After 2010's CG blowout Alice in Wonderland long-time collaborators Johnny Depp and Tim Burton return to a more realistic realm with their update of the '60s gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. It just so happens that realism in the case of Depp and Burton also involves vampires.
We first meet Barnabas Collins (Depp) in 1752 enjoying the aristocratic lifestyle of his successful father and wooing the female staff employed in the Collins' mansion. The romantic lifestyle is without consequence until Barnabas picks up and drops the wrong servant: Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) a witch with a nasty case of jealousy. When Barnabas finally discovers true love Bouchard casts a spell on his favored female causing her to jump off a cliff. In the wake of the incident and with nothing left to live for Barnabas hurls himself off the edge — but Bouchard curses him before he hits the ground. He's become a vampire an immortal and Bouchard has just the everlasting punishment in mind. She buries Barnabas in a coffin never to be seen again.
Jump ahead to 1972 where a construction crew in Collinsport resurface the confined bloodsucker. After a quick bite Barnabas heads home to his manor to discover he's a true bat out of water. His family is gone replaced by a new generation of Collinses: Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) the family matriarch; Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) her angsty niece; David (Gulliver McGrath) highly disturbed by memories of his dead mother; Roger (Johnny Lee Miller) the scheming deadbeat dad; and Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) David's constantly intoxicated psychologist; and Victoria (Bella Heathcote) the new recruit hired to school David in his fragile state. Barnabas' learning curve adjusting to his new surroundings is the crux of Dark Shadows' purposefully meandering plot which strikes a few brilliant bits of comedy in between long stretches of lifeless melodrama. Turns out a soap opera adaptation ends up being pretty darn soap opera-y.
Unlike most summer blockbusters Dark Shadows sparingly uses action and large-scale set pieces to tell its story. Burton chooses a lower-key approach in the vein of his earlier films like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands. But the movie differs in its lack of emotional throughline — all the colorful misadventures would be a lot more effective if there was something to care about. Barnabas strikes up a romance with Victoria but it's hamfisted. He becomes a fatherly figure to David but only late in the film. By the third montage set to a classic rock tune it's clear Burton and Depp seem far more interested in the bizarre collision of vampire tropes and '70s decor. A scene in which Barnabas converses with a group of pot-smoking hippies on the ins and outs of youth culture works as a sketch comedy vignette but in the grand scheme of the story is fluffy funny and pointless.
Depp's dedication to keeping things weird helps Dark Shadows stay alive. He loves the theatrics biting into every moment with epic speak lifted from the British thee-aaaay-ter. Green joins in on the fun full force her wicked seductress both playful and unabashedly evil. The rest of the cast makes little splash Pfeiffer playing the straight woman while the rest of the ensemble go toe to toe with the larger than life Depp. They don't seem in on the same joke as Depp and the many dialogue scenes just. Come. Off. As. Slooooow. And. Painful. Deliberate soap opera acting is a tightrope walk — only Depp and Green really make it across without faltering.
Dark Shadows is a mixed bag that feels indebted to a source material. Whether you're familiar with the style or not may will be a deciding factor. Burton's washy aesthetics and plodding pacing don't do the material any favors with Danny Elfman's standard issued score failing to elevate the atmosphere. Kitsch and horrors abound but the witch's brew of elements won't be everyone's cup of tea. Er cup of blood?
Depp and his producing partner Christi Dembrowski have optioned the film rights to Echols' unpublished memoirs, according to Deadline.com.
Their film will chronicle Echols' life and his time behind bars for a crime he insists he didn't commit. He was 18 at the time of his arrest.
Following the West Memphis Three's release from prison, Depp urged U.S. authorities to continue searching for the real killers of the Arkansas boy scouts - so Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.'s names could be cleared.
The three men were set free in August (11) after reluctantly admitting guilt. They later revealed they had only done this as part of an agreement that would lead to their release.
During an interview with Larry King on CNN Presents, Depp said, "Admitting guilt (while) maintaining innocence, it's a really floppy piece of ground to stand on. I knew immediately when I first started to familiarise myself with the case, I knew instantly that they were innocent, that they were wrongfully accused. The more research I did, the more people I spoke to, it was absolutely apparent...
"It was ugly and a raw deal from the get-go back in '93... When you're thinking of these three kids, one, Damien Echols, on Death Row for 18 years, spent 10 years in isolation, for a crime that he did not commit.
"What I'm hoping is that the investigation will continue outside of the courthouse right now and that we will be able to prove the real killers."
Depp isn't the only celebrity fighting for justice for the West Memphis Three - rocker Eddie Vedder and Dixie Chicks star Natalie Maines have been close to the case for years and moviemaker Peter Jackson has been quietly funding a private investigation into the murders.
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.
Emily Mortimer and Michael Stuhlbarg have joined the already jam-packed cast of Martin Scorsese’s 3D fantasy, Hugo Cabret. Shooting for the film has been underway for a few weeks, but Mortimer, last seen in Shutter Island, and Stuhlbarg, star of A Serious Man, were recently added in supporting roles.
Hugo Cabret tells the story of a Parisian orphan (Asa Butterfield) who lives in the walls of a train station and encounters a number of eccentric characters. The huge cast so far consists of Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, Ben Kingsley, Sasha Baron Cohen, Helen McCrory, Ray Winstone, Christopher Lee and Richard Griffiths, with the recent additions of Mortimer and Stahlberg as a flower shop girl and film restorer, respectively.
Scorsese is producing the film with Graham King, Johnny Depp, and Tim Headington, for GK Films, with a script from John Logan. Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Charles Newirth and Christi Dembrowski are executive producing. Hugo Cabret began production at the start of July in London, and will be released December 9, 2011 by Sony.
Martin Scorsese has assembled an all-star cast for his 3D debut. Jude Law, Ray Winstone and Frances De La Tour (of the Potter franchise), as well as industry veterans Christopher Lee and Richard Griffiths, have been added to the cast of Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret. They join cast members Ben Kingsley, Sasha Baron Cohen, Helen McCrory, Chloe Moretz, and Asa Butterfield as the lead.
The film, which adapts Brian Selsnick’s bestselling illustrated novel The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, tells the story of a young orphan (Butterfield) who lives in the walls of a Paris train station and encounters a number of eccentric characters, including a young girl (Moretz, probably) and a toymaker. Jon Logan, of Gladiator and the upcoming animated film Rango, has written the screenplay.
Scorsese is producing the film with Graham King, Johnny Depp, and Tim Headington, for GK Films. Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Charles Newirth and Christi Dembrowski are executive producing. Hugo Cabret began production yesterday in London, and will be released December 2011 by Sony.
Source: The Wrap
Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp is suing West Hollywood, Los Angeles, for authorizing construction which will obstruct views from his Hollywood Hills mansion.
The actor, who divides his time between France and Los Angeles, is furious over plans to build a massive retail complex on Sunset Boulevard that would ruin the views from his $5.4 million estate.
Depp alleges in the lawsuit that the city violated environmental-quality laws by approving a development of retail shops, a restaurant and a parking lot beneath his gated estate.
He claims that the project would block the view his two children, Lily-Rose, 6, and Jack, 4, enjoy while playing outside the home.
Backers of the development dispute Depp's claims, arguing he has been very vocal about raising his children in France, where he lives with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled against Depp last year.
The case is being appealed on his behalf by his sister, Christi Dembrowski, who is also his personal assistant and president of his film production company.
According to developer Joseph Emrani, the dispute has delayed the start of the $10 million project for over a year.
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