20 items from 2008
By Nick Schager
The Holocaust is a serious subject. And November and December is serious subject matter time in Hollywood. No surprise, then, that every awards season sees its fair share of dramas set in and around WWII concentration camps. But even in light of this predictable pattern, 2008 has, to put it diplomatically, lost its freakin' mind. In the last two months of this year, there will have been six -- Six?!? -- films released that, in one way or another, deal with Nazis. Part of the problem is simply quality, as all of these releases barely rise to the level of mediocre. Yet the issue of quantity seems just as troubling, as their basic, simultaneous existence calls into question not only the continuing viability of extracting drama from this most momentous (and, consequently, well-trod) of historical tragedies, but also, fundamentally, the growing absence of originality or ingenuity in mainstream cinema, »
- Nick Schager
While snooping among the ranks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. today, it became quite clear that "Slumdog Millionaire" is destined to win best drama picture next Jan. 11. Considering it recently won the National Board of Review and is the current fave of The Envelope's Oscar pundits to bag the top Oscar, it seems poised to sweep most of the annual derby. But the cliffhanger remains: how thorough the sweep? Only once in modern film history has one movie won the top prize at every major Hollywood award — "Schindler's List" (1993) — so the odds are stacked against "Slumdog" to do the same. I don't think it can sweep the trifecta of print »
'Tis not the season to be jolly at the movies - there are no fewer than six heart-wrenching, Holocaust-theme flicks coming to a theater near you.
In the days ahead, moviegoers will have their choice of "The Reader," with Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, and "Adam Resurrected," with Jeff Goldblum (both opening Friday), "Valkyrie," with Tom Cruise (Dec. 25), "Defiance," with Daniel Craig, and "Good," with Viggo Mortensen (both Dec. »
Eastman Kodak's wholly owned post subsidiary, LaserPacific Media, is extending its digital services.
The entity is forming a digital-mastering services business unit that will handle new titles as well as the remastering of film elements from studio libraries to create digital elements for new distribution formats as well as preservation requirements.
"There is a need for extremely high-quality masters now that there are new display technologies in the home and delivery formats like Blu-ray," LaserPacific president Leon Silverman said. "As a result, the studios are going back into their libraries and remastering titles that have already been mastered. Because we are moving from a videotape to file-based world ... it makes sense to have the file-based, not tape-based, master elements of the highest possible quality. »
- By Carolyn Giardina
I am having an impossible time wrapping around the idea of Steven Spielberg and Will Smith working together on a remake of Chan Wook-park's Oldboy. To go along with that I am having a very hard time explaining my reasons without sounding like someone who thinks the Holocaust was one of the worst events in history. When I come to that point in the conversation I hope I am able to explain myself well enough to make my opinion clear. Of course, the first question to ask is why does a remake of Oldboy need to be made at all? Whether you are a fan of Chan's flick or someone that hated it, I really don't see anyway of saying it isn't a very, very well made feature. Personally I have seen it only once and was actually quite sickened by it, so much to the point that I never »
- Brad Brevet
Lewis won his first Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of cerebral palsy sufferer and artist/poet Christy Brown.
The top 10 is:
1: My Left Foot
8: Norma Rae
10: The Grapes of Wrath »
It certainly has the look of an epic and the feel of an epic and now we've learned that Australia has the running time of an epic.
Hollywood Elsewhere reports that tickets have gone on sale down under for the Baz Luhrmann film starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, and while a couple of ticket sales website differ on exactly how long it is, "one reports a duration of 170 minutes; the other reports 177 minutes."
If you're slow at time math, that's three hours, with trailers and all the rest. For comparison, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is about 168 minutes, while The Godfather clocks in at 175, Schindler's List goes 209 minutes (three-and-a-half hours) and Lawrence of Arabia is twenty minutes shy of four hours. So, Australia is long, but it's not a record breaker or anything.
However, the film has not been officially rated and timed by the MPAA so »
- Colin Boyd
As a young man I have to admit that Fantasy Island was part of my regular television watching week. I can't say it's something I'm particularly proud of, but that's me, warts and all. The island was a place you got what you desired from the kinda creepy Mr. Roarke and his little person assistant, Tattoo. When he rang the bell and called out "boss, boss, da plane, da plane," it was time for some supernatural crap to start happening. Now Variety is reporting that there is a biopic being planned for Herve Villechaize, the French actor whose greatest, and arguably only, claim to fame was playing Tattoo on the weekly series. The movie, My Dinner with Herve, will be written and directed by Sacha Gervasi. The French journalist conducted the last interview with Villechaize, before the actor shot himself in 1993. Screenwriter Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, American Gangster) will produce »
I already smell Oscar nominations for this one. According to Variety, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are re-teaming for I Heard You Paint Houses, based on Charles Brandt's book. And another Scorsese alumni is writing the script -- Steve Zaillian, who not only scripted Gangs of New York, but won an Oscar for Schindler's List. See what I mean? A contender for Best Picture, and it isn't even filmed yet.
The topic is familiar stomping ground for Scorsese and De Niro -- organized crime. De Niro will play the main man of Houses, Frank 'the Irishman' Sheeran, who reportedly committed more than 25 mob murders. One of these was supposedly Jimmy Hoffa, who he confessed to killing and dismembering on the orders of mob boss Russell Bufalino. And if you're wondering about the title, it has a wonderfully gruesome origin: it's mob slang for a contract killing, due to »
- Elisabeth Rappe
Paramount Pictures has hired veteran screenwriter Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, Hannibal, Gangs of New York, American Gangster) to adapt Charles Brandt's book "I Heard You Paint Houses" for none other than Martin Scorsese to direct. On top of that good news, Robert De Niro has already signed on to play Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, a reputed criminal who has carried out more than 25 mob murders. The story follows the mob assassin who many believe was involved in the death of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa. Confused about the title? I Heard You Paint Houses refers to the mob slang for contract killings, and the resulting blood splatter on walls and floors. Sounds like a delicious mob thriller to me! We've written about Scorsese's immensely busy future before, but this sounds like one of the better choices. The last time Scorsese and De Niro worked together was on Casino in 1995 and »
- Alex Billington
From left to right: Quentin Tarantino, M. Night Shyamalan, Kevin Smith, Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Brian De Palma, Ethan and Joel Coen, Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese In search of an idea for another top ten list I got to thinking about directors. Who is the best director? Who is the worst director? Those two questions require some serious research and I just don't think I am learned enough to say one way or another. Then I got to thinking about who may be the most overrated director? The best thing about this question is that it eliminates the likes of Uwe Boll from the conversation and I don't need to regurgitate what so many others have said concerning the directors that have gone down in history as great. I don't have to worry about telling you how great Alfred Hitchcock is and why. It's fantastic. However I »
- Brad Brevet
DVD Links: Release Dates | New Dvds | Reviews | RSS Feed Star Trek - The Complete Second Season (Remastered) It's a light week for DVD releases and that is a good thing since you all need to shell out some extra dollars for the second season of the original series of "Star Trek" as Paramount releases the remastered episodes in all their glory. I am a bit upset that I currently have the HD DVD/DVD edition of the first season and now I have to add the DVD only second season to my collection without any high definition just as I will in the recently announced third season of the remastered set when it hits in November. However, Paramount hasn't sent me the second season for review yet (and who knows if they will) so I can't comment on the set itself, but I do know if they don't send it »
- Brad Brevet
Though he had performed onstage and on British television for more than 15 years, Ben Kingsley was a relative unknown when he won the leading role in Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic Gandhi, which swept the Oscars. Kingsley's Best Actor award didn't pay initial dividends, perhaps because he was identified too closely with the part, but when he earned a second Oscar nomination in 1991 for his role in Bugsy, his versatility was undeniable. Since then, he's offered up Oscar-nominated turns in Sexy Beast and House Of Sand And Fog, and memorable roles in Searching For Bobby Fischer, Dave, Death And The Maiden, and Schindler's List. He's been particularly prolific this summer, appearing in The Wackness; The Love Guru; War, Inc.; and Transsiberian. In the new film Elegy, based on Philip Roth's novel The Dying Animal, Kingsley stars as David Kepesh, an aging college professor and notorious lothario who launches a »
- Scott Tobias
In an interview with Adolf Burger he refers to his time at the World War II concentration camp Sachsenhausen as if they were "dead men on holiday". This is in reference to the Jewish men brought to the camp by the Germans with the sole intent to counterfeit the English pound note moving on to the American dollar in an attempt to fund the Nazi war effort while damaging enemy economies. It was known as "Operation Bernhard" and it is, to date, the largest known counterfeit operation ever having forged more that 132 million in British Pound Sterling. The quote is powerful, especially after you see what the men went through. The Counterfeiters won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2008 and much of the story is taken from Burger's book, "The Devil's Workshop," adapted for the screen by director Stefan Ruzowitzky with the aid of Burger. The story focuses »
- Brad Brevet
Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation has donated $1 million (GBP500,000) to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's National Museum of American Jewish History.
The Schindler's List director helped establish the foundation in the early 1990s with a view to sharing charity cash with worthwhile projects.
The museum, established in 1976, is dedicated to the history of the American Jew. The donated funds will go towards creating a new museum building set to open in 2010. »
He's a screen legend – heck, he's even been knighted! But Sir Ben Kingsley isn't above a little kiss-and-tell when it comes to his on-screen smooch with 22-year-old Mary-Kate Olsen in The Wackness. "She was completely in charge," the actor, 64, tells People of their enthusiastic make-out scene in a telephone booth. The former star of Gandhi and Schindler's List – who's currently shooting with Martin Scorsese in Boston – drove down to New York for the movie's Cinema Society and Sony Cierge-sponsored party at the Gramercy Roof Club. "I love watching the movie," his wife, Daniela, said of the coming-of-age stoner film. As for her real-life leading man, »
- Jeffrey Slonim
Even though you could make the case that none the movie's he's directed since Schindler's List are as good as they should be (even the really, really good ones), I don't believe anyone could accuse Steven Spielberg of ever being satisfied. He's constantly working, either behind the scenes or behind the lens, and he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Variety is reporting that DreamWorks has picked up the movie rights to The 39 Clues, which is an adventure series aimed at the little ones by Scholastic Media, the same publishers of the Harry Potter series. Spielberg may direct it.
We know for certain he'll produce the series, joining Scholastic's Deborah Forte in that role, and he's said to be narrowing down a list of screenwriters and should have one picked out within a few weeks.
What's The 39 Clues? Glad you asked:
"The 39 Clues, which launches Sept. 9, is envisioned as »
- Colin Boyd
It has taken more than a decade to bring the swashbuckling adventure to the big screen, because Spielberg and producer pal George Lucas couldn't agree on a storyline.
Spielberg reveals the pair are perfectionists and refused to begin shooting Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull until they were satisfied they had created a hit.
He says, "Harrison presented me with the Best Picture Oscar for Schindler's List in 1994, and when we went backstage, he said he was ready to make another Indiana Jones movie. The development started soon afterward."
Explaining why it took so long, he adds, "It had to be right." »
The 17-year-old Brit, who has starred in hit movies Love Actually and Nanny McPhee, is said to have emerged as the frontrunner to play the intrepid young reporter in a trilogy of films based on the famed comics by Belgian cartoonist Herge, aka Georges Remi.
And Sangster sparked further speculation he is to be handed the lead role in the planned film trilogy after flying to Los Angeles to work on test action sequences with renowned moviemaker Steven Spielberg, who is to direct the first installment in the franchise.
Although Sangster's agent has refused to comment about his involvement with the project - due to start shooting in the autumn - the representative admits the Brit has travelled to Hollywood for meetings and urges fans to "watch this space".
The trilogy will reportedly be split between Spielberg and Peter Jackson, with the Schindler's List director managing the first film in the franchise, and the Lord Of The Rings moviemaker taking on the second and third. »
The Scripter recognizes the authors and screenwriters of a produced book-to-film adaptation. The No Country writers were chosen over the scribes behind the four other finalists: Atonement, Into the Wild, There Will Be Blood and Zodiac.
The Scripter also will honor Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian with the inaugural Scripter Literary Achievement Award. The Friends of the USC Libraries created the prize to recognize writers who have made significant and sustained contributions to the art of adaptation.
Zaillian won an Oscar for adapting Schindler's List and received nominations for his work on Awakenings and Gangs of New York. He is a three-time Scripter winner, receiving honors for Schindler's List, Awakenings, and A Civil Action.
"As our only three-time Scripter winner, Steven embodies what the Scripter is all about: outstanding storytelling," Scripter founder and Friends of the USC Libraries president Glenn A. Sonnenberg said. "His body of work represents the best in adapted screenwriting."
The Scripters will be handed out at a gala ceremony Feb. »
20 items from 2008
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