hour" has signed up for another installment opposite the dynamic duo. "Rush Hour 2" starts production in the fall.
SEEING 'SPOT': After fending off masked serial killers, "Scream" vet David Arquette is ready for the dog pound. Variety reports that the actor's nabbed the lead role in the Warner comedy "See Spot Run," set to shoot this June. Arquette comes to the project after potential star Martin Lawrence decided not to go postal. Instead, Arquette will play a postman who takes in a stray dog -- make that a stray dog trained to fight crime. Ah, comedy.