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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Amy Adams for Janis Joplin

"It's baffling to me that Amy Adams will potentially have as many nominations as Blanchett, Winslet, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Thelma Ritter, Deborah Kerr, Sissy Spacek, and Glenn Close. This is weird, right?" -Aaron

"What is happening with Nina Arianda's Janis film with Sean Durkin? It's still listed as "announced" on her IMDB. Are we to assumed that it is a lost cause?" -Ryan

 

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Entries in Directors (114)

Wednesday
Apr162014

DiCaprio + Iñárritu = ???

I am not, in any way according to the Internet, a Leonardo DiCaprio fan. Never mind that I saw him first and was proselytizing about his gift for at least ten years after seeing the double whammy of This Boy's Life and What's Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993. Alas, I have no proof of this fact as I was not writing for the internet at the time. But, it is true that I began to sour on him starting with Gangs of New York (2002) the first obvious sign that he was quite fallible indeed and that maybe he needed to be, you know, directed, rather than coddled by the auteurs he blesses with his unusually foolproof bankability. I may be the only person alive who thinks his relationship with Martin Scorsese, The Departed aside, has not been good for developing his once prodigious talent. But at the risk of angering his devout legion again, I feel confident in proposing that he is now in the exact place that his Titanic partner Kate Winslet was in the mid to late Aughts wherein she simply refused to do anything other than try to win statues; prestige piece after prestige piece after prestige piece. Movie stars need more variety than that in their filmography to stay sharp, if you ask me. She won, as many stars of her magnitude did, and so will Leo. And yet, as surely as Kate's fanbase turned on her for "wanting it too badly" and winning for a "lesser" performance, so will they turn on Leo whenever he wins which will undoubtedly be for a lesser performance because that's how 'overdue' Oscars work.

In the meantime he'll just keep trying to win one.

I've been saying for a long time that a light and breezy comedy (something like Catch Me If You Can) would go a long way towards relaxing him on the screen again and revitalizing his heavy and repetitive acting. And maybe it's churlish of me to assume that The Wolf of Wall Street which wasn't quite his best but was certainly his loosest performance since Catch Me... won't be the trigger for the same kind of rejuvenation. But a newly announced project is killing the dream that it might.

Honest question that isn't meant as snark: Is there any director currently working with a heavier hand than Alejandro González Iñárritu? His best film is Powder Keg (2001) and that's precisely because it's so freaking short at 8 minutes that it only has enough time to be sobering and impressive and exciting without overstaying its welcome and smothering the viewer dead in misery as Amores Perros, Babel, Biutiful and 21 Grams did. Otherwise his films are the epitome of the kind of portentously thematic "prestige" mediocrities that are jerry-rigged to be wildly overpraised by virtue of their importance. His next film, which Leo will lead, is The Revenant and it'sbased on Michael Punke's "The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge" which is about a fur-trapping frontiersman left for dead after a bear attack in 19th century Northern America. It's not the bear he wants revenge on but the party that abandoned him.

Maybe DiCaprio's natural tendency toward furrowed brow depression and Iñarritu's natural tendency towards furrowing our brows with depression will cancel each other out and they'll surprise us with a range of feeling in this grisly period drama? One can dream.

Sunday
Apr132014

Strictly Baz

As you may or may not have heard Baz Luhrmann has been in the news again this week. 2013 was another big year for him with The Great Gatsby exceeding expectations (financially). The buzz on Baz hasn't quieted in this new year. On March 2nd, his wife Catherine Martin won another pair of Oscars to match her Moulin Rouge! statues and new collaborations for the Bazmark spouses are on the way.

First up is the stage musical adaptation of his breakthrough debut hit Strictly Ballroom (1992). The Guardian featured him a few days ago -- the video is more of a commercial for the show really than a true interview but there are clips from the show and Baz statements worth parsing.

I was 29 for the film. In the back of my mind I always thought 'it's got to be a musical'. I thought 'God, I hope I don't end up 40 and I'm doing Strictly Ballroom musical.' And I'm 52. So I think it will always be in my life. I think a bit like a band that had their first hit song. If you aren't playing that hig song at concerts until you have a foot in the grave then probably you're doing something wrong for the audience and probably you're doing something wrong for yourself. So I've just accepted that it's actually a fundamental part of our life and our journey"

The show, which obviously intends a Broadway run given how frequently Baz drops the word "Broadway" while talking about it is playing in Sydney Australia and the reviews for the show have just arrived which are generally positive though it's amusing that the Telegraph and Guardian critics say almost exactly opposite things about how it stacks up to the beloved film version. 

Baz's next film project-- if he actually goes through with it -- is a real surprise. The rumor is he'll direct the big screen version of the ol' TV series Kung Fu. I can't imagine what would attract Luhrmann to this property which is such an about face, even if he does love to genre-hop. But I pray to God, they dump the whole non-Asian conceit that the TV show went with. David Carradine was such a white dude, you know, and nobody needs 21st century narratives about ethnic anything that pretend audiences can only bear to look at white faces. Even if he does decide to do it, we won't see it for years; his films often appear to be on speed but the auteur isn't speedy. What's more he's supposedly also doing a Napoleon miniseries for TV and a TV series about the early days of hip-hop. How many of those do you think will actually come to be? It takes him five or so years to make everything, after all.  

People will surely make jokes about him adding musical numbers to Kung Fu though it's tough to graft those on to memories of that sedate and dusty TV show. But maybe it's not as impossible as it sounds. Every single one of Baz's films yearns to be a musical even though only one of them truly is.  Given that pervasive feeling, it's just bizarre that he hasn't made one since Moulin Rouge! but maybe he knows it's untoppable? Singular sensations are called that for a reason. They're rare and glorious freaks. 

Wednesday
Apr092014

Roland Emmerich To Make His First Gay Movie "Stonewall"

Roland Emmerich will direct Jeremy Irvine in "Stonewall"Roland Emmerich is a size queen. I had the world's shortest interview with him while he was promoting Anonymous, a rare trip away from the ginormous epic blockbuster spectacles he prefers to make. But that was, in its own peculiar academic-enraging way, also supersized with CGI and a lusty embrace of conspiracy theories. In fact he ended our interview defending the size of his pictures.

It has to be big or I don't like it."

My mind raced back to that interview today when the news broke that Emmerich plans to make a drama about the Stonewall riots which poured gasoline on the then tiny embers of the gay rights movement. He'll film Stonewall before embarking on the long gestating Independence Day sequels. Young beauty Jeremy Irvine (War Horse, The Railway Man) has the lead role as a man who has a political awakening with the riots as backdrop.

That sounds quite a lot like the other movie about the Stonewall Riots which was also called simply Stonewall (1995). It followed a young gay looker (Frederick Weller) who got more politicized by dating a drag queen (Scandal's Guillermo Díaz when he was young and a tiny slip of a thing) with the Stonewall riots as backdrop.

Stonewall (1995) with Guillermo Díaz and Frederick Weller

I'm honestly a bit surprised though because when I interviewed Emmerich he didn't seem likely to do something that direct. Here's what he told me at the time.

NATHANIEL: You're an out director, you've donated to gay causes. But you do all these huge mainstream sci-fi movies. Would you ever do a gay film? 

ROLAND EMMERICH: If the right one comes along. I would love to put more openly gay characters in my mainstream movies which is something I'm really working on. Honest to god, I'm constantly trying, like, "who can i make gay?" [Laughter]. But i also don't want to do it blatantly. That's not good. It's all about integration, show it as a totally normal thing without making a big deal out of it. 

NATHANIEL: So what you're saying is that Universal Soldier is going to remain your gayest movie.

EMMERICH: [Laughs] 

I guess Universal Soldier (1992) will finally have to step down once Stonewall (2015) is a reality.

Friday
Mar212014

Cannes Watch? The "Return" of Gong Li & Zhang Yimou

Speculating about what might be at Cannes is not something I do so as to prevent the envy but the reunion of director Zhang Yimou with his most beloved muse Gong Li is definitely something to consider. Together they made six international hits, four of them Oscar-nominated (Raise the Red LanternJu DouShanghai Triad, Curse of the Golden Flower), the first two are among the best Chinese films ever made.

Their seventh collaboration just released first stills and a nearly wordless teaser (embedded below).

The film is planning a May premiere at home so Cannes would make sense. The film is based on the novel "The Criminal Lu Yanshi" by Yan Geling about a long term prisoner (Chen Daoming) who, upon release, returns to his wife (Gong Li) who no longer recognizes him. The film also features Miss Chinese Toronto winner (2009) Candy Chang. There's a whole name for young actresses who break through within Zhang Yimou's filmography "Mou girls" (given the global fame of Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi) so she might be one to watch. 

It sounds like the English movie title is yet to be determined, alternately listed as Coming Home, The Homecoming, or Return, depending on where you read about it. Here's the teaser...

Tuesday
Mar182014

Sofia Coppola's "Little Mermaid" Can You Imagine It?

I'm going to have months of fun fantasizing about what this film will be like. According to Variety, Sofia Coppola is in talks to helm a new version of "The Little Mermaid", the flexible originally quite gloomy Hans Christian Anderson tale of a mermaid who gave up her life for the love of a human. The project, which once belonged to Joe Wright who is now working on a different sort of tale with fairies, called Pan (but we've discussed that enough recently), was aiming to mantain the original unhappy ending.

Though it's easy to giggle trying to juxtapose Sofia Coppola's high end lost rich girl aesthetic onto the familiar tale -- check out this tweet for a good LOL -- once you stop to consider even for a minute it's not that large a stretch.

Coppola does like to dramatize the hazy inchoate longings of fish out of water girls, whether that's Scarlett Johansson wandering lux hotels and karaoke bars in Tokyo or Marie Antoinette suddenly abandoned by her family for life in a new country as their queen. The other films don't readily connect as easily but since those are her two best and both are less directly tied to privileged Hollywood types, it might be a really great idea to shake up Coppola's increasingly Californian filmography.

What was your first reaction. And your second?

Monday
Mar032014

The Winning Moment & The Loveable Losers

Oscar night is still rich with the thrill of victory but not, I'd argue, with the agony of defeat. At least not anymore. The Oscar race has never been as sports-analogous as some would like but the victory part in the modern awards season maybe. That requires true endurance... months of campaigning and appearance and interviews and people whisking you here and there. The agony of defeat is surely now lessened by way of expectations. There didn't use to be all these signposts along the way that you're never going to win which might account for how polite and calm the losers are in their little live-television grids. Nevertheless we still love to slow-mo the shit out of those moments.

We're doing three and a half categories (Supporting Actress, Director, Actress, and ?)  starting now...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb212014

Obligatory Superhero Update: "Fantastic Four" & "Doctor Strange"

I didn't think I was going to have anything to say about the recently announced Fantastic Four reboot cast that I hadn't already said in previous posts. But then they forced my hand with the Jamie Bell casting. If you don't frequent mainstream click-baiting movie blogs (most of which live for superhero movie news) the news goes like so:

  • Mr Fantastic, Reed Richards (stretchy scientific genius) - Miles Teller
  • Invisible Girl (Mr Fantastic's wife, Sue Storm) - Kate Mara
  • The Human Torch (Sue's brother) - Michael B Jordan
  • The Thing, Ben Grimm (Reed's best friend) - Jamie Bell  

Click to read more ...

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