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Posts Tagged ‘Frank Langella’

The Box, 2009 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on April 19, 2010

Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: James Marsden, Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella

Score: 8 / 10

Richard Kelly was behind the phenomenal Donnie Darko and the confusing flawed epic Southland Tales. Both featured deep far reaching ideas and, although the execution in the latter was a bit out of whack, you were left thinking about them for a long time.

The Box is no exception to this. It deals with choice and the dark places they can take you. Based on Richard Matheson’s short story, “Button Button” and with a healthy dose of Philip K Dick paranoia, the film opens up in the Seventies were Cameron Diaz and James Marsden are a happy couple with a young son. She is a teacher, he is an engineer at NASA hoping to become and astronaut and that set up is based on Richard Kelly’s life.

To upset the apple cart comes a disfigured Frank Langella with the titular box. Inside the box is a button and he informs the couple that if they press the button they will get $1,000,000 (Dr Evil would be so happy), but someone they don’t know will die.

The first part of the film deals with their decision about what to do with the button and fleshing out their world. It is this aspect that I thought Kelly handled really well. You get the feeling of their family and events going on around them. My problem with lots of films, especially high concept ones like this, is that it takes place in a tiny place with just the people involved. You don’t always feel as if the world is moving on a around them. Kelly gets by this by having quite a large cast of good supporting actors and setting it in the Seventies may also help that. It puts you in mind of Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives.

The scarred face of Langella is just part of the strangeness that slowly creeps into the film. People stare at Diaz and Marsden before suffering nosebleeds, events turn against them meaning they current lifestyle is at risk, and elsewhere a man shoots his wife and goes on the run.

I can’t go into the plot of the film too much without spoiling it, but needless to say the button is just the first choice they are given.

Marsden does an excellent job and gets further away from the cardboard cut-out that was Cyclops. Diaz does okay, but the accent she puts on gets in the way, yet you feel her anguish very well in some later scenes.

The main praise goes to Kelly for the whole look and feel of the film. Some standout scenes are the ones in the library – Marsden walking between the desks – and all of the ones with Langella who is just superb. We don’t get given an explanation as to what exactly is going on or who is behind it all, but what information is dripped to us sets light to the imagination as you try and figure out the purpose of the choice and what it means to us all.

I could go on, but run the risk of spoiling it for you. Go and watch it, then think about it and watch some more.

Would you push the button?

The Box (DVD) – Amazon.co.uk
The Box (Blu-Ray) – Amazon.co.uk
The Box (DVD) – Amazon.com
The Box (Blu-ray) – Amazon.com

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The Random – Laverne & Shirley, Bubo in Clash of the Titans, Salvation Boulevard, Vacation, Unknown White Male, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Earthbound, Vamps, Transformers 3

Posted by LiveFor on February 11, 2010

Valentine’s Day director Garry Marshall created the classic Happy Days spin off sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which starred Cindy Williams and Garry’s sister Penny Marshall as Milwaukee brewery workers.  Extra talked to Marshall who claimed that a film adaptation may be in the works with Jessica Biel and Jennifer Garner as the duo.

Variety are saying that Pierce Brosnan, Ed Harris, and Jim Gaffigan will star in indie feature Salvation Boulevard. The comedic thriller is set in the world of mega-churches in which a former Deadhead-turned-born again-Christian finds himself on the run from fundamentalist members of his mega-church who will do anything to protect their larger-than-life pastor.

New Line has hired screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks!) to write the new Vacation film according to Variety.  The story will focus on Rusty Griswold, now a grown man, who decides to take his own wife and kids on a road trip to Wally World before it closes forever. Chase is expected to reprise his role as Clark Griswold, now a grandfather. It will be closer in tone to Planes, Trains and Automobiles than the previous chapters.

Filming has begun on Jaume Collet-Serra’s (Orphan) next project Unknown White Male in Germany.  The film stars Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Clash of the Titans), Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds), January Jones (Mad Men), Aidan Quinn (The Book of Daniel), Bruno Ganz (The Reader, Downfall) and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) –  Liam Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, who awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (January Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognize him and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired, and on the run. Aided by an unlikely ally (Diane Kruger), Martin plunges headlong into a deadly mystery that will force him to question his sanity, his identity, and just how far he’s willing to go to uncover the truth.

According to Variety screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith are to write a remake of the 1982 musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  The 1982 version (based off the 1978 Broadway play of the same name) starred Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton as a town sheriff and madame who team up to stop a crusading TV personality from shutting down the local whorehouse. 

THR is reporting that Richard Matheson’s 1982 novel Earthbound is heading to movieland. This will join adaptions of his other books I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man and What Dreams May Come. Earthbound is described as an “erotic ghost story” about a married man who starts an affair with a young stranger, only to realize that she may actually be the ghost of a long-dead woman driven by something more than earthly passion.

Screen Daily have the news that Alicia Silverstone will reunite with Clueless director Amy Heckerling in a film called Vamps“ a modern-day tale of two young female vampires living the good life in New York until love enters the picture and each has to make a choice that will jeopardize their immortality.” Krysten Ritter (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Veronica Mars, Breaking Bad) will be the other Vamp alongside Silverstone.

Tyrese Gibson has confirmed that he will be back as Sgt. Epps in Michael Bays Transformers 3. In a post on Twitter, he confirmed by saying that “Yes I will for sure be in Transformers 3.. Get Ready!! Epps is here to STAY!!”.

Bubo the mechanical Owl has a cameo in Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans. Film School Rejects had the news, but it is not clear whether his scenes will make it into the final cut.

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The Box – Early review of Richard Kelly’s new film

Posted by LiveFor on October 22, 2009

boxRichard Kelly is the bloke behind the brilliant Donnie Darko (the director’s cut sucked though). He then made Southland Tales which was a huge flop (although Jinja tells me it is not quite as bad as everyone said, just a bit of a mess).

As previously reported Kelly’s next film is based on the Richard Matheson story – Button, Button – now retitled The Box. It stars James Marsden (X-Men, 27 Dresses, Hairspray) and Cameron Diaz (Charlie’s Angels, The Mask).

Hollywood Elsewhere had a review from an Australian Critic called Don Groves and unfortunately it looks as if The Box may be more Southland Tales than Donnie Darko.

“This period sci-fi thriller (i.e., set in the mid ’70s) suffers from a complete lack of logic and woeful miscasting of the lead roles — and, worse, is almost totally devoid of tension.

“Inspired by ‘Button, Button,’ a 1970s short story by Richard Matheson, the film flounders on its preposterous premise: What would you do if someone offered you a million bucks to press a red button that would cause someone, somewhere — a person you didn’t know — to die?

“Anyone with half a brain would tell the crackpot making this offer to shove the box where the sun don’t shine, but not schoolteacher Norma (Cameron Diaz) and her NASA engineer husband Arthur (James Marsden). They’re short of money, you see, because Norma has just learned she won’t get the employee discount to enable her to keep their son in the private school where she works, she’ll have to postpone reconstructive surgery on her mangled foot, and Arthur’s application to become an astronaut is rejected after he failed the psych test.

“So they toy with taking up the offer from the mysterious Arlington Steward (Frank Langella), an elegantly-dressed, courteous chap with a horribly disfigured face. “I assure you I am not a monster, just a man with a job to do,” he intones gravely. The next day, Norma impetuously presses the button, and, across town in Virginia, a woman is shot dead.

“Steward duly delivers the loot and departs to tempt some other hapless couple. Not once does this well-educated, middle-class couple ask him if anyone died as a result of Norma’s succumbing to temptation. Is that plausible?

“The rest of the movie is an incoherent mess filled with clues, red herrings and non-sequiturs. Random people keep getting nosebleeds. There’s a creepy student, a tormented babysitter, inept efforts by Arthur’s cop father-in-law to investigate these peculiar events, and some psychobabble about the ‘path to salvation.’

“Who employs Steward and has orchestrated his mission? All is revealed, sort of, but little of it makes sense. In essence, Kelly appears to be using a muddle-headed morality play to remind us we’re all responsible for the consequences of our actions. Like, who needs reminding?

“Affecting an annoying Southern accent, Diaz struggles to make Norma seem remotely interesting or worthy of sympathy, despite the predicament she precipitates. Marsden lacks the authority to be believable as a NASA engineer and is barely adequate as a husband and father who’s faced with a cruel dilemma. There is almost zero chemistry between them, which makes it hard to believe they’re a loving couple. Old pro Langella is suitably creepy and menacing, but his efforts are wasted.

“To reflect the 1976 setting, Kelly and his cinematographer Steven Poster drained much of the color, resulting in a cold, flat and uninviting look — rather like the film itself. And was wallpaper of that era really so ugly?”

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Gordon Gekko gets out of prison in Wall Street 2

Posted by LiveFor on September 25, 2009

geckoHere is good old corporate banker Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas)being freed from prison in the Wall Street sequel.

The scene was shot outside Sing Sing maximum security prison in New York state.

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, which also features the return of Sheen’s character, opens two decades later with Gekko being freed from federal prison.

Jacob, played by Shia LaBeouf, partners with the disgraced corporate raider for a mission to alert the financial community to the impending credit crisis.

Josh Brolin, Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon have all signed up.

Directed by Oliver Stone Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps is expected to be released in April 2010.

Thanks to Andy M for sending me the pic.

Source: Daily Mail

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The Box – Richard Kelly speaks and Cameron Diaz gives the game away

Posted by LiveFor on July 27, 2009

I am looking forward to this film. I love a bit of Twilight Zone shenanigans.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are faced with a terrible dilemma when a mysterious glass box turns up at their door. If they press the button inside the box, they’ll get enough money to save their ailing son, but in exchange, someone, somewhere in the world will die. When the temptation to save their beloved son becomes too much to bear, Norma pushes the button. Immediately, a gunshot rings out somewhere nearby. Consumed with guilt, Norma must do everything in her power to solve a murder she has knowingly caused. The Box is director Richard (Donnie Darko) Kelly’s latest thriller.

The Box is due out on 30th October 2009.

MovieWeb had this chat with director Richard Kelly.

Cameron Diaz has also been talking about the film (via Filmstalker) and has given what could be huge spoilers. They are in invisitext below so click and drag the mouse if you want to read them.

The first is about the origin of the box, it’s from another planet, a race from Mars no less.

The second is that this Martian race is testing humankind for some reason, and the box is the test.

I’m not sure what to make of that. May be true, may not be. Could work or it could suck. If you read the spoilers what do you think of it? Beware there could be spoilers in the comments.

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UPDATED: The Box – Trailer for Richard Kelly’s latest film

Posted by LiveFor on June 25, 2009

Have a look at this trailer as I think it is very good. The Box is based on the short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson and was used in an episode of The Twilight Zone. It is the one where a couple are given a box with a button. They are told that if they press the button they’ll get a million dollars, but someone they don’t know will die. Bit of a moral dilemma.

Now Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) has adapted it into a full length feature starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella. It looks as if Kelly is back to his Darko goodness after the disappointing and confusing Southland Tales.

The film is set in the 70s and in a way is autobiographical as the two main characters are based on Richard Kelly’s own parents.

Let me know what you thought of the trailer. Would you press the button?

UPDATE: I found the story about the film being semi-autobiographical. It was an interview with Richard Kelly over on AICN. Well worth a read as he talks about technical aspects of the film as well as developing the story. This is what he had to say about his parents being an influence on the film.

The short story is six pages long, and Arthur and Norma… there wasn’t time for their backstory. So I thought, “Here’s this amazing premise about greed and responsibility and so many things that you can’t put into words. There’s this button, and being responsible for the death of another human being, and what constitutes responsibility.” And I thought, “We want to tell this story and expose this premise to two characters, let them be very moral people, very likable people.” And I figured that I felt that way about my parents, and that this is the type of movie they would love. They exposed me to Alfred Hitchcock when I was a young teenager; they showed me REAR WINDOW and THE BIRDS and PSYCHO. So I thought, “What if I take their love story and life in Richmond, Virginia as an upwardly middle class couple in 1976, and place them into Richard Matheson’s short story?” And that’s what I did – which all of a sudden made it the most personal film I’ve ever made. (Laughs) They have a son [in the film] who’s ten or eleven. I obviously would barely be one year old in 1976, but you could argue that their single child is maybe a representation of me in the story. So all of a sudden I feel like I’m making this profoundly personal film, which, at the same time, is this mainstream studio thriller with this high-concept premise. So it was sort of an interesting merger of my parents’ story with Matheson’s story, which was written before I was even alive but that I discovered on THE TWILIGHT ZONE in 1986. I was in my parents’ bedroom watching THE TWILIGHT ZONE with my dad when I saw “Button, Button” for the first time. So to think that I’ve taken them and plugged them into this Matheson concept is… to this day, I can’t believe that we pulled it off.

So that’s why Jimmy and Cameron spent a lot of time around my parents. Cameron listened to my mom talk for forty-five minutes and recorded it. She recorded a phone conversation of my mom talking about her life. And then she went to a dialogue coach to learn how to do my mom’s Texas accent. Meanwhile, Jimmy did a Virginia accent because my dad’s from Virginia. Their Southern accents are slightly different. And when my parents came on set for five or six shooting days, they were just freaking out. They felt like they had stepped into a TWILIGHT ZONE episode by being on set. It’s very meta. You have my parents feeling like they’re in a TWILIGHT ZONE episode watching James Marsden and Cameron Diaz portray very personal, autobiographical things about their life with their son directing it in this amazing Richard Matheson story that we’ve all grown up with. (Laughs It was really, really interesting.

Then we shot at NASA down at Langley for a week, which is where my dad worked for fifteen years. Marsden drives a silver Corvetts in the film – and my dad didn’t drive a Corvette; he drove a Pontiac. But Marsden drives into this press conference at the NASA campus facility down there where my dad attended the press conference for Viking. He also used to play basketball for the NASA basketball league. But literally my dad is looking at a younger version of himself driving to work in the same exact manner that he did at a place that hasn’t changed since the ’70s. The Langley facility down at NASA has not changed at all since the ’70s; it’s like you’re in a time warp down there. So it was really pretty surreal. It really gave Jimmy and Cameron homework to do. That’s one thing: you want your actors to leave your meeting with a big stack of books, because then they come back to you with so much and so many questions. You get a lot of the direction out of the way, so when you’re on set you can focus on the details. Everyone’s not trying to play catch up.

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Frost/Nixon, 2008 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on March 17, 2009

Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Rebecca Hall, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, Toby Jones.
Running Time: 122 minutes
Score: 8 / 10

This excellent review is by Sarah Louise Dean.

(Warning: Minor Spoiler Alert)

When reading the cast list for certain films, you might find you doing the same thing I do. I can’t help but make judgments regarding the film’s credibility and its plot, before even the first words have been uttered. Looking at the cast here, you already know it’s top-notch. You see that Ron Howard is the Director, so you know that noone is going to be allowed to drop the ball. You may also have some prior knowledge about the Frost/Nixon interviews which lend the film its central theme. You are aware that David Frost, the celebrated but seemingly lightweight comic/interviewer needs to score a high profile interview to facilitate his way back into the favour at the BBC and in the US. You know all about Watergate and you wonder why Richard Nixon would agree to such an interview. You may know that the film is based on a play, so you imagine it might have that same stilted feel – limited scenes in a few locations, and an emphasis on language over imagery. You might even feel a little disheartened, assuming that this might be a bit worthy and over-intellectualised with its focus on events that occurred when the majority of today’s filmgoers were very young. In fact maybe you’ve nearly talked yourself out of seeing the film, its not contemporary, its not what you’d normally see and it might be, heaven forbid, a bit…..dull.

I say STOP! Give yourself a shake and watch the film because it is an absolute delight. This is one of those films that is filled with the unexpected by opening up a ponderous stage play about a story we all think we know, and giving it the wings that only visual imagery on the big screen (and a bigger budget) can provide. I found Frost/Nixon mesmerising.

I will say this though, you must persevere. Ron Howard understands that we may not fully understand the characters intentions and therefore provides us with a lengthy first section. He wants the viewer to fall into the trap of categorising Nixon as a washed and derided figure and Frost as a frivolous underdog. But then you are introduced to James Reston Jr (played with flair by Sam Rockwell) a passionate anti-Nixon biographer who believes the American public deserve an admission of Nixon’s culpability, and Jack Brennan, (an assured turn by Kevin Bacon) an ex-military right-hand man with a voice of reason who fundamentally believes that certain practices are perfectly necessary for the good of people. Brennan is a deadly serious force in a world filled with unholy camaraderie. The period detail is fantastic, seen in the seventies hotel suite décor, the tailoring and riotously, the hairstyles (particularly Matthew Macfadyen very much enjoying John Birt’s shaggy hair) and highlighted by Nixon’s obsession with Frost’s Italian loafers. The action (no car chases and explosions of course) effortlessly flicks between Australia, London and LA, and the playing out of the four key interviews of foreign policy, domestic policy, personal life and Watergate is interspersed with behind-the-scenes style footage allowing each character to escape from their caricature. It’s a good move, giving this film to Ron Howard, placing delicate material in such a capable pair of American hands.

Of course, this film has flaws. It is neither controversial nor particularly hard-hitting, and female characters are given short shrift. Rebecca Hall is woefully underutilised even though she gets the best lines outside of Nixon. However the screenplay expertly expands on an important moment of history making it both entertaining and far more relevant, than you’d initially conceive. The film asks some important questions. Can the media provide us with something from our politicians that Government can’t provide? Can Trial by Media sometimes be the only option left and the best way forward? Peter Morgan, expanding on his celebrated play, allows Brennan and Reston Jr provide the storyline with its heart, as two characters on either side of the divide but both feeling with absolute certainty that they are in the right and the world should know so.

Plaudits for Frank Langella have naturally come flooding in. Yes he effortlessly deals with the sizeable task of taking someone morally corrupt and giving them some much needed three dimensionality, making him look savvy, unflinching and erudite. But he is ably counterbalanced by Michael Sheen’s brilliant performance. Frost almost makes the most interesting viewing. He is the ultimate playful playboy for the majority of the film but as he suffers Nixon’s punch after verbal punch, his discomfort is tangible. We may all know what was coming, but the film in its denouement, is masterful. You come to care for the playboy and you realise how he has stretched himself to pull off this coup, moments before the limelight passes. And Nixon’s late night, inebriated phone call sets up the power struggle of the Watergate discussions with meticulous genius. You want to feel Frost’s gratification at extracting a small apology, but more importantly, you see Nixon’s own epiphany as to his responsibility for his own downfall, and his realisation as to what he has lost.

To feel sympathy for someone so ravaged by power is testament to the sheer brilliance of Howard’s light touch. A wonderful film.

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The Caller – When you can’t control your life control your death

Posted by LiveFor on February 16, 2009

Jimmy Stevens (Frank Langella), a senior VP at an international energy firm, blew the whistle on his company′s deadly and corrupt practices in Latin America. Knowing he will be assassinated for his betrayal, he places an anonymous call securing the services of private detective Frank Turlotte (Elliott Gould) to trail him from a distance.

Unaware that the man who has hired him and the man he is following are one and the same, Turlotte begins a game of cat and mouse with Jimmy – New York City becoming the arena for this uncertain contest. Slowly, the investigation begins to yield clues, revealing the larger story of Jimmy′s mysterious life and enigmatic past.

When evidence of his childhood in WWII France is unearthed, a haunting memory surrounding a lone, wounded man and the two young boys who would witness his dying breath becomes the key to the present. As the clock winds down and the hired guns close in on Jimmy, Turlotte puts the puzzle pieces together with just enough time to fulfill his duty, fated long before he first heard the voice of the caller.

The Film premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival where it won the Made In NY Narrative Award. Written and directed by Richard Ledes.

This one sounds very intriguing and Gould and Langella are two cracking actors. For some reason it reminds me of The Conversation starring Gene Hackman.

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Frost / Nixon Poster

Posted by LiveFor on September 17, 2008

Poster for Ron Howard’s Frost / Nixon movie starring Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost.

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