I thought I’d shock everyone and do a post that’s not built around a trailer — there’ll be time enough for that on the weekend.
* Tom Cruise may or may not be many things, but I’ve never really thought of him as a rocker. Yet, that’s exactly what he will be in the promised film version of “Rock of Ages.” I’ve long had mixed feelings about Cruise as an actor — he can be very good in some things and disastrous in others — and I have mixed feelings about this project, too. To be specific, I like good movie musicals but strongly dislike eighties hair bands and what some of us used to call “corporate rock.”
On the other hand, Mike Fleming touts Anne Hathaway, who I have few or no mixed feelings about, as a possible costar. I wonder what she’d look like as a glam rocker…
* A star has been set — or at least gotten to the serious negotiation stage — for the long discussed “Jack the Giant Killer” coming from Bryan Singer and his old screenwriting cohort, Christopher McQuarrie, writes Mike Fleming. He’s that kid who was so great in 2002’s “About a Boy” grown-up into 20-something Nicolas Hoult. Hoult has also appeared on the UK “Skins” and will be turning up in the upcoming “Mad Max” reboot/sequel or whatever.
Mike Fleming, however, is not correct when he describes the tale as a “scary” variation on “Jack and the Beanstalk.” It’s an entirely different, far less commonly told, fairy tale. As Wikipedia tells us:
Jack the Giant Killer is a British fairy tale about a plucky Cornish lad who slays a number of giants during King Arthur’s reign. The tale is characterized by violence, gore, and blood-letting.
No wonder they’re making a movie of it.
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* Sofia Coppola’s latest, “Somewhere,” won the highly prized Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. The problem, if there is one, is that she is a current friend and former flame of Jury President Quentin Tarantino. I have to admit that I had forgotten they’d ever been a “thing,” but many do remember and there’s been some grumbling to the effect that the movie isn’t all that “fucking great.” It ain’t the crime of the century, but I guess Tarantino should have recused himself. Speaking for myself only, I find that I tend to be either more harsh or more enthusiastic about friends’ work. As for Monte Hellman, Tarantino’s hardly alone in praising the maverick writer and director.
* Someone took Stanley Kubrick’s ultimate trip with way too much chemical enhancement over the weekend at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. I have a story about that I’ll tell you sometime. In the meantime, protective measures may be in order.
* So, if Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Robert DeNiro are going to be in a film by Martin Scorsese, naturally it’s called “The Irishman.” Daniel Day Lewis, Brendan Gleeson, and Pierce Brosnan need to make a film called “The Italian” with Neil Jordan directing.
* Good. L.A. needs all the love letters, cinematic and otherwise, it can get. Naturally, all the lead actors are from foreign lands (Christopher Plummer is Canadian, but he feels like he’s from actual overseas), though I’m not sure about the characters. One of the things I loved about “A Single Man” was the way it depicted the European’s love affair with a town that U.S. natives mostly don’t seem to get.
* Woody Allen has stepped in to a long-running rumor-created fracas. France’s acting first lady, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, apparently did just fine in “Midnight in Paris.”
* Mickey Rourke’s latest gig appears to be playing notorious mob killer Richard “the Ice Man” Kuklinski. I think this is a close to making a true family film as Rourke may ever get, next to “Iron Man 2.” The man’s face doesn’t only scare small children, it scares me.
Renowned fashion designer Tom Ford must have been chomping at the bit to make his jump into feature films, but he was smart to hold out for the right project, because it’s hard to imagine a directorial debut more perfect than “A Single Man.” Based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, the film take place over the course of a single day as middle-aged college professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) contemplates suicide following the death of his longtime partner, who was killed in a car accident eight months prior. George spends the day reminiscing about the past, putting his affairs in order, and even enjoying a dinner date with his childhood friend (Julianne Moore) without anyone the wiser, but when one of his students (Nicholas Hoult) takes a sudden interest in his well-being, George begins to rethink his fatal plan.
Admittedly, not a whole lot happens over the course of the film’s 99-minute runtime, but it’s so visually stunning that the anemic plot isn’t a big problem. With Ford’s background in fashion, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the ‘60s-era costumes and production design are flawless, but Eduard Grau’s cinematography is the real treat, transforming the movie into a perfume ad come to life that beautifies the style and sophistication of the period. Colin Firth also delivers a career-best performance as a broken man struggling to get through the day without falling apart in front of his friends and colleagues, and Moore and Hoult offer ample support in limited roles. Though the movie does drag a bit during its final act, “A Single Man” is a poignant drama about love and loss that will serve as the perfect calling card should Ford decide to quit his day job and focus on filmmaking.
Click to buy “A Single Man”
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Really, the headline here tells the tale about last night’s awards from the English equivalent of our Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “The Hurt Locker” won six awards from the Orange British Academy Film Awards (which makes me wonder what other colours British film awards are available in). As described by Indiewire’s Peter Knegt — who also kindly provides a complete list of the awards — they include Best Picture, a directing award for Kathryn Bigelow, as well as for Mark Boal’s screenplay, editing, photography, and sound — the better part of the whole behind-the-camera British enchilada. And, no, I don’t think that sounds very appetizing, either. Not quite all of it, though. For example, “The Young Victoria” got the awards that usually go to period dramas, costumes and make-up.
Perhaps almost as predictably, the main acting awards, however, did go to more local talent. Specifically Colin Firth won for his performance as a man in mourning in “A Single Man” and Carey Mulligan for her teen learning some hard, yet kind of fun, life lessons in “An Education.” Still, the BAFTAs bowed to standard practice by giving the supporting actor awards to Mo’Nique of “Precious” and Christoph Waltz of “Inglourious Basterds,” yet again. (Also truish-to-form, Mo’Nique wasn’t there.)
Best British film went to the highly praised “Fish Tank,” which happens to feature “Basterd” secret weapon Michael Fassbender opposite Kierston Wareing and newcomer Katie Jarvis. As for the lastest from the onetime Mr. Kathryn Bigelow, “Avatar,” it met the once traditional fate of well-regarded science fiction movies at the Oscars, and only got a Best Visual Effects and Production Design awards but, of course, is only making a double gazillion dollars. Aaah. Geeks may be take some solace, however, in learning that “Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer” went to Duncan Jones for his intriguing feature debut, “Moon,” a small-scale space tale like they used to make.