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Vanity Fair – Cover girls. Which ones will make it big?

Posted by LiveFor on February 2, 2010

Some more fantastic photos by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair. These are all up and coming stars of the future. The Vanity Fair article gives a run down on each of the actresses, but my question is which of them will be huge stars and who will disappear?
From the left – Carey Mulligan (An Education, Doctor Who, Wall Street 2), Kristen Stewart (Twilight, The Runaways), Abbie Cornish (Bright Star), Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia! Chloe, Dear John), Rebecca Hall (Frost/Nixon), Emma Stone (Superbad, Zombieland), Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler), and Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air, Scott Pilgrim vs The World).

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Red Riding to be made into a Ridley Scott film

Posted by LiveFor on October 15, 2009

red_riding_400Columbia Pictures has acquired rights to remake the U.K. miniseries Red Riding, and is negotiating with Steve Zaillian to write the script and Ridley Scott to direct according to Variety.

The miniseries was written by Tony Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and be sure to check out my interview with him about Red Riding. It was a great series – very dark and bleak – that starred Andrew Garfield, Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, David Morrisey, Rebecca Hall, Mark Addy and many more great actors.

The project, based on four David Peace novels, will be distributed in the U.S. this Autumn by IFC. Studio bought rights to the mini and the novel series.

Scott will produce through his Scott Free banner, along with Zaillian, through his Film Rites banner, and Andrew Eaton of Revolutionary Films, which produced the mini. Garrett Bosch of Film Rites will be executive producer.

The miniseries is a study of power and police corruption framed around the investigation of the disappearance of several young girls. For the pic, the setting will be transferred from Britain to the U.S. The mini clocked in at more than five hours, so Zaillian and Scott have their work cut out for them to compress it into one film.

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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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Red Riding – Teaser Trailer

Posted by LiveFor on February 26, 2009

I interviewed Tony Grisoni recently. He is the screenwriter for this trilogy of films based on David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet.

Mark Addy (The Full Monty), Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings), Jim Carter (Cranford), Warren Clarke (Dalziel and Pascoe), Paddy Considine (The Bourne Ultimatum), Andrew Garfield (Boy A), Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Sean Harris (24 Hour Party People), John Henshaw (Early Doors), Gerard Kearns (Shameless), Eddie Marsan (Vera Drake), David Morrissey (Sense and Sensibility), Daniel Mays (White Girl) Peter Mullan (Boy A), Maxine Peake (See No Evil), Saskia Reeves (The Fixer) and Lesley Sharp (Afterlife) are amongst the amazing cast that are set to star.

Here’s the teaser trailer and the first film is shown in Channel 4 in the UK on 5th March.

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 2008 – Movie Review of Woody Allen’s Latest

Posted by LiveFor on August 6, 2008

Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall
Running Time: 96 minutes

Score: 6.5 out of 10

This review from ZeMightyGorilla
Vicki Cristina Barcelona (VCB for short) is a nice return to form for Allen after Cassandra’s Dream, which was entertaining throughout but totally uneven and unsatisfying. VCB is pretty classic Woody Allen— an intimate look at doomed relationships and unsatisfied people who can’t seem to find true happiness. The movie is not as depressing as that sentence might make it sound—it is full of life, humor and energy, and it reads like a love letter to Spain. The performances are all pretty great, especially Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall. The movie is not without faults, but it is smart and fun and interesting and entertaining.
Plot (minor spoilers): 2 best friends from America are visiting Barcelona for the summer. One is Vicki (played by Rebecca Hall), who is the type of woman who looks for stability and trust in relationships. She is engaged to a nice “safe” guy in NY and is pretty happy/content with life. Her best friend is Cristina (played by Scarlett Johansson). Unlike Vicki, Cristina always seeks out torrid, fiery relationships, which are high on passion and low on stability.
The two are staying with a couple (Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn) who take them to an art show; at the show, Cristina immediately makes eyes for Juan Antonio Gonzolo (Javier Bardem), a successful Spanish artist who was nearly stabbed to death by his last girlfriend (or did he stab her?—the rumors floating around about Juan Antonio are a bit unclear). Upon hearing these rumors, Cristina immediately decides that Juan Antonio is the guy for her. While at dinner with Vicki, Cristina flirtatiously stares at Juan Antonio, causing him to approach their dinner table with an interesting proposition. He invites Cristina and Vicki to accompany him to an island where all three can eat, drink, enjoy nature, and make love together.

Vicki is disgusted and offended by his offer, but Cristina is turned on, and Woody Allen fast-forwards to the two women on a small island-bound plane with Juan Antonio. After a day of wine-drinking, Cristina immediately agrees to go to bed with Juan Antonio, but she becomes nauseous and is in no shape to seal the deal. As Cristina spends the next day in bed with a hangover, Vicki hangs with Juan Antonio who takes her on an intimate tour of the island. Vicki’s barriers break down; she falls for Juan Antonio and winds up cheating on her fiancé and sleeping with the artist.
Vicki never tells Cristina about this indiscretion, but she is shocked when Juan Antonio pursues a relationship with Cristina over her. As the summer continues, Cristina and Juan Antonio grow extremely close, and in no time Cristina moves in with him. Meanwhile, as a result of her earlier fling with Juan Antonio, Vicki grows increasingly dissatisfied with her relationship with her fiancé and with her life in general. Meanwhile, Cristina is as happy as can be until Juan Antonio’s ex-girlfriend Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) moves in with the couple to recuperate from a failed suicide attempt.

I don’t want to go too much further into the plot. Suffice it to say, all four leads find themselves in dire straits—Vicki is hung up on Juan Antonio and is questioning her engagement. Cristina is freaked out by the return of Juan Antonio’s ex-lover and doubts that she will ever be an equal to the two great artists. Maria Elena is still in love with Juan Antonio and is not too fond of the new woman in his life. And finally, Juan Antonio is just plain confused at how to handle the two fiery women in his house.
Problems: As I noted before, the film has some problems. Woody Allen relies too heavily on narration throughout the movie. Sometimes this works well, but many times it seems like a cheap shortcut—why show two characters falling in love when the narrator can just tell you that they have? Why show the development of a rift in a relationship when the narrator can just tell you that a rift has occurred? Also, the character of Juan Antonio begins as a fairy tale (he’s a supremely confidant, wealthy artist who drives sports cars, pilots planes, and is the toast of Spain), but then suddenly shifts to a more realistic character (he is artistically challenged, he cannot hold on to the women he loves). I think this shift plays to Allen’s message that no relationship/lover is perfect , but it seems a bit abrupt—one moment Juan Antonio is every woman’s dream, the next moment he’s a fragile, stressed-out dude.

Overall, Johansson does a really good job, but every once in a while she starts speaking in that trademark nervous Woody Allen-style. I found this to be really distracting— it seems like at least one actor in every Allen film does this. It totally takes me out of Allen’s movies whenever this happens.
My last fault is a bit juvenile, but I feel I must share it. I was really hoping for some hot sex scenes with Cruz and/or Johansson, but the movie is fairly conservative when it comes to showing the action. Except for a little bit of kissing and some side-boob, there isn’t much to get excited about. I guess I was expecting Woody Allen to push the boundaries a bit on this one, and I was disappointed that he left most of the sex off-screen. Some of you will no doubt roll your eyes at this complaint, but I’m just trying to be honest here.
Great stuff: The acting is top-notch! Except for my minor complaint about Johansson mimicking Woody Allen in a handful of scenes, the rest of her performance was great. ALL of the characters are extremely likeable, which is no easy feat in a movie like this. Bardem is awesome— the scene where he first approaches Vicki and Cristina with his island-getaway offer is a tour-de-force. Rebecca Hall is so beautiful and really emotes well throughout the film, as her character goes through the most on-screen turmoil. I’ve never really heard of her before, but I’m now totally in love with her. And Penelope Cruz is soooo loveable, despite being batshit crazy.
As dark as it is, I really respected the film’s message about love. People enter into relationships with different hopes and desires, and it is really rare when both parties can have their needs met. Anyone who has been through a heartbreak (as either victim or cause) can find someone to relate to in this movie.
Also, this film made me fall in love with Barcelona. Having never even been to Spain, I am now seriously thinking about heading there on my next vacation.
I really recommend it, and I think Woody Allen deserves a ton of praise for turning out such diverse, interesting work in the past few years.

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