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Entries in Lee Daniels (21)

Friday
Apr222016

"Time 100" is Oscar-Obsessed

Magazines may be a dying business but the few mega magazines that remain all have annual traditions to entice buys. And so it is with the "Time 100" an annual list of "Most Influential" though as with any such list it's highly subjective.

Here is a list of the movie & television people who made it this year in one of their five sections (the only section that does not include at least one actor is "Leaders")

Pioneers Aziz Ansari and Gina Rodriguez

Titans Dwayne Johnson, Wang Jianlin, and Kathleen Kennedy 

Taraji is the modern-day Bette Davis, touching audiences with her honesty and intensity. When you are on set with Taraji, she listens, but she also questions. She challenges everyone to go the extra step to get it right. She has a deep understanding of the human condition, and she displays it with her eyes—the pain, the happiness, the love, the laughter. She probably would have been a great silent actor, but then the world wouldn’t have had Cookie.

Before Empire, she was underappreciated by white America and Hollywood, while African Americans heralded her as our Meryl Streep. I’m so proud that Cookie has moved her into the zeitgeist. What Taraji has done with the role made the world finally appreciate who she is—quite simply, a tour de force on and off the screen.
-Lee Daniels on Taraji P Henson 

 

I offered Mark Rylance a significant supporting role in 1987 in my film Empire of the Sun—and he turned it down. A play had caught his fancy, and anyway, I sensed he was suspicious about film acting. Who could blame him? For actors who have given their lives to theater, making movies must be like lurching in the backseat of a car while the driver keeps working the brake. When Mark does a play, nobody says, “Cut,” only “Curtain” after a few uninterrupted hours. Legions of young thespians look to Mark as their muse and inspiration. From Boeing-Boeing to Jerusalem to Twelfth Night, the impact he’s had on classical and contemporary theater is the stuff of legend. A winner of three Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and now an Oscar, Mark glimpses these honors with gratitude and humility, but his heart belongs to a good story. His soul is pure. He just loves to act.
-Steven Spielberg on Mark Rylance 

Artists Gael García Bernal, Taraji P Henson, Melissa McCarthy, Ryan Coogler, Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mark Rylance, Charlize Theron, and Priyanka Chopra 

Icons They went full Revenant here honoring both Leonardo DiCaprio & Alejandro González Iñárritu

What's the takeaway?
It always amuses us when people call the Oscars "irrelevant" since the very fact that people get so up in arms about them every year is quite the indication that they remain the most relevant of movie institutions (even if movies themselves aren't as central to pop culture as they once were). They matter to people. Even the act of rising up against The Academy is underlining their stature as the house of the definitive golden idol of Hollywood. Time's movie lists are extremely unsubtle about sticking it to the Academy yet again over #OscarsSoWhite. Note that they ignored all but three Oscar nominees (the three big male winners) while honoring both Ryan Coogler & Idris Elba. Not that Coogler and Elba aren't worth honoring as they did have great years! But if they weren't trying to shame the Academy yet again they might well have considered Cheryl Boone Isaacs for this list since she's in the media so much of late and has been trying so hard to make a difference on the issue of diversity in Tinseltown. On the other hand, even as Time slaps Oscar's hand, they're embracing its other status quo #OscarsSoMale (in a manly back-patting kind of way) since they included all three of the Academy's most high-profile male winners (Rylance, DiCaprio, and Iñárritu) and neither of the big female winners.

Do you think of all these people as influential? Whose part do you suppose Spielberg wanted Rylance to play in Empire of the Sun? 

Tuesday
Oct062015

Nicole & Lee, Reunite for Interview Magazine

You've heard the news by now that Nicole Kidman will make an appearance on TV's mega-smash "Empire" at some point to be determined. Apparently her guest gig was meant to have happened already but her London run in Photograph 51 prevented it (hmmm. which role was it originally we wonder - have you been watching Season 2?)

Interview magazine, smart devils that they are, hooked her back up with Lee Daniels for their latest issue (with photos by Fabien Baron) and it's clear that the two were tight as bandits on the set of The Paperboy (2012) and feel each other as kindred spirits. 

LEE DANIELS: Nic! Hi, honey. I just spoke to Chris yesterday. He told me that you were having the time of your life in London. 

NICOLE KIDMAN: I am. I'm having a really good time here. 

DANIELS: I was disappointed to hear that because, of course, I want you on my set. [both laugh]

The interview is full of "naughty" memories like why Nicole was dancing in the rain with Zac Efron in his undies in that infamous film, and her fearless dive-in commitment and 'use everything' approach to acting.

DANIELS: Does your personal life ever bleed into the work? In other words, if something is fucked up in your personal life—family, husband, kids, parents, friends, what you're going through—does any of that ever bleed into your work?

KIDMAN: Yeah, but we're taught to bring everything—the state of being, the environment—and use it. If it's raining, or the other actor doesn't know his lines, everything has to be used. So your own emotional state comes into play, and I certainly remember that happening a lot on, say, The Hours, when I was going through an enormous amount of turmoil. And even though it was appropriate at times for the character [Virginia Woolf], at other times it wasn't. But I would just bleed it in; it would manifest in different ways. For me, the idea of having a plan, that you've got to hit this particular place, shuts down other possibilities. And that's probably why I work well with you because you're also like that. You see something, you jump on it. Jane Campion is the same. You are very similar in the sense that everything is so detailed, and everything you see, or sense intuitively, you focus on and pull out. 

There's also asides to talking theater with The Lovely Laura Linney (!), and how her voracious reading habits as a child (Tolstoy at 12, hee) led her to acting.

It's a must read so go there...

Thursday
Aug062015

Linkovers

must read
"Want to work in Hollywood? Only straight, white men need apply?" this new study from USC is getting a lot of attention and it is pretty damning evidence all told. (How did diversity issues get so much worse instead of better? - It boggles the mind.) That study is just for films but TV is doing a lot better. On that note it looks like we lost Lee Daniels to TV for good  (*sniffle... no more Paperboy or Precious). In addition to "Empire" Season 2 he's developing a girl-band series called "Star". NYT also looked at the diversity gap on the bigscreen from that study and Dana Delany tweeted in response underlining why she doesn't do film anymore.

The migration of actors (particularly female) and creatives to television has been well documented. I can only blame moviegoers at this point. They just only seem willing to look at "adult" and female stuff on television and save their ticket dollars for fx films 

links
Variety Todd Haynes to get a tribute at this year's Gotham Awards
Empire remember when Lasse Hallström was a big deal? His breakthrough was My Life as a Dog (not a literal title) and now he'll be directing a movie called A Dog's Purpose which is actually about a dog, a reincarnated dog who helps various owners in his lives
imgur a native of Florida photographs Edward Scissorhands locations 25 years later. The foilage sure grew and the colors sure are drabber now
Interview republishes an archival interview with Warren Beatty from 1972 as we await anything on his long-gestating Howard Hughes biopic
MSZ "Unloved" series looks at Peyton Reed's Down With Love and The Break-Up
Filmmaker Magazine talks to Randal Kleiser about Summer Lovers, an 80s guilty pleasure starring Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher.
Indie Outlook compares American Sniper and Selma to find the structure of "Oscar Bait". It's interesting but I wholly disagree on the notion that Selma's focus on the mechanicas of civil disobedience makes it dry and unsatisfying. I think that's exactly what makes it so good and so much more worthwhile than a simple "great man" biopic would have been. Love that movie.
This Is Not Porn Jessica Lange on the set of King Kong (1976). Hee 

spandex city
CW Seed This is actually cool. CW, which had a major hit with their fun and well-crafted Flash series is now streaming the original Flash television series from 1990 -  I had forgotten that existed even!
Comic Alliance "why I'm boycotting Marvel Comics" more on Marvel's very real diversity problem 
Htxt.Africa talks Star Wars and The Jungle Book from a Disney Africa presentation. Also says Doctor Strange looks "horror-movie-dark" 

for London readers
Facebook  Desperately Seeking Susan is getting a 30th anniversary screening at the Prince Charles Cinema 

the Leftovers

Oooh, here's the Season 2 trailer to HBO's "The Leftovers" which had so many good parts for ladies last season. This new season shakes things up a lot so we don't know quite what to expect. 

free the bacon
Kevin Bacon demands more male nudity in Hollywood

 

Thursday
Mar262015

Rebel Assignments: Film Directors + Madonna

David Fincher winning an MTV Movie Award for Se7en (1995) he was already an MTV darling at the Music Video AwardsA reader by the name of David recently asked which direct we wished would do a video from Madonna's "Rebel Heart". Given that David Fincher, now a reknowned auteur, came to fame via some of Madonna's best, it's a great question. More movie directors really ought to moonlight with music videos intead of just graduating from them. It's a unique form, basically both a musical and a short, that gives directors the chance to work faster and looser and play with ideas that they maybe couldn't risk in a feature without a test run.

Successful directors ought to donate their services at least once to either an upcoming band they want every to haer or a legendary artist whose work has meant a lot to them. So we're assigning a director to each Madonna song on her terrific new record "Rebel Heart" in order to pretend we've been gifted a video album specifically for Madonna fans and cinephiles alike.

It's a Venn Diagram niche, sure, but go with it.

Since the first track and first single "Living for Love" already got a fine toreador and minotaur themed music video -- and it's good if minimalist --  we should leave it be.

No no no. Scratch that.

"LIVING FOR LOVE"
Recreated by Gus Van Sant
We're completists. So we gotta try for the whole album. Gus Van Sant likes a good experiment and he can't just do a traditional "remake" so how about a shot-for-shot reinterpretation with a few inserts as he is prone to do. Madonna likes a good rolling cloud as much as the next Guy Gus (see Frozen/Ray of Light)

"DEVIL PRAY"
Assigned to Lee Daniels
This song sounds conservative but its lyrics are straight up messy mixing drowning metaphors, spiritual yearning, religiosity, the devil and a list of hallucinogenic drugs. So I think the only proper guide is the current king of absolutely fascinating messes, Lee Daniels. Look at the performances he got from Mo'Nique, Kidman, Oprah, and Taraji. Please get your hands on Madonna, you crazy beautiful man, and shake her up!

more assignments follow...

Click to read more ...

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
Sep172014

Top Ten: Movie Stars Coming to TV

Margaret here, with a Tuesday Wednesday Top Ten. Ready to rank the incoming class of movie stars trying their hand at the small screen. Every TV season, a new group of movie actors crops up on the fall schedule, either because scarcity of good film roles or the lure of a hefty paycheck.

Here are the top ten series soon to debut, in order of how much we're looking forward a weekly date with their stars. Set your DVRs accordingly!

#10 True Detective - HBO - 2015

This spot is a placeholder for True Detective Season 2, the impossibly buzzy crime drama anthology series at HBO. While the show has yet to cast its leads, if any of the numerous rumours prove true it will certainly feature at least one famous and undervalued actor looking for a McConnaissance of his or her very own. Although it's not due until early 2015, it's safe to assume we'll be hearing at least as much about it all fall as we will any other show.

#9 Madam Secretary - CBS - 8 pm Sunday, 9/21

Téa Leoni stars in this drama series as a female Secretary of State. (Sure, she's got a globally-essential job, but what I want to know is can she have it all????) It's CBS, so unless it turns out to be a Good Wife-type anomaly, chances that it will be a formula-busting creative showcase are low. The supporting cast includes Tony winners Patina Miller (Pippin) and Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago, Sweet Charity), so we can always hold out hope for a musical number.

8 more starry series after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr292014

April Showers: The Paperboy

waterworks at eleven, here’s Andrew with a brief one

Would anyone be willing to stand with me when I declare The Paperboy to be the best thing Lee Daniels has done? The movie is undeniably crazy, out-of-control, off-centre, you name it. But, it’s this very tendency for excessiveness and divergent tones that makes it such a fine representation of Daniels’ skills as a filmmaker. The Paperboy, from its most hilarious moments to its most obscene, is completely a Lee Daniels in the best way possible. It has as many important things to say about race and social constructs in its era as much as Precious or The Butler but uses pulp, the ridiculous and even the improbable to tell its story. Sometimes with pit-stops at randomness for the hell of it.

Case in point, this evening’s shower about midway through the film. Important moment of character development, or just a chance for a fun, rainy dance with Zac Efron in underpants? You decide.

Click to read more ...