Tag Archive | "russell crowe"


Elizabeth Banks To Hook-Up w/ Crowe, Haggis for ‘The Next Three Days’

Last month, we brought you initial word that Paul Haggis (Crash) was remaking a French film, Pour elle, as his next writer/director project, with Russell Crowe attached to star. The film, now deemed The Next Three Days, appears close to having its female lead, coming in the form of Elizabeth Banks (Zack and Miri Make a Porno).

Variety” describes the film as being about an “ordinary couple who find themselves in an unthinkable situation and have to make desperate choices to test the limits of love.” Presumably, these choices need to be made within a three-day period.

Although Banks’ roots are mainly grounded in comedy, she starred alongside Josh Brolin to play Laura Bush in last year’s W. and even played the evil stepmother in The Uninvited. She seems to eventually have made her case for high profile drama, as evidenced here. I can see her as a better-half to Crowe and the combination of talent involved with this film so far hasn’t done anything to lower expectations. What do you think of Banks going this dramatic?

Come hither.

Come hither.

An extra note from Raging Rob:

I think this is great news for the project, as Banks is a good up and coming actress who hasn’t gotten quite the recognition she deserves IMO. She’s been in a lot of comedies and even a horror film (The Uninvited), but I we haven’t really seen her stretch her acting muscles in any heavy dramatic films…yet. Having Banks alongside Haggis and Crowe will certainly up her game and I hope we get to see a more serious side to Ms. Banks. BTW,  I just looked  at her bio and it says she is 35 years old!  I find that hard to believe, she looks a lot younger than her age. What do you think? Not only of her age defying appearance, but also her casting in this film.

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Paul Haggis Has Russell Crowe For ‘The Next Three Days’

It’s been a loooong road to glory for Paul Haggis. He’d been toiling around in television since 1979 before finally getting his break in 2004 when he wrote the Oscar nominated adaptation of F.X. Toole’s novel, Million Dollar Baby. I was stunned to relearn he actually lost the Oscar for his screenplay, losing out to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s Sideways (check here for my adventures on that set). However, he quickly bounced back the next year stepping into the director’s chair for the bizarrely maligned Crash, winning Best Picture and that elusive Screenplay Oscar.

Haggis is back in the director’s chair after the underseen In the Valley of Elah for The Next Three Days, an adaptation of the 2008 French film Pour Elle. To help him realize the film in front of the camera, he’s brought along another Oscar winner in the form of Russell Crowe. “Variety” describes the film as such: Crowe will play a teacher whose wife is arrested and convicted of a murder she says she did not commit. He comes up with a desperate plan to free her.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt Crowe was at the top of his game, but I’m sure he’s still capable. I’m one of the people who felt Crash was the best film the year of its release and will willingly follow Haggis into anything after those first two scripts. I think it’s safe to assume this will be on the plate as part of next year’s Oscar bait. I’m down. Are you?

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Crowe Contemplates Another ‘Master and Commander’

In 2003, movies taking place on the high seas were all the rage. The summer kicked off with Disney’s first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Russell Crowe hooked up with director Peter Weir for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, hell, even Ridley Scott’s name was attached to a Captain Kidd film (which obviously never happened). Master and Commander ended up with 10 Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director, winning two. Since then, Disney has made two more Pirates films with talks of another and now Russell Crowe is considering hopping onto another Master and Commander film. 2003 may be happening all over again, so if you didn’t consider that to be one of the happiest years of your life, you may be rooting against reliving it.

There are 20 “Master and Commander” novels, written by Patrick O’Brien, of which the first film was based, taking bits and pieces from several of them. Crowe told the Associated Press that a script has been written based on the 1986 installment “The Reverse of the Medal” and he is in talks with the book’s rights holders.

“The Reverse of the Medal” sees the return of Crowe’s Jack Aubrey character as he captains his ship, HMS Suprise, around the Caribbean. He is introduced to his illegitimate son, Samuel Panda, now a Catholic priest.

Master and Commander seems to be one of those big films that’s oft forgotten about. Maybe that’s just purely personal experince as I saw the film once in theaters and haven’t viewed it since. However, the same goes for Gladiator and yet I’m very aware of that film’s existence. So, the thought is would anybody look forward to seeing another Master and Commander? Did the first film leave you with enough of an impression to make you desire more?

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Michael Mann: Career Retrospective

As it is “Michael Mann Week” here at The Film Nest (our first official “person week”), one of the keys to making the whole week fly skyward is the Career Retrospective piece.  Mann has been the perfect subject to take a closer look at, as he has a long history of success in film, he has been an innovator, he has a distinct style, and he is renowned for his directorial and writing prowess.  He has brought together big name stars, and subsequently made even bigger stars of them.  He is a marksman that crafts what are simply some of the most beautiful and tense environments around.  He is known for directing realistic action in particular, reaching a plane that few others are on.  He is the anti-Michael Bay in that regard, yet can easily go toe-to-toe with him in the action department.

Mann went to London Film School in the 1960’s and after cutting his teeth in various forms of entertainment media, he eventually directed his first feature for cinema with 1981’s Thief.  We won’t look at that project here, as it was discussed at length earlier this week in a First Features piece.  We wanted to take a brief look at several of the director’s other films though, both home runs and missteps, and perhaps give you some anecdotal information on them along the way.  As for Public Enemies, released into theaters this week and in large part the reason for our celebration of Michael’s works at this time, you can get our full review on the film later this week.

Manhunter (1986)

The original prequel to the Silence of the Lambs, based on the Thomas Harris novel, this film showed hints of the Mann that we would come to know over the next two decades.  An underrated film, better than its reinterpretation in 2002’s Red Dragon by Brett Ratner, Manhunter had little known Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter and William Peterson of “CSI” fame as the FBI agent tracking him.  I wasn’t expecting this to be the treat it was when I saw it, but Mann racheted up the tension and scored solid acting from the leads involved.

Neon light in the dark room for "Manhunter."

Neon light in the dark room for "Manhunter."

The vivid color palette that Mann has become recognized for was present here, as he began to develop the artistic camera angles that I love seeing in his films.  The emotional struggle that grips Peterson’s character is one of the films highlights as this is far less about Lecter than Demme’s brilliant “Silence” is, but the intensity of a man tracking that serial killer is embodied thoroughly with a director clearly growing into his craft, understanding how to helm a thriller on a ground, realistic, and intense level.  Recommended for those that are interested in Mann’s works and also those who have followed Hopkins signature role of Lecter, to see what another capable actor did with the role, long before Hopkins set his face into the half leather mask.

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

A decade before Tom Cruise was The Last Samurai, Daniel Day-Lewis was The Last of the Mohicans. DDL is Hawkeye, formerly Nathanial, the adopted white son of Chingachgook and honorary Mohican. The film takes place in 1757, during the French and Indian War as the British and French struggle for control of North America. Cora and Alice, daughters of British Colonel Munro, are escorted from Albany, New York to Fort William Henry, some sixty miles north. Their escort troops are betrayed by a supposed Mohican, Magua, who is actually a member of the Huron tribe, allied with the French. The bloodshed is stopped just short of 100% as Hawkeye and company save the women and their primary escort, Major Heyward from death. Cora grows infatuated with Hawkeye as he does likewise, while politics and war play out around them.

Day-Lewis on the move in "Mohicans."

Day-Lewis on the move in "Mohicans."

Michael Mann adapted the film from a 1936 movie of the same name, itself an adaptation of a novel authored by James Fenimore Cooper. Mann flexed his attention-to-detail muscle in a true period piece. The film is renowned mainly for its lush cinematography by Dante Spinotti (their second team-up after Manhunter) and the hauntingly beautiful score by Randy Edelman and Trevor Jones. It probably wasn’t too difficult to elicit a strong performance from method actor Day-Lewis, but it proved to be a worthy departure from the criminal tales Mann would become known for. Not the masterpiece its name in hindsight seems to evoke, but a strong entry nonetheless.

Heat (1995)

The film that catapulted Mann into the consciousness of most.  This is a stellar cops and robbers tale featuring a multitude of performers you may not have known by name but rather recognized at the time by face, like Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Haysbert and Amy Brenneman; or a young Ashley Judd opposite Val Kilmer.  While it is perhaps most revered as the film that brought Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino together for a film and a special scene of layered dialogue (shot at Kate Mantillini’s on Wilshire Blvd. here in LA), it is equally memorable for Mann’s filming of the intense shootout that we showed in our Classic Scenes earlier this week.

Mann working the cool blue color palette in "Heat."

Mann working the cool blue color palette in "Heat."

His filming at dusk, which in my opinion, is one of the most identifiable shot traits he has is ubiquitous here.  He will often frame actors in a soft glow that makes them appear to be floating against an atmospheric backdrop.  This film defines who Mann is to most more than any other and showed that he could work with the best around, garnering him legions of fans both within and outside of the movie industry.  Perhaps strangely, it really didn’t become a mega-hit until video via word of mouth.

The Insider (1999)

I mentioned Mann’s ability to take an actor and catapult their careers forward, well, his partnership with Russell Crowe as a notorious whistle-blower whose life is vastly altered over the course of several years, is almost the thing of legend.  Al Pacino plays real-life journalist Lowell Bergman in the semi-biographical piece (that played as a thriller), a film type that Mann would explore more deeply in his next film as well.  This is Mann’s finest work to date in my eyes, although that is like splitting hairs when a man has the filmography that Mann has.

A hotel room background comes to life in "The Insider."

A hotel room background comes to life in "The Insider."

Mann ultimately knows that actors are his greatest weapons and he unleashes Crowe, letting him transform from a stable man to one on the brink of collapse.  A masterpiece of understated acting bravado, Crowe was recognized with an Oscar nomination (the year he should have won), and Mann a directing nomination, just two of 7, including one for Best Picture that the film would earn.  It is not the crowd-pleasing work that fans might have wanted after Heat, but Mann shows a dedication to taking on new challenges and risks, reverting back to simply creating an intensity that few films can rival.  Must see cinema.

Ali (2001)

Mann again shows his skill as a director getting an action hero and former rapper, named Will Smith to morph himself into an acting powerhouse, as he became boxing great Muhammed Ali for this film, both physically and emotionally.  Both Smith and Jon Voight, as the charismatic announcer Howard Cosell, would earn Oscar nominations for the film, and a former comedian named Jamie Foxx gave a noteworthy performance as the troubled Bundini Brown, proving he could do drama, something he capitalized on in another biography Ray.

Taking an angle on a 'roided up Smith in "Ali."

Taking an angle on a 'roided up Smith in "Ali."

This is a film where Mann’s notorious attention to detail actually worked against his audiences wishes.  It is very flowing and poetic, as well as a bit long, something that most audiences weren’t looking for, and it was a letdown in that regard marking it as a significant box office misfire, given the star and subject.  People usually prefer a more literal biographical translation on screen, and for one with a person as iconic as Ali, the film achieved mixed results.  It probably deserves a second chance but is not likely to ever reach the status of some of his earlier works.

Collateral (2004)

This is the film that reset Mann in his “comfort” zone, with superstar Tom Cruise acting opposite Foxx in a pulsating film about the transformation of one man’s life when juxtaposed against the near certainty of death.  Cruise locks into his character as Vincent, a hitman out to ice five important members in a trial in a single night.  He gives just enough humanity to a hired assassin to make you long to see more of him in these types of roles.  Foxx slowly transforms from a wayward, shy cab driver into a confident man with nothing to lose.  This is another film featuring lush photography and great music, with Mann balancing the pace of the film with thrilling moments and softer, quieter ones.

Cruise and Foxx playing hide and seek in "Collateral."

Cruise and Foxx playing hide and seek in "Collateral."

Following Mann’s shots, you can tell the seasoning he has had at the helm, not merely shooting a cab driving, where a large portion of the film takes place, but shooting shots of its reflection on buildings, or overhead shots that break up the monotony of the claustrophobic cab space.  Upon its theatrical run, this was seen as a slight misfire at the box office, never really taking off (although it trickled to $100 million domestic) as audiences adjusted to seeing a hero turned bad guy in Cruise.  Still it warrants repeat viewings to continue to gain appreciation for the work put in by all involved.

Miami Vice (2006)

His most recent effort, save for Public Enemies, was the one that was supposed to rocket the new Crockett and Tubbs to new heights with (a surprisingly portly) Colin Farrell (Tigerland) and Foxx as the iconic duo who were once TV staples.  Mann had a role in creating the show for TV in the 80’s; a show that some claimed finally got the full use of color out of television, with the searing heat of Miami etched on celluloid displaying the pastels and neons of the era ever so vibrantly.  The film unfortunately, missed for the most part, as it wasn’t as fun as say, Bad Boys, which I think is what people were looking for.  It lacked the cool, quirky dialogue from the series and took a rather serious tone, with a plot that was a bit too predictable as it played out on screen.

Mann still had beautiful shots like this in "Vice."

Mann still had beautiful shots like this in "Vice."

This had a troubled production and the leads never really displayed the sort of chemistry you would expect.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t cast as well as most of his other films were without the recognizable faces you saw in nearly all of the aforementioned films.  “Vice” was lacking in character development and plot, even though it is by no means a throwaway film.  Mann still displays a flair for action, with some exciting boat/water sequences and his signature dusk shots are still present with a notable one of Farrell on a boat in the water near the Miami harbor.  Not as bad as it seemed overall, but it crashed hard at the box office and I believe the studio pressured him to finish the film before he was ready, resulting in a misfire nevertheless.

Overall, Mann has had a stellar career; a very nice run.  He is not perfect, but taking a closer look at his works has only further heightened the anticipation to see what he does with John Dillinger’s tale, featuring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, in this week’s Public Enemies.  Want to know more?  Check back this week as we review the film.

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The Nest’s Film News Daily

Welcome to a wonderful new week in film. We have a bunch of first looks for you today. I feel it’s a good way to get it going.

[The Movie Blog] has the first shot of Russell Crowe in Robin Hood garb from the set of the new Ridley Scott film. Although I don’t particularly like the guy as a person, he’s a great actor. He looks pretty hard in this pic. It should be sweet.

For those hyped about the new Star Trek film, you might be interested in checking out the virtual press conference what was held earlier today. Director J. J. Abrams and others were on hand to answer questions. It’s a pretty interesting concept. It looks like they used the graphics engine from “The Sims.” You’ll see what I’m talking about. [Star Trek XI Blog]

[Film Gecko] has the first clip from the animated film 9. You might remember the trailer from a few months ago with the dope Coheed and Cambria soundtrack. This thing looks crazy.

Channing Tatum is blowing up this year with roles in Fighting, Public Enemies and G.I. Joe, but he apparently regrets not being able to play Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. You may not have formed an opinion yet, unless you watched the bootleg version of that film, but do you regret him not being in it? I’m sure I’m happy with the current state. [Filmonic]

One of our most anticipated films of the year, Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones has its first two pics online thanks to [Ace Showbiz]. Ever want to see what heaven looks like outside of the 1998 Robin Williams film, What Dreams May Come? There are some words from Jackson about the project, as well.

Angels & Demons comes out in just a few weeks and Sony/Columbia has announced a third film in the series is on its way. Dan Brown, writer of two Robert Langdon-starring novels “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” just finished the third book in the series, titled “The Lost Symbol.” It will focus on the secret society of the Freemasons. The book is due to be released September 15, 2009. The movie, much later. I’m down. [Fused Film]

Just as we began, we end today’s news with another first film image. This time it’s the Peter Jackson-produced Neill Blomkamp-directed District 9, which has been soaring below the radar, but will be released toward the end of this sumer. [SciFi Cool]

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‘State of Play’ Preview

I’ve personally enjoyed watching movies based on journalism and what impact the media has on the world.  It’s also sad to see the industry, specifically print, going down the tubes and being reduced to a faint pulse.  Since the mid to late 90s, newspapers have been dying a slow death with the advent of online news. With the current state of the economy so bad, I think it might be the nail in the coffin for print journalism. Major newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle are threatening to shut down, writers are being laid off and production work might be outsourced to other countries. At the same time, I’m also excited that online journalism/blogging is on the rise, because news will continue to survive and keep the world informed. Since journalism has always made an impact, like exposing political lies and corruption, it also good to see movies dramatizing these events. Some great movies on journalism would be All the President’s Men, Good Night and Good Luck, True Crime, Zodiac, Shattered Glass and Season 5 of “The Wire.” State of Play could be another movie to add to the list.

"Do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?" "I know that McAdams is running her hands perpendicular to each other."

"Do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?" "I know that McAdams is running her hands perpendicular to each other."

Russell Crowe stars as Cal McCaffrey, an investigative journalist working for the Washington Globe. He is probing a murder case that is related to congressman and presidential hopeful Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck).  The person murdered was Collins’s ex-research assistant, whom he also had an affair with.  Collins, at the time of the affair, was looking into possible scandal by a company. He believes the company was responsible for her death. With political rivals having knowledge of the murder scandal, they use this as bait to ruin his presidential nomination. While investigating the case, McCaffrey, who previously was a campaign manager for Collins, becomes romantically linked with Collins’s wife, Anne Collins (Robin Wright Penn). Rachel McAdams (who I’ve always liked as an actress) plays Della Frye, an ex-blogger, now political reporter. She is assisting McCaffrey on the murder case story and also learning the ropes from him. There is a sweet quote from the trailer where Frye inquires about McCaffrey’s journalism skills. “Did we just break the law?” Frye asks. “Nope, that’s what you call damn fine reporting,” McCaffrey says. Helen Mirren also co-stars as Cameron Lynne, a hard-edged editor of the Globe. The rest of the cast includes Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels and Viola Davis.

The film’s director, Kevin McDonald, also directed the Academy Award winning films The Last King of Scotland and One Day in September. State of Play is based off a BBC mini-series of the same name, which was created Paul Abbott, a BAFTA winning writer. Matthew Michael Carnahan, Billy Ray and Tony Gilroy (The Bourne franchise, Michael Clayton) adapted into a full-length feature.

"Is that a flag or a smiley face pin on your lapel?"

"Is that a flag or a smiley face pin on your lapel?"

State of Play looks like a very good political thriller and an A-list cast and director heads it. It’s good to see a movie showing how important journalism is and a reminder how prominent newspapers still are, even in an age of near extinction.

State of Play opens April 17th.

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Cate Blanchett Joins Crowe in ‘Robin Hood’

In another bit of casting news, Cate Blanchett has signed on to join Russell Crowe in the former Nottingham film, now just going by the Robin Hood project, due in 2010, for the time being.  Variety confirms:

Cate Blanchett will play Maid Marian alongside Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood in the Ridley Scott-directed epic adventure for Universal Pictures.

So, we have the highly regarded actress added to what is Ridley re-teaming with Russell for what I believe is their 5th pairing!  They worked magic in Gladiator in 2000, but they really haven’t struck gold since.  American Gangster did fairly well, but you add Denzel in the mix, and that pot will turn out to smell pretty good.  I am actually good with the idea of this project though, with the cast rounding into shape and a triple figure budget, this trio better get it right because I don’t think it is a slam dunk.  They are aiming for a PG-13 rating, which will pretty much have to happen given the sizeable budget as they would need to bring in the widest audience possible.  We’ll see what happens and we will keep you abreast of the situation.

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Chow Down On Hathaway, Other Casting Droppings (Videos)

A couple of casting rumors, while another actor turns down a job. You’ll never guess who. Seriously. It’s bewildering.

From China.org (everybody’s favorite film news site) via FilmSchoolRejects.com lies the tidbit of Anne Hathaway possibly getting together with Jack Black, for the next Stephen Chow (CJ7) film. You might remember Chow dropping out of the director’s chair on The Green Hornet and this is presumably the reason why. He is currently the writing the script for what is apparently a special-effects-ridden, superhero, action-comedy. No other tidbits have been revealed, aside from the aforementioned Black and Hathaway as possible stars, along with Chow himself.

The same person?

The last action-comedy Hathaway was involved in was last summer’s Get Smart. It was mostly unfunny and very forgettable. It did, however, wake me up to Hathaway’s beauty, and that’s certainly commendable. I wouldn’t put the onus on her for the film’s failings. I assume Chow saw something in her that made him think she’d work here. I’m definitely curious to see how this shapes up. Here’s the trailer for Get Smart in order to relive some past glory:

Courtesy of The Telegraph is the news Cate Blanchett has been mentioned as possibly filling the shoes left by Sienna Miller as Maid Marion for Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood film, Nottingham. Russell Crowe is set to play the dual role of Robin Hood/Sheriff Nottingham in the film. Actor, Mark Strong (studly in RockNrolla), playing Guy of Gisbourne, talked about the chances:

“I think Cate Blanchett is set to take the Maid Marian part. She is a wonderful actress and it would make it a much classier film if she was in it.”

That assessment is probably correct. Certainly classier than Sienna Miller, but I guess you’d have to combat the antics of Russell Crowe, too. Although I haven’t seen Scott’s past two teamings with Crowe (Body of Lies and A Good Year), I’m somewhat down with this movie. I haven’t been Blanchett’s greatest fan due to the costume dramas, but I don’t diss her either. I’m still on board with this.

To this day, this is what I think about with I hear the name Robin Hood:

Lastly, from TotalFilm comes an excerpt from an interview with Jean-Claude Van Damme about why he turned down a role in Sylvester Stallone’s old-school action-star throwback project, The Expendables.

“Stallone gave me a part in his next movie,” he told us. “But I ask him about the subject, about the story.”

“He said, ‘You’re gonna make lots of money.’ I don’t want to hear that, I want to hear what was my character.  He was unable to tell what it’s going to be.”

“[Stallone said:] ‘You know, uh, well, the fighting will be good.’ [So I said:] ‘Sly, what is my character?’ So I didn’t do the movie.”

So, he’s a serious actor now? Perhaps all the positive buzz from JCVD has gone to his head. I do like Stallone’s idea of this reunion of all these 80’s action stars for one last go-round, combining them with the stars of today, kind of passing the proverbial torch to them. It’s far better than the incessant remaking of the entire 80’s film catalogue.

As of now the action cast stands at: Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li and Jason Statham. Steven Seagal and Arnold Schwarzenegger somehow need to free themselves up for this.

Although most others would probably prefer Bloodsport, the combination of hockey and action film was my Van Damme haven. Gotta love it when he skates out and tends goal! Here’s a clip from Sudden Death:

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