13 items from 2003
Scribe Valerie Horwitz has been tapped to adapt Getting and Spending, the feature film version of a play that Catherine Zeta-Jones is attached to star in for Pathe Entertainment. Horwitz will adapt Michael Chepiga's stage script, which centers on a woman -- to be played by Zeta-Jones -- who is accused of insider trading. She then attempts to lure a high-powered lawyer out of a self-imposed solitude to defend her in court. Milkwood Films, the production company that Zeta-Jones operates with her brother David Jones, is producing for Pathe. Horwitz is repped by CAA, Mission Management and attorney Rob Szymanski. She recently finished adapting the novel Social Crimes for Phoenix Pictures and helmer Joel Schumacher, who is attached to direct. »
Friday, Aug. 1
LONDON -- A luminous performance from Cate Blanchett lies at the heart of Joel Schumacher's impressive drama "Veronica Guerin. While it is a fair bet that she -- and the film -- will get honorable mentions when it comes to awards time, it is equally unlikely that the film will make much of a dent at the boxoffice. It has opened well in Ireland but is not set to be released in the United States until October.
The real-life story of crusading Irish journalist Veronica Guerin made its way to the screen in John Mackenzie's impressive 2000 film "When the Sky Falls", made for Sky Television, which was given a limited theatrical release. That low-budget drama starred Joan Allen as the fictional journalist Sinead Hamilton, though the story was very much that of Guerin.
Schumacher's film is far more glossy than Mackenzie's grittier movie -- his budget was larger -- but the films are similar in that they feature standout performances from two actresses very much at the top of their game. The character of Guerin is a powerful one, and it is easy to see why it would attract top actresses. As a journalist in Dublin in the 1990s, she set out to expose the vicious drug dealers rife in the city. Her obsession led to her murder in 1996.
"Veronica Guerin" covers the last two years of her life. It is refreshingly frank in showing that Guerin's passionate determination to expose Dublin drug dealers also led to her neglecting her family and being accused of seeking self-glory. While the Guerin presented here is clearly a woman driven by a very honest desire to right wrongs, she also is presented as being self-absorbed, reckless and susceptible to manipulation.
In her mission to battle the drug dealers, she is helped -- though often misdirected and manipulated -- by the roguish John "The Coach" Traynor (played with charm by Ciaran Hinds), though her real nemesis is the brutal drug lord Gilligan (Gerard McSorley, who gives a performance of frightening brutality). Faced with beatings and attempted bribery, Guerin remains strident in her mission, with support and balance coming from her mother Bernie (Brenda Fricker).
Schumacher directs with restrained skill, bringing out the passion and brutality of the situations without letting the film slip into melodrama. Schumacher's best work seems to come when he handles dramas with more modest budgets (such as "Tigerland" and "Flawless"), which challenge him and allow his clear intelligence and ability to work well with actors to come through.
Blanchett brings her expected professionalism and ability to the role. Her Irish accent is perfect, and she has the charisma and presence to easily hold center stage. Her character may be flawed, but she remains driven and admirable. Fricker, Hinds and McSorley also deliver powerful performances. Irishman Colin Farrell, a Schumacher regular, makes a brief appearance as the wonderfully named soccer fan Spanky McSpank.
Buena Vista Pictures
Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Director: Joel Schumacher
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Director of photography: Brendan Galvin
Production designer: Nathan Crowley
Costume designer: Joan Bergin
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
Editor: David Gamble
Veronica Guerin: Cate Blanchett
Bernie Guerin: Brenda Fricker
John "The Coach" Traynor: Ciaran Hinds
Terry Fagan: Darragh Kelly
Timmy: Laurence Kinlan
John Gilligan: Gerard McSorley
Spanky McSpank: Colin Farrell
Running time -- 98 minutes
MPAA rating: R »
Colin Farrell made a surprise cameo in Cate Blanchett's movie Veronica Guerin as a beer-swilling soccer hooligan. Blanchett starred as the titular journalist who's in the midst of tense investigations of Dublin, Ireland's underground drugs world, when she comes across Farrell's character who, after a brief conversation, offers to take her out for a drink. Filmmaker Joel Schumacher, who has directed Farrell in Phone Booth and Tigerland, says, "It's no secret that I think Colin is one of the finest young actors alive. However, playing a drunk soccer hooligan is not the greatest stretch. I made him do a Texas accent in Tigerland and a Bronx accent in Phone Booth. No way could I shoot on the streets of Dublin and not use him. He just happened to be visiting, and he wanted to meet Cate. This was a couple of years ago when he couldn't get a part and he held her in such awe. But he saw she was just one of the guys." »
A row has broken out between Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer Joel Schumacher and fans of Michael Crawford over the decision to cast Gerard Butler in the film version of The Phantom Of The Opera. Crawford, 61, created the role of the Phantom on the British stage, and fans are up in arms with producer Schumacher for his passing over Crawford in favor of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life hunk Butler, 33, in the big- screen adaptation. However, Schumacher insists he isn't the man to blame. In a statement, Schumacher says, "The decision not to use Michael Crawford is Lloyd Webber's and his alone. All friends and fans of Crawford should please tell everyone from me. If you care to write to Lloyd Webber, it's at the Really Useful Company in London." »
TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday unveiled a full lineup of 336 films from 55 countries, with enough world and North American premieres to keep stargazers and cinema purists happy. As if to underline the fact that no one was staying away from Toronto over SARS concerns, festival organizers confirmed a pantheon of A-listers from Hollywood and elsewhere who are scheduled to attend, including Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Joel Schumacher, Robert Altman, Anthony Hopkins, Meg Ryan, Sean Penn, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lili Taylor, Chloe Sevigny, Marcia Gay Harden, Val Kilmer, Katie Holmes, Benicio Del Toro, Parker Posey, Woody Harrelson, Vincent Gallo, Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott. »
The Toronto International Film Festival said Thursday that Robert Benton's "The Human Stain" and the Joel Schumacher biopic "Veronica Guerin", starring Cate Blanchett as a courageous Irish journalist, will receive their North American premieres at gala screenings in Toronto next month. Miramax's "The Human Stain", which is based on a Philip Roth novel, will unspool at Roy Thomson Hall after first bowing out of competition at the Venice film festival. Benton's latest work stars Anthony Hopkins as a disgraced classics professor at a small New England college who has a scandalous affair with a younger, troubled woman, played by Nicole Kidman. "Stain" also stars Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Wentworth Miller, with producer credits going to Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi. »
Sexy movie actress Cate Blanchett was captivated by her latest role in the true story of murdered Irish journalist Veronica Guerin. The Lord Of The Rings star was so taken by the reporter's tale that she felt "enormous responsibility" towards Veronica's family in how the movie - also called Veronica Guerin - portrayed her life. Veronica was murdered in 1996 after penning a handful of exposes on Dublin's underworld crime lords and drug dealers for Ireland's Sunday Independent newspaper. Three men were accused of her murder, two of whom are now in prison for the crime. The third, John Gilligan, was acquitted but sentenced to 28 days in jail on drug charges - he is currently appealing this decision in Dublin's High Court. Cate, 34, says, "It's very powerful - especially with Gilligan back on the stand, it's not gone away." The movie is directed by Phone Booth helmer Joel Schumacher and produced by Pearl Harbor's Jerry Bruckheimer. »
Emmy Rossum is in negotiations to star as the female lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical feature The Phantom of the Opera, to be directed by Joel Schumacher. Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group is producing the project, which goes into production in October. The project stars Scottish-born actor Gerard Butler in the title role, with Patrick Wilson as Raoul, the boyfriend of Christine (Rossum), the latter of whom becomes the object of the Phantom's obsession. Lloyd Webber and Schumacher wrote the screenplay. No domestic distributor is yet on board. Rossum, repped by CAA, stars in the Clint Eastwood-directed Mystic River for Warner Bros. Pictures and 20th Century Fox's sci-fi thriller The Day After Tomorrow for director Roland Emmerich. The actress' credits include Passionada, Happy Now and the telefilm The Audrey Hepburn Story. »
He's not yet a household face, but Scottish-born actor Gerard Butler has been offered the starring role as the man behind the mask in helmer Joel Schumacher and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical feature The Phantom of the Opera. Butler, who most recently appeared in Reign of Fire, has not decided whether to take the role because he is fielding other offers, among them Crusader Entertainment's The Game of Their Lives. Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) and Emmy Rossum (Passionada) have emerged as the top choices to play Phantom's female lead, Christine. Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group is producing the project, which goes into production in October. A domestic distributor has yet to come on board. Butler, repped by CAA, Jane Brand of ICM London and manager Alan Siegel, next stars in Paramount Pictures' Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Timeline. »
Veteran director Joel Schumacher is scouting for leads for his upcoming Phantom Of The Opera film - but wants youth on his side. The 63-year-old Phone Booth helmer has already rejected his current star Colin Farrell as he can't sing well enough. But he also has turned down a Hollywood big-hitter, saying, "John Travolta wants to do it but I think I'll go younger." And Dawson's Creek beauty Katie Holmes is also over the hill at 24. Schumacher adds, "She's recently been taking singing lessons. I've heard Katie's singing and it's beautiful. But I still may want a younger actress." »
Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer has been spotted scouting locations in Ireland to shoot the real tale of King Arthur. The star enjoyed his stay so much in the capital Dublin last summer while filming Veronica Guerin with director Joel Schumacher, he has decided to shoot his next big project there. And it's rumored the big-shot is keen to begin filming the movie - which will star English actor Clive Owen in the lead role - this summer. He says of the epic, "We are back in Ireland scouting for King Arthur. We have been out looking at some amazing locations in the North. It's a retelling of the tale. It actually happened much earlier than movies in the past or the English have put on it. They changed the way it was told. Like Arthur was really Roman and the Knights of the round table were actually Russian and were great horse men." »
As a stunt -- making a movie inside a phone booth -- "Phone Booth" gets an A minus. The movie, written by Larry Cohen and directed by Joel Schumacher, does pretty much stay in and around a phone booth in one of Manhattan's less desirable districts. But as entertainment, as a movie that takes such a gimmick and expands it into an icy thriller about lies and dirty little secrets, it deserves no better than a C. The stratagems that compel the film to stay put are as improbable as they are illogical. And most of the revelations about the main character are made in the first five minutes, so the film quickly becomes static and redundant.
Of course, stranger films have found appreciative audiences. "Phone Booth"'s B-movie sensibility and some clever design elements, which keep the screen jumping even when the story line grows stale, could translate into modest boxoffice success. Certainly the actors, notably Colin Farrell as the poor guy in the phone booth and Forest Whitaker as a police captain who wants to extricate Farrell from his dilemma, invest heavy emotions in the melodrama.
Stu (Farrell), a sleazy, fast-talking jerk, slips into a phone booth to make a call to a potential girlfriend (Katie Holmes). He doesn't use his cell phone because his wife (Radha Mitchell) might see the bill and trace the call. Well, that's certainly logical.
Moments after completing his call, the phone rings. Stu picks up the call, and a man on the other end says if he hangs up he's dead. The caller has a high-powered rifle trained on the booth and intends to kill Stu if he doesn't comply. When a pimp takes exception to Stu's lengthy occupancy of the booth, the caller blows him away. This brings to the scene half of the NYPD force, along with Capt. Ramey (Whitaker), who must figure out what's going on before someone else gets killed. Again, a certain logic continues to hold an iffy story together.
Then the movie gets down to the sadistic sniper's greater purpose. Turns out that the caller is a serial killer who preys on really bad guys. In recent days, he has knocked off a pedophile and a greedy CEO who caused the bankruptcy of a major corporation. Now he has Stu in his sights. What is Stu's crime? you ask. Better sit down before you read this: Stu is a publicist.
Yes, that's it. He misstates the truth for a living. On occasion, he even misleads clients and his wife. Gee, do Cohen and Schumacher really hate publicists that much? Do their publicists know? Whatever the case, logic has deserted the film.
Schumacher does keep the screen lively for the entire 80 minutes. Aided by cinematographer Matthew Libatique and editor Mark Stevens, he tries out a million camera angles, multiple split screens and even rotoscope animation similar to that used by Richard Linklater in "Waking Life".
His actors make up for the lack of action with a good deal of sweaty passion. As the stalemate drags on, Farrell melts like a candle brought too close to a fire. Meanwhile, Whitaker is the soul of calm and reason amid trigger-happy cops. Mitchell and Holmes eventually show up, creating more potential targets for the sniper. Kiefer Sutherland plays the caller, but he never appears until the end.
"Phone Booth" is unique -- you have to give the film that. At nearly every juncture, the film combines hugely disparate elements: It is filled with tension yet tedious. It is absurd yet darkly comic. It is forced, unreliable and unbelievable. At the end of the day, no one has gotten so much out of a phone booth since the heyday of Superman.
20th Century Fox
Fox 2000 Pictures
Director: Joel Schumacher
Screenwriter: Larry Cohen
Producers: Gil Netter, David Zucker
Executive producer: Ted Kurdyla
Director of photography: Matthew Libatique
Production designer: Andrew Laws
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
Costume designer: Daniel Orlandi
Editor: Mark Stevens
Stu Shepard: Colin Farrell
Caller: Kiefer Sutherland
Capt. Ramey: Forest Whitaker
Kelly Shepard: Radha Mitchell
Pamela McFadden: Katie Holmes
Felicia: Paula Jai Parker
Running time -- 80 minutes
MPAA rating: R
Joel Schumacher is in negotiations to develop and direct Columbia Pictures' big-screen adaptation of best-selling author Patricia Cornwell's 1991 novel Cruel & Unusual, featuring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. The book is one of 11 in a series about Cornwell's Scarpetta character that the studio optioned nearly two years ago. Cruel, published in 1991, is the fourth book. Adapted by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan), the project sees Scarpetta solve a case in which the fingerprints of an executed killer turn up at the scene of a new murder. Casey Silver is attached to produce the project. Schumacher's most recent film is Fox 2000's Phone Booth, which will be released Friday. Repped by CAA, he next directs Buena Vista Films' Veronica Guerin, and is working with Andrew Lloyd Webber on a big-screen version of the musical Phantom of the Opera. »
13 items from 2003
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