Even though recent reports stated that Metallo and Lois Lane's militant father would be the villains in Warner Bros. anticipated Superman reboot, it's now official: General Zod will make his triumphant return to theaters in December 2012 as Michael Shannon has been cast as the fan favorite character today. He takes over the role from Terence Stamp, who played the Kryptonian baddie in the 1978 original and its 1981 sequel, and joins Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane in the new production, which is set to begin this summer.
Zack Snyder is directing Superman: The Man of Steel for the studio while Christopher Nolan acts as producer/creative godfather to the new franchise, joined by his partner/wife Emma Thomas, Charles Roven (who worked with Nolan on his billion dollar Batman franchise) and Snyder's wife/partner Deborah. Thomas Tull and Lloyd Phillips of Legendary Pictures will executive produce. David S. Goyer wrote the screenplay based on his and Nolan's story.
The plan is to shoot this summer, though there's still more casting to get done. We need to know who will play second-tier characters like Jimmy Olsen and Perry White from The Daily Planet as well as who will appear as Ursa and Non, Zod's right-hand man and left-hand woman (both gave the Last Son of Krypton one hell of a battle in Superman II). While those characters may or may not be in the script, one thing is for sure: Snyder and co. have hired perhaps the perfect actor to play Zod. Shannon has a tremendous presence on screen, as anyone who's seen his work in Revolutionary Road, Boardwalk Empire or Take Shelter (his most recent film credit which Sony Pictures Classics will release sometime this year) can attest to. He should prove to be a formidable foe for The Man of Steel as well as a great on-set collaborator for Cavill.
On July 30 1875 an elderly Brigham Young (Terence Stamp) flashes back to the events leading up to the massacre of a group of settlers heading west to California known as the Mountains Meadows Massacre. The story begins in 1857 when a wagon train stops in Mormon territory needing supplies and rest. At first the Mormons urge the settlers to move on but Jacob Samuelson (Jon Voight) finally allows them two weeks on their land even though he privately prays for these abominations to go to hell. It seems these settlers’ way of life threaten the Mormon principles including that fact they practice monogamy and the women wear pants. But this doesn’t stop Samuelson’s son Jonathan (Trent Ford) from falling for the young settler Emily Hudson (Tamara Hope) which leads Jacob to begin spreading rumors about the settlers—and setting into motion the inevitable violent conclusion. September Dawn is anything but subtle. Voight hams it up (as he’s wont to do) as the two-faced Jacob Samuelson. but he’s the bad guy and in this simple tale his over-the-top performance is actually welcomed. On the other hand Stamp is a bit scarier as Brigham Young. Even if it’s a tad one note Stamp’s portrayal of Young’s obvious paranoia and xenophobia gives you chills. As the young attractive lead Ford (How to Deal)’s character actually evolves questioning the ways of his people and fighting for a new life. Of course this performance calls for much doe-eyed innocence which gives way to screaming until he’s hoarse—but again this is not a subtle movie. Hope (Shall We Dance?) is perfectly sweet as the young lass on her way to a new life in California. In fact she’s so agreeable there’s no way you could wish any harm to her. Lolita Davidovich has a truly thankless role as one of the settlers wearing pants who foreshadows the impending violence. And Dean Cain makes a quick cameo as Joseph Smith the great Mormon deity but doesn’t give it much oomph. Director Christopher Cain’s last film credit was the 1997 film Gone Fishin’ which should tell you something right there. The director (who is father to Dean) creates a credible 1857 milieu--although no one is as dirty or grimy as they should be in those conditions. These people have been outdoors for months for pete’s sakes. But when the violence occurs Cain fails in setting up a tense situation and the result ends up looking ridiculous. In fact it looks like the action sequences were set up by one guy instead of a team. Also the quick cuts look like a student film montage slapped together while the sweeping epic camera moves are jerky as if the cameraman can’t keep up. Whether or not the massacre happened this way September Dawn’s portrayal of this violent conspiracy is one-sided—and unfortunately poorly executed.
Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) tells us from the beginning to listen carefully cause he’s only going to tell this story once. And he isn’t kidding. You have to pay attention to Inside Man--blink and you might miss an important clue. Russell has concocted what he thinks is the perfect heist. It starts off with he and four others holding up a bank and taking everyone inside as hostages. NYPD hostage negotiators Detectives Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are dispatched to the scene with orders to establish contact. But as things drag on and the robbers appear to consistently be one step ahead of the police Frazier's suspicions grow when Madeline White (Jodie Foster) a power player with shadowy objectives comes in to offer “assistance” in the matter. Seems her client the chairman of the bank Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) is also personally interested in the moment-to-moment happenings inside the branch. Frazier is pretty convinced there’s more to this than just a bank job gone awry. But how to make the puzzle pieces fit…? Hardly anyone in Inside Man has to stretch much--and that’s just fine. No one really has to since the parts are tailor made for them. Washington a long-time Spike Lee favorite fits right in as the streetwise cop who doesn’t necessarily play by the rules but gets the job done. He and Ejiofor (Four Brothers) have a nice easy-going rapport as partners who’ve been together awhile. Owen plays another calm collected no-nonsense guy you empathize with who can look straight into the camera and tells it as it is. You definitely want him to get away with it. Only Foster gets to veer a little from her usual intelligent heroines to play someone who is still smart but also very cunning--and a little mean-spirited. It looks like she had a lot of fun doing it too in her smart three-piece suit and nasty pumps. In supporting roles Willem Dafoe does a nice turn as the befuddled S.W.A.T. leader while Plummer as a banker with a shady past sort of plays the antithesis to his goody too-shoes Captain Von Trapp in Sound of Music. He probably felt it was time. Having taken a break since 2004’s heavy-handed 25th Hour it’s clear Spike Lee wanted to have fun making Inside Man. In fact I bet he watched Dog Day Afternoon Marathon Man and a Ocean's Eleven in one evening and said “Hey I could make my own bank robbery-diamond/Nazi-heist movie.” And so he did--with his signature stamp all over it. Crafting his film first-timer writer Russell Gewitz’s script Lee draws you right in with the seemingly confessional opener by our bank robber and then never lets go. Actually he doesn't want it to end but that's a minor blip. As Inside Man jumps around in time you are definitely interested in trying to figure out the puzzle yourself even if there are too many pieces. And of course Lee has once again captured that New York state of mind. This is Spike’s city--tough racial and in your face. There are some hilarious scenes between the cops trying to work this thing out as well as between Frazier Mitchell and the hostages afterwards as they are being interrogated. Listen these New Yorkers aren’t about to take crap from a bunch of would-be bank robbers--or from the police.
Two of the most prestigious independent film communities have recently each given their stamp of approval on independent cinema both past and future. Nominees for the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards were announced as was the lineup for the independent feature film and world cinema competitions for next year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Although each organization acknowledge and reward independent filmmaking, the two fetes are quite different. The Spirit Awards are more of a conventional awards show, which will be handed out March 4 in Santa Monica, California [for full coverage on the Spirit Award nominations, click here].
The Sundance Awards are the culmination of the 10-day festival (Jan. 19-29 in Park City, Utah) that showcases the films in contention for awards. Next year’s Sundance Film Festival lineup marks a return of sorts to the fest’s roots, by giving way to more fresh faces. The total number of submissions increased, resulting in a different and exciting format--the expansion of the world competition to include more international films.
Below are the films to be shown in the four competition sections:
American Dramatic Competition A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Director, screenwriter: Dito Montiel) Come Early Morning (Director, screenwriter: Joey Lauren Adams) Flannel Pajamas (Director, screenwriter: Jeff Lipsky) Forgiven (Director, screenwriter: Paul Fitzgerald) Half Nelson (Director: Ryan Fleck; screenwriters: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck) Hawk Is Dying (Director: Julian Goldberger; screenwriters: Harry Crews (novel), Julian Goldberger) In Between Days (Director: So Yong Kim; screenwriters: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray) Puccini for Beginners (Director, screenwriter: Maria Maggenti) Quinceanera (Director/screenwriters: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland) Right at Your Door (Director, screenwriter: Chris Gorak) Sherrybaby (Director, screenwriter: Laurie Collyer) Somebodies (Director, screenwriter: Hadjii) Stay (Director, screenwriter: Bob Goldthwait) Steel City (Director, screenwriter: Brian Jun) Stephanie Daley (Director, screenwriter: Hilary Brougher) Wristcutters: A Love Story (Director: Goran Dukic; screenwriters: Goran Dukic, Etgar Kerett)
American Documentary Competition:
A Lion in the House (Directors: Steven Bogner, Julia Reichert) American Blackout (Director: Ian Inaba) An Unreasonable Man (Directors: Henriette Mantel, Stephen Skrovan) Crossing Arizona (Director: Joseph Mathew) God Grew Tired of Us (Director: Christopher Quinn) Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends (Director: Patricia Foulkrod) Iraq in Fragments (Director: James Longley) Small Town Gay Bar (Director: Malcom Ingram) So Much So Fast (Directors: Steven Ascher, Jeanne Jordan) Thin (Director: Lauren Greenfield) 'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris (Director: Raymond De Felitta) The Trials of Darryl Hunt (Directors: Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg) TV Junkie (Director: Michael Cain) Wide Awake (Director: Alan Berliner) Wordplay (Director: Patrick Creadon) The World According to Sesame Street (Directors: Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Linda Hawkins Costigan)
World Cinema Dramatic Competition 13 Tzameti (Director, screenwriter: Gela Babluani), France Allegro (Director: Christoffer Boe; screenwriters: Christoffer Boe, Mikael Wulff), Denmark The Aura (Director, screenwriter: Fabian Bielinsky), Argentina The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Director: Auraeus Solito; screenwriter: Michiko Yamamoto), Philippines Eve & The Fire Horse (Director, screenwriter: Julia Kwan), Canada Grbavica (Director, screenwriter: Jasmila Zbanic), Bosnia-Herzegovina The House of Sand (Director: Andrucha Waddington; screenwriter: Elena Soarez), Brazil Kiss Me Not on the Eyes (Director, screenwriter: Jocelyne Saab), Lebanon Little Red Flowers (Director: Zhang Yuan; Screenwriters: Ning Dai, Zhang Yuan), China Madeinusa (Director, screenwriter: Claudia Llosa), Peru No. 2 (Director, screenwriter: Toa Fraser), New Zealand One Last Dance (Director, screenwriter: Max Makowski), Singapore The Peter Pan Formula (Director, screenwriter: Cho Chan-Ho), South Korea Princesas (Director, screenwriter: Fernando Leon de Aranoa), Spain Solo Dios Sabe (Director: Carlos Bolado; screenwriters: Carlos Bolado, Diane Weipert), Brazil/Mexico Son of Man (Director: Mark Dornford-May; screenwriters: Mark Dornford-May, Andiswa Kedama, Pauline Malefane), South Africa
World Cinema Documentary Competition 5 Days (Director: Yoav Shamir), Israel Angry Monk--Reflections on Tibet (Director: Luc Schaedler), Switzerland Black Gold (Director: Marc Francis, Nick Francis), U.K. By the Ways, a Journey with William Eggleston (Directors: Cedric Laty, Vincent Gerard), France Dear Pyongyang (Director: Yang Yonghi), Japan The Giant Buddhas (Director: Christian Frei), Switzerland Glastonbury (Director: Julien Temple), U.K. I is for India (Director: Sandhya Suri), England/Germany/Italy In the Pit (Director: Juan Carlos Rulfo), Mexico Into Great Silence (Director: Philip Groening), Germany Kz (Director: Rex Bloomstein), U.K. No One (Director: Tin Dirdamal), Mexico The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez (Director: Heidi Specogna), Germany Songbirds (Director: Brian Hill), U.K. Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst (Director: Gillian Armstrong), Australia Viva Zapatero (Director: Sabina Guzzanti), Italy
Rosie O'Donnell reveals in the August issue of her magazine Rosie that she has been depressed for years, according to Entertainment Tonight. She originally resisted taking medication, fearing it was a cowardly way to live, but has now been on antidepressants for two years. The talk show host said she was pushed over the edge by the Columbine shootings and a celebrity benefit she attended, where she found herself sobbing throughout the evening.
Singer Rick Springfield broke his arm during a performance at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, The Associated Press reports. He treated and released Tuesday at University Medical Center. The singer fell from a 20-foot high beam that is used to lower him on to the stage in the show's last scene. In EFX Alive, Springfield takes the audience on a journey to the worlds of wizard Merlin, showman P.T. Barnum, illusionist Harry Houdini and sci-fi writer H.G. Wells.
A park honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel, a k a Dr.Seuss, will open in Springfield, Mass., on June 1, AP reports. The Seuss Heritage Park and National Memorial will feature 30 bronze statues of Geisel's literary characters including Horton, Thidwick the Moose and Cat in the Hat. Geisel's stepdaughter, Lark Diamod-Kates, designed the sculptures. Geisel died in 1991 at age 87.
To commemorate the comedienne's 90th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a stamp honoring Lucille Ball, Reuters reports. The stamp will be the seventh in the Postal Service's Legend of Hollywood Series. Others have included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cagney and Edward G Robinson. Ball, who was best known for her 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy, died in 1989 at the age of 78.
William Dail, the road manager for Insane Clown Posse, has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for choking an Eminem fan, AP reports. The fan apparently held up an Eminem T-shirt and chucked some M&M candies at two clowned-faced band members following an Insane Clown Posse concert in Omaha, Neb., in May. The 24-year-old man was taken outside where Dail then choked him until he blacked out. Dail agreed to plead guilty of one count of disorderly conduct and pay a $100 fine.
The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin said in two magazine articles that his arrest in April was not due to a chronic drug habit but sporadic use, Reuters reports. Sorkin was arrested at a Burbank airport in April after airport employees found marijuana, crack and hallucinogenic mushrooms in his bag. Sorkin told TV Guide that he has broken his sobriety since 1997 by occasional drug use. He said he would smoke pot from time to time to relax, and likened it to having a martini at the end of a long day. Sorkin also said he used crack less than five times in the last two years. In a September issue of Talk magazine, Sorkin said he would used drugs after work to celebrate the pressure being off. "There's no way I could be writing high and not have people know it,"he said.
Robert Downey Jr. was back at work on Tuesday. Variety reports that the actor filmed a music video for the song I Want Love, the first single from Elton John's new CD Songs From the West Coast. Ed Limato, Downey's agent, said that the actor had received several important offers in film and TV roles.
A new biography of Natalie Wood claims the actress was raped as a teenager by an unnamed actor, the BBC reports. According to author Suzanne Finstad, Woods was 16 when she was raped by a "powerful, married movie star." Finstad chose not to name the actor so that people would focus on Wood's horror and trauma. She also added that Wood's mother conspired to keep the rape a secret. The book also details the events leading up to the actress' drowning in 1981 during a boat trip with actors Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Wagner has said there are many errors in the book and is upset that the inaccuracies have been published.
Director Steven Spielberg has decided to scale down his plans for a riding ring complex at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Neighbors initially objected to the plan, saying the 27,000-square-foot domed monstrosity would clash with the rustic style of the nearby homes. Spielberg reworked the plans and came up with a smaller dome-less version that has met with local approval. The stable will house four or five horses and be surrounded by a 6-foot high gate.
Mick Jagger will release his fourth solo album in November, Virgin Records has announced. According to Reuters, Jagger, 58, has been recording the album with Pete Townshend, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz and Rob Thomas.
Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary all-star concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York sold out in less than five hours, AP reports. Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years will be Jackson's first with his brothers since the 1994 Victory tour in 1984. Other artists scheduled to appear are Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and N 'Sync. Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, William Shatner, Quincy Jones, Kobe Bryant, Willem Dafoe and Macaulay Culkin will also pay tribute to the pop star.