6 items from 2003
26 December 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Girl With a Pearl Earring is a fictional exploration of the world of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer and the painting of his most enigmatic and beloved portrait, Girl With a Pearl Earring. The movie takes us deep into the intimate realms of artistic inspiration. Based on Tracy Chevalier's best-selling novel, Olivia Hetreed's screenplay has imaginative fun, speculating on who that girl in the painting is and why she looks both amused and sad. The film, the directorial debut by television director Peter Webber, also offers lively lessons in the techniques and methodology of 17th century painting. This is an art film in spades.
Boasting inspired performances by Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson -- the queen so far of this year's Toronto film festival, based on her work in Lost in Translation and this film -- Girl is not likely to move beyond the art house, but the film does succeed where few others have in penetrating the life of a painter and the source of his art.
Cinematographer Eduardo Serra and designer Ben van Os make every frame of this picture a living tribute to Vermeer, utilizing his composition and lighting to capture the look of 1665 Holland. They use the famed "northern lighting" that catches faces and objects in a warm half light that opens up common domestic scenes to the beauties of color and form. The film bathes its actors, furniture and open spaces in a glorious incandescence.
Griet (Johansson), still a teenager, must leave her Protestant home to enter Vermeer's tumultuous, Catholic household in Delft when her father, a tile painter, becomes blind. The place is run by stern women. Vermeer's penny-pinching mother-in-law, Maria (Judy Parfitt), keeps a close eye on her emotional daughter Catharina (Essie Davis) -- perennially pregnant with another child to feed -- her mischievous granddaughter and a pair of gossipy female servants. On the floor above, in his studio, Vermeer (Firth) labors painstakingly but in peace on his paintings. He is not prolific, taking months to complete a commission, thus straining the household's finances.
In the new maid, the daughter of an artist, Vermeer senses an appreciation of his work no one else in the family shows. He teaches her to buy and mix his paints. He notices her response to his experiments with light and space. And as her husband's interest in this fresh-faced lass grows, so does his wife's jealousy.
The young beauty attracts the attention of two other men: the wealthy Master van Ruijven (Tom Wilkerson), Vermeer's lustful patron, and Pieter (Cillian Murphy), a butcher's son who shyly courts her. Sensing the tensions within Vermeer's household and desiring Griet himself, the cunning van Ruijven dangles a tempting commission before Vermeer. He asks the artist to paint Griet alone, behind his wife's back. Money-hungry Maria allows the commission -- and Vermeer's relationship with Griet -- to proceed.
The film keenly observes the psychological warfare within the household even as it takes the measure to the teeming township outside its door, where animals roam the streets and garbage lies in the canals. All this, the movie seems to say, goes into the painting of one masterpiece, all these tensions, hardships and schemes as well as the life of the times.
Johansson's brave and intelligent innocence is nicely balanced by Firth's worldly, compassionate admiration of his painting's subject. In another time and place, these two would be lovers. But here, distinctions in class, religion and education make this impossible; here, their passion remains cerebral and platonic, though sexual tensions abound.
High marks belong to the film's entire crew, including Alexandre Desplat's elegant score and Dien van Straalen's costumes modeled after Vermeer's work.
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
Lions Gate Films
Lions Gate and Pathe in association with U.K. Film Council present an Archer Street/Delux production
Credits: Director: Peter Webber
Screenwriter: Olivia Hetreed
Based on the novel by: Tracy Chevalier
Producers: Andy Paterson, Anand Tucker
Director of photography: Eduardo Serra
Production designer: Ben van Os
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Costume designer: Dien van Straalen
Editor: Kate Evans
Cast: Vermeer: Colin Firth
Griet: Scarlett Johansson
Van Ruijven: Tom Wilkerson
Maria Thins: Judy Parfitt
Pieter: Cillian Murphy
Catharina: Essie Davis
Running time -- 99 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 »
23 September 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Toronto International Film Festival
TORONTO -- Sharing Robert Altman's enviable dexterity with sprawling casts, John Crowley's "Intermission" is technically a film about the quest for love and acceptance among an extended grouping of Dubliners that in practice turns out to be anything but gentle and meditative.
Instead, this bracing blast of creative energy kicks off with an unexpected jolt and keeps ticking away, often flirting with outrageousness without ever losing sight of its main objective.
A respected theater director, Crowley makes the most of Mark O'Rowe's intricate, smartly written script and coaxes terrific performances from all of his 11 principal players (54 in total).
Enthusiastic reviews as well as the presence of the very busy Colin Farrell among the ensemble should result in some decent word-of-mouth coin while easily establishing Crowley and O'Rowe as filmmakers to watch.
One of the first productions to come out of Neil Jordan and Stephen Woolley's newly formed Company of Wolves, "Intermission" is populated by so many colorful characters that it's hard to decide where to begin.
A good start would be Farrell's off-kilter Lehiff, a morally bankrupt punk of a petty thief who is planning the quintessential "one last score" before intending to go straight.
That is, if he can avoid the ever vigilant gaze of tough-guy detective Jerry Lynch (the always memorable Colm Meaney), an overly zealous loner of an anticrime crusader who also happens to have a deep interest in Celtic mysticism.
Meanwhile, supermarket employee John ("28 Days Later"'s Cillian Murphy) has the boneheaded idea of testing his girlfriend Deirdre's ("Trainspotting"'s Kelly Macdonald) devotion by suggesting they break up.
Initially brokenhearted, she rebounds into the arms of the older Sam (Michael McElhatton), a bank manager who is smack dab in the middle of a midlife crisis. Full of understandable hostility, Sam's freshly estranged wife, Noeleen (Deirdre O'Kane), ends up having a rather heated affair with John's lonely buddy Oscar David Wilmot).
Then there's also Deirdre's emotionally scarred sister (Shirley Henderson), who wears the dark hair on her upper lip like a coat of armor, and their concerned widowed mother, Maura (Ger Ryan), not to mention John and Oscar's bullying, American catchphrase-spewing supermarket boss, Mr. Henderson (Owen Roe), and bus driver Mick (Brian F. O'Byrne), who is determined to track down the culprit who threw a brick at his bus window, causing a potentially tragic accident.
Armed with playwright O'Rowe's fresh dialogue, the characters are a treat to get to know, but the most intriguing thing about the film is the always inventive way in which their lives intersect.
While director Crowley keeps it all moving propulsively with a contemporary pop/rock song selection that complements the pace and those darkly comedic edges, he still manages to accommodate some vulnerable, touching truths about everyday life in the big, scary world.
An IFC Films presentation in association with Company of Wolves and Parallel Films
Director: John Crowley
Screenwriter: Mark O'Rowe
Director of photography: Ryszard Lenczewski
Production designer: Tom Conroy
Editor: Lucia Zuchetti
Costume designer: Lorna Marie Mugan
Music: John Murphy
Lehiff: Colin Farrell
Jerry: Colm Meaney
John: Cillian Murphy
Deirdre: Kelly Macdonald
Sally: Shirley Henderson
Oscar: David Wilmot
Noeleen: Deirdre O'Kane
Sam: Michael McElhatton
Maura: Ger Ryan
Mr. Henderson: Owen Roe
Ben: Tomas O'Sullivan
Karen: Barbara Bergin
Running time -- 106 minutes
No MPAA rating »
12 September 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Christian Bale has been cast as Bruce Wayne, the millionaire crimefighter also known as the Caped Crusader, in Warner Bros. Pictures' upcoming Batman movie to be directed by Christopher Nolan and produced by Emma Thomas. "What I see in Christian is the ultimate embodiment of Bruce Wayne," Nolan said in a statement. "He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for." Bale won the role after an audition process that saw such actors as Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill and Eion Bailey vying for the role (HR 9/3). Bale first garnered critical attention for his starring role in Steven Spielberg's 1987 film Empire of the Sun. He also starred in 2000's controversial American Psycho. His other credits include Little Women, Velvet Goldmine, Reign of Fire and Equilibrium. »
Holy Bale, Batman! Variety reports that Christian Bale, star of American Psycho and Laurel Canyon, has been tapped to play Batman in Christopher Nolan's reworking of the Caped Crusader saga, set for a 2005 release; the official announcement came Wednesday afternoon from Warner Bros. Bale bested a slew of hot young actors for the part, most notably Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, Cillian Murphy, and Eion Bailey, all of whom also tested for the role of the comic book hero. Nolan, best known for the indie thriller Memento, is slated to direct the film (currently known as Batman 5) early next year from a script by David Goyer, writer of the Blade films. --Prepared by IMDb staff »
BREAKING NEWS: Variety reports that Christian Bale, star of American Psycho and Laurel Canyon, has been tapped to play Batman in Christopher Nolan's reworking of the Caped Crusader saga, set for a 2005 release; the official announcement came Wednesday afternoon from Warner Bros. Bale bested a slew of hot young actors for the part, most notably Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, Cillian Murphy, and Eion Bailey, all of whom also tested for the role of the comic book hero. Nolan, best known for the indie thriller Memento, is slated to direct the film (currently known as Batman 5) early next year from a script by David Goyer, writer of the Blade films. --Prepared by IMDb staff »
3 September 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
It's as if Warner Bros. Pictures were shining a Bat Signal over Burbank, summoning potential Caped Crusaders. Warners and helmer Christopher Nolan are zeroing in on an actor to star in the title role of the studio's next Batman installment, which is scheduled to start shooting in February. Sources said that during the next three days, several young actors are expected to test for the role. The list of potential crime fighters includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Christian Bale, Joshua Jackson (Dawson's Creek), Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later), Henry Cavill (I Capture the Castle) and Eion Bailey, who stars in the upcoming HBO feature And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself. Meanwhile, sources say Hugh Dancy, currently shooting the Walt Disney Co.'s King Arthur, may test if his schedule permits and he is able to shave the beard his Arthur character, Galahad, is sporting. »
6 items from 2003
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