The brother and sister team behind the James Bond franchise are to be honoured with the 2014 David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the Producers Guild Awards in January (14). Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli will join the likes of movie icons Stanley Kramer, Saul Zaentz, Clint Eastwood, Billy Wilder, Brian Grazer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Roger Corman, Steven Spielberg and Laura Ziskin, who have previously picked up the prestigious prize.
Announcing the news on Wednesday (30Oct13), PGA Awards co-chairs Lori McCreary and Michael De Luca released a joint statement that read: "Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are the driving force behind one of the most cherished franchises in the history of film. Thanks to the consistency and steadfastness of their creative vision, generations of moviegoers have been able to share the adventures of one of our iconic heroes. We look forward to their continuing to bring thrilling exploits and cinematic masterpieces to audiences worldwide, and we are delighted to honor them with this year's David O. Selznick Achievement Award."
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t know the name Alfred Hitchcock. There are a few classic directors whose legacies have lived on long after their passing, but few can match the renown of "The Master of Suspense" himself. After all, can John Ford or Billy Wilder be recognized by their silhouettes alone? Hitch’s films read like a list of the thriller genre’s greatest hits. Though his prolific output provides ample room for discussion, many consider his best film to be 1960’s Psycho. Whether you find yourself in agreement with this appraisal, it’s no surprise that the first big screen biopic of Hitch centers around the production of the seminal horror movie.
And yet while we all know the name Hitchcock, recognize his famous profile, and are at least acquainted with a number of his films, there is so much of the man’s life that falls far outside the domain of common knowledge. Sacha Gervasi’s biopic Hitchcock aims to help inject some of those tidbits of this great artist’s personal life and trials into the public consciousness. That being said, the biopic doesn’t exactly spoon-feed the audience with exposition so there can be a sense of being thrown into the deep end for those who don’t count themselves among the Hitchcock literati. So here are a few things you’ll probably want to know before you see the movie. At the very least, it will help you better distinguish between what is fact and what might be dramatic embellishment.
Norman Bates is Based on Ed Gein
When contemporary audiences view Psycho, they may be quick to note the tameness of the violence. This is of course a function of the fact that it was produced in 1960, but it is also ironic considering the story basis for the film. Psycho was based on Robert Bloch’s novel of the same name. Though a fictionalized novel, it was largely influenced by the deeds of real-life psychopath Ed Gein.
In the late 50s, Ed Gein killed two women in his Wisconsin town and dug up a number of other corpses to fashion morbid trophies from their body parts. These trophies adorned his home when police later raided it. Gein was said to have dug up middle-aged women who reminded him of his deceased mother, with whom he had been exceedingly close. Within minutes of Hitchcock’s opening, you’ll understand why this information is valuable. Interesting side note, Gein also served as the blueprint for Leatherface and Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs.
Hitch’s Troubled Relationship with His Leading Ladies
Alfred Hitchcock, during the course of his career, had the great privilege to work with some of the most beautiful women in Hollywood history. Grace Kelly, Doris Day, Eva Marie Saint, and of course Psycho’s Janet Leigh. Though he may have preferred blondes, there has been much made of the fact that when it came to his relationship with his leading ladies, Hitch was no gentleman. He had a strange obsession with the glamour of starlets and was known to be rather rough and even cruel to them on set; conjectured to be an expression of his frustration at not being able to sleep with them.
One example of this involves Tippi Hedren, the star of Hitch’s The Birds as well as Marnie. Hedren has gone on record about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her director, noting that it seemed like he loved her except that most people don’t treat the people they love so badly. During the filming of The Birds, she was told repeatedly that her now iconic scene in the attic would involve only fake birds. It wasn’t until the day they were to shoot that scene that a crewmember let slip that the birds would be real. Hedren was beset by real birds, some of which were attached to her, for an entire week. While Hitch didn’t devise anything this malevolent for Janet Leigh, he did leave the prop corpse of Norman’s mother in her dressing room to get the right scream from her. This tendency toward obsession is important to understand going in, so that certain scenes in Hitchcock don’t feel awkwardly out of place.
The Studio Conflict
While Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most celebrated directors in the world by the time he started making movies in America, he was no stranger to having to battle studios and studio executives to accomplish his various visions. In 1940, David O. Selznick, the first American producer with whom he worked, re-edited Hitch’s Rebecca without his knowledge, and solely accepted the Oscar when the film won for Best Picture. This would be the only Academy Award Hitch would win until his lifetime achievement award in 1968. This rocky relationship with the studio system would persist well into his golden era.
Psycho became one of Hitch’s most acclaimed films as well as his most financially successful. But at the time, Paramount balked at Psycho’s content and its dark themes. They also expressed concern that Hitch was going too arty again, wanting to shoot in black-and-white, and were afraid of another financial flop like Vertigo. They didn’t want to produce it, and certainly did not want to finance it. It wasn’t until Hitch agreed to bankroll the movie himself that they agreed to at least distribute it, though they refused to let him shoot on the lot. The movie was instead filmed on the Universal backlot. Universal was only too happy to be back in the Hitchcock game. Since he had last made movies with them, they had been creatively stagnate and were deeply in debt. Keep this in mind when observing the various professional conflicts in the film.
The Importance of Alma
Though he was rumored to be obsessed with his leading ladies, there was no denying Hitch was thoroughly devoted to his wife Alma. She was not merely a loving companion and a source of inspiration, but also Hitch’s most important collaborator. At various points throughout his career, she was his screenwriter, his editor, and she also provided the final say on whether a proposed project was worthy of his time. In fact, if she didn’t like it a script that crossed Hitch’s desk, he didn’t bother moving forward with it. He revered her throughout their whole lives. When he was a young man, first working an entry-level job at a film studio in England, Alma was already established there and, because she held a higher position, Hitch considered it improper to speak to her. Her importance in his life is a central focus of the film.
Hitchcock Was Also a Master Showman
Though he would probably bristle at the comparison, Alfred Hitchcock was sort of the P.T. Barnum of the film world. The attraction he was selling was always himself. Even before he came over to the United States, marking his further meteoric rise, Hitch’s success in England prompted him to hire a team of people whose sole function was to promote Hitchcock; not just his films, but also the Hitchcock name. His marketing and theatrical stunts became the stuff of Hollywood lore. Spying the director’s inevitable cameo became part of the fun of seeing a new Hitchcock film. He also followed Walt Disney’s example and hosted his own television show: Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
For Psycho, he actually forced theater managers to disallow the admission of patrons who arrived late for fear that it would ruin the film’s frightening surprises. It was for this reason he also held no early screenings for the press; a risky gamble to be sure. He also recorded special radio advertisements and even sent manuals to theater owners explaining his gimmicks. Not only are these signature marketing tricks examined in Hitchcock, but Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays Hitch in the film, actually appears in an ad running in theaters right now instructing audiences to turn off their cell phones. This meta approach would have made Hitch smile — to the extent that Hitch could smile, of course.
[Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight]
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On Tuesday, the Producers Guild of America's award nominations were announced; today it was the Writers Guild's turn.
Most notable among the nominations for the year's best screenplays are Steven Zaillian -- nominated twice for his adapted Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Moneyball scripts (the latter of which he co-wrote with Aaron Sorkin) -- and Woody Allen's 20th career nomination, this time for his original screenplay to Midnight in Paris.
The WGA will hold a ceremony on Feb. 19. Read on for the full list of nominees.
50/50, Written by Will Reiser; Summit Entertainment
Bridesmaids, Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig; Universal Studios
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
Win Win, Screenplay by Tom McCarthy; Story by Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni; Fox Searchlight
Young Adult, Written by Diablo Cody; Paramount Pictures
The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming; Fox Searchlight
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian; Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, originally published by Norstedts; Columbia Pictures
The Help, Screenplay by Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett; DreamWorks Pictures
Hugo, Screenplay by John Logan; Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; Paramount Pictures
Moneyball, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin; Based on the book by Michael Lewis; Columbia Pictures
Better This World, Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega; Loteria Films
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Written by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek; Oscilloscope Pictures
Nostalgia for the Light, Written by Patricio Guzmán; Icarus Films
Pina, Screenplay by Wim Wenders; Sundance Selects
Position Among the Stars, Script by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich, Leonard Retel Helmrich; HBO Films
Senna, Written by Manish Pandey; Producers Distribution AgencySource: THR
On the surface Hugo looks like your run-of-the-mill Harry Potter knock-off full of whimsy spectacle life lessons and faux-imagination. But the young adult fiction adaptation is anything but factory-processed. Filled with more passion emotion and drama than most "Oscar contenders" of 2011 Hugo transcends its fantastical predecessors. Some call Hugo director Martin Scorsese's foray into kids movies but the film speaks to "kids" young and old. Every scene every moment every frame gushes with creativity and artistry and it's one of the best movies of the year.
Hugo doesn't sugarcoat the plights faced by the film's titular hero. When we pick up with Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) the savvy lad is living in the walls of a 1930's Parisian train station taking over the clock winding duties of his missing uncle (a drunk who took him in after his clockmaker father's unfortunate demise). Aside from his day to day duties Hugo faces greater challenges: evading capture from the station's resident orphan wrangler (Sacha Baron Cohen) and swiping parts from a toy store owner (Ben Kingsley) to rebuild his father's automaton a early 20th century robot designed for entertainment. Hugo's thievery is eventually discovered by the weary toyman who takes the child under his wing to make use of his tinkering skills. The professional relationship introduces Hugo to the toyman's goddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) who helps Hugo unravel the greater mystery behind his father's robot and "Papa Georges " as well as better understand himself.
As Hugo and Isabelle dig deeper into Papa Georges' history they unearth a history that's simultaneously magical and true—they aren't going to a far away land through an otherworldly portal but instead examining an aspect of history cinematic history in fact that feels foreign to them (and the audience). With a their innocent perspective the young duo marvel at stories of the early days of film and glimpses of long lost silents. This is Scorsese's playground. His love for the early days of film is infused into the design and story of Hugo giving the movie a timeless feel that sweeps the viewer up.
But Hugo isn't just a souped-up Film 101 course. The historical revelations are only part of Hugo's emotional journey which is equally enhanced by stunning 3D detailed production design and a supporting cast woven into the film's fabric to further expand the world. Cohen's Station Inspector is like a Buster Keaton character complete with pratfalls and heart. Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man Boardwalk Empire appears as Scorsese's proxy relishing the world of film while caring for Hugo and Isabelle. Even Christopher Lee's (Lord of the Rings) brief turn as a book store owner succeeds in evoking a smile. All the parts come together under the intricate train station set a beautifully realized period piece brought to life by Scorsese's dimensional 3D. Never before has a stereoscopic film worked so hard to bring you into the picture or enhance the storytelling (on sequence shows a cowering crowd experiencing film for the first time a train hurtling towards camera—an effect paralleled in today's 3D effects!). If the story doesn't suck you in the artistry on display in Hugo surely will.
We praised the film in an unfinished form when we caught it at New York Film Festival and the finalized version packs an even greater punch. Hugo is the perfect film to hypnotize young people with the magic of film or to revisit the heart-pounding experience of a person's first time at a movie theater. This isn't nostalgic baiting but rather expert filmmaking.
Earlier this month, one of our editors, Matt Patches, got to watch a screening of the still-unfinished Hugo, adapted by Martin Scorsese from the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Unfinished though it was, Mr. Patches declared a pronounced adoration for the material he saw, which you can read about here.
And the same sentiment is illicited from the trailer. It's not clear what exactly the movie as a whole will offer, but I can almost promise myself that it's going to be something that I will very much like. Hugo does seem like a very sentimental tale, but despite, or in light of, this (depending on who you are), the sweet approach looks to be a pro, rather than a con.
The new trailer is a hypersensory, super-dramatic and fast-paced race through a train station, against time, toward dreams...it's very Disney. Friendships are formed, old passions are restored, and I can bet that the nasty old police officer (Sacha Baron Cohen) will find a song in his heart at the end. I recommend you check out the new trailer at Apple, because it does indeed look to be a very enjoyable film.
Hugo stars Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Michael Pitt, Emily Mortimer, Sacha Baron Cohen and a dog.
The veteran director decided to go ahead with a screening of the film, starring Sir Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jude Law, at the event on Monday (10Oct11), even though the production is not quite finished, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The move marks the first time an incomplete film has been shown at the festival since Walt Disney's 1991 movie Beauty and the Beast.
Scorsese explained to the crowd at Manhattan's Avery Fisher Hall, "There are still what are called pre-visualisations. Computer-generated people that they promise are going to be human - pretty soon, I hope. And you will see a few wonderful green screen moments where you can put in anything you want."
Festival selection committee chairman Richard Pena said, "There's only one other time, back in 1991, that we've screened a work-in-progress as part of the festival, and that was Beauty and the Beast. We're just as proud this evening to have this film."
The movie, based on Brian Selznick's novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, opens in the U.S. next month (Nov11).
The movie mogul will be feted at the 23rd annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on 21 January (12) in Beverly Hills, California.
Past recipients include Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer, Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Laura Ziskin. This year's (11) recipient was Scott Rudin.
Announcing the news on Wednesday (21Sep11), Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim stated, "As one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, Steven's continued genius, imagination and fearlessness in the world of feature film entertainment is unmatched in this industry.
"Steven has produced some of the most iconic films in the history of cinema and we have no doubt he will continue to bring thrilling adventures, emotionally moving storylines, thought provoking characters and cult classics to audiences across the globe."
A statement from Spielberg reads, "David O. Selznick is a true legend in the producing field, and I am tremendously honoured to be associated with his name and to join the company of so many distinguished filmmakers who have received this accolade. I am extremely grateful to the Producers Guild."
The iconic filmmaker is known for making violent classics like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, but he's trying to win over a new target audience with the upcoming release of Hugo, about an orphan living in a train station in Paris, France.
He tells People magazine, "Reading children's books to her over the years got me into the frame of the mind of making a film about a child."
And Scorsese admits being surrounded by kids on set was a big change from his crime movies: "We always ended up talking about someone's new teeth coming in!"
Hugo, based on the acclaimed 2007 bestseller by Brian Selznick, stars Jude Law, Christopher Lee and Sir Ben Kingsley, alongside child star Asa Butterfield.
Step right up ladies and gentlemen (in November) for Martin Scorsese's first ever 3D film. That's right. Hugo Cabret is set to hit theaters on November 23, just in time for all of us turkey-stuffed givers of thanks to waddle to the theaters and see what ol' Marty's put together for our viewing pleasure. Sony Pictures had previously set the film for a December release which didn't satisfy the producers' desire for a Thanksgiving release. Paramount jumped at the opportunity and now we'll all have the chance to spend Thanksgiving weekend avoiding Black Friday Sale shit shows by hiding out in a dark theater and experiencing Jude Law in 3D for the first time in our lives. Lovely.
The film also stars Sasha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz, and Emily Mortimer and is set in 1930s Paris where a young orphan gets swept into a magical mystery adventure. Law plays the boy's late father and the film is based off of the award-winning book by Brian Selznick.
The man behind movies like the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men and The Queen will be the 2011 recipient of the prestigious David O. Selznick award at the organisation's annual prizegiving on 22 January (11).
Previous honorees include Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer and Jerry Bruckheimer.