12 items from 2002
Hollywood star Antonio Banderas is under fire from the Mexican public for his portrayal of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa in a new film. Audiences are not taking kindly to the idea of the stout, pistol-packing hero of the 1910-1917 revolution being played by a Spaniard for an American audience - two nationalities Villa loathed. Banderas filmed the HBO movie And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself at a time when Hollywood's treatment of history is becoming a sensitive point for Mexicans. Actress Salma Hayek recently starred as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in a Hollywood movie filmed entirely in Mexican-accented English. Adolfo Lopez Villarreal - who founded the Francisco Villa Popular Front in Mexico City in 1988 - is one who's unhappy about the HBO film. He says, "They should have given the role to a Mexican. I like Banderas, but he's a Spaniard. I think there are Mexican actors who could do the role well." Student activist America Del Valle adds, "It's very Hollywood, to use big- name actors who have never participated in real-life political movements to depict revolutionaries. I'm sure they'll do Che (Guevara) next. It's playing marketing with the truth. I just hope they'll respect the historical reality, and not paint him all black or all white." »
Salma Hayek thrilled late night TV viewers in America by dressing up as a hirsute man for her Halloween appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien. The sexy actress donned a business suit and tie as part of her cross-dressing treat for show host Conan O'Brien. And she didn't stop there - the make-up artist who created her unattractive unibrowed look in new movie Frida made her look even more manly with a real moustache. Salma grew a moustache for the role and simply didn't wax for a week before her appearance on the show. She said, "All we had to do is put some mascara on it." The Mexican star admits she's getting used to her furry top lip, and so is boyfriend Edward Norton. She adds, "You can always wax it, but you'd be surprised how many men like a moustache, and they don't talk about it." The unibrow wasn't for real - it was enhanced with fake hair, but Salma admits it brought back memories from her youth. She says, "I used to have the one eyebrow when I was younger but then I started plucking them and they got a divorce and now they're separated." »
TORONTO -- Miramax Films made its presence felt at the Toronto International Film Festival's opening weekend by picking up U.S., Australian, New Zealand and South African rights to Studio Canal's Jet Lag. The French-language film stars Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno. The deal, worth just less than $1 million, was sealed by late Saturday afternoon -- just hours before the studio rolled out the red carpet at Roy Thompson Hall for its 6:30 gala screening of the Salma Hayek starrer Frida. By the time Jet Lag's own gala began at 9:30 p.m., Miramax could technically boast back-to-back galas. Beating out several suitors including Focus Features and Fine Line features, Miramax is said not to have been the highest bidder with its approximately $900,000 offer. But the studio did boast a strong relationship with Binoche, who worked with it on Chocolat and The English Patient. Both films earned the actress Oscar nominations, and she won for Patient in the best supporting actress category. »
TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival kicked off its 27th edition Thursday night in a low-key manner for the hometown crowd with the North American premiere of native son Atom Egoyan's Ararat. Eager fans lined up along the red carpet outside Roy Thomson Hall downtown to catch a glimpse of Egoyan, his wife and the film's star, Arsinee Khanjian, and the film's Bruce Greenwood, as well as other stars walking up the red carpet to the entrance lobby. Peppered throughout the onlookers were Teamsters drivers from International Local 847, holding picket signs in protest. Tim Cadeaux, a business agent for Teamsters Local 847, said the protesters were looking for a labor contract with Canadian producers as well as increased wages. Thursday night was a precursor to what's expected over the next 10 days when Hollywood star power descends on Toronto. Warner Bros. Pictures beats the drum tonight for White Oleander, with stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger and Robin Wright Penn expected to appear on the red carpet. Other galas set to bow over the weekend are Neil Jordan's The Good Thief, the Salma Hayek starrer Frida and Paramount Pictures' The Four Feathers. »
VENICE, Italy -- The 59th Venice International Film Festival is slumbering toward today's midway point amid hot weather, with few movies emerging and voracious mosquitoes providing most of the buzz. But despite the sun and the insects, the grand dame of European festivals confirmed its status as one of the top-flight launching pads for titles boosted by star power. Among titles propelled by Venice bows to date are Julie Taymor's Frida, Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition, Dylan Kidd's Roger Dodger, Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, Kathryn Bigelow's K-19: The Widowmaker and Liliana Cavani's Ripley's Game, all of which had Italy's media circus playing to their tune. After Sophia Loren, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek lit up the opening night Thursday, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Julianne Moore, Dougray Scott, Catherine Deneuve and John Malkovich all motored into the Lido over the weekend and Monday to further raise the wattage. »
The lives of great artists are notorious for their resistance to the biopic treatment. The iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo proves no exception.
While this film dutifully chronicles her suffering, obsessions and battles with her own body, it stands in pale contrast to Kahlo's real biography, which is her amazing paintings.
In development for nearly a decade, battling rival projects and studio skittishness, "Frida" emerges as a fairly convention biopic rather than the artistic statement one might anticipate given director Julie Taymor's theatrical background and actress-producer Salma Hayek's passion for the role.
The film hues closely to the facts of Kahlo's life and her tempestuous relationship with world-famous muralist Diego Rivera, her mentor and husband. Taymor puts Frida's vivid and often disturbing art to sagacious use, slipping the famous images into scenes to reflect or comment on dramatic developments. But the film somehow misses the mark, having made rather tidy a messy and brutally painful life.
As more than 100 published books concern Kahlo and Rivera, one should never underestimate the public appetite for this story. With a stellar cast -- Alfred Molina as Rivera, Geoffrey Rush as Leon Trotsky, Edward Norton as Nelson Rockefeller, Antonio Banderas as muralist David Siqueiros and Ashley Judd as photographer Tina Modotti -- along with a careful rollout and Miramax's marketing muscle, "Frida" does have potential as an art house hit. The outlook overseas and in ancillary markets is even more positive.
The movie begins on the day of Frida's one and only exhibit in Mexico, in the spring of 1953. Her health has deteriorated so greatly, the doctor forbids her to leave her bed. So she has her bed carted to the gallery. On the ride over, the movie goes into a flashback. Frida, a high-school tomboy, loves to get into mischief with a gang of boys. She sneaks into a school auditorium where the great Rivera is painting.
The movie quickly moves to the trauma that shapes her life: A trolley accident in 1925 leaves her impaled on a metal rod. So devastated is her body that it's a miracle she even lives, much less that she walks again. Lying in bed for months, bored and in pain, she takes up painting. Her parents (Roger Rees and Patricia Reyes Spindola) give her a special easel and canopied bed with a mirror above her so she can be her own model. A life of self-portraiture, of painting the inner and outer Frida Kahlo, thus begins.
The story of her event-filled life understandably moves swiftly. Yet the consequence is that the movie gives short shrift to Frida's recovery and the enormous will power she developed to tolerate pain and fatigue. Clearly, the drinking, smoking and drug use that come later help her to dull that pain.
The bond between Diego and Frida is handled with empathy. Molina captures Diego's bearish personality, his huge body, his embrace of sensual pleasures and his fierce commitment to leftist political principles. In one of the film's welcome flights of surreal fancy, Rivera is fittingly depicted, in cutout images, as King Kong atop the Empire State Building, batting at airplanes as he would his critics. Molina gets the essential goodness of the man, his firm belief in loyalty and a set of principles that sometimes gets overshadowed by his many adulterous affairs, the worst being with Frida's own sister (Mia Maestro).
Hayek learned how to paint and how to effect the outer Frida -- including her wearing of traditional Mexican clothing. Other than Frida's trademark thick, connecting eyebrows, though, she has not allowed the makeup artist to de-glamorize her. More problematic is the fact Hayek doesn't inhabit her character as Molina does his. She is playing a role while Molina is Diego.
The film neither makes too much nor too little of its protagonists' wild side -- their open marriage, where they even shared lovers, or Frida's bisexuality and her affair with Trotsky, which may have cost him his life. The only sugar-coating comes near the end: It's quite possible Frida took her own life but the film never hints of this.
Rodrigo Preito's colorful and appealing cinematography, designer Felipe Fernandez's period re-creations and Elliot Goldenthal's guitar-flavored music, picking up Mexican themes, make a tight budget go a long way.
Miramax presents in association with Margaret Rose Perenchio
A Ventanarosa Production in association with Lions Gate Films
Director: Julie Taymor
Based on the book by: Hayden Herrera
Director of photography: Rodrigo Prieto
Production designer: Felipe Fernandez
Music: Elliot Goldenthal
Costume designer: Julie Weiss
Editor: Francoise Bonnot
Matilde Kahlo: Patricia Reyes Spindola
Alejandro: Diego Luna
Running time -- 119 minutes
MPAA rating: R
VENICE, Italy -- The 59th Venice International Film Festival kicked off Thursday with Julie Taymor's Frida, a biopic of feminist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, amid controversy, confusion and question marks about what lies in store for Europe's oldest film festival. Attending the black-tie opening-night gala and prancing up this year's shorter catwalk was a glittering array of talent spearheaded by Italian icon Sophia Loren in a pink ball gown blowing kisses to the large crowd. She came accompanied by her son Edoardo Ponti and Italian fashion guru Giorgio Armani. A Miramax motorcade steamrolled down the Lido carrying "Frida" star Salma Hayek, co-stars Alfred Molina and Valeria Golino and director Taymor. Gwyneth Paltrow made the short walk after designer Valentino. Chinese actress Gong Li, who is president of the main jury, fellow juror and Italian star Francesca Neri and supermodel Heidi Klum had the flashbulbs popping. Also seen in the VIP seats were Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and MPAA chief Jack Valenti. »
Danny Huston has signed to star on Dick Wolf's remake of "Dragnet" for ABC and Universal Network Television. Huston will play one of two leads in the revival of the classic cop drama, but Wolf is so far being cagey as to whether the character of Joe Friday, embodied by "Dragnet" creator and star Jack Webb, will be included in the new version. Production on "Dragnet" is set to begin next month in Los Angeles. The series is slated to debut in January in the Monday 9 p.m. slot. "It's very rare to be able to introduce an actor of this caliber to a broadcast audience," Wolf said in announcing the casting. "I'm looking forward to working with Danny for a long time." Huston, the son of legendary film director John Huston, was most recently seen in the indie feature "Ivans xtc." His other credits include 2000's "Timecode" and the 2001 Salma Hayek starrer "Hotel." Huston is repped by ICM and manager Laina Cohn of Arthouse Entertainment. »
Movie star Edward Norton rewrote the script for girlfriend Salma Hayek's Frida biopic because he saw how financial constraints on the movie were upsetting her. The Keeping The Faith star insisted on helping Hayek complete the film about her Mexican artist heroine for free, after catching her sobbing in the Hollywood home they share. A grateful Hayek, who produced the project as well as starring as Kahlo, recalls, "Edward has written many times, but he never gets the credit for it. At the end there was no money and I had become unbearable. I don't know how he could bear me for all that time. I was crying in my office at my house and Edward sneaks up on me. He knew it was pressure time with Frida. I said, 'Would you be Rockefeller in the film?' and he said, 'I'll be Rockefeller and I'll write the script.'" »
Mexican stunner Salma Hayek is a recovering addict - of home shopping. The Desperado beauty, 35, admits that she was so stuck on the activity, she didn't think it was ever going to be curbed. She explains, "It was a vice that got completely out of control. I'd get hugely excited when a gadget would arrive and then it would break immediately and I'd be desolate." And Salma also developed a special obsession with a miracle diet product that allowed her to do without exercise. She continues, "I'm not one of those skinny girls who eats a lettuce leaf and a piece of chicken at night. I could be, but instead I'm a happy girl." In a bid to curb her addiction, the screen siren once held herself back from buying an item she'd been obsessing about for two years. But her actor beau Edward Norton finally gave it to her for her birthday. She says, "It was my favorite present - a chicken rotisserie!" »
Fun-loving actresses Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz have been stepping out in identical outfits to confound celebrity spotters. The Latin pair have been looking for laughs by doing what most women dread--appearing together in the same clothes in Los Angeles. Hayek explains, "People will walk naked in Los Angeles and nobody cares. But two people dressed the same? They say, 'Oh my God! Do you realize Penelope Cruz is right over there wearing the same thing?!'" And, according to the Wild Wild West star, when that ruse gets boring, they spice things up by simulating eye tics. »
Hollywood star Salma Hayek is set to break the hearts of male fans by marrying lover Edward Norton. Salma - who has been dating the actor for three years - was spotted sporting a sparkling diamond engagement ring at a recent Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. And pals say the couple plan to tie the knot soon. A friend says, "Everything's still real hush-hush. During the game, Salma was trying to keep her left hand hidden, but every now and then, she let it slip out of her pocket. She could not help but show it off." But 33-year-old Salma and her 32-year-old beau failed to conceal their excitement when, at half-time, an electronic message on the scoreboard told spectators to Kiss. The Hollywood couple threw caution to the wind, according to onlookers, "Salma and Ed started making out like love-struck teenagers." »
12 items from 2002
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