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My Night with Anne Hathaway and “Song One”

My Night with Anne Hathaway and “Song One”

I should start with a disclaimer. Or maybe it’s a just a “claimer” as it’s not meant to cover my ass, but purely to reveal my biases. Unlike “Once,” which you might think is a Spanish drama about eleven people, it doesn’t require the intellect of Elon Musk to assume “Song One” is about music. It’s just diametrically different music than I’d normally listen to and enjoy. So you can completely understand where (“bust a nut inside your eye/ to show you where…”) I come from, the title “Song One,” brings to my mind this song, “One”: http://youtu.be/grlOImCXqW0. So, why the hell am I seeing such a thing? Anne Hathaway.

I’ve recently wondered if there were any performers which can guarantee I see a movie of theirs. Brad Pitt used to be one. Kate Winslet’s always been a favorite. Tom Hanks used to hit them out of the park each time he stepped to the plate. But ultimately, there’s no actor whose movie ticket is instantly sold to me by virtue of their presence. Hathaway, however, comes pretty close. Since “Brokeback Mountain,” I’ve only missed four movies in which she’s appeared (anyone who wants contend for this title, let me know when the first time was that you’d even heard of “Don Peyote.” I’m guessing it was when you checked IMDb to compare your list).

Though “Brokeback” seems like it’d spark the soon-to-be-explained lust-filled quest (for reason’s eloquently summarized by Jonah Hill in “Knocked Up”: http://youtu.be/-0MrczERAe4), it was actually “Get Smart” where I became an Anne fan (or “FAnnes” as we as a non-existent group don’t call ourselves). There was a humor and willingness to be playful and sexualized on her part and I was enchanted (“Ella, Ella, Eh, Eh”). My girlfriend didn’t think so (and thus we’re no longer together), but at least she supported the idea by not deleting any of Hathaway’s “Ellen” appearances until after I was able to view them. My crush was complete.

When I noticed Hathaway was doing a Q&A after a showing of “Song One” at a local theater, it was a no brainer (“I mean a Cobainer”) that I buy a ticket for myself. All the typical Ed Grimley/”King of Comedy” ideas of meeting and becoming close ran through my head as I hyped the opportunity with my friends, indulging in my fantasy. The only true deterrent was that I’d have to sit through “Sone One” first. At least it was only 86 minutes.

My fears about the film seemed to be immediately founded when seeing the trailers they paired with it. Schmaltz is not a term I’ve used very often in my life. I don’t mind having a tear jerked from time to time, among other things (Jamaican chicken, that is), but never do I like to cry from wincing embarrassment due to a two-minute promotion. I don’t know who the preview for “Old Fashioned” is for, but I’d rather be shanked with a shiv in both eyes than expose them to the movie’s full runtime.

“Song One,” didn’t start any easier, but at least I knew what I was getting into. Hathaway plays Franny, a young woman studying to get her PhD in cultural anthropology. She’s summoned home by her mother (Mary Steenburgen), after Franny’s younger brother, Henry (Ben Rosenfield) is hit by a car, tuning out the outside world with his headphones. I’ll make the assumption that Beats by Dre won’t by using this tactic for their next ad campaign, although it’d stand a better chance of enticing me than throwing them on Richard Sherman’s head.

Franny visits a comatose Henry in the hospital and since she can’t receive any communication from him in his fugue state, she attempts to reconcile with him through his journal of passions. Their previous communication was a fight over Henry deciding to drop out of college to pursue his dream of making music, which is ultimately what caused his current condition. Franny finds Henry’s bedroom back at their mother’s house adorned with paraphernalia pertaining to folk singer James Forester (Johnny Flynn). She finds a CD with a song Henry intended to send to Forester and a ticket to Forester’s show and she trudges forth in attempt to understand her brother’s obsession.

The precursor to the Jon Stewart interview.

The precursor to the Jon Stewart interview.

It’s about here where I started feeling the movie was attempting to speak to me. Franny goes to see a performer. (Just like me and Anne!) After Forester’s performance, Franny waits for the selfie-taking crowd to die down. (There are a lot more people to wait out at this screening, but I can do it.) She tells him that her brother is in a hospital after having a brain hemorrhage. (It’s like she’s giving me a script for how I should approach her.) Forester ends up showing up to Henry’s hospital room to play some music and Franny essentially asks him out. (Now I either need to find an already-injured fake sibling or hurt one of my own.) They develop a bond. They have sex. Franny’s mom invites him to dinner. She embarrassedly sings a song from her youth. It’s the day-dreamer’s handbook come to life. The only thing I need now is for life to imitate art.

Aside from the perceived parallels to my personal pursuit, the film was able to surprise me with how much I liked the music. The vast majority of the songs used in the film were written by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice (it’s no use for me to pretend I know who they are; you can see through me at this point) and performed by Flynn. As Hathaway noted in her Q&A afterward, as a producer, she didn’t want to find an actor who could play music a bit, but rather a musician who could act. While it’s apparent that acting is Flynn’s second hobby, his mastery of musical instruments was mesmerizing. Whatever good things he gets in his life is well-earned. When Forester whips out his violin during his first performance, even I melted a bit (I’m pretty sure someone spilled water on me).

The movie mainly functions as a celebration of music to the point which anything involving Franny and Henry’s relationship (not that there could be much of one while he’s in a coma) is pushed aside. There’s a beautifully cathartic moment when Franny and Forester dance to Dan Deacon’s “Crystal Cat” under a strobe light. For a second, I thought Gaspar Noe had taken his place behind the camera. Instead, that job belonged to writer-director Kate Barker-Froyland, who Hathaway had previous interacted with on the set of “The Devil Wears Prada” and whose script was put into Hathaway’s hands by her “Rachel Getting Married” director, Jonathan Demme. Froyland’s movie is perfectly amiable and is kind of like “Crazy Heart” for “The Fault in Our Stars” crowd. Though I’m a member of neither film’s fan club, sometimes all it takes is the right star.

About that Q&A. Hathaway spoke for about 40 minutes. Her husband, Adam Shulman, a producer on the film alongside Hathaway, was mentioned in the first two. And multiple times afterward. My saliva bubble was burst. As one of her last “A”s to a “Q,” Hathaway mentioned the difference between promoting a movie she acted in versus one she produced is she’s a lot less shy about trying to get the word out for the latter. Damn. She got me. Hopefully the next time she does one of these, I’ll have kin in the hospital.

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Anne Hathaway, Neil Patrick Harris Visit ‘Rio’

Lest I be shunned for daring to make a comparison between two rival animation studios for covering similar territory, I avoid the temptation of pointing out the upcoming Blue Sky Studios film, Rio, will take place in South America, much like Pixar’s latest hit, Up, did. You’ll get no comparison from me. Just the facts.

Anne Hathaway, who’s been sadly absent from theater screens this year (save the early January release of Bride Wars) is signing up to lend her voice, along with Neil Patrick Harris, for the Fox Animation studio’s new film, Rio. “The Hollywood Reporter” states the film “follows the adventures of a nerdy macaw who lights out from his small-town Minnesota cage for the exotic Summer Olympic city of Rio de Janeiro, is scheduled for an April 8, 2011, release.”

The film will be directed by Carlos Saldanha, who recently brought Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs to the screen. I haven’t seen any of the Ice Age films, though they’re obviously a hit, so there’s no reason to expect this won’t follow in its footsteps.  Hathaway is one of my top two celebrity crushes right now, but I don’t think her voice in a film will convince me to see it, unlike her appearing in a film. Does a certain celebrity lending their voice to a film have any impact on your desire to see the finished product?

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Casting Round-Up: Carla Gugino, Sam Worthington, Hugh Jackman

A lot of casting announcements or near-announcements made today concern higher profile actors in higher profile projects.

Let’s start off with Ms. Carla Gugino, who you may recognize as the hot naked one from Sin City or the original Silk Spectre from Watchmen. After those two comic book films and a semi-recurring role on “Entourage,” Gugino is once again teaming up with her Watchmen director, Zack Snyder, for the female-empowered Sucker Punch. According to “The Hollywood Reporter,” the film is set in a 1950’s mental institution when a character played by Emily Browning is scheduled by her evil stepfather to be lobotomized (think the ending of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) in five days. She forms an escape plan with other female inmates. Gugino will play Mrs. Schultz, an adult figure in the institution.

Sam Worthington, he of Terminator Salvation, the upcoming Avatar and the the even further upcoming Clash of the Titans is in talks to join Charlize Theron in The Tourist, according to “Variety.” The film is based on the 2005 French thriller, Anthony Zimmer, about a female Interpol agent who uses an American tourist to expose a criminal who was once her lover. I’m assuming Theron would play the female agent and Worthington the used American.

Finally, after receiving non-critical praise for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hugh Jackman has found his next project. He’ll play the title role in The Greatest Showman on Earth, based on the life of circus ringleader P.T. Barnum. The twist differentiating this from the typical biopic-based-on-circus-showman is it will be a musical. For those that don’t know, Jackman has been a longtime Broadway musical star, having hosted the Tony Awards multiple times before given the reigns to this past year’s Oscars. On an even more intriguing note, the script being written by Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) has a co-starring role written for one Anne Hathaway, who happened to be Jackman’s opening number partner at the Oscars, as well (relive that performance with the video, here).

I’m probably most interested in Snyder’s Sucker Punch as he’s proven to deliver an astounding visual. The concept of biopic-as-musical intrigues, especially with the possibility of Anne Hathaway co-starring. But, to dismiss a Theron project when she easily holds her own if not dominates the “beautiful” category against the aforementioned female names, would be disrespectful. So, hell, at the moment I’m down for all of it. Which of the three projects piques your interest the most? And since I mentioned it, which of the three women?

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More ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Pics For You

As I continue to get nearer to the back cover of the latest “Empire” magazine, the great cinematic publication has updated their site with some new images of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland cast. They’re not wholly dissimilar to the ones we posted a couple of weeks ago, but it’s another look at what’s to come, so why ignore it? Especially on a day where it seems films news has all but died off.

Here are head-to-knees portraits of The Mad Hatter, The Red Queen, The White Queen and Alice herself. For some reason, the theme seems to be “holding animals” and thus each character is holding a non-human creature of some sort.

Like I said, not a hell of a lot new here, but my motto has always been “the more of Anne Hathaway, the better,” even if she looks like that girl you went out of your way to avoid in high school. I hope you agree. Let us know how you feel about this pics in conjuncture with the previous ones. Sadly, no Tweedledee or dum.

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“Creepy,” “Bizarre” Describe ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Pics

Tim Burton’s a crazy cat, no doubt, but that’s why he was a perfect choice to bring Lewis Carroll’s drug-tripped novel “Alice in Wonderland” to life. Much like he did a few years ago with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Burton has been tasked to bring his twisted take on another family favorite, this time attempting to best Disney’s animated version of the story.

Today, the web was set aflame with five character portraits from the upcoming film, due for release March 5, 2010. They are Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as The White Queen and Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The words creepy and bizarre come to mind. Maybe even weird. But, such is to be expected with the fusion of Burton and Alice in Wonderland.

I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out. With the below images, I fear it’ll be more Charlie and the Chocolate Factory than I’d like it be, but it ultimately depends which way Burton turns the whimsical/oddity meter.

Speaking of Alice in Wonderland, Aintitcool ran a piece during the release of Grindhouse about what their favorite grindhouse films were. One of them wrote about a 1976 Argentinian X-rated musical-comedy version of Alice in Wonderland. Sounds genius.

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What do you think of the images? Intrigued?

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Jake Gyllenhall & Anne Hathaway Love Drugs

The duo that masqueraded as husband and wife in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain are ready to re-team for Love and Other Drugs, an adaptation of author Jamie Reidy’s book “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.”  The book was an eye-opening piece on the drug industries shady business practices, as told by Reidy, who was a drug rep for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer back in the 90’s.  The movie is to be helmed by Defiance director Ed Zwick. Movies.ie says:

Gyllenhaal will play the salesman, who begins a relationship with a woman who has Parkinson’s (Hathaway) while on one of his sales calls. Their love story plays out in the political and social context of the time.

It’s good to hear of two good young actors who like working together and have a chance to grow together throughout the remainder of their careers.  Hathaway has the throwback classic beauty look and Gyllenhaal has always played the wide-eyed, confused guy well.  Not really sure why I am drawn to either actor, yet I think that is part of their respective appeal, they can draw you in without being a larger than life presence on the screen.  I will be curious to see how Zwick handles this storyline, will it be more slanted to the love angle or will it have more of a The Insider feel, where there are exposes on the industry taking place?  Will it play straight or more comedic like Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant (due to drop later this year, reviewed early)?  We’ll keep an eye out for this one.

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Hathaway, Maguire To Throw ‘Tokyo Suckerpunch’

Ed Solomon, the writer of the upcoming Eddie Murphy-starrer Imagine That and Men In Black was running his mouth this weekend about the new project he’s writing, called Tokyo Suckerpunch. It’s an adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Isaac Adamson.

The story revolves around a comic book writer in Cleveland who has written graphic novels featuring him in falling in love in Tokyo. He delves a little too far into his own fantasy and decides to trek to Tokyo for real in search of the woman he’s idealized in his books. He travels the city with his editor and instead falls in love with her.

Tobey Maguire is set to play the comic book author lead, while Anne Hathaway is to play his editor.

The film isn’t supposed to be a paint-by-numbers romantic comedy and will have some adventure within. I think Maguire and Hathaway could have some chemistry together and I like the Tokyo setting. I think it could prove worthy of some inspired visuals.

Are you into the pairing of these two actors? What do you think of the plot?

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Hathaway To Play Judy Garland (Video)

It was suggested in an earlier post that Anne Hathaway’s singing performance at this year’s Oscar ceremony would net her a film role and it appears it has.

Variety” reports the Rachel Getting Married star will be playing Judy Garland in an adaptation of Gerald Clarke’s biography, “Get Happy: The Life or Judy Garland.”

The Weinstein Company purchased the rights to the book for Hathaway to star.

Hathaway’s officially blown up as an dramatic actress. It was a pretty quick rise from Disney’s The Princess Diaries franchise and it looks like it was about a three-film arc that truly made the transition for her. She got nude in 2005’s Havoc, displaying no shyness. She did the same thing again later that year in a supporting role, but more exposed film in Brokeback Mountain. Then, she became bankable on her own name as opposed to Disney’s in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada. Transformation complete. Maybe somebody will make a movie based on that one day. It promises nudity.

Garland will forever be associated with the role of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. She continued to live a life full of song, dance and drug addiction afterward and presumably that will be displayed prominently in this new biopic. I like Hathaway a lot and I’m sure she’s fulfilling the dream of a lot of young women by playing this part, but I’m not the biggest biopic fan. JFK‘s about as close as I get. What do you think? While on the subject, how do you pronounce biopic? Like myopic? Or like bye-oh-pic? I’m the latter.

Here she is singing at the Oscars:

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