The British beauty had a small role in last year's (10) Clash of the Titans and now she's been cast as an erotic dancer in Luis Prieto's upcoming film project.
Pusher details a week in the life of a drug dealer called Frank and his sidekick Tony, and producer Nicolas Winding Refn, who directed the original, is thrilled to be filming the updated version in London.
He says, "Pusher was the film that launched my career and to have Luis Prieto direct the remake in London will be an exciting venture.
"It's a classic tale with strong characters and has an engaging narrative. To see my key characters, Frank and Tony in London, one of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world, is an opportunity not to be missed."
Shooting on the movie, which also stars Richard Coyle and Bronson Webb, is set to begin later this month (May11).
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The Tourist is about as difficult to get through as spotting the vowels in the name of its director. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark was last seen receiving a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2007 for The Lives of Others which was about a couple living in East Berlin who were being monitored by the police of the German Democratic Republic. Its positive reception made way for the assumption that Donnersmark would continue to populate the USA with films of seemingly otherworldly and underrepresented themes. But his current project is saddening in its superficiality and total implausibility.
The film’s only real upside is its stars: two of our most prized Americans. Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo a math teacher from Wisconsin who travels to Europe after his wife leaves him presumably because of his weakness and simplicity. While en route to Venice he meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) who situates herself in his company after she receives a letter from her criminal lover Alexander Pearce (who stole some billions from a very wealthy Russian and the British government) with instructions to find someone on a train who looks like him and make the police believe that he is the real Alexander Pearce to throw the authorities and the Russians off his track. Elise picks Frank and after they are photographed kissing each other on the balcony of Elise’s hotel everyone begins to believe Frank is the real Pearce and so begins the chase.
While Donnersmark could not have picked two better looking people to film roaming around Venice his lack of faith in the audience is obvious. Every aspect of the characters is hammed up again and again as if Donnersmark felt burdened with the task of making us see his vision. Doubtful that we’re capable of getting to where he wants us he has crafted a movie completely devoid of subtlety. Elise’s strength and superiority over Frank are portrayed by close-ups and repeated instances of men burping up their lungs upon seeing her (as if her beauty is in any way subjective?). And in case we forgot that Frank is the victim in this story -- even though he’s been tricked chased and shot at - Donnersmark still felt the need to pin him with a lame electronic cigarette to puff on. Frank and Elise somehow manage to lack mystery even though we get very few factual details about each of them.
Nothing extraordinary comes to us in the way of the film’s structural elements either. There is very little of the action that The Tourist’s marketing led us to believe and the dialog is often painful. The plot itself is almost shockingly unbelievable especially when we’re asked to believe that Elise falls in love with Frank after a combination of kissing him once and her disclosed habit of swooning over men she only spent an hour with (yes that was on her CV).
The Tourist is rather empty and cosmetic. It’s worth seeing if you’re a superfan of Jolie or Depp but don’t expect to walk out of the theater with anything more than the stub you came in with.
Hollywood never played with action figures as a kid. That's an abstract statement, sure, but clearly it's true. How else do you explain an industry that's obsessed with making superhero movies but can't be bothered with making unique supervillains? No kid with any kind of an imagination grabs his Superman action figure and imagines him fighting off Lex Luthor's outlandish schemes to drive up real estate prices. No kid sitting in front of Saturday-morning cartoons with his box of toys imagines Batman's crusade to help protect the reputation of the new district attorney. Why? Because that's boring.
Such real-world matters pale when Superman could be fighting off Doomsday. Batman is a badass; let him fight other badasses like Bane or Clayface. Who cares about some Russian guy's patent dispute grudge with Tony Stark's father? Iron Man needs to be fighting Fin Fang Foom and other ridiculous, out-of-this-world characters. Is it really too much to ask that these sci-fi and fantasy icons battle other sci-fi and fantasy icons?
Yes, it's great that the industry's recent attempts to take superheroes seriously has resulted in a new crop of outstanding films, but let's move past this phase of gritty realism, please. One or two entries that make their heroes out to be just ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives is fine, but now that we're getting deeper into the big-screen mythos of some of these heroes, it's high time we saw them go toe-to-toe with equally impressive freaks of nature.
Whenever a new superhero film enters production, it brings with it a hurricane of speculation as to whom the villain of the piece will be. And if you ever pay attention to what the fans are hoping to see, you'll surely notice that it's never the safe, human villains they want to see duking it out with their favorite hero; they want to see the mighty and the mysterious.
Take Marc Webb's upcoming reboot of Spider-Man, for example. Yesterday it was announced that Rhys Ifans would be playing the villain -- though of course Sony was too noncommittal to say who that villain actually will be. The fan speculation jumped instantly, naturally, to the more outrageous characters like Lizard, because we're tired of seeing boring villains. We want to see giant reptile people getting beat up, dammit.
The same thing happened last week when reports came in that Christopher Nolan's new Batman film would be setting up at least part of its shoot in New Orleans. That news, combined with a few key rumors out of the New York Comic-Con, had fans in a fervor at the prospect of Batman fighting a character like Killer Croc. Why? Because we want to see giant reptile people getting beat up, dammit.
We want to take our relatively human action figures and mash them up with their decidedly non-human counterparts. It's childhood instinct for us, but it's the scariest notion on the planet for film producers, apparently. Sam Raimi's Spider-Man series was able to have some fun with its villains, but even they never really went as overboard as they could have, considering Spidey has got some of the best baddies in the biz to go up against. It's a shame that by the time Raimi reluctantly gave in to fan demands to see characters like Venom or Sandman on the big screen, he had to go and get replaced by a pod person. (That is what happened, right? The real Sam Raimi would never have made that emo Spider-man dance/strut scene.)
Even in the cases when producers are okay with getting crazy, they often resist diving completely into the deep end. Take Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, for example. The entire movie they're concerned with Galactus, a supervillain that can swallow an entire planet. They build and they build and they build and then ... he's revealed to be a swirling space cloud? The producers really thought people would laugh less at their film had it revealed Galactus as an intergalactic giant who eats planets? Or that they were leaving room for the real Galactus to show up in a Silver Surfer spin-off movie? That's not teasing, that's just poor filmmaking.
The only entry in this whole hero boom to have had the stones to have its freak-of-nature hero have a drag-down, all-in fight with a freak-of-nature villain is The Incredible Hulk. And you know what happened? It resulted in the best villain fight to come out of the entire industry boom. Yes, I said it: The Incredible Hulk fighting the Abomination is cooler than any of the fights found in any of the other franchises. It's not because Abomination is a particularly amazing villain, either; it's simply because it allows for the hero to properly lock horns with a beast his own size.
And I don't mean that literally, of course. The actual size of the villain doesn't matter (if it did, the aforementioned Fantastic Four disaster would be king), so long as they merely allow for the hero to have to use everything at their disposal to win. And I fear that unless producers start to care less about grounding their films in reality, the old "hero is as only good as his villain" adage means we've already hit the plateau of this superhero boom. I mean, really, how hard is it to have someone fight a giant reptile man?
Gwen Verdon, a four-time Tony Award winner from Broadway's Golden Age, has died at age 75 from natural causes at her daughter's Vermont home. The petite, redheaded performer captivated audiences in musicals such as "Damn Yankees," "Chicago" and "Sweet Charity."
Verdon was married to director-choreographer Bob Fosse, whom she married in 1960, and the couple worked together on "Anna Christie" and "Redhead" along with "Chicago" and "Damn Yankees." Her last Broadway appearance was in "Chicago" in 1975 with Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach.
Broadway theaters dimmed their lights at 8 p.m. Wednesday in honor of the legend.
ACTRESS JULIE LONDON DIES: Julie London, nurse Dixie McCall of television's "Emergency!", died Wednesday of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles. London, who had been in poor health since suffering a stroke five years ago, was married to "Dragnet" actor Jack Webb, then jazz composer and actor Bobby Troup, who portrayed resident brain surgeon Dr. Joe Early alongside his wife on "Emergency!"
In her youth, London appeared in films with Hollywood legends such as Rock Hudson, Edward G. Robinson and Gary Cooper, and Billboard magazine voted her one of the top female vocalists of 1955, 1956 and 1957.
PRODUCER WALTER SHENSON DIES: Walter Shenson, who produced "Help!" and "A Hard Day's Night" for the Beatles and 12 other films, has died from complications from a stroke in Los Angeles. He was 81.
Shenson worked as a publicist for Paramount Pictures on the films "The Caine Mutiny" and "From Here to Eternity" before turning to producing. Among Shenson's other films: "The Mouse That Roared" with Peter Sellers and "Reuben, Reuben" with Tom Conti.
ACTOR RICK JASON DIES: Rick Jason, who portrayed Lt. Gil Hanley on the 1960s TV series "Combat!", committed suicide at his in Moorpark, Calif., home officials said Tuesday. Jason was 74 and had been depressed over personal matters, officials told Reuters.
Before becoming a household name on "Combat!", Jason starred in the short-lived series "The Case of the Dangerous Robin" and a TV movie, "The Fountain of Youth," directed by Orson Welles. Other TV appearances include "Murder, She Wrote," "Wonder Woman," "Fantasy Island" and "Dallas." Jason also had regular appearances on the soap opera "The Young and the Restless."