5 items from 2005
LONDON -- Sales house Hollywood Classics said Monday it is launching a sister company that will debut at next month's American Film Market devoted to the sales of contemporary independent movies. Hollywood Classics chief Joe Dreier said in an interview that start-up company InFrame would look to market and sell "new independent films from first- or second-time directors" in the international marketplace. Hollywood Classics, a regular at markets for more than 15 years, currently handles the international theatrical reissues and home video releases for classic flicks including The Wizard of Oz. With outposts in New York and Los Angeles, InFrame's initial sales slate has projects from North America but nothing sourced from Europe as yet, Dreier said. The new company, Dreier added, would be looking to license all rights to films and then do sub-licensing deals to international distributors. "We can do it without pressure because we have an established infrastructure and already successful company here (in the U.K.) There is no need for us to be under financial pressure to do this," Dreier said. »
Judy Garland's producer ex-husband Sid Luft has died. He was 89. Luft, whose credits include such classics as Kilroy Was Here and A Star Is Born, died on Thursday in Santa Monica, California, of an apparent heart attack, according to his longtime friend and business partner John Kimble. Luft and Garland were married in 1952 and divorced a tumultuous 13 years later. The marriage was Garland's third and Luft's second. They had two children together, Lorna in 1952 and Joey in 1955. Luft also was stepfather to Liza Minnelli, daughter of Garland's second husband, Vincente Minnelli. Luft was credited with helping resurrect Garland's career after she was released from her contract at film studio MGM in 1950 following a series of personal and professional crises. It was at MGM that she became a star and made such films as The Wizard Of Oz and Meet Me In St Louis. After he and Garland divorced, Luft married Patti Hemingway in 1970. That union also ended in divorce. In 1993, he married actress Camille Keaton, who survives him. »
The dress Judy Garland wore in the classic 1939 movie The Wizard Of Oz has been sold for $252,000 (£132,600) at a Bonhams auction. The blue and white gingham dress went to a buyer bidding by telephone who did not wish to be identified. Jon Baddeley, head of Bonhams' collector's department, says, "This dress represents the quintessential magic of childhood in the most beloved film of the 20th century. It has become a cherished memory for millions of fans worldwide and was worn by one of the most talented and respected stars in Hollywood. Film costume rarely gets better than this." The dress, which was one of six identical garments created for Garland for the movie, had been expected to fetch $63,000. Garland, who was 17 when she portrayed Dorothy in the fantasy musical, died in 1969, less than two weeks after her 47th birthday. »
PARK CITY -- If The Wizard of Oz were reborn in the 21st century, it might look a lot like MirrorMask. A product of the Jim Henson laboratory, the film is endlessly inventive with creativity to burn. The story of a wayward young circus performer and her adventures in a strange world is that rare animal that is sure to charm kids and also intrigue adults with its imagination. But because it is less familiar and more challenging than most films of this genre, luring the target audience will require equally creative marketing.
Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) is an artistic and sensitive 15-year-old who ironically longs for a normal life instead of the eccentricity of her family-run circus. When her mother (Gina McKee) falls seriously ill, Helena regrets all their arguments. That night, Helena's demons are unleashesd in a turbulent dream. Much as Dorothy is swept away to Oz by a tornado, Helena's unconscious transports her to an imaginary world of darkness and light constructed from fragments of her life.
Graphic novel innovators Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman (creators of The Sandman and Violent Cases) have fashioned a fluid visual style with endless curves and no right angles. Cats with wings eat books that fly, giants float in the sky like parade floats, and monekybirds stalk the city.
Assisted by Valentine (Jason Barry), a young chap with a mask and striped beard and questionable motives, Helena finds herself in the crossfire between the forces of good and evil. The princess of light, who bears a striking resemblance to Helena's mother and also is played by McKee, has fallen into a spell that can only be broken by the elusive magic mask, a charm that "concentrates your wishes and gives you what you want." And just as the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion are based on friends and family Dorothy knew in Kansas, the prime minister of Helena's dreamscape is played by the same actor as her father (Rob Brydon).
Helena sets off on her own yellow brick road to retrieve the mask from the princess of darkness, again McKee, and revive the sleeping beauty. And from time to time, Helena glances back through a window at the girl she left behind in the real world. But a linear explanation does not begin to do justice to the visual spell of the film.
Unlike most fantasy films, MirrorMask succeeds in transferring the mysterious undercurrent and wonder of the graphic novel to the screen. This is not an ordinary place, so anything is possible. A girl can be captured between the legs of a giant caterpillar, and a sphinx can turn nasty. You don't really know what is going to happen next.
Although it is set in a spectacular computer generated landscape, MirrorMask does not have the artificiality of many CGI productions. Because director McKean and writer Gaiman have created such a strong reality and made the characters believable on their own wild terms, the action does not seem contrived. Rather than mass produced for a general audience, the film seems handmade and original with real human emotions.
Despite its classic influences, MirrorMask feels fresh. As Helena wanders through a menacing forest trying to find her way home, she is exploring archetypal fears and needs. The ending is a bit abrupt and less satisfying than it might be, but MirrorMask still goes places most films never even dream of.
Destination Films presents a Jim Henson Co. production
Director: Dave McKean
Screenwriter: Neil Gaiman
Story by: Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
Producer: Simon Moorhead
Executive producers: Lisa Henson, Michael Polis, Martin G. Baker
Director of photography: Antony Shearn
Production designer: McKean
Music: Iain Ballamy
Costume designer: Robert Lever
Editor: Nicolas Gaster
Helena: Stephanie Leonidas
Valentine: Jason Barry
Helena's Father/Prime Minister: Rob Brydon
Joanne, others: Gina McKee
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 101 minutes »
Actor Taye Diggs' wife Idina Menzel is nursing a cracked rib, after falling though a trap door during the Saturday matinee of her Broadway musical Wicked. The show, a prequel to The Wizard Of Oz, was halted for about 45 minutes while Menzel's understudy, Shoshana Bean, prepared to go on as the green-skinned Elphaba, according to Bob Fennell, a spokesman for the musical. Bean also played the Saturday evening performance and took over duties for yesterday's matinee, which was to have been Menzel's last performance after a more than 16-month run in the show. The accident occurred near the end of the performance at the Gershwin Theatre, during what's known as "the melting sequence" where a trap door opens. An elevator that was to have lowered Menzel had already descended about two or three feet, according to the spokesman, causing the actress to fall and hurt her side Menzel, who won the 2004 actress-musical Tony Award for her performance in Wicked, shortly begins filming the movie version of Rent, which she originally starred in on Broadway alongside her husband Diggs. »
5 items from 2005
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