Back in March, we saw the most jarring episode of plagiarism since William Shakespeare stole King Lear from the Earl of Oxford: Shia LaBeouf "adopted" a 2009 Esquire essay by Tom Chiarella to publicly shame his would-be costar Alec Baldwin, just after opting to drop out of the their imminent Broadway production Orphans. Independent from the project entirely, LaBeouf still managed to voice his antagonism for the 30 Rock star via a series of tweets and emails. All the while, we can only imagine that Baldwin and company had waited with bated breath for the Transformers headliner to grow bored with the play, and set his attention elsewhere. Unfortunately, he's not the only one to do so: less than a month after its stage debut and only a week after garnering a Tony nomination, Orphans is reportedly making plans to call it quits early.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Daniel Sullivan's production, which also stars Ben Foster and Tom Sturridge, will be taking its bow on May 19, almost six weeks prior to its previously scheduled date of June 30. The play met mixed reviews, and reportedly only managed a 70% capacity during the week of Apr. 23, grossing below $500,000. Considering the hefty paycheck we can imagine Mr. Baldwin is warranting, this is hardly enough to keep the show running.
But back when the play first opened, Baldwin had high hopes. Here, the actor and his costars Foster and Sturridge tell The New York Times about their exciement over their stage endeavor:
But alas, the play meets a sour, early end. If only LaBeouf maintained those email chains, maybe people would still be interested in the darn thing.
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More:How Shia LaBeouf's Plagiarized Email Ruined My LifeShia LaBeouf Calls Himself 'Hustler' and Alec Baldwin 'Chief'An 'American Psycho' Musical!
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For nearly 100 years experts in historical and literary fields have been debating the authenticity of William Shakespeare's master works. Was he really a storytelling genius who single-handedly crafted a vast body of poems and plays? Or were they actually the works of another unnamed author? Could a group of playwrights have written under a sole moniker? Director Roland Emmerich dives headfirst into this century-old debate with his new movie Anonymous piecing together evidence to unravel the mystery with dramatic flair. Unfortunately the only thing he discovers in the process is that the answers aren't that interesting.
The movie centers on Edward De Vere (Rhys Ifans) a scholarly gentleman forced as a youngster into the role of Earl of Oxford. While Edward prefers to spend his time waxing poetically and bringing theatrics to life for the adoring Queen Elizabeth (Joely Richardson) his caretaker the sinister mustache-twirling-without-a-mustache William Cecil (David Thewlis) authoritatively directs him on the path of the aristocracy. But that doesn't stop De Vere from toiling over his written work spending years crafting plays and poems in-between canoodling with the Queen (for shame!).
As a grown man De Vere finds himself married off to Cecil's daughter battling the tired advisor and his hunchback son (Edward Hogg) all while continuing to write and attend the common man's theater. During one such excursion the Earl crosses paths with playwright Ben Johnson (Sebastian Armesto) who De Vere sees as the perfect representative to take ownership over his plays hoping they can finally be brought to life on stage. Of course Johnson realizes slapping his name on De Vere's works of genius would put the kibosh on his own career so he hands them over to his horny drunk actor friend William t (Rafe Spall). The staged plays are a hit but their appeal to the masses is a red flag to the court. Cecil commences a hunt for the true author of Shakespeare's plays landing De Vere in hot water.
Emmerich intertwines De Vere Johnson and Shakespeare's quest for theatrical fame with political unrest and romantic subplots but none of the story arcs have the spark of a real mystery/thriller. The director and his screenwriter John Orloff (The Guardians of Ga'hoole) aim to replicate The Bard's tragic character-driven plays with their own story relying on performance and dense dialogue to entrance the viewer. But Emmerich goes so far out of his way to restrain himself from his usual eye for end-of-the-world destruction (made famous in Independence Day Godzilla The Day After Tomorrow 2012…) that the movie trudges along without an ounce of intrigue. It's almost as if Anonymous strives to be purposefully boring Emmerich attempting to deliver performance-first directing but ending up with string of flat sloth-paced back-and-forths. He does manage to squeeze a few action scenes into the mix—De Vere fends off an attacker in a thrilling confined swordfight—but even the bigger moments feel muted.
The creative duo's grounded tactics do occasionally payoff thanks to a solid cast led by powerhouse thespian Ifans. Anonymous luxuriates in Elizabethan history and royal affairs presented in a fashion only a few steps up from your run-of-the-mill high school text book but Ifans steps in and turns hammy exposition into lyrical dialogue. While he doesn't have the power to make it all register Ifans makes the experience of Anonymous worth seeing and hearing. One transcendent moment shows De Vere crumbling in front of his wife explaining his instinctual need to write. The monologue is powerful—but the surroundings created by Emmerich fail to support him.
The rest of the ensemble does their best to wrangle our attentions—the legendary Vanessa Redgrave as the older repressed Queen Elizabeth and Spall's lively arrogant Shakespeare are standouts—but the lingering question of "why does this matter?" continually stands in the film's way. The works of William Shakespeare are a foundation for the dramatic arts a staple of literary education and a testament to the power of written word. After 500 years his plays continue to be relevant embodying the full spectrum of human emotion. So it's understandable why Roland Emmerich would embark on an expansive blockbuster dissection behind the truth of these achievements. But Anonymous only manages to present plausible events never tackling the weight of those accusations dead on. Going head to head with The Bard should live up to the existing body of work. Anonymous on the other hand feels abridged.
The two Brits play Queen Elizabeth I and the young Earl of Oxford in the new Shakespeare drama and Richardson admits the intimate scenes between the pair were extra awkward.
She explains, "I first met Jamie - OK, I'm finally letting out something - at my daughter's school. Enough said. He was in a school play and my daughter said, 'Oh that's Jamie Campbell Bower; he's just been cast in Sweeney Todd with Tim Burton.'
"Cut to three years later and I'm like, 'Come here!' We decided to keep that under wraps until now because, let's face it, that's weird! Life is better than art. Anything is possible!"
There are few people like Roland Emmerich. With the instinctual desire for carnage and digital filmmaking know-how, the German director has time and time again found ways to fantastically blow up the world around us and wipe humanity off the face of the planet. Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012—that's a skill.
So it comes as something of a surprise that his new movie Anonymous, which opens in limited theaters this weekend, involves very few explosions or end-times destruction. In fact, it's got a whole lot of talking. But the good kind of talking. The Shakespeare kind of talking.
Anonymous focuses on a centuries-long mystery, a "what if?" that pulls back the curtain on a theory that the greatest Bard of all time may not be who he appears to be. While no one would dispute William Shakespeare being a real gentlemen, Emmerich's film (and, as you'll see, Emmerich himself) think it may have been the work of The Earl of Oxford, a disgruntled member of the English elite who had a passion for the written word. Rhys Ifans, who we're highly anticipating in the role of The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man, plays the Earl, alongside the beautiful Joely Richardson as a young version of Queen Elizabeth. I had a chance to talk to the trio about all things Anonymous.
Thankfully, like the movie, there were very few explosions:
A good deal of people have been asked the question, "If you were able to talk to one person from history, who would it be?" In response to this, an even better deal of people have answered, "Shakespeare." And the best deal of people of all are not, in fact, referring to this guy.
Well, you still can't talk to Shakespeare. But heres's the next best thing (give or take): a Liveblog with Anonymous director Roland Emmerich and writer/producer John Orloff and historian Charles Beauclerk!
Anonymous revisits one of the oldest conspiracies in history: did William Shakespeare actually write all, or any, of those plays and poems? People have suggested countless alternative theories, including the one proposed by Anonymous: Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), wrote all of Shakespeare's works and attributed them to the would-be bard (Rafe Spall) because "in [the Earl's] world, people do not write plays." And also for the reasons of manipulating the public... and possibly covering up his incestuous love affair with the Queen. So, this guy clearly needed this.
To learn more about the film, and to weigh in on the age-old debate, check back here at 11:15 pm EST/8:15 pm PST for an hour-long Liveblog. Until then, enjoy the trailer below, and get your theories ready. Personally, I think Jack Ruby was in on it. Click the below picture to see more of the Anonymous gallery.
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.