La Vie en Rose star Marion Cotillard at last night’s screening of Olivier Dahan‘s impassioned biopic at the DGA building (where it was shown as part of the City of Light-City of Angels Film Festival). There was an onstage q & a session after the screening with director Penelope Spheeris (l.) interviewing Dahan (center), Cotillard and producer Alain Goldman (far right). Here’s a recording of a brief interview I did with Cotillard yesterday afternoon at the Four Seasons hotel, and here’s a recording of a portion of the q & a session at the DGA.
It’s not signed, sealed and delivered, but I’m hearing that a deal for Warren Beatty to portray Richard Nixon in Ron Howard‘s Frost/Nixon is nearly compete, and they he’ll costar with Michael Sheen (The Queen) as Frost. A guy with some perspective on Beatty’s dealings says “naaah, that’s not gonna happen” so maybe not. And yet people close to the situation are saying it’s pretty much Beatty so let’s see how it pans out.
Richard Nixon (l.); Warren Beatty as Bulworth (r.)
I’m told by another source that Howard offered the Nixon role to Beatty two months ago. This same source tells me that Oliver Stone was interested in Beatty playing the same U.S. President in Nixon before settling on Anthony Hopkins.
If the Beatty-Nixon-Howard things turns out to be true, this has to be one of the most bizarre casting calls I’ve ever heard of. Surreal almost. Beatty is not a chameleon-type actor. His Bugsy showed that he’s pretty good as a swaggering sociopath, but I really don’t see him getting under the skin of a conflicted and constipated hollow man who once described himself in a letter to his mother as “good dog Richard.”
Nixon was the antithesis of smooth and affable — capable of being “friendly” but burdened with a dark-cloud soul and physically ungraceful. Beatty’s lack of physical resemblance to Nixon can be mitigated to some extent with makeup and prosthetics, but Beatty has never distinguished himself as a voice impersonator, and his pipes are definitely higher-pitched than Nixon’s ever were. It just seems weird.
I guess the thinking is that Beatty is bigger box-office than Frank Langella, who currently playing Nixon in previews of Frost/Nixon on the B’way stage. I haven’t seen Langella in the role but he was praised to the heavens when he played Nixon on the London stage. I guess the thinking is that if Hopkins can play Nixon without looking the least bit like him, Beatty can do it for Ron Howard. I suspect that the reaction around town is going to be fairly negative and that Howard may have second thoughts.
A tape of President George Bush thanking the National Rifle Association “for your work to make America safer” was shown to over 3000 NRA members at a gathering in St. Louis last Saturday night, or roughly 40 hours before Monday’s Virginia Tech shooting tragedy. The playing of the Bush tape is reported in this 4.15.07 St. Lous Post-Dispatch story by Aisha Sultan. John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was the guest speaker at the NRA convention, which was held at St. Louis’s Edward Jones Dome.
Nikki Finke is reporting that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Disney, 5.25) (a) hasn’t yet wrapped its CGI work, (b) has so far cost more than $300 million, and (c) it “is said to be at least as long as Pirates 2…and [is] probably longer “because director Gore Verbinski had to tie up all the stories and wanted to use as much footage as he could,” an insider told Finke.
That’s just one “insider,” of course, and very possibly one with an axe to grind against Verbinski, but has there ever been a serious-minded director (i.e., one with any sense of self-discipline and a corresponding respect for the audience) in Hollywood history who decided to “use as much footage as he could”?
Finke adds that “internet rumors” are saying that POTC: AWE is clocking in at 2 hours, 45 minutes. Actually, that unsubstantiated FilmJerk posting said 170 minutes, or 2 hours and 50 minutes.
That Cinema Blend rumor about Tom Hanks agreeing to play Professor Robert Langdon again in Angels & Demons is correct; ditto that Hanks is getting paid a whopping salary. But filming on Angels & Demons won’t be starting in July, as the Blend story suggested, because Ron Howard‘s film version of Frost/Nixon, based on the acclaimed play by Peter Morgan, will absolutely begin shooting in August (i.e., four months hence) and be in theatres by the early fall of ’08.
This is rock-solid fact. No maybe-ass cocktail chatter. Take it to the bank.
Angels and Demons, meanwhile, will roll film in February ’08 and be in theatres by sometime in December of that year. Obviously the next eighteen months will be quite a time for Howard, shooting two films back-to-back and releasing them within three or four months of each other. A smart film for people of taste and refinement that will presumably make a profit, and a less-sophisticated film for people who read airport fiction that will make hundreds of millions.
Howard is doing Frost/Nixon being he loves the play, but I’ll bet he also sees it as a karma balancer and a creative-image counterweight. The pundits and critics would kill him if he were going to confine himself to just making Angels and Demons, a sequel to the profitable but widely despised The Da Vinci Code. His producing and directing a film version of a highly respected play like Frost/Nixon will dissuade media types from bringing up past grudges. Now they’ll say, “Aaaah, give him a pass.”
Frost/Nixon focuses on the backstage machinations behind the legendary series of interviews that British TV personality David Frost did with ex-President Richard Nixon in ’75. Frank Langella played Nixon during the plays’s London run and is reprising that role in the the soon-to-open B’way version. Michael Sheen — Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen — played Frost in London and costars in the New York presentation.
Howard has surely decided who to cast in Frost/Nixon but “no firm offers” have been sent along to anyone’s agent thus far. (I’ve been told that Sheen will almost certainly get the Frost part, but I wonder if Howard, who likes to work with big movie stars, will use Langella.
A witness to the mayhem at Virginia Tech yesterday was hiding with others in a room behind some kind of locked or barricaded door, according to one news story I read, and he said that the gunman tried to push his way in and couldn’t, and (according to one news report) that he then tried to shoot his way in — two or three rounds were fired at the door handle or lock mechanism — but couldn’t.
That, I said to myself, is something that screenwriters of Hollywood action thrillers and horror films have never depicted, and in fact have chosen never to depict. The psychopathic Hollywood killer is always omnipotent, and can never be stopped from killing his victims by a locked or barricaded door…not ever. He always knows where the would-be victim is hiding, he’s always a step or two ahead of the game, and he’s always waiting for the would-be victim in any hiding place and ready to go “boo.”
This is what is ineffective — inept — about too many Hollywood thrillers. They don’t respect reality and the fact that sometimes a simple locked door saves your life. Not very exciting, perhaps, but do you think the people who were shuddering and praying to God behind that locked door yesterday were bored as Cho Seung-Hui tried to shoot his way in?
Grooming for television is more intensive and exacting than just combing your hair in front of a bathroom mirror, but it shouldn’t take this long under any circumstance. Not an especially flattering moment for Presidential contender John Edwards. 15,272 people have watched this on YouTube.
I’ve never seen this column as strictly movies- and-nothing-but. Each and every wind and current in American culture routinely blows into the entertainment industry and back out again — it’s what makes it extraordinary turf. Movies are the basic concern, of course, but yesterday’s Virginia Tech massacre felt like a major tremor, and I probably should have responded in some small way, as some readers wrote yesterday.
The gist of some postings was how could I be angry about the alleged 170-minute length of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End with such a terrible real-life tragedy reverberating every which way?
The banal truth is that I was caught up in lots of other stuff yesterday (investigating video-conversion and editing software in the morning, an interview with La Vie en Rose star Marion Cotillard at the Four Seasons in the mid-afternoon, an early reception and then a premiere screening of Rose at the DGA) and so I only managed three postings.
Yesterday’s shootings were shocking, ghastly, horrific. Like everyone else I was shaken and saddened. But was anyone genuinely shocked by this? Another guy with easy access to firearms went postal. The body count of 33 (i.e., 32 victims plus the shooter, Korean student Cho Seung-Hui, taking himself out at the end) made it obviously worse than Columbine, but this kind of thing happening is not exactly a major mind-blower, given our history and especially given the easy access to firearms that some people in this country are still working hard to enforce.
Michael Moore will tell you that the likelihood of such a massacre happening in Canada is much, much lower than in this country, and he’s right, of course. A guy named Cho Seung-Hi lost his mind yesterday, but why do we support the right of almost any nerve-jangled psychotic to purchase enough guns and ammo to lay waste friends and family and work communities with relative ease?
European journalists “seem to agree about one thing,”a 4.17 Spiegel Online report says. “The shooting at Virginia Tech is the result of America’s woeful lack of serious gun control laws. Papers reserved their sharpest criticism for the 2004 expiration of a 10-year ban on semi-automatic weapons under the then Republican-controlled Congress. Others comment on the pro-gun lobbying activities of the NRA [i.e., National Rifle Association].”
The pro-gun lobbyists are the principal bad guys, of course, but a certain roundabout responsibility must fall on the entertainment industry. What money-making activity, after all, is more soaked in blood and shootings and all manner of horrific death than movies and video games? Movies have repeatedly sold the idea of the potency of firearms. They have certainly dramatized the scenario of a lone good guy (i.e., one who’s been wronged in some way) settling a score by shooting a lot of bad guys. We all love suspense and good action, but there has to be something wrong with you to really enjoy depictions of callous sadism and homicidal bloodlust.
One thing I couldn’t stand yesterday was a statement from President Bush yesterday (or from a Bush spokesperson) that said in part, “We ask a loving God to comfort those who suffer today.” Oh, I see….the loving God who steps in from time to time to give people heavenly hugs when awful things happen, but who most of the time steps back and sits on his hands and allows the human tragedy to fulfill itself according to natural immutable law?
I despise right-wing Christians who try to personalize the perfect cosmic unity of all things great and small by giving this wondrous order an earth-bound personality, and then portraying this entity as having some kind of compassionate agenda regarding earth-people affairs. God is in every man, every deed…in every bloody catastrophe and every act of random kindness. He/She/It doesn’t “root”….hello? I don’t want to be judgmental, but people who can’t grasp this elemental concept have, due respect, some kind of emotional or psychological blockage.
I’m especially taken with the fact some of these same right-wing Christians (Bush among them) happen to be major supporters of the NRA.