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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Movie Preview: Hugo

    Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:41 AM PDT

    “Hugo” identifies himself by the film’s original title, “Hugo Cabret,” in the latest trailer to Scorsese’s fantastical adaptation, due out this Thanksgiving.

    It seems like a hard sell, and you don’t get that Spielbergian sense of wonder you look for in the material. Is that an arrow in the Great Scorsese’s quiver? And isn’t that Jude Law in a co-starring role? What would Chris Rock have to say about that?

    We’ll see.

    Today’s interview, ‘Ghost Protocol’s” director — Brad Bird

    Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:39 AM PDT

    We know him from “The Incredibles,” “Iron Giant” and “Ratatouille,” an animation director with wit and a great sense of character and pacing.
    But Oscar winner Brad Bird has transitioned into live action, and “Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol” is his “action” debut.
    I’ve seen a pretty good sizes chunk of “MI:4,” with its jaw-dropping set pieces (the tower climb that has been buzzed about since the first photos of the stunt emerged, Ethan Hunt scrambling up the world’s tallest building, and a terrific chase through an urban desert sandstorm).
    I see a different Ethan Hunt, and a lighter sensibility — vulnerability and fun added to the mix.
    Any questions for Brad Bird? Comment below.

    ‘Shame’ earns the NC-17 rating

    Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:18 AM PDT

    If you saw Brit director Steve McQueen’s “Hunger,” an excrement cadaverously-nude treatment of Irish Republican Army hunger strikers starring Michael Fassbender, you know the guy doesn’t make movies with commercial considerations in mind. Unflinching is the right word for him.

    His “Shame” had a hint of Oscar buzz, early on. Again, Fassbender is his star, playing a man with serious sexual fetishes forced to confront those when his semi-judgmental sister (Carey Mulligan) comes back into his life. It’s so kinky that it’s earned an NC-17 rating. Bye bye Oscar hopes.

    We are slated to get “Shame” in December.

    Universal adds to its horror hopes — ‘Grim Night’ on the way

    Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:12 AM PDT

    You have to figure Universal is buying scripts these days with an eye toward “What can we build a Halloween Horror Nights around?”

    A studio that built its rep on horror back in the dark ages, or at least the black and white ages, it took a swing and a miss with both “Dream House” and “The Thing” just this fall has picked up a spec script in the “Cloverfield/Skyline/Battle Los Angeles” vein — aliens invade and kill many over the course of one long night. And it’s an annual thing.

    “Grim Night,” it’s called. Sounds horrific.

    Fox sets up ‘Grace of Monaco’ project — but who could play her?

    Posted: 26 Oct 2011 03:57 AM PDT

    I was watching Fox’s sci-fi film, “In Time,” last time, staring — if you must know — at a leggy and lusty Amanda Seyfried, trying to place who she looks like in the long-term lexicon of Hollywood beauties.

    And then reports on this new Fox project, “Grace of Monaco,” an attempt to tap into the same market as “The King’s Speech, perhaps.

    If they’re casting this, depending on the age range of Grace Kelly’s life they want to cover, Seyfried would have to be the beginning of the short list of actresses who might play her. Kelly, if you’ve ever read much about her, was complicated in addition to stunning, the classic “Hitchcock blonde,” she tempted her leading men and suggested purity with more than a hint of the bad girl.

    She carried on lifelong practical joke games with the likes of Alec Guiness, endured scandals, royal boredom and the paparazzi longer than most, and was always Hitchcock’s favorite, the woman he was sure he could lure out of retirement for this film or that one.

    She suggested steeliness beneath the fragility, too. And cunning. She did, after all,  fulfill every ’50s girl’s dreams — became a movie star, married a prince.

    Seyfried has been working toward that, adding some sexier, edgier roles to her repertoire in recent films. Not sure it’s taking yet, but she’s trying. She already has the huge eyes, the porcelain skin, the hair.

    Gwyneth Paltrow might have played Grace ten years ago and been perfect in the part. She seems to have aged out of the Prince Ranier courtship and marriage sequences, though she’s regal enough to have pulled off playing her from 30 to her death.

    Who else might be considered? There are a string of gorgeous young women who have emerged as not-quite-bankable stars these past ten years, but who might not have reached their “young Grace Kelly” expiration date. Malin Akerman also comes to mind. Olivia Wilde, also in “In Time,” should be in the conversation. And she actually married into nobility at one point, right?

    Kelly was very very young when she got her start, and seemed older than her years (cast opposite leading men twice her age contributed to that).

    Bana and Huston might be Elvis/Nixon?

    Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:59 AM PDT

    This famous White House photo of the day The King met The Crook (president) used to be a dummy template  here at my newspaper, a photo slapped onto a page as it was laid out by editors and designers just to get the proportions right. The idea was if we used it as a dummy, nobody would be careless enough to ever let the “dummy” into print.

    Now there’s a movie about that day, which at least one Elvis biographer has said was not a particularly sober one for Presley. The actor turned director Cary Elwes (“The Princess Brides, “Saw”) is directing “Elvis & Nixon,” and has Eric Bana (“Hanna”) and possibly Danny Huston (brilliant casting) on board to play Elvis and Nixon.

    Variety says that Michael Benaroya (“The Wettest County in the World”) and Holly Wiersma (“Bobby”) will produce the picture.

    “Inspired by a true historical event, Elwes decided to write the script with Joey Sagal and Hanala Sagal. On Dec. 21, 1970, Presley traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet President Nixon at the White House. The meeting was initiated by Presley, who wrote Nixon a six-page letter requesting a visit and suggesting that he be made a ‘Federal Agent-at-Large’ in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Presley brought with him family photos and a Colt 45 pistol as a personal gift to Nixon.
    “Elwes was so fascinated by how the improbable meeting between the two historical figures came to pass that he chose the unlikely summit as the subject of his first film as a writer-director.”

    They’re to film it in LA and Louisiana.

    EXCLUSIVE: Banderas and Hayek relish playing ‘grand’ in ‘Puss in Boots’

    Posted: 25 Oct 2011 06:39 AM PDT

    There's something just so "grand" about Antonio Banderas, says Salma Hayek, his old friend and "Desperado" co-star. "He's comfortable being grand, BIGGER than life," she says.

    "He has that Cheshire grin," says Carla Gugino, who teamed with Banderas for three "Spy Kids" movies. "He is extremely charming, but he doesn't take himself too seriously. "He's grand yet humble. And his voice is dreamy, as everybody knows."

    Banderas, 51, chuckles on hearing the whole "grand" thing. If his past and present leading ladies past and present – have him pegged, he hopes it's just in relation to the character in "Puss in Boots," his newest film.– "Puss in Boots."

    "What a character!" Banderas enthuses. "He has honor, loyalty, bravery. But he is manipulative, I think. He appeals to members of the audience who love little kitty cats. He uses his big cat eyes. When I manipulate, I use other things.

    "I liked playing him in 'Shrek,' liked what they did with him. But now that we learn more about him, he is even more fun. A lover-killer. Yes, he is grand."

    "Puss in Boots," opening today, gives the break-out bit player from the "Shrek" movies his own showcase and a foil — Kitty Softpaws, voiced by the actor's old friend, Hayek. Reviews have been borderline rapturous, with Variety calling it "a cheeky, Zorro-like lark."

    Banderas says that the movie plays as funny as it does because of choices made years — and many "Shrek" movies — ago.

    "Giving him a body that does not fit my voice, that makes this work," Banderas says. "It's almost like Puss in Boots never looked at himself in the mirror. He doesn't see how small he is. He barely knows he is a cat. That creates comedy, when a character that size has his confidence, it's funny."

    Hayek, 45, calls Banderas "the purrrrrrfect Puss. You know, he's VERY self-confident, Antonio. And so is Puss. You totally believe him as the character because of that."

    Hayek, a star and director who produced the TV series "Ugly Betty," is no slouch in the confidence department either, which Banderas says made her right for the cat-burgling Kitty Softpaws character.

    "I am a confident woman, though I am not as competitive as Kitty Softpaws," soft-Paws, Hayek says. "But I was cast to match up with, to fight with Antonio."

    Banderas and Hayek's characters brawl, and have a flamenco throwdown. The fur flies on-screen, but the trash talk and sexy fury of their arguments come from "our history," Hayek says.

    "We came [to Hollywood] at about the same time, made a movie that was very meaningful for our careers with Robert Rodriguez ["Desperado," 1995]," she says. "We became like family. It's nice to have actors you grew up with around. They know your history. There are people who hate each other yet who have great onscreen chemistry. Now, that is NOT the case with Antonio and I. We get along wonderfully. It just works. Especially when we fight!"

    The Spanish Banderas gave the studio a thumbs up at the idea of casting the Mexican Hayek as his co-star. "What a great voice, sexy voice, for animation," he says of her.

    "What TOOK them so long to ask?" Hayek jokes.

    And when DreamWorks brought her on board, "I asked [studio chief] Jeffrey Katzenberg "to let us record our scenes together, in the recording booth. It's the nature of the way we work together, Salma and I. It helped us bring fresh interpretations to the characters. And to fight! It takes two to do a fight scene. Otherwise, it's kind of weird."

    Hayek relished those moments, too, "because the writers let me win!"

    "Well, I let her win. But you know, the relationship is difficult to define. I mean, she steals my wallet, my hat, my boots. In the end, she steals my heart. Wonderful character. She is smart, strong, independent. Not unlike Salma herself."