Homeland star David Harewood and actor Rupert Everett are to give readings at a literacy festival in their native U.K. to encourage more Londoners to pick up books. The British actors will take part in the London Evening Standard's Get Reading festival, which will take place in the capital's Trafalgar Square in July (13).
Harewood and Everett will both give readings at the free event, along with authors including Babette Cole, Jonathan Stroud and Darren Shan.
The reading marathon on 13 July (13) is part of the newspaper's Get London Reading campaign, which aims to raise literacy rates in the city.
In this week’s The Change-Up, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds lead completely different lives—each envious of the other’s—until a drunken wish comes true, and Bateman’s Dave is suddenly thrust into the enviable life of bachelorhood while Reynolds’ Mitch acquires the wife and kids he’d always wanted.
It’s a concept that got us thinking: What if celebs with similar disparities swapped lives and careers?
Kristen Stewart and Snooki:
One detests attention; the other would quite possibly cease to live without it. One is, you might say, a tad serious, loath to force even the most insincere of smiles upon her tortured-artist face; the other genuinely might not even know the word serious. But the real reason this swap needs to happen is so we could all witness the should-be-SNL-skit that is Snooki in the Twilight franchise and Stewart on Jersey Shore.
Seth Rogen and Mel Gibson:
It’s not just religion that separates them, but it sure as hell would be the most fun aspect of this change-up. Picture Mel in the next Judd Apatow flick, bantering R-ratedly with guys like Segel and Baruchel on Bar Mitzvahs and such. (Oy!) And then mentally replace Gibson’s vitriolic, vulgar voice message to Oksana Grigorieva with a Rogen version: stoner drawl, stoner laugh, vaguely Canadian accent … He could make all of Mel’s forthcoming public disasters even funnier!
Werner Herzog and Ryan Seacrest:
“Ziss … is zee American Idol!!!” Herzog, the iconic German auteur behind everything from Fitzcarraldo to Grizzly Man, would probably be up for this swap—if only because he’s always game for a social experiment or challenge. Seacrest, meanwhile, could parlay his transformation into an E! reality show.
Lindsay Lohan and Christina Hendricks:
Lindsay could finally be considered a sex symbol AND a legitimate actress, the dichotomy she’s worked so damned hard to achieve. And in such a switcheroo, Hendricks could pick up right where Lindsay left off: appearances at court wearing inappropriately skintight attire and appearances out of court wearing tops that, wouldn't ya know it, just seem to keep falling off! Maybe? Please?
Larry David and Daniel Day-Lewis:
Think about it: Daniel Day-Lewis needs to conquer the art of comedy; he needs to. Instead of going Method or merely shadowing a source of inspiration, he could literally become that person. As for L.D. – well, they say beneath every great comedian is a great dramatist (or something like that). Come to think of it, maybe they’re not so different…
Jay-Z and Michael Caine: “I possess 99 predicaments; however, a Cockney bird shan’t be one such.”
Christopher Mintz-Plasse and James Gandolfini: Because there might be a Sopranos movie someday on which Gandolfini passes. Enter McLovin.
Zach Galifianakis and Leonardo DiCaprio: They’re not only polar opposites in the looks department. Facial hair, too.
Sarah Silverman and Judi Dench: Silverman would have to seriously curb her talk about doodie and arm hair, because that’s not Dame-like!
Verne Troyer and Tommy Lee Jones: I mean … why the hell not? Answer us that.
In an era when big-budget filmmaking is dominated by corporate interests, when the on-screen product invariably reflects a series of artistic compromises, when even “successful” studio franchises, such as the Spider-Man, Batman, and James Bond series, have suffered drops in quality so severe as to require re-boots, the Harry Potter saga is truly an outlier. While some translations of J.K. Rowling’s beloved boy wizard books are undoubtedly better than others, there has never been a bad Harry Potter film. And every single one of them has enjoyed staggering success at the box office.
Such success is bound to inspire its share of imitators. Since 2001, when the first chapter of the Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, became a four-quadrant blockbuster, studios have sunk millions into various ill-fated attempts to distill its essence into a straightforward and repeatable formula. It goes something like this: A fantasy epic, preferably based on an already successful children’s book, in which an ordinary child (or children) is plucked from a sad or mundane existence and thrust into an immense conflict in which he or she plays a decisive role, the true nature of which will be revealed in subsequent, highly profitable sequels. Not surprisingly, these cloning experiments uniformly failed to yield viable offspring.
The first half of Harry Potter’s two-part swan song, Harry Potter and the Ghostly Hallows, Part 1, arrives in theaters this week. In commemoration of the Boy Who Lived, consider these Franchises That Died:
Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
Budget: $65 million Domestic Box Office: $29.3 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with aliens! And Dax Shepard!
Why It Failed: For whatever reason, the film's tagline, "From the author of Jumanji," failed to trigger the frenzy of excitement its producers had anticipated. And star Kristen Stewart had yet to perfect the patented grimace and lip-quiver that would later prove irresistable to Twilight audiences.
Budget: $100 million Domestic Box Office: $75 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with dragons!
Why It Failed: It was adapted from book by a teenager, Christopher Paolini, who watched way too much Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and directed by a filmmaking novice, Stefen Fangmeier, who had apparently heard of neither.
The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007)
Budget: $45 million Domestic Box Office: $8.8 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with a fraction of the budget!
Why It Failed: It was monumentally dreadful, for one thing. Every facet of this shoddy film reeked of poorly financed Potter envy. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, failing in the attempt, as The Seeker does spectacularly, must amount to idolatry.
The Golden Compass (2007)
Budget: At least $180 million Domestic Box Office: $70.1 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with talking polar bears! And James Bond! And zero coherence!
Why It Failed: Perhaps those dastardly Papists had something to do with it. More likely, the film fell victim to the chaos, bloat, and questionable decision-making that marked the waning days of its studio, New Line.
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Budget: $90 million Domestic Box Office: $71.2 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with twins!
Why It Failed: Nothing stood out. From its storyline to its cast to its production design, the film radiated a "good, but not great" quality that won modest kudos from critics but failed to register with audiences.
Budget: $60 million Domestic Box Office: $17.3 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with reading!
Why It Failed: It seemed inevitable that Americans would eventually wake up to Brendan Fraser's vaguely creepy persona and recoil from it. Apparently the Germans -- namely, Inkheart author Cornelia Funke, who wrote the character with Fraser in mind -- were a bit behind the curve.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009)
Budget: $40 million Domestic Box Office: $13.9 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with vampires!
Why It Failed: The filmmakers decided to shoehorn three of Darren Shan's source novels into one film, resulting in perilously disjointed narrative that no amount of Salma Hayek cleavage could redeem.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
Budget: $95 million Domestic Box Office: $88.8 million
It's Like Harry Potter But ... with Greek gods!
Why It Failed: Original Potter director Chris Columbus' second attempt at kick-starting a blockbuster franchise featured much of the wonder but little of the depth of his previous effort.
1. Live Bloggin' The Biggest Trailer of the Year!
You know the drill, hit play and start your journey!
:01 - :17 Hey, it's the guy from Love Actually!
:18 - :25 So where does Harry have to take the ring again?
:26 - :40 Finally, someone is telling Harry he can't fight the war on his own. This guy has been hot dogging it for six films now!
:41 - 1:01 The fella who shan’t be named is rather full of himself. But he's got to have massive sinus problems to go along with that 'tude.
1:02 - 1:15 Lookalikes? That's the best a group of magicians can come up with?
1:16 - 1:30 This movie looks to have more action than Die Hard with a Vengeance.
1:31 - 1:36 I'm on Team Ron here, if such a thing exists.
1:37 - 1:55 Seriously though, this movie has more action than the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan.
1:56 - 2:20 Having seriously vetted both candidates, I am officially recommending cheering for Harry Potter against Voldy.
How about that trailer though? It makes the new Narnia look like a silent film.
2. Clarity in The Great Best Picture Nomination Race
The Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, and with it we've gained new insights into this year's Best Picture race. There are six "mortal locks" and six films vying for the final four slots. Please to be enjoying witty commentary on each grouping!
True Grit: The Coens have three Best Picture Nominations under their belts. This should be number four.
Inception: The "sorry about that Dark Knight snub" makeup call.
Black Swan: The "sorry about that Wrestler snub makeup call.
The King's Speech: Massive buzz out of Toronto in a weak year equals insta-nom.
127 Hours: Danny Boyle now has The Academy's attention.
Toy Story 3: Pixar is locked into the nomination circuit, though winning might prove tougher.
Coming On Strong
Secretariat: Could be the recipient of this year's "Blind Side nod toward sentiment" award.
Somewhere: It didn't bowl over Venice, but The Academy could really use a female director in the mix.
The Fighter: Wahlberg and Bale have a history of Academy buzz, and people are loving the trailer.
Another Year: Mike Leigh's relationship film is going to have massive impact in December.
The Social Network: The blogosphere is loving it. But The Academy probably won't reward an "Internet-y" movie
Get Low: It's a great film. But a July release date means it must run the gauntlet to clinch a nomination.
3. Blockbuster, Fini
Let the sad tale of blockbuster serve as a warning to all those who place medium ahead of message. People never wanted to go to a centralized location and pay exorbitant late fees to watch a movie. They did so only because it was the only option available. No longer. Netflix's kung-fu was far too strong, and the idea of merely hitting a button or simply checking the mail trumped wandering down the aisles of a personality-free video store.
But what other far reaching conclusions can we draw from this exit stage right by Blockbuster?
First up, movie theaters only have another couple of decades to live, at least under the current distribution models. The caveat would be if studios somehow circumvent that Supreme Court ruling which took them out of the theater-owning business. But big televisions and home theater systems are becoming too ubiquitous for people to willingly deal with the cell-phone happy / talking to their friend general public at a public theater. Plus, the industry continues to price consumers out, from the 3-D surcharge to $10 popcorn.
Next, the publishing industry. The Kindle (or Ipad, or E-Reader) can carry hundreds of books at once without any printing costs associated with revenue. It's also a more democratic process as nationwide publishers have always held the cost of printing over their writer's heads. Under the current model authors get a few bucks per book sold. The rest heads off to marketing and physical production costs (okay, okay, some goes to a good place in the form of copy editors). But if the format becomes:
1) Upload a book to a server
2) Set your own cost
3) Collect revenue
The model will be far more open. Sure, it will be harder to stand out, but much easier to at least give it the ol' college try. The current publishing industry is feast or famine, with the occasional Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer supporting dozens of other writers who never get huge. But no longer, there will be far more writers abe to do it for a living, if less mega-hits due to the lack of mass marketing campaigns.
Cable? Phones? Music? The whole thing will be one entertainment based offering. Your laptop becomes your television becomes your cell phone, all for one low monthly fee. Access is what people want, what people crave. Hear a song? Want to listen to it again, and with a friend? That's the route it's headed. The message over the medium? Bet on it.
4. A Video For Your Weekend
Watch 30 seconds of this and I guarantee you'll watch the whole thing.
On that note, I hope you have a weekend full of obedient pets.
Check out last week's Movie Musings here
Laremy is the lead critic and senior producer for a website named Film.com. He's also available on Twitter.
Staking a rather weak claim for placement alongside the venerable Twilight in the growing oeuvre of teen vampire flicks is Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant based on Darren Shan’s popular series of young adult novels. Compared to Stephenie Meyer’s celebrated books and their subsequent movie adaptations Cirque is quirkier more irreverent and more male-oriented. (The latter is best exemplified by the presence of Salma Hayek whose ample assets are on conspicuous display throughout.) It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t make for a better film.
Relative newcomer Chris Massoglia stars as Darren (in a classy move the book’s author named the character after himself) a reasonably well-adjusted 16-year-old whose comfortable suburban existence contrasts sharply with that of his best friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) an inveterate troublemaker with a deadbeat dad and an alcoholic mom. Uh-oh — methinks this combustible pairing could be recipe for future possibly momentous squabbles no?
For all their differences Darren and Steve are united by a common interest in all manner of unusual and otherworldly phenomena which leads them to the Cirque du Freak a traveling sideshow with an eclectic roster of performers: Rhamus Twobellies (Frankie Faison) boasts twin stomachs while Alexander Ribs (Orlando Jones) has no midsection at all; in addition to being freakishly endowed Madame Truska (Hayek duh) can grow a lengthy beard within seconds; Gertha Teeth (Kristen Schaal) can bite through anything; Corma Limbs (Jane Krakowski) can chop off and re-grow appendages; and so on. Headlining it all is Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) a charismatic magician who also happens to be a closet vampire.
Unforeseen circumstances force Darren to become an indentured servant to Crepsley the first step of a strange journey in which he becomes half-vampire rooms with a sensitive snake boy (Patrick Fugit) romances a sassy monkey girl (Jessica Carlson) gets accosted by shriveled Gollum clones and is eventually drafted into a centuries-long war between the peaceful human-friendly Vampires and their fiendish archrivals the ravenous Vampanese.
All of this may sound genuinely exciting but that excitement seems to have been lost somewhere during Cirque Du Freak’s leap to the big screen. After trying for nearly two hours to make sense of the film’s distractingly disjointed storyline littered with aimless subplots it came as no surprise to me to learn afterward that its screenplay shoehorned three of Shan’s novels into one film. Needless to say it did not succeed. And director Paul Weitz (About a Boy) doesn’t help matters infusing the action with jarring cuts and awkward transitions that only serve to amplify the holes in the narrative.
The one bright spot in Cirque Du Freak is a sublime performance from the ever-likable Reilly whose pale schlubby Atlas alone holds up the movie’s fragile lumbering frame for the bulk of its running time.
Maybe that’s why he looked so tired by the end.