If you’ve even given the Internet a cursory glance over the last few weeks, you’re probably aware that Chris Pratt is having a moment right now. Thanks to a starring role in Guardians of the Galaxy, one of the biggest movies of the year, even people who’ve never seen an episode of Parks and Recreation or Everwood are being clued into his goofy, lovable charms. But playing Peter Quill is bound to have more long-term effects on Pratt’s career than simply giving him a venue to showcase his French-braiding skills – the question that remains is whether these will be positive effects.
Obviously, getting to play a superhero in a Marvel film is going to be amazing for any actor. They’re easily the biggest, most-exciting films of the year; they guarantee you plenty of press attention and new fans, and open you up to countless new opportunities and projects. But what about the times Pratt won’t be protecting the galaxy? Actors who star in superhero and sci-fi franchises often struggle to break out of the shadow of their famous characters. Leonard Nimoy and George Takei will always be Spock and Sulu, no matter what other projects they pursue; despite the beard, Mark Hamill is still known as Luke Skywalker; even Michael Keaton has yet to surpass his Batman fame. Once you become recognized for a single, beloved character, it’s hard for fans to see you any other way, which could result in Pratt being stuck as Star-Lord for the rest of his career.
Despite being part of one of the most iconic franchises of all time, only Harrison Ford was really able to break away from his Star Wars character, which he did by jumping straight into the Indiana Jones series. Pratt is taking a somewhat similar path, following up Guardians of the Galaxy with Jurassic World, which should help keep him in people’s minds as something other than Star-Lord. Still, from what we’ve heard, Pratt’s character Owen seems to be similarly confident and wise-cracking, which could result in him being typecast as the good-looking jokester. Considering the fact that Pratt only just stopped being typecast as the “chubby, dumb best friend,” that’s not necessarily a step forward, even if it does guarantee him more leading roles. And since there are so many more actors in Hollywood who specialize in those kinds of roles, it means that Pratt will face a lot more competition for parts.
Becoming known solely as Star-Lord could also make it harder for Pratt to play the kind of supporting character roles that he’s done well with lately, like the underdog baseball player in Moneyball and the good-hearted but doofy colleague in Her. Now that he’s considered a leading man, he might not be considered for those roles anymore. Even if he is, it could be hard for audiences to see him as anything else, which could pull them out of the film. Sure, Star-Lord’s a nice guy and all, but who would actually believe that he’s working at a company that writes love letters?
Look at some of Pratt’s superhero contemporaries: it doesn’t matter what film Robert Downey Jr.’s in, he’s most likely playing the handsome jerk. Scarlett Johansson is almost always the tough girl. And Jeremy Renner is... constantly overlooked. It would be very easy for Pratt to get typecast as the rule-breaking wisecracker. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be great at those parts – he obviously plays them well – but it does put him in a box.
However, Pratt does have an extensive background in television, which gives him an advantage over some of his fellow Marvel heroes. Andy Dwyer and Peter Quill have a fair amount of similarities, but where one is a schlubby slacker, the other is an adventurous go-getter. And both are different still from Bright Abbott, the obnoxious football player Pratt played on Everwood. He’s already proved that he has the range to handle a variety of characters, and now that people are finally paying attention to him, that should help open him up to a different slate of roles and opportunities. Pratt’s got the talent and the charm to play almost anything, as his extensive sitcom past proves, so to keep him locked into one type of character for the rest of his career would be disappointing.
Actress Jessica Lange is to be honoured with the 2015 Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The two-time Academy Award winner will be feted for her achievements at a black-tie gala at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, California on 16 November (14).
Announcing the news, Douglas says, "Jessica Lange possess the three key elements in making it in this crazy business: talent, beauty, and intelligence... all of which have served her well and continue to do so. It is my honour to give her my award."
Previous recipients of the acting legend's prize include Forrest Whittaker, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, John Travolta and Kirk Douglas himself.
Stars including Robert Redford, Whoopi Goldberg, and Francis Ford Coppola gathered in California over the weekend (19-20Jul14) to pay tribute to Oscar-winning actress Sophia Loren.
The Italian beauty was honoured at the annual Napa Valley Festival del Sole in Oakville, California on Saturday night (19Jul14), and several Hollywood stars attended the event.
Goldberg recalled how her mother advised her to view Loren as a role model when she first got into acting, and Redford praised the Two Women actress for rising out of her working class roots to become a major movie star.
Apocalypse Now director Ford Coppola raised a few smiles when he told guests he had enrolled on a scholarship at a military academy as a young man and kept his spirits up by pinning a photograph of a young Loren to a wall at his quarters.
Goodfellas actor Robert De Niro and former U.S. President Bill Clinton were among those who sent video tributes to the 79-year-old actress.
Guests were treated to an outdoor performance of a specially-written piece by composer Daniel Brewbaker, followed by a $700 (£411)-a-head dinner. The Bella Italia: A Tribute to Sophia Loren event took place at the Far Niente Winery in Oakville.
20th Century Fox Film
These days, it seems like every day brings with it a new influx of rumors about Star Wars: Episode VII. From the initial casting reports to the latest cameo rumors to the never-ending, constantly conflicting plot "leaks," every time you turn around there's something else to cover. Even Marvel and DC are struggling to keep up with the barrage of press releases and insider information. With so much to cover, it can be hard to keep track of what seems real (the villains are probably Jedi Hunters, they might resurrect the Sith), what's completely insane (Harrison Ford will be replaced ) and what's already been debunked (most of it). In fact, there might only be one way to keep everything organized and comprehensible: give all of the rumors awards. And that's exactly what we did.
Least Creative: Production Delays on Production Delays on Production Delays At the rate that we’re seeing rumors about production delays, everything on set must shut down whenever someone sneezes. The most recent are centered on Harrison Ford’s broken leg, with multiple outlets claiming that the whole film has been shut down until he returns to set, which either overestimates how much screen time Ford will have or underestimates the importance of sticking to the December 2015 release date.
The Harrison Ford Heritage Award for Replacing Harrison Ford: Robert Pattinson It all started when the Internet had a breakdown over the possibility of Pattinson playing Indiana Jones in a reboot of the franchise. Then, when Ford got injured, it was rumored that Pattinson would take over the role of Han Solo so that production wouldn’t have to be – you guessed it – delayed. This one was quickly debunked though, as nobody with eyes would every believe Pattinson and Ford to be the exact same person.
Most Disappointing Debunking: Oscar Isaac’s Role Will Be Expanded Pattinson wasn’t the only person to get swept up in the frenzy surrounding Ford’s injury; Isaac’s character was rumored to have been expanded in order to fill story time to avoid – all together now! – more production delays. Unfortunately, Disney quickly refuted this one, showing us great possibilities before cruelly yanking them away.
Most Morally Ambiguous: Adam Driver: Hero or Villain? Because so many details are still under wraps, we don’t know anything about the characters that the new cast will be playing, which makes it easy for conflicting reports to cast the same person in different roles. When Driver first came on board, it was to play a villainous role, but by the time the rest of the cast was added, he was rumored to be playing the son of Han and Leia. Now, he’s back on the dark side, playing one of the Jedi Hunters terrorizing the heroes. At this point, it’s probably best to just imagine him as a double agent.
Biggest Potential Style Inspiration: Lupita Nyong’o, Villainess Perhaps no actress in recent memory has become a style and beauty icon as quickly as Nyong’o. She can pull anything off, and does so in a way that almost convinces you that you can wear the same thing. So when reports surfaced that she was playing a villain with yellow eyes, the world’s immediate reaction was basically “Hey, do you think I’d look good with yellow eyes?” You probably won’t. She definitely will.
Most Highbrow: David Cronenberg Approached to Direct Spinoff The Star Wars rumor mill doesn’t just affect Episode VII, but has come to encapsulate the spinoffs as well. Though the first two have been handed off to their respective directors, Cronenberg was reportedly approached to put his own spin on the Star Wars universe, an offer he almost immediately declined. Maybe all those Pattinson rumors inspired Disney to reach out to him?
Most Absurd: Tom Cruise Will Be Making a Cameo If you’re Tom Cruise and you meet up with Mission Impossible III director/producer JJ Abrams, the only logical reason is to plan a cameo in Episode VII. Your meeting couldn’t possibly be about the Mission Impossible franchise, or the numerous films you have lined up, or even just a chance to catch up on each other’s lives. Nope, you’re definitely going to be in Star Wars.
Most Surprisingly Awesome: Tom Cruise Will Be Making a Cameo Did you see Edge of Tomorrow? Slightly dickish, alien-fighting Tom Cruise is the best Tom Cruise of all.
Obi-Wan’s ‘These Are Not the Droids You’re Looking For’ Award For Deception: The Millennium Falcon Of all the rumors on this list, none was stuck down faster than that of the reappearance of the Millennium Falcon, which was spotted in leaked photos from the set. In response, Abrams leaked a photo of his own, denying that the Millennium Falcon had ever graced the set... from what appeared to be the inside of the Millennium Falcon itself. Still, once they saw it, the press simply nodded and allowed him to go about his business.
Least Likely To Have Been Double-Checked On IMDB: David Oyelowo Will Play a Villain Buried in the reports that Nyong’o and Driver are going to play villains was a brief mention about the third Jedi Hunter, supposedly played by David Oyelowo. There’s only one problem: Oyelowo was never cast in Episode VII, nor was he ever rumored to be part of the cast. Clearly someone needed to do a quick Internet search before writing up the latest rumor/report/hearsay from the Episode VII set.
Most Likely To Be Used As Punishment: Jar Jar Binks Is Back Every so often, when Star Wars fans start complaining too much or the press gets a little too invasive, one name appears, like an omen of despair: Jar Jar Binks. Do we actually think that he’ll pop up in the film? Probably not, but we do enjoy watching fans react to his name in much the same way the wizarding world did whenever Harry Potter said “Voldemort.”
Rumor Mill MVP: Boba Fett Try and find a single plot, casting, set design, or spinoff rumor that doesn't mention Boba Fett in any way. You probably can't do it. He's practically become the new main character of the Star Wars franchise. When the inevitable remakes come along, you better believe they're going to be all about Boba Fett.
Actor Robert Pattinson has denied reports he's set to follow in Harrison Ford's footsteps and take over his two most iconic roles. Industry rumours suggested the Twilight hunk was the favourite to play Indiana Jones in a new reboot and tackle the part of Star Wars' Han Solo in a franchise spin-off project.
However, the Brit admits he has been left baffled by the claims, as he has no plans to be Hollywood's Ford replacement.
He tells People.com, "I don't know why. Why is that coming out? I honestly don't understand what it's all about. Man, I wish!
"I didn't even know there was a Han Solo spin-off coming out. Sounds like a cool spin-off. I'll watch it."
The real Ford is currently recovering after breaking his ankle on the set of the new Stars Wars: Episode VII movie in England this week (begs09Jun14).
We live in an age of possibility. An age that would accept Robert Pattinson, 28-year-old vampirious Briton with a heft of tween fandom and a stark deficit in melanin, as the next Indiana Jones. Some very tentative rumors over at Daily Star are connecting Pattinson to the role for the next feature in the franchise, which would inject quite a new style into the classic American character. Although we won't write off Pattinson's potential take on Indy, we can't help but hope he takes a few wise words from the professor himself, one Harrison Ford. We're sure he's got a lot to teach his rumored successor about the whip-cracking game... let's just hope Pattinson listens to reason:
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Hollywood.com/Getty Images/Paramount Pictures
Hollywood.com/Summit Entertainment/Paramount Pictures
Hollywood.com/Summit Entertainment/Paramount Pictures
Hollywood.com/Getty Images/Paramount Pictures
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Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection
As Memorial Day approaches, American moviegoers prepare for an onslaught of summer blockbusters. Whether it's the latest edition of a franchise like X-Men: Days of Future Past or the possible beginning of one like Guardians of the Galaxy, everyone has gotten used to big, expensive films hitting the multiplex when the weather gets warm.
Of course, it wasn't always that way. The mid '70s work of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helped usher in the current model that studios use in setting their summer releases. While the work of the two directors is iconic, what's followed hasn't always lived up to the term "blockbuster." Our writers argue whether things were better in the days when Lucas and Spielberg ruled the roost or if we're in a new golden age of big budget extravaganzas.
The Spectacular Spielberg (Jon Lisi)
Let’s just assume for a second that Jaws was never released in the summer of 1975.
Cynics might claim that the brilliant New Hollywood films of the 1970s like Five Easy Pieces, Nashville, and The Conversation would continue to be made as a result, but we all know that this so-called “American New Wave” was on the inevitable decline. Instead, we’d have to imagine a cinema in which the first major summer blockbuster from Hollywood was not Spielberg’s terrifying monster movie.
Is it possible to picture the summer blockbuster without Jaws? I don’t think so. For better or worse, Jaws is the gold standard to which all future summer blockbusters have been judged. The question that is asked as a result, then, is whether or not contemporary summer blockbusters like Transformers, Iron Man, The Avengers and other superhero amalgamations compare in quality to past summer blockbusters like Jaws, E.T., Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters?
If we are to answer this question honestly, we need to remove any consideration of money. After all, plenty of movies do well at the box office, and the massive success of the Twilight franchise shows how few of them are actually good. Instead, we need to focus on what the first summer blockbusters like Jaws and Star Wars had that contemporary ones like Transformers and Iron Man lack.
The most significance difference, I think, is that a summer blockbuster like Jaws isn’t about a shark, whereas a summer blockbuster like Transformers is about alien robots. That is, Jaws uses a series of shark attacks to investigate small-town mentality in an entertaining way. You can certainly sit back and enjoy the film literally — as a monster movie — but Spielberg wants you to think about what the shark reveals about American community and the ways individuals work together to solve a common problem.
Transformers, by contrast, doesn’t offer anything interesting beyond the initial spectacle. The digital effects may lure you into the theater, but after the stuff blows up, you aren’t left with anything to ponder. This may not matter to prepubescent boys, but for those interested in mainstream fare that is also intelligent, the contemporary summer blockbuster doesn’t suffice.
I’m aware that there are exceptions. For instance, the films by Christopher Nolan merge commerce and art quite successfully, as do most Pixar films. However, these are anomalies, and for the most part, contemporary summer blockbusters have failed to live up to the standard Jaws set nearly 40 years ago.
A Marvel-ous New Era (Brendon McCullin)
The passage of time tends to lend a glow to the early blockbusters of Spielberg and Lucas. In reality, Spielberg went the Hitchcock route with Jaws because he was forced to by external conditions. And we can argue how much the performances by Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw had to do with his directing. Lucas, for his part, might have been great at story concepts but he always had a tin ear when it came to dialogue (leading to the famous Harrison Ford rant, "You can type this s**t, but you sure as hell can't say it").
That's not to denigrate what Spielberg and Lucas did — they each authored cultural phenomena that altered American filmmaking and the movie industry as a whole — but let's not go too crazy. Some of their contemporaries, particularly screenwriters like John Milius and Robert Towne, may have liked them personally, but didn't always love how they handled their craft.
The fact is there has always been and will always be a place in Hollywood for big, crowd-pleasing popcorn movies… and there have always been good and bad ones. Just because Jaws was better than The Towering Inferno and Star Wars was better than Airport '77 doesn’t necessarily kick into the same strata of cinematic history as The Godfather.
If we were having this argument 15 to 20 years ago, I would be completely on board. Back when Michael Bay was unleashing a steady stream of trash like Armageddon and The Rock on audiences and what amounted to good storytelling was Will Smith making wisecracks while fighting aliens in Independence Day… well, yes, that was a low point for summer blockbusters. Heck, that was a low point for film in general.
Since then, however, a new group of filmmakers who value story as much as visual pyrotechnics have taken the lead on some of the biggest tent-pole movies in recent years. Some of them, such as Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) come from the writer dominated domain of television. Others, like Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and Kenneth Branagh (Thor) are themselves actors and work to make their stars look good.
Combine that group with the aforementioned Nolan (The Dark Knight) and the Pixar team under John Lasseter and really, you would be hard pressed to find another period that matched the number of talented, conscientious, and literate filmmakers that are willing to helm blockbusters.
The nice thing is that many of these directors — particularly Whedon and Abrams — clearly gained some of their sensibilities as youngsters watching the films of Lucas and Spielberg. You're never going to get rid of people like Bay and movies like his Transformers franchise, but blockbusters are in as good of hands now as they've ever been.
Walt Disney Co. via Everett Collection
When it comes to Old Hollywood, there is one name that has come to represent all of the glamour, intrigue and scandals of yesteryear: Marilyn Monroe. Therefore, it's no surprise that yet another Marilyn-centered project is in the works, this time with Jessica Chastain shimmying her way into the role. The Oscar nominee is set to star in the big screen adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' fictionalized biography, Blonde, which will be helmed by The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford writer/director Andrew Dominik. The project has been in the works for some time now, with Naomi Watts attached at one point to star, but it seems that Chastain's involvement may be exactly what Blonde needs to get off the ground.
The film, which Dominik has previously described as a "really sprawling, emotional nightmare fairy-tale type movie," follows a reincarnated Marilyn Monroe as she tells her own account of her tragic life, and how she transformed herself from Norma Jean Baker into the biggest movie star on the planet. While it seems as if Blonde will tackle Monroe's legend from a slightly different perspective, it's still difficult to muster up a great deal of excitement for the film. After all, there have been so many films, television series and novels recently revolving around the icon and her tragic life, from traditional biopics like My Week with Marilyn to the star-studded documentary Love, Marilyn to making her the subject matter of the fictional musical in Smash. We've heard Monroe's story told a million different ways, and, frankly, it's starting to lose its charm.
It's officially time for Hollywood to stop producing Monroe-related projects, at least for a while. It's understandable that Monroe, possibly the most famous movie star of all time, would be the inspiration for countless creative endeavors, but all of these films just seem to present the same information and act out the same events, with only the subtlest of details to differentiate them. It's always about the separation between who Monroe was to the world — the most glamourous, beautiful, mesmerizing woman to hit the silver screen — and who she was behind the scenes, and the internal conflicts she dealt with on a daily basis. And while that makes for an incredibly compelling story, the kind both writers and actors dream of sinking their teeth into, it's exhausting for audiences to see the same thing over and over again.
Monroe's story might incorporate everything that filmmakers find enticing, but there are only so many ways to tell it before it starts to become repetitive, which is going to make it harder to attract audiences to come see it. Sure, the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood tends to go a long way in getting moviegoers into seats, but if they feel they've already seen a film or if it doesn't seem to offer anything new to keep them excited and engaged, they're going to feel it's a waste of time. Blonde is not just going to be competing against the other films being released at the same time, but also against all of the Monroe-related films that came before it.
Her legend is well-worn territory at this point, and so filmmakers who are interested in it need to find a way to make their project stand out. As a prominent historical figure, especially one who is portrayed so often onscreen and in pop culture, every detail of her story has been put onscreen at least once, which means that no matter how a project attempts to differentiate itself, it always ends up recycling the same information over and over again. It also means that there are numerous stories about Old Hollywood that are left untold, stories that are just as compelling, enticing and heartbreaking as Monroe's.
And there are countless Golden Age movie stars who are overlooked or forgotten, despite living the kind of lives that are ideal cinematic inspiration. Despite starring in one of the most scandalous films of the time at age 18, escaping and unhappy marriage and Nazi-occupied Austria while disguised as her own maid and inventing the technology used in modern wireless communications, Hedy Lamarr has surprisingly never been the focus of a Hollywood film. Rita Hayworth's difficult journey to Hollywood stardom — which included getting electrolysis to change her hairline in order to hide the fact that she was Spanish — and tumultuous relationships with many big names would make an incredibly juicy biopic. There's never been a film about Clara Bow, the It Girl of the Roaring '20s, or Josephine Baker, the first black woman to star in a major movie, or Marlene Deitrich, who defied conventional gender roles and had a string of affairs with both men and women.
All of these stories would offer the same combination of glamour, intrigue, and emotion (some would even be perfect for Chastian, if she's looking for a follow-up project) without retreading the same ground that yet another Monroe film does. We're just as interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at the Golden Age of Hollywood as the filmmakers who churn out movie after movie about Monroe are, but there are plenty of other places to look for inspiration. Sticking with the same old story is fine, but after a while, the sparkle starts to dull, and audiences become bored. At this point, another Monroe film just seems lazy, like the endless stream of sequels and reboots of lackluster action films. It may have been a big box office draw at one point, but now, it's just tired.
Chastian is an incredibly talented actress, and she'll likely give an incredible performance, one that incorporates all of the vulnerability and glamour that Monroe's story requires. But it's time for that story to be laid to rest for a while, and it's time for Hollywood to let some other stars shine.
Oscar winner Jeremy Irons will be honoured with the Peter J. Owens Award for excellence in acting at the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival in California. The actor will receive the honour at a gala on 1 May (14). Previous recipients of the Film Society's Peter J. Owens Award include Harrison Ford, Terence Stamp, Robert Duvall, Robert Redford, Robin Williams and Kevin Spacey.
Magnolia Pictures via Everett Collection
The Twilight Saga is one of the most financially successful film franchises in history... which is perplexing, considering that the movies aren’t any good. For better or worse, the series has renewed audience interest in vampiric mythology, as exemplified by the success of The Vampire Diaries and the proliferation of more vampire films and television shows each year. This is fine, but those who believe that Twilight represents the best of vampire movies clearly haven’t seen much else. In order to correct this, below are 10 vampire movies that are better than Twilight.
Nosferatu is widely regarded as one of the most influential horror movies ever made. See it for the haunting visuals that represent the best of German Expressionism, and the terrifying depiction of evil on the actors’ faces. Unlike other silent films, Nosferatu isn’t dated, and still holds up to many horror films released today.
Let the Right One In
The American remake with Chloe Moretz doesn’t match the brilliance of this Swedish masterpiece by Tomas Alfredson. Essentially, Let the Right One In is Twilight for grown-ups, and it’s a reminder that vampire movies can be smart and sophisticated. The final climactic scene in the pool, in particular, is a work of art.
Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark isn’t as well-known as her Oscar-winning war flick The Hurt Locker, but it’s one of the best movies she’s ever made, and one of the coolest vampire films you’ll see. Even if you don’t care about Bigelow’s sly commentary on ennui and despair in Middle America, you’ll get a kick out of the lunatic vampires on display.
Even if you don’t like subtitles, it’s impossible to resist Chan-wook Park’s Thirst. Not quite an art-house experiment, not quite a horror film, Thirst is best understood as a melancholy love story. Be forewarned: it’s violent, sexual, and a little disturbing.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Everyone has their favorite version of this story, but mine is Francis Ford Coppola’s widely misunderstood rendition with Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins. Perhaps Coppola was never able to escape the high expectations he set for himself with The Godfather films and Apocalypse Now, but his version of Dracula remains the most moving vampire film ever made.
The Fearless Vampire Killers
Before Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown made him a star, Roman Polanski directed The Fearless Vampire Killers, an incredibly funny take on the vampire mythology. The film is worth seeing for its successful slapstick humor and satirical point of view.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Quentin Tarantino. Robert Rodriguez. Harvey Keitel. George Clooney. Juliette Lewis. Salma Hayek. Cheech Martin. Danny Trejo. Enough said.
Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon star in The Hunger, a movie so bonkers it isn’t worth explaining. All you need to know is that it’s director Tony Scott’s first movie, and that Deneuve plays a vampire.
Horror master George A. Romero shows everyone how it’s done with Martin, a story about a teenage boy who may or may not be a vampire. Romero is known for his zombie films, but Martin proves that he’s a master in more than one horror sub-genre.
Interview with the Vampire
In order to truly appreciate Interview with the Vampire, you need to understand that director Neil Jordan turned a hopelessly sappy novel into a surprisingly mature motion picture. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise play everyone’s favorite vampires (before Robert Pattinson stole their thunder), and Kirsten Dunst gives a star-making performance.