Sunday, July 31, 2011

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

One of the books that I find myself recommending on occasion is the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

The story in itself is unique and sentimental at the same time, with a powerful 9 year old narrator (who's paternal grandparents get occasional moments to narrate as well).

The 2005 novel's narrator is Oskar Schell a 9 year old who's father died two years earlier in the 9/11 attacks in New York City. The boy finds a key in a vase and searches all over the city to try to find where this key belongs.

As a story the book is also experimental in a number of ways, the book includes some unique type sets, includes pictures at times, as well as a few doodles and graphical high concepts in it's text (some examples are presented in this post from the blog More Than Words).

The use of "voice" in this story in the narration is certainly one of the most enjoyable elements, because of how it represents the way some very big things, like death and terrorism, particularly in the wake of the 2001, September 11th attacks, might be processed by a young child.

The film has been in pre-prouduction for a film version by the perpetual Oscar nominated director Stephan Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader) with the American sweetheart cast of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, alongside John Goodman, James Gandolfini, Max von Sydow, and Viola Davis. The young boy, Oskar, is played new comer (Jeopardy! Kids week winner, Thomas Horn). The book is adapted by Eric Roth who seems to write a highly nominated film every 5 years or so, so he's about due for another film (Forrest Gump, The Insider, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). So, I'm interested to see how this film translates the story and whether the Daldry/Roth pair is magic (or maybe too much of a good thing).

If you haven't yet picked up a copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer then I recommend you do so. The film was originally announced for 2012, but Daldry has indicated he's hoped this film would be released by the 10 year anniversary of September 11th, just six weeks away, which seems unlikely, but a 2011 release seems to be likely.

Watch out for this film for the upcoming award season, and before you see it, read the book.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happy Christmas in July

"If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee - it's the bunk!"
-- Jimmy MacDonald (Dick Powell) in Christmas in July

Friday, July 29, 2011

Never Heard of You Superhero (or, more Avengers)

Growing up I'd occasionally find myself at a baseball card show with my dad. As a young elementary schooler, this was not very much fun. To me I noticed a significant difference from the baseball card crowd and the comic book crowd that sometimes shared the same convention or mall space. (Don't even get me started on the few times there were people with weapons on display).

So, needless to say, I never became a "comic book guy." And despite the popularity of the comic book films that come out, I would venture to say most people in the theater have never touched the comic book associated with the film they're seeing and they're source knowledge is limited.

Now if the stories been told before, then it's a different story. Michael Keaton may be your batman reference, or the X-Men video game for Sega might be your reference, and the movie is an updated reality of a story you've seen before.

And here lies the beauty of a movie like, Iron Man or Thor. These are stories people don't really know and the story gets told as-if for the first time (to a sizable portion of the audience). While fanboys can drool in excitement (or complain in disgust) when they see the movie on opening weekend.

That being said, by Marvel opening up The Avenger universe (or the Marvel Cinematic Univer) through their network of movies (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, The Avengers, and what ever else follows), opens up a world of unknown characters.

We know that The Avengers film has a spot for Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Mark Ruffalo plays the Hulk.

But here's some other potential Avengers, that I admittedly know NOTHING about. Do any of these, in name alone make you want to see a film about them?


  • Ant-Man (pictured above)
  • Beast
  • Black Knight
  • Black Panther
  • Cable
  • Captain Britain
  • Captain Marvel
  • Dazzler
  • Demolition Man
  • Doctor Druid
  • Dr. Strange
  • Falcon
  • Firebird
  • The Forgotten One
  • Hercules
  • Iron Fist
  • Ka-Zar
  • Living Lightening
  • Luke Cage
  • Mantis
  • Mockingbird
  • Moondragon
  • Moon Knight
  • Ms. Marvel
  • Nighthawk
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner
  • Quasar
  • Quicksilver
  • Rage
  • Scarlet Witch
  • She-Hulk
  • Starfox
  • Stingray
  • Swordsman
  • The Wasp
  • Two-Gun Kid
  • Vision
  • Wonder Man
Not to mention, don't forget the spin-off possibility for solo films for characters already introduced:
  • Black Widow (Natalia Romanova)
  • Hawkeye (Clint Barton)
  • War Machine (James Rhodes)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tweeting the Presidential Address on Debt Crisis

So Obama's Presidential Address on Debt Crisis is going on right now as I type this.

It's rude to tweet when you're watching a movie, but common when you're watching the President speak on TV.

So - here's an all around view of what people are tweeting...during the speech. Just a few of the messages, I'm seeing.

Jennifer Weiner
"I respect you too much as a person." Cut to Obama. I think the debt crisis just became real to me. See you on the flip side. #bachelorette

David S. Cohen
Disappointed but not surprised that Carmageddon and the NFL Lockout both were resolved before the (incredibly vital) debt ceiling talks

Elon James White
Obama has this weird thing he does--he keeps saying reasonable things and THINKS people will respond the same way. #DebtCeiling

Eugene Robinson
At this point I doubt there's political advantage for ANYONE in the debt ceiling standoff. Everybody loses

firstadopter
Social security checks at risk! Our AAA credit rating will be downgraded! Interest rates will skyrocket!

Eric Bandazewski
6. Wealthiest corporations and americans contribute nothing? Really? I had no clue they pay 0% in taxes instead of the highest tax bracket.

Adam D. Smith
The ONLY solution is to drastically cut spending, reduce government, shut down needless social programs, fire useless lazy gov't workers!


Steve Grasso
politicians definition of compromise: when the other guy does what you want.

Pete Nicely
Mr. Boehner, when your approval rating is 28% & you begin each sentence with "The American people want..." we're gonna need air quotes.

emptywheel
Dear Obama. We're not fed up by lack of compromise. We're FED UP THAT THE RICH ARE LOOTING OUR COUNTRY!

Joe Shaw
Summation: 2 plans, 1 week to go, POTUS likes the Sen (Dem) plan, but urges room/need for compromise, wants you to decide & tell congress.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Thoughts - Captain America: The First Avenger

Watching the previews before Captain America, one sees the Spider-Man relaunch with Andrew Garfield in the headline role, and you think - why are we re-launching this again?

Some Superhero stories are a little over told. I love Christopher Nolan's Batman series for a number of reasons, but the Batman story is also a well told story that if anyone tries to relaunch that in the next decade or two it will be a little disappointing.

That being said, Captain America, a second tiered superhero (unlike the 3rd tier heroes who make up the rest of the Avenger world) was worthy of a big screen story. I've never see Albert Pyun's 1990 Captain America, but I'm advised that it's highly worth avoiding.

My wife and I saw Joe Johnson's Captain America: The First Avenger and my wife...a person who has minimal interest in anything science fiction, finds herself wrapped in some of these comic book stories, and Captain America: The First Avenger is very accessible.

The origin stories screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the scripters of the recent Chronicle of Narnia stories), has created something here that captures the history of the early in 1940s and WWI and slowly integrates the sci-fi into the story.

It's only half-way through the film that the antagonist Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) tips over from just a crazy man with special energy equipment and glowing cube to a red faced guy with guns that blast people into pixie dust, and by then even the not-so-comicy in the crowd are hooked.

I must say, watching Captain America was the first time I began to get excited about The Avengers as a large series. It was exciting to see the pieces come to play, independently as quality products. It made me want to see how this all plays out, and in hopes that the product maintains a level of quality similar to this film.

Other Avenger Related Posted:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wait Until Dark - A Story Worth Telling Again

Recently watched the 1967 film Wait Until Dark, directed by Terrance Young. It's an incredible 1960s triller starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin.

Walking into the film relatively blind (no pun intended) I didn't know that the story was based on a stage play, but you don't have to watch to many films to tell which films are stage plays (the way scenes break, and the use of common or repeat scene locations...in this case, an exterior and interior of an apartment...and an airport intro) help confirm stage source material.

The play written by Frederick Knott with a 1966 stage debut. This play (like Knott's other successes Dial M for Murder and Write Me A Murder) maintains relevancy in it's story that allows for it to hit the stage again (whether small local stages, or in the case of Wait Until Dark which has hit Broadway again in 1998 with Marisa Tomei, Quientin Terrintino and Stephen Lang).

All this to say, I watch this film and would love to see someone else try to take this story on with some contemporary touches (story and filming).

In the widest perspective, the film is a thriller in which a blind woman Susy Hendrix (a role which won Audrey her last Oscar nomination), is harassed by a group of criminals trying to get her to reveal to location of a heroin-filled doll smuggled in from Canada (which she truly knows nothing about).

The suspense aspect of a group of men grifting a blind woman in her own home is suspenseful, and I think could capture a modern audience. You could cast this movie ten thousand ways to create a different product.

Just a thought Hollywood, independent film crowd, whomever. It wouldn't be an expensive production, but there is a lot you could to to recapture this story

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Best Actress Race - An Unpopular Year

There's something about the lead actress for the Academy Awards that some how drives me crazy.

Somehow, it seems like when a film has a lead female the film is well...unpopular.

You can create a critical hit, but not even the top of the line critical hit when it's a female lead. I don't know why that it is, I don't think it has to be that way, but generally the entertaining well made film led film is a rarity.

Believe me, I think these smaller films sometimes are great, and the performances are amazing. I appreciate Jennifer Lawrence's performance in Winter's Bone, as well as the film, but this type of nomination seems to be the norm, sometimes, it would seem, due to lack of options.

And when it happens, the performance doesn't match up to the caliber of a film that might be a little more avante-garde, has too much talking, super emotional, or uncomfortable to watch.

This year's race is looking particularly unpopular, and unless there is a surprise success story, I would generally expect that the domestic box office average for the film's of this year's Oscar nominated films will struggle to average out above $25 million (that is unless Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and messes up the average. I reserve the right to exclude her from the average should she get nominated).

So with that being said. Here's my July predictions for best actress. Based off history and "the buzz" not based off of viewings, obviously since most of these have not been released, with the exception of those that have been at festivals.

You will notice that these are some unpopular films. You might recognize the actress' name, but unless your a cinefile or Oscar-fanatic I can't imagine many readers of this blog are eagerly anticipating many of these films. Not yet, not later.

My Prediction for the 5 Actresses Being Nominated for Best Actress. Also predicting an average box office of the films of the nominated actresses being less than $25 million in the United States.

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady: Streep portrays Margaret Thatcher in this Phylidia Lloyd directed biopic.

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs: Close plays an English woman dressing as a male butler in Ireland during the 19th century, based on Albert Nobbs by George Moore.

Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene: Olsen (younger sister of Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen) plays a woman who escapes from a cult and tries to re-assimilate with her family in this independent thriller.

Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin: A heavy film about a mother (played by Tilda) dealing with the after effects of her son violent massacre at his high school.

Kristen Dunst, Melancholia: Two sister (Dunst and Charlotte Gainsborough) deal with the end of the world when another planet is colliding towards earth in this Lars Von Trier film, Dunst' Cannes actress winning role.


Other Buzzed Contenders Include: Charlize Theron, Young Adult; Keira Knighley, A Dangerous Method; Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Felicity Jones, Like Crazy; Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn; Michelle Williams, Take This Waltz; Charlotte Rampling, The Eye of the Storm; Jodie Foster, Carnage; Rachel Weisz, The Whistleblower; Anne Hathaway, One Day; Kate Winslet, Carnage; Olivia Colman, Tyrannosaur; Mia Wasikowska, Jane Eyre.


Pictured above: Meryl Streep, Iron Lady; Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene; Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin; Kristen Dunst, Melancholia

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Reel People: Ben Kingsley is Georges Méliès

The film is Hugo, a historical fictional film based on the illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. The film is directed by Martin Scorsese, with a screenplay adapted by John Logan.

Georges Méliès

Georges Méliès was born in Paris on December 8, 1861. The third son of a cobbler. Instead of following the family craft, he initially chose to be stage magician, where he performed at the Theatre Robert-Houdin.

When Georges saw a demonstration of the Lumière brother's (Auguste and Louis Lumière) camera in 1895 he became interested in film for the ability of film to create a sense of illusion similar to what he did in magic.

In 1897 he created a film studio that created silent films that were similar to magical acts in terms of sets and performances. He created over 500 films of various lengths (many were short films a minute or two in length). The films of Méliès during this time are credited with inspiring many idea of special effects, science fiction, and even horror.

His most famous and celebrated film was the 1902 short film Le voyage dans la Lune (A Trip To The Moon) a fourteen minute film made in 1902 with a famous image of a space capsule in the eye of the moon.

In 1913 Georges studio was forced into bankruptcy due to larger studios coming to the forefront, and then bought by Pathé Frères (a film studio/distributor that continues to exist today after some ownership changes).

During WWI many of these films were seized and melted down into boots for French troops, while other film was melted down to create new film. Many films were lost forever.

Georges Méliès, with the financial assistance of some other film makers, became a toy salesman at Gare Montparnasse, a large rail station in Paris, France.

In 1928 Méliès married Jeanne d'Alcy, a french actress who had appeared in many of Méliès films (including Le Manoir du diable, Jeanne d'Arc, and Le Voyage dans la lune).

In his final days, Méliès was honored by later filmmakers for his contribution, including receiving the Légion d'honneur (Legion of honor) from Louis Lumière.

Méliès died in Paris on January 21, 1938.

Hugo

The film Hugo is historical fiction but the story of the film (and the book from which it's based The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick), tell the story of young children in the Paris train station who discover an automaton that connects them...one has the machine, the other the key to operate it, and it all leads to discovering how Méliès is connected to it all.

The two young children are played by Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz, as the fictional characters (Hugo & Isabelle). In addition to these fictional characters, other fictional stars of this film includes the star cast of Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frances de la Tour, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer and Richard Griffiths.

Helen McCrory plays the part of Mamma Jean (French actress, Jeanne d'Arc).

Unlike typical Marin Scorsese films, Hugo is based on a young adult story, with young adult stars, and will be released in 3D.

Will Ben Kingsley, the Oscar winning (4 time nominated) actor, receive another Oscar nomination or perhaps even a win for his portrayal of this Reel (Real) Person?

One Year Since Inception Premiered

It's been one year since the premier of inception. A year later the big story is the high box office for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part II, with box office records that are far exceeding opening weekend for Inception. Yet, where Harry Potter is finishing a multi-part series based on a wildly popular book series spawning a whole industry, Inception presented a richly creative and original story with no previous source work.

So here it is July 16. One year after Inception premiered. Since it premiered:


  • It racked up a huge box office take (over 292 million domestically and 532 million in foreign markets).

  • Was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

  • Won 4 Oscars (Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Effects, Visual Effects)

  • Inception is currently ranked # 9 on IMDb.com's list of best films of all time.

Not to mention, it inspired many StrangeCultureBlog.com post, so today seemed appropriate to remember and mark the occasion. Previous Inception posts. Re-experience these post again or for the first time:


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 Rock: Season 2 Reflections

Traveling into 2007, Season 2 of 30 Rock is the short season cut short by the writers strike.

Which might be an okay, because some story lines needed a break to help resolve them. Season 2 at only 15 episodes starts out stronger than it finishes.

Here are some personal superlatives from the season.

Actor/Character who made me laugh the most: Tina Fey as Liz Lemon
Actor/Character not in the main credits who I wished was: Katrina Bowden as Cirie Xerox
Most Comical Boyfriend of Liz Lemon (Tina Fey): Val Emmich as Jamie, Tina Fey's 20 year old boyfriend
Most Comical Girlfriend of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin): Edie Falco (C.C.) is Jack's primary girlfriend. She's funny in the first episode when they meet, but after it continues, it looses it's comedy.
Favorite Celebrity Playing Themselves: Jerry Seinfeld in Episode 2.1 "Seinfeldvision."
Favorite limited role performance: Jenna Maroney's (Jane Krakowski) fat suit in the first couple episode of season 2 (after her Broadway role in Mystic Pizza)
Most Disturbing limited role performance: More obnoxious than disturbing, David Schwimmer's role of Greenzo.
Favorite Joke: It's a tie between Seinfeldvision, Jenna's fat celebrity status, and Tina Fey thinks her neighbor Raheem is a terrorist.
Comic who didn't make me laugh: Main credit actor Judah Friedlander as Frank Rossitano.

See responses to these same topics for: Season 1.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What If All of Summer's Movies Were Romantic Comedies, But The Film Titles Didn't Change?

When my wife and I went to see Super 8 she asked what genre the movie was, and I told her it was a Romantic Comedy. She new I was joking, but our little conversation inspires this post, imagining if the movie titles of some of this summer's most popular films were actually title's for chick flcks.

If this was the movie title of a Romantic Comedy....

X-Men: First Class

The Romantic Comedy Premise:
Three hot shot pilots are known to the flight crews across America as The X-Men. Everyone wants to be noticed by them. They exude cool in every way. They're always together, and when they're not, they seem to always be chasing the classiest of females. But only for a good time, of course. Monica (Drew Barrymore) is a cranky flight attendant who seems to be the only one not impressed with the X-Men. So when another flight attendant Jenn (Blake Lively) wants to embarrass Monica, she clues the X-Men in on Monica's feeling about the group and dares them to see which one can get Monica out on a date. When one of the X-Men, Colin (Ryan Reynolds) finally gets her out on the date, he realizes that he really likes her. But will she still like him once she realizes it was all a dare?

Super 8

The Romantic Comedy Premise: If it was the title of a romantic comedy: Dallas magazine releases their list of Dallas' most eligible bachelors and baccalaureates. After the 8 women are placed on the cover of the magazine, two attractive, self-proclaimed goof-offs (Justin Timberlake and Bradley Cooper), who didn't make the list for bachelors, decide to make it their summer goal to spare no expense to try to, between the two of them, go out on dates with all 8 of them before summer ends. But when a Dallas reporter (Anne Hathaway) starts to get wind of this she makes it her secret agenda to make sure they don't meet their goal.

Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides

The Romantic Comedy Premise:
If it was the title of a Romantic Comedy: Penelope thought her boyfriend Johnny was taking her on a romantic adventure when she saw the tickets to Florida in his e-mail. Her girl-friends all think he's going to propose, but when he surprises her with a trip to Florida, she realizes he's taking her to Disney World to meet his three children (aged 7, 12, 14) from a previous marriage. They have a breakthrough in their relationship when they all get stuck on the Pirates of the Carribbean ride.

The Hangover Part II

The Romantic Comedy Premise:
If it was the title of a Romantic Comedy: Lauren and Stu where high school sweethearts but after getting drunk, leading up to their high school graduation they have sex, Lauren gets pregnant, but Stu never knew once they go their separate ways. Lauren doesn't plan to ever tell Stu. 10 years later they meet again at their high school reunion. Lauren plays it cool, and Stu engaged to a fashion model from London is the reunions hot shot. Yet, once they start drinking they drop their guard and realize they were always meant for each other. But how will Stu respond when he finds out about the baby?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The Romantic Comedy Premise: it was the title of a Romantic Comedy: This sweet independent British romance stars Brenda Blethyn, as aging woman who lives out in a small cottage in isolation due to her photodermatis (allergic to the sun). When a traveler (Michael Caine) has car troubles outside his cottage, he unlocks the secret of this woman's isolated fate, and begins to unlock the secret of her heart, as he teaches her to live, laugh, and love in her world of darkness.

Cowboys & Aliens

The Romantic Comedy Premise: If it was the title of a romantic comedy: This romantic comedy takes place in Yuma, Arizona. Two Hispanic women woo two rough and tumble men to employee them (one working on his family farm, the other at his new restaurant he's starting). These woman present themselves as illegal aliens although they are truly American agents conducting a sting operation for the internal revenue service. The farmer and the agent fall in love where the female agent working at the restaurant does nothing but cause hilarious trouble for the cowboy. Will the female agents rat out their guys, or will they cover it all up, against their better principles, in the name of love.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reel People: Andrea Riseborough is Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor, Duchess of Windsor

The film is W.E. directed by Modonna with a script written by Modonna and Alek Keshishian.

Wallis (Or Wallis Warfield, Wallis Spenser, Wallis Simpson or the Duchess of Windsor)

Bessie Wallis Warfield was born June 19, 1896 in Pennsylvania. Her father, Teackle Wallis Warfield, died of tuberculosis in November of 1896. Her mother was aided by the charity of her family until she re-married John Freeman Rasin.

Wallis would attend Oldfields School, a prestigious girl's school in Maryland, paid for by her uncle. There should would rub shoulders with the socialites in her community.

Wallis married Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr in 1916. Wallis met the US Navy pilot while visiting her cousin in Pensacola, Florida. They moved to San Diego when WWI started in 1917. Through the war and under different circumstances they separated, and at times lived in different places. Wallis also had the opportunity to see the world. In her travels and separations there were various affairs, including the believed affair with Count Geleazzo Ciano, the future son-in-law and foreign officer of Benito Mussolini. With Ciano, Wallis became pregnancy, had a botches abortion, and was never able to conceive again.

Wallis and Winfeld Spencer would divorce in 1927 after living apart for a few years.

Half a year after the divorce, Wallis married Ernest Aldrich Simpson, a man she had become involved with prior to her divorce with Winfield. Ernest Aldrich Simpson divorced his wife (with whom he had one child, Audrey). They set up home in the Mayfair area of London where they thrived due to Ernest Simpson's successful shipping company. In 1929 Wallis' mother died penniless after the Wall Street crash.

Wallis met Prince Edwards of Wales in January of 1931 (through a friend's sister who was Edward's mistress, Thelma Furness). Wallis Simpson would then encounter Edward, the heir apparent, at a number of parties and engagements over the next three years.

In 1934 when Lady Thelma Furness was away in New York, Wallis became Edward's mistress despite public denials. The escalation of their relationship grew, including family outrage, extravagant gifts, trips across Europe. When Edward's father George V died in 1936 the public crisis began. Wallis fled to southern France as the media crisis began as the King was intent on marrying Wallis.

On December 10, 1936, King Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication and announcing the following day that he could not carry on the duties of King without the woman he loved.

Wallis would divorce her husband Ernest Simpson in May 1937. Wallis and Edward would marry in the following month, June 1937 at Château de Candé. With the wedding scheduled on what would have been his father's birthday (King Edwards V), it was viewed as a statement against his family, additionally, no member of the royal family attended.

Through the controversy, Edward's brother King George VI (Bertie) gave Edward the royal title duke of Windsor, and so Wallis became the Duchess of Windsor, although she was formerly denied the title of "her royal highness."

Edward and Wallis would live in France prior to WWII, where they would entertain friends who would later have fascist roots. Into WWII they experienced criticism for many of their choices, and spent most of their time in the Bahamas where Edward was installed as governor. Wallis also aided the red cross during this time.

After WWII they tended to stay in general isolation away from London and the royal family in most situations, they owned homes near Paris, France and once in the French countryside.

In 1972 Edward died of cancer, and Wallis returned to England for his funeral and stayed in the Buckingham Palace. Following his death, she was supported from Edward's estate and an allowance from the Queen Elizabeth II.

Wallis, aging herself with a series of health problems, dementia, and lost speech. She died in 1986 in Paris.

W.E.

In addition to the telling the story of Wallis Simpson's relationship with King Edward VIII, this story is the backdrop for story is a contemporary story of married woman who falls in love with a Russian security guard.

In addition to the part of Wallis being played by Andrea Riseborough, James D'Arcy will be playing the part of Edward VIII.

The contemporary story will have Abbie Cornish playing fictional Abbie Cornish, Richard Coyle playing her husband (William), and Oscar Isaac playing the Russian security guard (Evgeni).

Other historical casting will include Natalie Dormer playing the young queen mother, Eliabeth Bowes-Lyon, James Fox plays King George V, while Laurence Fox will play the part of Bertie (King George VI).

Will Andrea Riseborough receive another Oscar nomination or perhaps even a win for his portrayal of this Reel (Real) Person?

Highest Paid Actresses

Forbes released a list of the highest paid actresses using earnings between Summer 2010 to Summer 2011. You can look at Forbes list, or just look at the breakdown here (avoiding the click-click-click...thanks Film Experience for avoiding those clicks for me).

1. ANGELINA JOLIE - $30 million
2. SARAH JESSICA PARKER - $30 million
3. JENNIFER ANISTON - $28 million
4. REESE WITHERSPOON -$28 million
5. JULIA ROBERTS - $20 million
6. KRISTEN STEWART -$20 million
7. KATHARINE HEIGL - $19 million
8. CAMERON DIAZ - $18 million
9. SANDRA BULLOCK - $15 million
10. MERYL STREEP - $10 million

When you see the list, it's not even really surprising. In a way Kristen Stewart and Katherine Heigl seem like the odd balls, but you can account for their movies that put them in this place.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Happy Birthday - Chris Cooper is 60!

Today Chris Cooper turns 60 (born July 9, 1951).

Chris Cooper is one of my favorite actors and as a supporting player seems to always deliver. Here are some images of Cooper in recent years in some of his roles. I'd be hard pressed to say which performance was the best, but these images are sure to job some Chris Cooper memories.


See if you can name all the movies.






Which of your favorite Chris Cooper performance is not included in the picture line-up?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Alias Cast: 10 Years After Alias Premiered

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the original airing of the TV show Alias (September 30, 2001).

The show, a remarkable success, which intrigued audience off the bat (as creator J. J. Abrams) is gifted in doing.

So 10 years later (and after 5 seasons of Alias) it seems an appropriate time to catch up with the cast, particularly since one of the biggest post-Alias careers ends up coming from the less than interesting supporting player Bradley Cooper.

But let's not rush into Bradley Cooper, I'm covering the shows stars left to right as indicated in the season 1 image above.


Ron Rifkin as Arvin Sloan
Pre-Alias: A minor character performer in a number of shows, while also performing in theatrical productions. Some repeating TV-series work (example, in ER he played Dr. Carl Vuchelic in season 2). On stage, he won a Tony award for his performance in Cabaret in 1998.
Alias: Is he good? Is he bad? One of the shows most intriguing usually bad guy and head of SD-6. Also an unusual fascination with Milo Ramaldi.
Post-Alias: Most notable role has been the part of Saul Holden opposite Sally Fields in the TV series Brothers & Sisters.

Victor Garber as Jack Bristow
Pre-Alias: He started as Jesus in Godspell in 1973, and then stuck to Broadway (4 Tony Award nominations) and a few made for TV movies until jumping back to the screen and TV in the early 90s, and found himself in movies like Titanic and First Wives Club.
Alias: Spy-Daddy of Sydney Bristow with a unique working relationship with his daughter as a CIA guy himself with unique double agent history and some bitterness over his wife's role in their family life.
Post-Alias: A little bit of TV, a little bit of film and voice work, a little bit of stage work. Most notable work has been as Mayor George Moscone in Milk.

Bradley Cooper as Will Tippin
Pre-Alias:
Zilch! (Except for an episode of Sex & The City and as a presenter on the TV show Globe Trekker).
Alias: He's just a good buddy and a reporter who asks to many questions. He's part of Sydney's normal life, then he pushes himself into her not-so-normal spy life and has to be shuttled off to witness protection.
Post-Alias: It was smaller parts in films like Wedding Crashers, Failure to Launch and Yes Man (popular, uncritical favorites), and then it was The Hangover, a huge summer success, then Valentine's Day, The A-Team and the big-budget blockbuster roles haven't ended.

Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow
Pre-Alias:
A few episodes of TV and Dude, Where's My Car, and a minor role in Pearl Harbor.
Alias: The star of the show, getting the opportunity to wear wigs, costumes of all sorts, and have emotional breakdowns and violent fight scenes all in the same episode.
Post-Alias: She marries the star of Pearl Harbor (Ben Affleck) and does a couple films, particularly a respected role in the independent hit Juno. Like Bradley Cooper also appears in Valentine's Day.

Michael Vartan as Michael Vaughn
Pre-Alias: European film actor, with some guest TV roles and a few films (Never Been Kissed).
Alias: Sydney's CIA handler, and meaningful "friend."
Post-Alias: Alias remains his biggest role, but currently stars opposite Jada Pinkett Smith as Dr. Tom Wakefield in TNT's medical drama Hawthorne.

Carl Lubly as Marcus Dixon
Pre-Alias: The vetran TV actor with his most notable credit being 95 episodes as Detective Mark Petrie in Cagney & Lacey. Fans might also mention roles in Justice League or the TV movie Buffalo Soldiers or many other roles of this nature.
Alias: Sydney's CIA partner and friend who gets all the fun action sequences alongside Sydney.
Post-Alias: Back to one time appearances in TV shows (Chuck, Grey's Anatomy, NCIS, Criminal Minds)

Merrin Dungey as Francie Calfo
Pre-Alias:
Small TV roles and film roles in EdTV and Deep Impact.
Alias: Sydney's friend who for reasons not worth spoiling doesn't stick around for all five seasons, she also dates Will Tippin. Part of Sydney's not secret agent world.
Post-Alias: More TV single episode performances, plus reoccurring roles on Summerland and King of Queens.

Kevin Weisman as Marshall Flinkman
Pre-Alias:
Single episode performances in TV shows like JAG, Frasier, and Felicity.
Alias: The genius tech guy as SD-6 who helps support the missions with cool gadgets and world's best tech support.
Post-Alias: Single episode performances in TV shows like CSI:Miami, Fringe, and Chuck. Oh yea, the part of 'Hobbit Lover' in Clerks II.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Soap Box: Let's All Ride Together

Our household is a family of four. Our youngest is only five months old, so even though we aren't there yet, the thought of having a third child is sometime a little crazy.

The crazy doesn't come from the thought of running around after three (although that's part of the conversation) but sometimes the biggest hurdle seems to be space. Home space. Car space.

In terms of home space, we don't mind the idea of doubling up kids in a room if need be, but it's these car's and the safety laws that drive us (read: me) crazy.

After driving across county in our Honda CRV with the kids, there was definitely some crowding, and my wife was saying "I think we need a minivan."

She's mentioned this before - not a minivan fan herself, but if there ever was a third child a 5 passenger vehicle wouldn't cut the mustard, especially with state laws that say kids up to age 8 need to sit in the back seat in a booster.

Recently, I've been on a "relax the car safety" soap box. I've wanted to drive without putting my 3 year old in car seat, I've been wishing that there weren't airbags in cars, and that we drove an old car (like the picture I found, above) with a bench seat up front that can hold 3 people, we could squeeze all together in the front seat.

Back in the day, a four door sedan could hold six (you could even hold seven if you put a kid on the lap) now a smaller SUV can hardly hold five.

I see this is as tragedy. People talk about getting smaller more fuel efficient vehicles, but you can't really do it if you want to tote around a family with more than two kids. There's a safety and ecology conflict, and more than that, a limitation that says updated safety standards mean your family size is limited unless you bite the bullet and get a humongous tank of a vehicle.

Soap box over.
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