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Entries in Hugh Jackman (53)

Monday
Nov242014

Lukewarm Off The Presses: Hugh & Amy's Musicals, Diana's Director, Lee's Horror, & Eddie's Operation

Five stories we didn't share in all the hulaballoo of our trip to Los Angeles, the recovery week's madness and now our Thanksgiving prep. Can't let these stories go unremarked upon since many of them are related to this year's Oscar race as well as 2015 and possibly 2016. Let's get ahead of ourselves! 

Barnum by way of Jackson / Amy to play Janis

1. Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum
When I was coming out of Into the Woods the other day and coming out of The Last Five Years back in Toronto, I was wracked with indecision about how I felt. My cinephile self was mounting a civil war with my inner musical theater geek who is deeply devoted to both shows. The former musical is among my top 3 favorite Sondheim shows (the others being Company & Follies) and the latter is literally my favorite original musical of the 21st century to date. The solution to this inner turmoil is surely ORIGINAL SCREEN MUSICALS. We haven't had one since Dancer in the Dark, right? So I'm absolutely excited to see Hugh Jackman belt out whatever tunes they're writing for him as P.T. Barnum in a new musical biopic about the circus pioneer called The Greatest Showman on Earth. Having seen Jackman absolutely slay audiences on Broadway as another flamboyant showman (Peter Allen in "The Boy from Oz"), this could be his Oscar ticket if the movie is good. The songs are by a composing duo you know from "Smash" but before you get too excited it's not from the composers behind the fictional musical "Bombshell," damnit!, but the composers behind the fictional musical "Hit List" which wasn't half as good. (Sigh)

Bette Midler as Janis Joplin (sort of) in The Rose (1979)2. Amy Adams as Janis Joplin
Should Adams be nominated (maybe) and lose (definitely) the Best Actress Oscar for Big Eyes this season she will join the "Biggest Actress Loser Club" that is currently a three-person tea party with Thelma Ritter, Glenn Close, Deborah Kerr. Fine company, don't you think? The solution is UNDOUBTEDLY a Janis Joplin biopic since Amy Adams has a great singing voice, considerable awards momentum, and is still young enough to be interesting to Oscar... for at least another few years. We're far enough away from Bette Midler's wildly acclaimed take on that iconic musician (by another name) in The Rose (1979) that the earlier Oscar run won't be an issue either. [More after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov052014

Yes No Maybe So: Chappie

Manuel here to play our favorite trailer watching game.

Is it safe to say that of the 47 films to have been nominated for Best Picture ever since the category's expansion, District 9 remains the oddest, with its sci-fi concept, low-tech execution and lack of big name recognition? Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley followed that up with Elysium which very few of us have thought about since it came out. They’re re-teamed for Chappie which, well, I’ll just give you the synopsis:

Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings - some good, some bad - and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there's one thing that makes Chappie different from anyone else: he is a robot. The first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. His life, his story, will change the way the world looks at robots and humans forever.

They’ve both lost me already; wanna see whether the trailer won me back? Herewith, a special YES/NO/MAYBE SO assessment of this trailer via all of the films it made me think of as I was watching it:

YES

- Chappie’s character design is enough of a riff on known commodities (C3PO, Short Circuit, 80s Robot) without feeling derivative. I particularly love the ears/antenna.
- I'm fascinated by the fact that Copley is (to my knowledge) not playing Chappie via motion capture a la Serkis, but rather in a more rudimentary fashion ("they're animating over my movements," he notes). That might make for an interesting approach; and might give us an interesting Copley performance.
- I love the POV shot from inside Chappie’s head (is he also looking for Sarah Connor?)
- That He-Man cameo is pretty awesome.
- District 9 still holds enough goodwill for me to give this a tentative yes.
- IMDB informs me that Sigourney Weaver is in this which YES! but…

NO

- ...were we just denied a Weaver sighting and is that enough for me to notch a NO? Yes and yes.
- All those explosions towards the end reminded me of Elysium (and every other action film ever made).
- Hugh Jackman + Robots = Real Steel flashbacks.
- “A.I. is unpredictable” immediately made me think of Transcendence (and of Rebecca Hall’s career; anyone have any news? Will she be given a non-thankless role soon?).
- Artificial Intelligence is a fascinating topic, but why must paranoia be pit against government involvement? Why must it always lead to things exploding and people getting shot? 
- “One machine’s journey… to become his own man,” Can we talk about this tag-line? Is Chappie secretly Kal-El? Must newly sentient beings always be framed within a masculinist view of progress? Suddenly the He-Man cameo feels less awesome. Add in a "girl in danger in need of being saved" shot and this needlessly testosterone-fueled trailer is ticking all my "No" boxes.
- The "You taught me so much more" line had me eye-rolling (Might as well be “I’m just a guy, in front of his robot…”).
- The overall design and aesthetic seems particularly reminiscent of District 9 if a bit more playful and colorful (are we in a pseudo-Eastern European dystopia with a dash of punk-rock?), but there’s very little that pops in this trailer for me (give or take a bad Jackman haircut).

MAYBE SO

- That moment with the carton of milk.
- You’ll notice this from the images above, but I think there might something else going on this film despite its ho-hum, by-the-numbers trailer (with its run-of-the-mill soundtrack, flashing title cards and kaboom! ending) and it falls more in line with the fish-out-of-water humor Disney just used to promote Baymax in Big Hero 6 and which successfully launched WALL-E as an adorably Streisand obsessed curious robot.
- The insistence of seeing Chappie as a “child” seems to be aiming for a type of Lilo & Stitch (“Do you know what a black sheep is?”) and E.T. (“You’re name is… Chappie!”) dynamic. Might this be the type of film Blomkamp and Copley have in store for us? The poster is definitely more family friendly than the film this trailer is selling.

Watch and judge for yourself:

I must say I fall in the "No, thank you, I'll pass, wake me up if we were somehow duped by this subpar trailer" camp.  I don't want to ask whether this film will break new ground (good or even entertaining films need not do that) but I can't quite stomach the tried-and-true uplifting human spirit in a non-human vessel that'll lead to bullets and sacrifice vibe I'm getting. Disagree? Do we think Copley & Blomkamp have another surprise hit in their robotic hands?

Wednesday
Jun112014

Hugh Jackman Math

EQUALS...


Monday
Jun092014

Tony Award Winners

Did you watch the Tony Awards last night? The evening began with Hugh Jackman proving his physical fitness -- his knees get such a workout -- by hopping through his entire continuous shot production number, basically a tour of the backstage and upcoming performers in costume.

That led to a night of high energy but strange and touristy musical number choices like numbers from ancient top-selling shows (Les Miz and Wicked) rather than new ones that need the sales help and non-Broadway celebrities like Sting and Jennifer Hudson taking up a lot of room to sell shows that aren't even open. It'd be a bit like the Oscars going "how about Interstellar?" while giving prizes to Gravity back in March. 

Hugh Jackman also rapped with LL Cool Jr via the famously chatty opening number of "The Music Man" Hugh Jackman has now spent 14 years of his career playing Wolverine and at this point he's really wasting his life (I mean once you have 100s of millions, what's 20 million more?). He needs to commit and make only movie musicals before he's too old.  

Highlights and winners of the night after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
May252014

X-Men Movie: Shades of Future Franchise Past

[Editor's Navel-Gazing Note: I remind all readers upfront and as apology for this extraordinarily longwinded review that the X-Men are part of Nathaniel's actual soul, having clung to them like actual friends and role models for his entire childhood and adolescence. Other comics were mere 'entertainment'. The X-Men were the loves of his young life. -  Nathaniel]

Daniel Cudmore as Colossus and Fan Bingbing as Blink

The most visually intoxicating character in the latest "When Mutants Collide!" movie is Blink (Fan Bingbing). She has very little dialogue, if any, but linguistic skill is not a mutation ("Hey now...," protests Cypher, who the movies will surely continue to shun). Blink's highly effective signature move involves tossed off pink teleportation portals which she, her teammates, and their enemies jump, run, stumble, fly or are thrown through. Think of it as Nightcrawler's disorientingly rapid teleportation, if it involved all characters in a scene and could be used malevolently against some of them.

In the very exciting opening battle sequence of X-Men Days of Future Past we see this power used frequently and awesomely as she helps her teammates (Warpath, Collosus, Storm, Iceman, Sunspot and more) to surprise, fight back, and evade (for a short time at least) their attackers, an army of mutant-killing robots known as The Sentinels.  But these Sentinels learn quickly, and are very good at their job: killing mutants. The tides turn and a mutant massacre begins... or does it? 

Click to read more ...

Monday
May192014

Remembering X-Men (2000)

It's Mutant Week! With X-Men Days of Future Past, the 4th X-Men movie upon us nearly upon us -- Yes, fourth, shut up...Last Stand and both Wolverine solo movies do not exist...lalala ♪ I can't hear you -- we should celebrate Marvel's homo superior this week, even if we have to do so by way of 20th Century Fox.

Herewith a retrofitted piece celebrating my choice for "Best Shot" from the first movie. (If you'd like to play the Best Shot game, post your choice by tomorrow night and I'll link up in the index) 

In some ways the original X-Men (2000) is a tentative and mediocre movie: the budget limitations are obvious, Halle Berry is as lost as you remembered (though Storm is a strangely minor character), and the central evil plot is just dumb. But in other ways it's undervalued and not just because of the downward spiral that followed after the sequel.

X-Men makes smart choices about narrowing its focus for a first film (centering on Wolverine & Rogue) and the one character it totally reimagines -- that'd be Mystique -- is a major success.

What's more director Bryan Singer actually makes use of the widescreen in his mise-en-scène. Too few filmmakers do, just shoving everything into the center of the frame or shooting everything in relentless close-up. Even action sequences are shot with a preference for top of head and chin shaving close-ups these days but, much like musical numbers, action sequences are more memorable and coherent when they include whole bodies in the frame. And even though Singer's compositional tricks get a bit repetitive, like the recurring out of focus introduction of characters in the background, which you can see above, they're aesthetically pleasing.

X-Men was lensed by Newton Thomas Sigel, who has shot all of Singer's movies since The Usual Suspects (1995). This is my favorite shot in the film, Wolverine lost in the X-Mansion, bewildered by the new sites. He sees his reflection multiplied, across the team uniforms. Isn't it a beauty, narratively speaking? And Jackmanically speaking, too.

What are your fondest memories of the first film?