Friday, May 22, 2015

Marion Cotillard & Michael Fassbender in a short dramatic clip from Macbeth.

This past Monday we took a look at some fresh new images from Macbeth, making its' debut at Cannes tomorrow. The big question is how will Marion Cotillard, luminous, lovely, very French Marion Cotillard, pull off the lack of Scots accent as Lady Macbeth. Michael Fassbender, I have no doubt will rock the pants off Macbeth.

There have been well over a dozen versions of Macbeth—I think this is number 17— including an animated production in 1992, a collaboration between the BBC and Russia. And that doesn't count all the reimaginings of Shakespeare's Scottish play, like Kurasawa's Throne of Blood!

For today, just a hint of what's to come in the latest film production —  via this 24 second snippet I found at Rope of Silicon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Emilia Clarke starts Shooting Me Before You in Wales: First Look

It's been at least two years since we heard that JoJo Moyes Me Before You was headed to the screen. I gave you my take on the book (which I LOVED) back in July of 2013 and last October we heard they'd firmed up the casting of Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin (Hunger Games) as Louisa and Will. Now, we're finally getting our first look from the set as the film goes into production in Pembroke, Wales and Emilia Clarke goes from the sublime—as Daenarys in Game of Thrones— to the ridiculous— as Louisa in Me Before You. The character of Louisa, young and a bit silly at the start of the book, is clearly miles away from the strong and fierce Daenerys that Emilia Clarke plays on Thrones. I love how the costume designer has utterly transformed Clarke from her fierce GoT character into the sheltered, somewhat silly young woman hired to look after Will Traynor, the recently paralyzed man of the world. 

I haven't been able to find out the name of the designer who created this series of hilarious but still adorable looks from the girl whose fashion addiction seems an appropriate manifestation for her character. I guess that fluffy white and black striped jacket is going to be a mainstay. And, oh those shoes! She won't get a lot of mileage from those looking after Will. If you know the story, you know that fashion won't be the most important thing on Louisa's mind for long. I'm so pleased that the script was in the hands of Jojo Moyes herself along with the gifted writing duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. In addition to their original script for (500)Days of Summer, they've also penned the adaptations of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Tim Tharp's The Spectacular Now. They seem to really have their fingers on the rom-com pulse, producing scripts that are non-formulaic, faithful to the novels, genuine and brimming with heartache. My sources tell me that in addition to the upcoming adaptation of John Green's Paper Towns, guys are also working on the screenplay for Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette, another one high on the list of books I loved and can't wait to see on screen. Me Before You, directed by Thea Sharrock is set to hit our movie screens June 3, 2016. 

Clarke and Matthew Lewis, presumed to play her boyfriend Patrick, an exercise nut.

Photos via The Daily Mail

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pan ... a new trailer for the imagined origin story of Peter Pan

It's not all happening at Cannes; Warner Brothers has just released a new trailer for the J.M. Barrie inspired Pan. One of the movies on this year's list of movies (loosely) based on books, Pan is the origin story of Peter Pan, the boy who could fly, the lonely little lost boy whose story no doubt brightened your childhood. I can't imagine a little boy—or girl—who hasn't grown up knowing the J.M. Barrie tale by heart. This story is a prequel of sorts to the book written over a hundred years ago. 
The story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny -- to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.
As a woman I hope that the character of Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) is drawn in with strong, deep and powerful lines rather than a quick supporting sketch; it's difficult to tell from the trailer which does seem to be all about the boys: Peter Pan (Levi Miller) Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the imagined participation of Black-beard (Hugh Jackman) who was not, as near as I can recall, in Barrie's Peter Pan. Jackman looks quite creepy here with his darkly shadowed eyes, sickly pallor and blade-like facial hair. 

As the mother of a young man, who once upon a time was a young boy who devoured and was inspired by stories of heroic deeds, impossible quests and journeys, I hope the world remembers how boys need that sense of mission providing self-discovery. 

In our quest for equality, for partnership between the sexes,  let's not forget the boys and men need to feel that somewhere out there, someone welcomes the strength their arms provide. 

The film is directed by Joe Wright based on a script by Jason Fuchs. Fuchs (giggle giggle) is the writer of the upcoming Wonder Woman film featuring a very strong female indeed. Wright last gave us the disappointing Anna Karenina BUT thankfully the failure of that film wasn't due to a lack of imagination; if Pan proves as good as its trailer, we'll be swept away by the colorful vision.

Levi Miller, the young actor who plays Pan fits the requisite bright-eyed brave boy template. The cast includes Nonso Alonzie, he was wonderful as the captain of the guard in Cinderella, Cara Delavingne as a gorgeous mermaid and Amanda Seyfried as Mary. Let's see how it all PANS out when Pan opens October 9th

Monday, May 18, 2015

Marion Cotillard is giving Madame MacBeth a French twist. Will it work?

I adore the French actress Marion Cotillard. Honest, I do. But when I first heard she was cast as Lady MacBeth opposite Michael Fassbender as MacBeth—back in April of 2014—I thought it was a wee bit strange. Could Marion Cotillard do a Scots accent? How could she possibly play Lady MacBeth in 'the Scottish play' without one?

The film is finally making its debut at the Cannes Film Festival this week and that question will be answered when we get our first look at the trailer.  It's not a 'Scottish play' per se ...  it's a western. Ah, I see, now it all makes sense. Actually, while it's a western, it's still a Scottish western and the entire cast, except for Cotillard, will be speaking with the accent. Anyway, the Weinstein company has picked up the US distribution rights so we'll be seeing it here here in the U.S.  Won't we?

Here's an interview with director Justin Kurzel in The Hollywood Reporter.
How would you describe your take on Macbeth in this film?

 To me, it’s a Western. We shot it all outside. We were able to explore the madness in these brutal and unforgiving and beautiful landscapes, such as in Scotland. It gave it a whole new shade. There’s a simplicity in the storytelling that I think is unlike any of his other plays, and it fit in that Western structure quite effortlessly. It was at a time where kings were killed continuously, and it was a place where you’d be at war for years and years, and the idea of Macbeth being a product of that and having to carry what it means to be a warrior and the things that he’d seen and the things that he’d done, there’s something very interesting in terms of the post-trauma that’s connected to that.

Were you always interested in Shakespeare?
 I think they’re some of the greatest stories ever written, which is why they’re repeated as models throughout screenwriting and playwriting. The themes are universal but very human. It feels contemporary because he’s dealing with human nature in such a visceral way. I’d just come off Snowtown, and I’d been in this world of serial killers, focused on someone who turns toward the darkness and can never find his way back. So I think just through me researching that, there were some interesting parallels in terms of gravitating toward darkness and madness and guilt and defining a belief — no matter how corrupt it is — that becomes your rock.
 Do you find yourself attracted to these dark stories?

I actually gravitate toward comedy a lot when it comes to what I’m watching, but maybe that’s because I’ve been on such dark work the last four or five years. I think Macbeth was a play that I’ve always gotten so much out of. My wife played Lady Macbeth in a play, and I designed it. There are things in there that are just kind of extraordinary.

How did you decide on Marion Cotillard for Lady Macbeth?

 I think she’s one of the most extraordinary actresses in the world. There’s something that is so unusual about Marion and so cinematic. There’s an aura about Marion that is very powerful that I really wanted in the film. And I think that freshness and that tension of her doing it for the first time brought a whole new quality to Lady Macbeth and a kind of empathy for that character, which I think is going to be very new.
In the official press kit—which you can check out for yourself here—all the filmmakers go to great lengths to explain Lady MacBeth's otherness.
But as one of the most talented actresses of her generation, Cotillard was an obvious choice for the part of Lady Macbeth. And while the character is originally Scottish, her casting adds another layer to the film. “It has allowed us, at the centre of this story, to place a character who has an otherness,” says Canning. “There’s a slight sense of separation now, in Lady Macbeth, that she exists in the community but somehow has a slightly different agenda to the other women in that community. It adds complexity to the Lady Macbeth role, and I think combined with her incredible performance will be a totally fresh way of looking at Lady Macbeth.”
Agrees Jack Reynor: “It makes perfect sense that she’s maintained her own accent in it, and it just adds a different layer to the whole project. She’s incredibly strong too,and there are moments in the film in which she really takes command. It’s been an honour to work with her.” 
Kurzel says Cotillard worked hard to learn the Shakespearian language despite the language barrier. “It was huge for her in terms of how foreign the verse was,” he notes. “When I first approached her – and Michael and I were both really keen on Marion being a part of the film – she never thought she’d have the opportunity to do anything like this, so for her I think it was something she couldn’t say no to.” 
“I couldn’t miss this opportunity to play this character in English,” she concurs. “We all worked with Neil Swain on the language, who is much more than a dialogue coach, he’s a Shakespeare expert. Our work with him was about going deep into Shakespeare’s world, and it was about more than just finding the right accent, rhythm and energy.” 
I saw a bit of Orson Welle's MacBeth the other night on TCM;  it wasn't my cup of tea. Too dark, too stagey. I think the point of putting Shakespeare on film is to take it away from the confines of the stage, and breathe new life into it. Sweeping vistas typical of a 'western' will certainly do that. And so will Cotillard. I'm curious to see her deliver that famous 'Out, out damn spot!' line.
How about you all, especially my friends at Dreaming of France, are you ready for MacBeth with a French twist?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cannes gets all Swoony for Cate & Rooney in Carol: Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara (Cannes VIDEO Press Conference)

Remember a couple of years back—September 24, 2013 to be precise—when I shared the news that Rooney Mara was replacing Mia Wasikowska in Carol, the Cate Blanchett-starring screen adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's lesbian love story, The Price of Salt

Well, the film screened at Cannes this weekend, and almost in direct proportion to the amount of boos and bad reviews they heaped on the Matthew McConaughey, Naiomi Watts movie, Sea of Trees, the Cannes critics are falling all over themselves with lavish praise for the Todd Haines directed 1950's period piece. Here's a typical review from The Guardian and another from Variety. 

Cate Blanchett created her own little firestorm of interest for Variety's claim that she's had sexual relationships with other women—
When asked if this is her first turn as a lesbian, Blanchett curls her lips into a smile. “On film — or in real life?” she asks coyly. Pressed for details about whether she’s had past relationships with women, she responds: “Yes. Many times,” but doesn’t elaborate. Like Carol, who never “comes out” as a lesbian, Blanchett doesn’t necessarily rely on labels for sexual orientation. “I never thought about it,” she says of how she envisioned the character. “I don’t think Carol thought about it.” The actress studied the era by picking up banned erotic novels. “I read a lot of girl-on-girl books from the period,” she says.
Patricia Highsmith wrote Carol aka The Price of Salt 
under a pseudonym because the subject matter was 
clearly verboten when it was released in 1952.

Her comment got everyone buzzing, of course. Blanchett qualifies her statement in the press conference (link below). She did, in fact, qualify it to the interviewer at Variety, but of course, that bit never made it into the article. Anyway, the answer to the question, has she ever had same sex experiences, is No, but more importantly "Who cares?" 

So take Blanchett's admission with a grain of salt, if you will. 

The film was directed by Todd Haynes who directed the homosexual themed Far from Heaven with Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore from a script written by Phyllis Nagy who wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley also based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. In the discussion about the emerging acceptance of homosexuality, Nagy makes the point that everything has changed since the 1950's, and nothing has changed. We have a mainstream movie about two women who have a love affair while homosexuality is still a crime in over seventy countries around the world. 

And a short clip from the film ...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Matinee: For Whom the Bells Toll

Since Ingrid Bergman is being honored at this year's Cannes Film Festival—check out the poster for the 68th annual event happening now—I decided For Whom the Bells Toll starring Bergman and Gary Cooper made the perfect movie for a Saturday Matinee. Besides, I'm still thinking about Florida and you might remember I saw the poster for this movie hanging on Hemingway's wall in Key West.

The 1943 release earned Bergman her very first Oscar nomination. You read that right. Bergman didn't even receive a nomination for her portrayal of Ilsa in Casablanca which was up for an Oscar the same year.

Those coveted gold statuettes were handed out for the very first time that year as well; before that the winner had their names inscribed on a plaque. Whoopi! Ingrid Bergman wasn't the lucky lady to take one home but her fellow castmate, Katina Paxinou playing Pilar, did; she won the Best Supporting Actress trophy. Don't feel bad for Bergman, neither of her male costars won either. While For Whom the Bells Toll won just the one Oscar, at least Casablanca won Best Picture but much more than that, Casablanca has achieved true classic status, it's one of the most beloved films of all time, and is always at the top of everyone's Best Films of All Time lists. You can watch it Sunday at 11 am on TCM, check your local listings to be sure of the time.

The character of Maria in Hemingway's book was based on a nurse the author met when he was wounded while volunteering as an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War. She was 26 while Hemingway was just 19 years old. He fell desperately in love and was devastated when she called it off due to their age difference. I wonder how the real Maria must have felt when she read the novel—of course she read it! Surely she would devour everything he ever wrote—and then when she saw Hemingway had hand-picked Ingrid Bergman to play her part? Not a bad way to be remembered, immortalized by one of the greatest writers who ever lived!

I don't know what you're doing this weekend while the stars, directors and big shot producers are spending this Saturday in Cannes, strutting the Croisette and the critics continue to boo and hiss Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey; tickets are long sold out so dot even think about hopping on a plane but you can always get a ticket to watch For Whom the Bells Toll on Amazon Instant Streaming.