May 17, 2013 at 10:24 AM
I am not at the Cannes Film Festival this week, more’s the pity, but I am watching the news of the festival with interest, particularly this item: A very clever thief, on Thursday, made off with more than $1 million in Chopard jewelry. The haul, intended to be worn by celebrities on the red carpet, was stolen from a safe in a Chopard employee’s hotel room, and was apparently one of the largest heists ever to take place during the film festival. Best thing about this story: The theft apparently happened at apparently the same time as the world-premiere screening of Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” about a gang of jewel-thief teenagers. Life imitating art, perhaps?
Also newsworthy are several new projects announced at Cannes:
– Uma Thurman will play anti-gay-rights activist Anita Bryant in the feature film “Anita,” to be directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (“Lovelace,” “The Times of Harvey Milk”).
– The sequel “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny” will begin production early next year, with Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh starring, Yuen Wo Ping directing, and Harvey Weinstein producing.
– Stephen Frears’ “Philomena,” which stars Judi Dench as an Irish birthmother searching for her adopted son, is the subject of a bidding war at Cannes between several distributors (looks like Weinstein is winning), even though the movie isn’t yet finished.
– “Last Love,” a late-life romance starring Michael Caine, has been picked up for U.S. distribution by Image Entertainment. Caine has also been anounced for the cast of “Imagine,” a drama about an aging ’70s musician played by Al Pacino; the film, directed by Dan Fogelman, also stars Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, and Bobby Cannavale, and will begin shooting this summer.
–And, for those of us with an interest in red-carpet fashion, here’s a slideshow of some fashion highlights of Cannes, Day 2. Yes, Emma Watson is all grown up and looks lovely, and I seriously covet Sofia Coppola’s shoes and Zhang Ziyi’s dress . . .
Happy weekend, all!
May 16, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Did you know that Benedict Cumberbatch has an online fan club called the Cumberbitches? I didn’t, but I kind of love it. Anyway, the charming Englishman (check him out in HBO’s “Parade’s End” if you missed it) is making the rounds to talk about “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and as one might guess, he gives a smart and thoughtful interview. I quite liked this quote from his recent chat with New York Magazine:
Cumberbatch prefers the hows to the whys of acting, and he found a kindred spirit in Meryl Streep, his co-star in this fall’s August: Osage County. “I asked her how she approached the multiple layers of her part,” says Cumberbatch. “And she said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t have a process. It changes with every job, doesn’t it?’ And I thought, Oh, thank God, to hear her say it. This whole thing about technique or method? It’s bullshit. People say, ‘Oh, you’re so precise.’ But within that I work very hard to give every part a heartbeat. I learned a lot from just watching Meryl in repose. It was a bit like a Sherlock deduction actually.”
The whole interview’s here; worth a read.
May 16, 2013 at 10:09 AM
For those who, like me, love both “The Great Gatsby” and animated cats . . .
May 15, 2013 at 10:27 AM
In case anyone’s concerned about this blog’s utter lack of “Star Trek” news, a reminder that I am a “Star Trek” ignoramus (watched none of the TV shows and only one of the movies — the whale one — before the first J.J. Abrams reboot; still a little fuzzy on just exactly what the Federation is, what the deal is with the red shirts, and why Spock doesn’t have a chair), and as such I don’t review “Star Trek” movies, because I suspect my take on them would not be appreciated by those who actually know something about the franchise. For the record, I have seen “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and while I have many, many questions about it (no, I won’t raise them here for fear of spoilers — particularly since, if you’re not a Trekkie, you don’t really know what’s a spoiler and what isn’t), I enjoyed it quite a bit — as did my colleague Soren Andersen, who knows “Star Trek” things, and who I’m going to have to hit up for a few explanations sometime soon.
All this is a preamble for an interesting piece on Slate this morning, in which the writer says he has seen every “Star Trek” movie and TV episode and ranks all of them: the movies from best to worst, the TV series from best to worst, the 10 best episodes of the series, the 10 best villains (Q, Gul Dukat, Khan Noonien Singh, The Borg, Weyoun, Captain Ransom, Kruge, Lore, Lursa and B’Etor, and Kai Winn; none of whom I could pick out of a lineup), and the 10 best crew members (Spock, Data, Worf, Kira Nerys,Leonard McCoy, William Riker, The Doctor, Hoshi Sato, Geordi LaForge, and Dax; only one of which I can identify, but I’m sure they’re all swell). Anyway, those of you who enjoy the “Trek” universe might get a kick out of this piece, and I’m sending you there because I’ve got nothing else for you. Live long and prosper, OK?
And now, worlds colliding: Chris Pine, who of course everyone knows as Kirk from the two recent “Star Trek” movies, is in talks for an unnamed role in the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods,” to be directed by Rob Marshall and also starring Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. Jake Gyllenhaal is also in talks to join the cast. Apparently Kirk can sing — who knew?
May 14, 2013 at 10:03 AM
Sigh. PBS has announced this morning that the eight-week run of Season 4 of “Downton Abbey” will premiere in the U.S. on January 5, continuing on Sunday nights through the end of February. ITV has not yet announced the new season’s air dates in the U.K., but it will likely begin in September, as it did last year. So, why can’t PBS show “Downton Abbey” at the same time as ITV, or at least shortly thereafter? Vulture asked this question of a PBS executive early this year and was basically told that, well, they could air it in the fall, but they don’t want to, because they’ve always aired it in January, because there are competing priorities in the fall, and because, despite numerous viewer complaints about the long delay and subsequent spoilers, people watched anyway — “Downton Abbey” is by far the most-watched show in PBS history, with its Season 3 finale getting 50 percent more viewers than Season 2′s last episode. (Do NOT get me started on the Season 3 finale.) So, prop your feet up on a nice footstool and pour a cup of of tea; we’ve got a long wait in store. One wonders what the Dowager Countess would say; perhaps something about the pleasures of anticipation, and the absurdity of having one’s schedule dictated by others.
May 13, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Assuming everything happens as it should (you never know with movie interviews), I should be sitting down to chat with Joss Whedon by the end of this week. He’ll be in town for the opening night of the Seattle International Film Festival, with his latest movie “Much Ado About Nothing” (it’s Shakespeare, it’s black-and-white, and it’s very good). I’m guessing that Whedon (“The Avengers”; TV’s “Buffy,” “Angel,” “Serenity,” “Firefly”) has plenty of fans in the Seattle area; opening night didn’t sell out instantly (a SIFF record) just on Shakespeare’s name. I can certainly think of a few questions for him, but I thought some of you might have questions as well. Let me know via the comments; I’ll ask him as many as I can.
May 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM
I need to pause for a moment here, to observe a momentous “Mad Men” event: Unveiled this week was — be still my heart! — a “Mad Men” character named Moira. This is perhaps not that big a deal for those of you who are not named Moira, but for those who are (surely there’s a few of us out there?), who are accustomed to NEVER hearing our name in movies or television, or hearing it mispronounced on the very rare occasions that we do (no, Robin Williams in “Hook,” I have not forgotten) — this is pretty exciting. “Mad Men” Moira has therefore instantly become my new favorite character, though she didn’t have much to do last night other than be thoroughly put in her place by Joan, and if she ends up having an affair with Don . . . well, I might pass out and hit my head on something and that would be the end of Mad Men Mondays, wouldn’t it? Stay tuned. (By the way, it did not go unnoticed by me that there was a minor character on “Smash” named Moira, though her name was never spoken and I only knew it from looking at the credits. I believe this is known as a trend. Perhaps Moira is about to become the new Isabella. But I digress.)
Anyway. This week’s episode wasn’t as exciting as last week’s, as often happens when dealing with an aftermath, but there was plenty to ponder. The merger’s a done deal and SCDP is bursting at the seams with CGC people wandering around clutching file boxes. (What do you make of Harry having to give up his office for Peggy?) But almost no one seemed to be at work in this episode: Pete was dealing, none too gracefully, with his dementia-addled mother; Joan was in the emergency room (nothing serious, thank goodness); Don was off re-enacting “Fifty Shades of Gray” in a Sherry-Netherland hotel room with Sylvia (more on that later); Bert Peterson was getting fired AGAIN (ha!); Dawn was invisible (seriously, where was she?); and the ubiquitous Bob Benson was running around introducing himself to people and ingratiating himself with Joan. Hmm. Let’s keep an eye on that.
The most interesting part of this episode, for me, was seeing Don through another pair of eyes. We all met Ted Chaough a few seasons back, seeing him as a weasel-y enemy of SCDP; now he’s a teammate, with a working style that’s very different from Don’s: meetings starting on time, opinions solicited from all, a youthful pop-culture sensibility (though I’d guess Ted’s not much younger than Don, if at all). Loved Ted’s conversation with Gleason, about Don: “He’s mysterious, but I can’t tell if he’s putting it on.” Neither can we half the time, Ted. In flight, Ted was messing with Don, telling him that the plane might be upside-down and they wouldn’t know it, enjoying Don’s sweaty-faced anxiety. He doesn’t give a damn about Don’s golden-boy history; he’s ready to start a new chapter.
And Peggy, whose feelings on returning to SCDP are decidedly mixed (and that “coffee chief” sign, demoting her back down to secretary, didn’t help), is seeing her old boss in a new way. Disgusted that Don’s dragging Ted down into a sea of Scotch (the new guy, it turns out, is a lightweight; he hasn’t yet attended the Don & Roger Drinking School), Peggy doesn’t mince words. “Move forward,” she tells Don, leaving his office in a huff. As usual with Peggy, Don doesn’t seem to have noticed.
And what do we make of the Don/Sylvia thing, other than that it was creepy? Is it progress that, unlike Bobbie Barrett, he didn’t leave her tied up? Interesting that while Sylvia didn’t submit to all of his demands, she nonetheless seemed to be enjoying the game for a while — until she decided that it was over, and Don’s face melted from frozen idol to broken, vulnerable man. With his authority challenged both in his personal life and at work (how can he compete with the guy who flew them there in his own plane?), the ground is shifting underneath him — which is, of course, the ongoing theme of “Mad Men.” Later, as he gazes at Megan while she babbles happily about a vacation, is he seeing her? Or dreaming of someone else? And we went out on the news of Bobby Kennedy’s death — with Megan in tears, and Don not reacting. Or maybe he was just putting that on.
Nice to see these two back together, wasn’t it? But it would be nicer if Joan had taken down the sign. (Photo by Michael Yarish; courtesy of AMC.)
May 10, 2013 at 9:59 AM
Here’s one of this week’s more interesting reads: a New York Times piece about the story behind “Salinger,” the documentary about reclusive “Catcher in the Rye” writer J.D. Salinger. Nine years in the making and kept carefully under wraps (the tiny handful of people who’s seen it are contractually forbidden to disclose any details), it’ll be released in September, and may make a select film-festival appearances before then (not SIFF, alas). Filmmaker Shane Salerno, who’s better known for writing the screenplays for noisy feature films (“Savages,” “Armageddon,” “Shaft”), began investigating Salinger in 2004, but work on the film accelerated after the writer’s death in 2010. Apparently nobody has seen the finished film: not Harvey Weinstein, who acquired it after a secret Oscar-morning partial screening; not PBS “American Masters” producer Susan Lacy, who viewed part of it and snapped it up for January airing; not Simon & Schuster president Jonathan Karp, who likewise got a peek at some of the film and agreed to a companion oral history book, to come out in September with the film’s release. Clearly they all saw something tantalizing; yet Salinger’s son says that neither he or his father were involved with the film in any way, nor were Salinger’s small circle of intimate friends. So . . . what’s in the film? Is this all Weinstein hype? I’d guess yes, except the PBS/S&S element gives me pause. Anyway, interesting story, bringing an agreeable element of mystery to the project. We’ll find out in September if there’s anything to it.
May 9, 2013 at 2:29 PM
Anyone wondering what Christopher Guest’s been up to since “For Your Consideration” came out in 2006? (Before that came, at three-year intervals, “A Mighty Wind” and “Best in Show,” both gems of the mockumentary genre.) He’s turned up in a few movies (“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”; “The Invention of Lying”), directed the 2007 TV movie “The Thick of It” and . . . well, I don’t know what else he’s been doing, but the good news is that he’s back, with his first TV series. “Family Tree” will debut on HBO Sunday night at 10:30, and it sounds quite promising: Chris O’Dowd stars as Tom Chadwick, a young man who inherits a box of mysterious objects from a great-aunt he’s never met. Intrigued, Tom sets out to to find more family members, and it looks like some of them are played by members of the great Guest mockumentary troupe: Fred Willard, Michael McKean, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban, Jim Piddock, Carrie Aizley. The series also stars British actor Tom Bennett, ventriloquist/actor Nina Conti, Guest himself, and many others. Guest has said in interviews that he made this a TV series rather than a movie because “Tree” made more sense as an open-ended story, as a genealogical search doesn’t necessarily have an end point. “Family Tree,” like Guest’s movies, is entirely improvised by the actors, based on detailed storylines and character backgrounds provided by Guest and Piddock (executive producer/writer).
After watching the trailer, I’m intrigued; any show that has Chris O’Dowd petulantly yelling “I’m twice the height of a leprechaun!” has my attention.
May 8, 2013 at 10:04 AM
OK, if you want a smile this morning, go here and see Jennifer Lawrence photobombing Sarah Jessica Parker at the Met Ball Monday night. Adorable! As a special bonus, note Marion Cotillard cracking up in the background.
And, for another smile, here’s the trailer for “World’s End,” the latest from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead” — my personal favorite zombie rom-com — and “Hot Fuzz”), about an epic pub crawl:
Now that we’re all cheered up, “The Killing” is back, with Peter Sarsgard apparently playing Hannibal Lecter, and Linden doing, I guess, Clarice Starling in a horrible sweater. I will probably tune in, because I seem to have an inability to stop watching shows once I start (yes, still watching “Smash,” and yes, Saturday’s show was kind of awful in an epic way). Sigh.
- Meanwhile, over at Cannes . . .
- An acting note from Meryl Streep — to Benedict Cumberbatch
- Today’s diversion: ‘The Great Catsby’
- ‘Star Trek’ villains, and ‘Into the Woods’ news
- ‘Downton Abbey’ back Jan. 5
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