Tag: Terry Gilliam (Page 2 of 4)

Meet your new Spider-Man

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I was just about to start get down to business on this week’s already quite late box office preview — which you’ll now be seeing here tomorrow morning — when I saw the bombshell, though not really surprising, press release posted over at Deadline.  26-year-old Andrew Garfield has already been mentioned several times as a possible choice for the Marc Webb Spider-Man reboot (remember when you had to wait at least a decade for those?), and I think it’s probably a good, perhaps better than good, choice, though he’s slightly grown-up if they really do intend to make him a high school kid.

As per Wikipedia, Garfield was born in my hometown of L.A., but raised mostly in Surrey, England, which I imagine is a somewhat different atmosphere. On the other hand, I guess you can take the boy out of Hollywood but you can’t entirely take Hollywood out of this boy. He has one of the two lead roles, alongside Jesse Eisenberg in David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming “The Social Network,” not to mention the science fiction drama/love story “Never Let Me Go.”  He’s also appeared in “Lions for Lambs,” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.” In less mainstream fare, he’s also had in the lead role of the first film in the “Red Riding” trilogy of made-for-British-TV thrillers, a huge critical smash last year which had a limited theatrical release stateside. He’s also done more than his share of stage work and has won a BAFTA (British Oscar) for the low-budget British drama, “Boy A.” In other words, he’s doesn’t seem to be a lightweight.

As far as his box office potential goes, who knows? However, the dual-passport holding American-English-Jewish Garfield, who despite his cosmopolitan background made his success without any apparent industry or artistic connections, is just geeky enough to be relatable for boys and believable as a bit of an outcast, but, I’m guessing, also quite handsome enough to make girls swoon a bit. (He’s already been an MTV “hump day hottie,” so I guess there’s my proof.) The only aspect I’m unsure of is the whole vague “star power” thing. I’ll get back to you on that one.

Garfield has came up on my radar, however, because of his surprisingly good work in a hugely problematic role in “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnussus.” The uneven Terry Gilliam fantasy saddled him with a badly muddled character in which we were supposed to still kind of like him despite the fact that he was being persistently mean to adorable Lily Cole. Garfield wasn’t entirely successful in making his character work the way it should have in the film’s story, such as it was, but he impressed me by keeping things about as believable as I can imagine under the circumstances. Making Peter Parker come to life after that should be a comparative breeze.  Let’s just see how he handles the clear potential for A-list status here.

Anne Thompson has some more.

Red Carpet Chatter: Mike Nichols Gets His AFI Lifetime Achievement Award

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Born in 1931 in what was very soon to become Hitler’s Germany, young Michael Peschkowsky was living in Manhattan by 1939. It was great luck both for the future Mike Nichols and for the country that accepted him.

Nichols is, of course, one of the most respected directors in Hollywood, and for good reason. He’s the original, craftsmanlike, and emotionally astute directorial voice responsible for such sixties and seventies classics as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,”  “Carnal Knowledge” and, of course, “The Graduate” (the source of his only directorial Oscar so far) as well as such eighties, nineties, and oughts successes as “Silkwood,” “Working Girl,” “The Birdcage,” and “Closer.” Even if some of the later films are not on the same level of quality as his earlier films — and several, especially his 1988 box office hit, “Working Girl,” stray into mediocrity — it’s still one of the most impressive and diverse careers of any living director in Hollywood.

That’s just on the big screen. On television, Nichols has rebounded in the eyes of many critics, directing two of the most acclaimed television productions of the last decade, 2001’s “Wit” with Emma Thompson, and the outstanding 2005 miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s brilliant and mammoth epic play, “Angels in America.” With his 80th birthday just a year and a half away, he’s still working hard with two thrillers movies planned, including an I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “High and Low” currently being rewritten by the decidedly counter-intuitive choice of Chris Rock.

Before he directed his first foot of film, Mike Nichols was a noted theater director. That in itself is not so unusual a root for directors to travel. What is different is that, before he was a noted theater director, he was half of one of the most influential comedy teams in show business history, Nichols and May. (His comedy partner, Elaine May, went on to become an important, if less commercially successful, writer and director in her own right.)

Still, from the moment he directed his first major play, Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” Nichols mostly abandoned performing. Today, his highly regarded early work is mostly known only to fairly hardcore comedy aficionados.

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A press day chat with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, of “Micmacs”

Jean-Pierre JeunetIf you’re even a halfway serious film fan, you may have noticed that directors like Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, and Quentin Tarantino do not make movies set on Planet Earth, they make movies set on Planets Anderson, Burton, and Tarantino. I’m a bit less of an expert on France’s extremely popular Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but it’s obvious that, even when his films are set in Paris, they’re really set on Planet Jeunet. His films have their own look and exist in their own reality.

As with Tim Burton, Jeunet’s roots are in animation. Together with his early collaborator, cartoonist Marc Caro, he made two films that pretty much destroyed the idea of France as a land where all movies were gritty examinations of the lives of depressed intellectuals (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Dystopic but decidedly non-realistic, “Delicatessen” and, to a much greater extent, 1995’s “The City of Lost Children” broke through internationally, with the latter becoming a popular midnight selection and attracting a geek audience that might have ordinarily rejected subtitled films. That was followed by his first solo production and also his first and, so far, only American film. 1997’s “Alien: Resurrection” was a domestic commercial disappointment that generated mixed reviews and more than a little fan hate in the U.S. — even its screenwriter, fan-master Joss Whedon, has entirely disowned it — but it was nevertheless an international success which is still warmly embraced by its jovial director. After that, Jeunet broke through even bigger with the worldwide success of “Amelie” in 2001, easily one of the most widely seen French films in the United States of the last couple of decades — so much so that it was simply referenced as “the French movie” in last year’s “Up in the Air.”

Dany Boon in Now, Jeunet is back with his first film since his worldwide box office and critical hit, 2005’s “A Very Long Engagement,” with his own take on Chaplinesque/Keatonesque comedy with just a dash of Rube Goldberg not-quite-sci-fi. “Micmacs” stars comic Dany Boon (“My Best Friend”) as the hapless Bazil, whose father was killed by a landmine and whose health and livelihood was ruined by a bullet — each produced by a ruthless arms manufacturer. Homeless, he is befriended by a ragtag assortment of seven eccentrics with various unique skills. Bazil enlists their aid in avenging himself against the two firms.

The film has done reasonably well in its initial New York opening, and will be expanding to more theaters this Friday. It’s generally also been a hit with critics, very definitely including PH’s own Jason Zingale.

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More movie news and stuff

Cannes is in full swing and there’s plenty other stuff going on besides — way too much to cover completely. So, consider this just me hitting a very few of the highlights of the film world right this moment.

* The critical wars are going full strength at Cannes with the biggest love-it/hate-it proposition appearing to be Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.” I haven’t seen the film, of course, but Iñárritu is most definitely my least favorite of “the three amigos” of Mexican/Spanish/U.S. cinema. (The other two being Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro) and not only because his name is the most impossible to type. I mostly liked “Amores Perros” but his “21 Grams” and “Babel” struck me as exercises in touchy-feely realism that was a lot less real than it seemed to fancy itself.

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Still, he’s working with different writers now and everyone seems to agree that the always great Javier Bardem is especially fine in it, so I suppose I should keep an open mind. Still, reading about the film, it’s hard not to side with the anti-faction when much of the commentary echoes my feelings about past films and when the pro-side is being taken by Jeffrey Welles, who really doesn’t seem to respond well when other people don’t love his favorite films. It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya!

In any case, David Hudson does his usual amazing job summarizing the critical reaction from a wide swath of the press; John Horn at the L.A. Times focuses on the reactions of big name critics.

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Movie news and stuff

Where to begin…

* Could the ultimate case of movie development hell finally be unraveling? We’re told that Ewan McGregor will star in Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”

* Lionsgate may be on the block with all kinds of possible ramifications for hardworking and often underpaid workers there. However, just in case you were worried, they’ve got $16 million set aside for five executive golden parachutes if Carl Icahn’s attempt is successful. Whew!

* Anne Thompson discusses the people who didn’t show up at Cannes.  Somehow, she overlooked my absence.

* One of the people who isn’t showing up is living cinema legend/bad boy Jean-Luc Godard, who is citing the chaos in Greece as his reason. Yeah, I have only the vaguest possible idea what he means by that myself. Meanwhile, the Playlist’s Christopher Bell reviews a new documentary about the severed friendship between Godard and Francois Truffuat, who were respectively the Rolling Stones and the Beatles of midcentury French New Wave cinema and, alas, finds it lacking.

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* Marina Zenovich, the woman whose documentary many credit/blame with restarting the Roman Polanski mess — and, yes, that’s the “evil profligate dwarf” himself next to Godard, Truffaut as well as Claude Lelouche and Louis Malle in the picture above — will next be doing the film version of Mark Harris’s widely acclaimed book, Pictures at a Revolution, which looks at the remarkable five best picture nominees from 1968.

* Speaking of Polanski, Oy vey, Woody. (Via FilmDrunk whose headline repeats the obvious, but still hilarious, joke here.)

* Armando Iannucci, co-writer and director of the outstanding comedy about tragedy, “In the Loop,” has a new film with a preposition and a noun in the title set up.

* Cameron Crowe, who was on an amazing run of movies like “Say Anything” and “Almost Famous” until suddenly, he wasn’t, is getting back on the horse with a fact-based tale that involves all kinds of animals, possibly including horses. It does sound like a heck of a story.

* Nikki Finke thinks James Robinson should pay up before showing his face at Cannes.

It’s late. I’m tired and I want my turkey burger and an Old Fashioned. More to come later.

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