Archived entries for

Valkyrie

It’s the tentative title for Bryan’s thriller I keep talking about, according to Liz Smith’s New York Post column, published yesterday.
“And then [Bryan and writers Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander] went to UA with their project titled “Valkyrie.”

Well, about that title… It’s apprently from “Operation Walküre” which was the codename for the assassination plot. Of course, it’s nothing definitive, but it’s still appropriate and…makes…sense, I guess. It sounds a bit exotic, but I kind of like it.
The article then continues:
At UA, Bryan met with none other than Tom Cruise and just in the last month, Tom has been set to play the lead as a heroic German colonel, Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the man who led the “July Plot” to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Okay, about the Cruise playing a ‘heroic’ German colonel. That’s something I’m very curious to see in the film. Because, see, in Wikipedia’s account of the event, Stauffenberg (the character played by Cruise) is, quote, “a political conservative and a zealous German nationalist with a taste for philosophy. He had at first welcomed the Nazi regime but had become rapidly disillusioned. […] He brought a new tone of fanaticism to the ranks of the resistance.”
Not sure this correlates with my defintion of ‘heroic’. I mean, obviously, this man did try to kill Hitler, at the cost of his own life -when the plot was ultimately uncovered, he was immediately executed. And surely, he is one of the many figures of German resistance. But it just seems… the way he is described makes it sound as if there were a double moral standard in his character.
I’ve already expressed my doubts as to how we, as an audience, are supposed to be sympathetic to high-ranked Nazi officers. I know they were plotting against Hitler -this being the whole point of the film… And yes, they were part of the German resistance, which at the time, was all kinds of heroic and incredibly inspiring… But there’s something vaguely disturbing about it.
That being said, Todd Bowen was a very disturbing protagonist in a very disturbing film, so I know Bryan is good at portraying ‘disturbing’. Heh.
Smith then quotes Bryan himself:

Singer says: “Originally, Chris and Nathan and I brought the project to UA because it seemed like a good match. UA was founded as an artist-based studio. Tom and Paula Wagner were clearly carrying on the tradition. The film was green-lit quickly. I admit in the back of my mind I always thought Tom would be a great fit for this role, beyond his physical resemblance. We met a few times about production and my desire to offer the part to him crystallized.”

Hmmmm. “Clearly carrying on tradition”? As in “making heaps of money from films”? Hee. Sorry, but I’m still doubtful about the whole United Artists’ revival. I mean, c’mon, who are they kidding? The film industry is no longer what it used to be, it just isn’t.
Plus, Cruise and Wagner definitely do NOT qualify as the worthy heirs of Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith. Just saying.
But it’s not like I’m questioning Bryan’s casting skills or anything. Because I’m not.
Smith finishes her article by saying,

This seems to be one of those adventures that happen only rarely. UA will forge ahead and make the movie early this summer because Bryan is set to go ahead on “Superman” at Warner Bros. The McQuarrie-Alexander script is described as excellent, with suspense, honor, horror and history all mixed in together. To some of us, it will be heroic history; to youngsters, it will be a thriller.

Well, I’m sure it is excellent. Sounds quite epic.
I’m just a bit worried for Bryan, as I always am. I guess I got used to him doing action/adventure/superhero films. But I’m glad he’s chosen to tackle such a sensitive story –and I’m sure he’ll be doing just fine, in fact.
Am still waiting on the crew announcements, though… It kind of is Bryan’s first ‘period’ film, in the sense that it is set in actual past history. Production and costume designer are going to have a jolly time reconstructing it! I suspect Guy Dyas and Louise Mingenbach will be working on the pre-production for the Supes sequel, and might not be involved with this project. But Bob Mayer Burnett, my new favourite crewmember, did say Warner would try and make it fit with Superman schedule, so who knows?

Okay, I’m rambling now. Sorry.

In other less exciting news (or possibly not), an exclusive trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Thirteen (“Hollywood-coolest-stars vehicule” also applies here) is up at Yahoo!Movies. You might ask why I love the Ocean franchise, considering how pretentious and self-congratulating it looks. Two words: Matt Damon. The trailer isn’t too bad, but the teaser was funnier. But the fake nose? Cracked me up.

Next post will be my review of the month, after which I intend to start a new feature on this blog –DVD commentaries and extras recap! I was thinking of creating a whole new blog for it, but I’d rather keep with this good ol’ one.
Stay tuned… or run away in the opposite side, if you’re sick of reading about me babbling about Bryan. There’s going to be a lot more of him to come, since the first DVD extra I intend to recap is… Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns. Now, that‘s a surprise!

The Bourne Ultimatum Teaser Trailer!

Watch the glorious footage here! It’s action-packed, has tidbits from both Identity and Supremacy and in short, is bloody brillant. Not much revealed about the plot, but still very very exciting. The thought of all these characters returning to the big screen (Jason obviously, Nicky, Pamela Landy etc.) makes me shiver. I am so looking forward to seeing it. Oh, and it’s DIRECTED BY PAUL GREENGRASS, so it adds to the excitement as well. Did I mention Matt Damon?

*takes a deep breath*
Speaking of the Paul, the results for the Empire Awards were published today, alongside gorgeous photoshoots featuring various people I really love (namely, Brandon Routh, Paul as I said earlier, Christopher Nolan). I’ll repost those three here, but you can see all the winners and beautiful pics over there.

The results are, as expected, quite to my liking, except that Superman Returns got kind of shortlisted in all the categories it might have won. Bryan, too. Sniff. But then again, he lost out to Chris Nolan, so I’m not complaining or anything. Don’t ask me to choose between Bryan’s and Chris’ directing, though; because I could never possibly answer.

Also, the shiny new covers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are up on MuggleNet, but I don’t want to think about the Apocalypse too much, plzthx!

"But that was then; this is now."

Read the Independent‘s comprehensive articles about the agreement reached in Northern Ireland. It is optimistic, moving and most of all, kind of gives you your faith back in humanity. It may seem like nothing, but it’s been a long and painful way to get there.
“The fact that there was no handshake [between Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams] did nothing to spoil the occasion, since the sight of the two men together, flanked by their respective teams, had enormous political and psychological impact.”

Leading article : A Triumph of Both Style and Substance

“It will be fascinating to see what relationship may develop between the Protestant patriarch and the one-time IRA commander. But if yesterday’s introductory Paisley-Adams performance is anything to go by, the expected friction may be less than anticipated, given that the two men have spent a full generation eyeing each other from opposite ends of the political spectrum.”

Two worlds come together to broker a new era of hope

“For anyone who endured the conflict of the last 30 years, even as a spectator, or who is conditioned by the generations of sectarian animosity that preceded and fuelled it, the appearance of Adams and Paisley together was an emotional occasion.”

Commentary: A message of hope to a long-suffering people

And The Daily Telegraph, being –well, what they are, has a somewhat less enthusiastic point of view on the question but still acknowledges the positive side of things. The glass is still half-empty for them, apparently.
“Yet we should not get carried away. Northern Ireland has a habit of throwing up too many historic moments that have proved illusory. The depressing truth is that Northern Ireland has been repeatedly let down by its political establishment. It now has a chance to rectify that.”

The hard men of Ulster make their peace

Yeah. Well done, pricks. Not insulting at all, that editorial.

The sky is the limit

…but not for Danny Boyle. The director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later brings us his own space odyssey in Sunshine, a sci-fi/psychological thriller in which a rescue mission is sent to reboot the dying sun. I had the pleasure to see it yesterday for its premiere -so I thought I’d have a special post for this film. I’ll try to keep it spoiler-free.

Sunshine is the direct and worthy descendent of Ridley Scott’s Alien (easily one of my favourite films of all-time). Set in a spaceship, with all the confined rooms and corridors it involves, the same sense of claustrophabia and uneasiness is quickly conveyed. When we meet the astronauts of the Icarus II mission, they are already depressed and tense -things are about to snap and unravel soon. Each of these characters’ personalities is brillantly exposed, even though not a single word on their past is mentioned. They all have their own demons to face, a fact which becomes more and more obvious as the mission is getting closer to its aim. The film has serious depth in the portrayal of its characters and of its subject. This is not fantasy science-fiction, but as close to reality as possible. Science talk is a bit difficult to adjust to in the beginning, but it all quickly falls into place.
Similarly, the special effects are very, very impressive. They’re not blatant, huge VFX; but rather special effects which blend perfectly into the film’s landscape and make up for dazzling visuals. It is as far as Armageddon and other Hollywood films as it can get in its depiction of space. Boyle’s stubborness to recreate space as it might be in reality is very much visible; each detail and element is rendered with impressive credibility and therefore, beautiful to look at.
The form is here only matched by its content -the film does not limit itself to a sci-fi, disaster plot, but goes deep into its characters’ minds, as the rescue shuttle gets closer to the sun. As Danny Boyle puts it himself, this is “eight people strapped at the back of a bomb” (indeed, the only way to reignite the sun is to drop a bomb at its center), and this makes for great suspense and thrills. I won’t go further into the plot because it might spoil you, but let’s simply say that the story is brillantly told and that the characters’ dilemmas are bone-chilling. It is also a great exploration of one’s sanity when facing such tremendous events, but once again, I can’t say too much about it… There’s a bit of a philosophical side to the plot as well, which is very much welcomed. Because this is space we’re talking about –the infinite greatness which overwhelms us and goes beyond anything we could ever imagine. It is the perfect setting to tell of humans’ unexplored depths and other psychological challenges, because you simply have no way of knowing what might be actually happening up there. It sounds a bit confusing, but when watching the film, it really isn’t.
The directing is every bit as meticulous as you’d expect; Boyle surpasses himself in telling the story of these doomed characters. Not only is the film a psychological thriller (as I’ve already pointed out), but it’s also filled with effective suspense and tension. There are a couple of BRILLANTLY scary shots, but once again, I’ll keep mum about it. Let’s just say that the shadow of Scott and Kubrick is not far away here…
Finally, a word on the performances. Looking at Cillian Murphy’s filmography, I realised I’ve seen all his movies in theaters since the Girl With A Pearl Earring; Cold Mountain, Batman Begins (obviously), Red Eye, Breakfast on Pluto, The Wind That Shakes the Barley. So it’s a bit of an understatement to say that I’m very fond of him as an actor. I might be biased when saying that once again, he’s really impressed me in this film. He has the required poise to carry this film on his shoulders, and brings an intelligence to the role which I thought was very appropriate. The fact is, his character Capa is not your typical hero, but rather a reluctant, pushed by circumstances hero, more than anything else. And that fits Cillian very well indeed. I am so impressed by the career he’s building for himself; surely one of the greatest Irish actors alongside Liam Neeson.
The other performances, I have to say, were also very good, and that’s considering the limited screentime for each (there’s eight crewmembers aboard the ship, it’s a lot of characters to deal with). Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong and Michelle Yeoh give all-around good and believable performances, something that is somewhat of an achievement when there is so much to explain to the audience in terms of scientific reasoning and spaceship functioning. But most of all, they all fit the part, and they’re not one-dimensional, uninteresting characters -which, once again, is quite a treat. The film has few flaws, I can tell you that…
In a few words, Sunshine is a tremendously beautiful, incredible journey through space, but also through its characters’ minds. It’s thrilling, scary, entertaining, creative and all kinds of uncomfortable. In other words, you do not want to miss it.
Sunshine is released in two weeks’ time in the UK, and out in France on April, 11th.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeek!

This is my reaction to the announcement that Tom Cruise got a part in Bryan’s WWII thriller I told you about a few days ago, Variety reported today. Let’s analyze the article, which you can find here.

United Artists has set Tom Cruise to star for director Bryan Singer in the untitled WWII thriller that will begin production in the summer.

Meaning that Bryan did not have his word to say in it?
Heh. I’m just kidding. Apparently, Bryan himself wanted Cruise in his film *facepalm*

Since Cruise and C/W partner Paula Wagner took MGM topper Harry Sloane’s offer last fall to resuscitate the UA label and make four to six films per year, Cruise has taken a starring role in the first two pictures.

So he has a nasty habit of inviting himself in each of the films he’s producing. GREAT.

Chris McQuarrie wrote the script with Nathan Alexander. Singer and McQuarrie will produce, and Alexander will be co-producer.

Nathan who? The only credit he has on the IMDb is as a PA to Chris McQuarrie. Here’s to hoping he’s a great screenwriter, too. (How awesome is that, though? One day, you’re bringing coffee; and five years later, you get to co-write a screenplay. Heh)

Singer and McQuarrie brought the WWII project to Cruise and Wagner because they felt the material would be a good match for UA. Singer, who is in the early stages of mounting a sequel to “Superman Returns,” was able to fit it in before the Man of Steel is ready to take off again for Warner Bros. and Legendary.

Sooooooo, no delay for the sequel to Superman Returns. Now, that’s great, because it means this film will have to be shot and released quickly. On the other hand, Bryan will be multi-tasking and overseeing both the direction of his film and the pre-production stages (which are tremendously important) of the Supes sequel. But he’s a grown man, he can handle it, right?

At the time UA made the deal, Cruise sparked to it only as a project for the studio. That changed quickly. The thriller is based on actual events, as German generals hatch a scheme to assassinate Adolph Hitler at the height of WWII. In subsequent meetings, Singer asked Cruise if he wanted to play a central role and he agreed Tuesday.

I’m pretty sure Bryan didn’t “ask” him.
Gaaaaaaah, alright, FINE. So what if Bryan was the one who wanted Cruise to be in his film? It’s only natural. Natural in the sense that Bryan needed a big name to sell his film, and despite all his off-screen antics, Cruise remains a huge asset in any films he might star in. And he’s not so bad as an actor. I mean, alright he’s a freaky nut, but he can act. I rather love his latest movies (and yes, that includes MI:III, which I thought was rather awesome -but this might have something to do with me being an longtime Alias fan), and errr, he’s had an interesting carreer as an actor.
But in any case, I’m sure Bryan knows what he’s doing. And he’s PRETTY good at casting his films -he once said that it was the part of filmmaking he most disliked, while admitting that it was “probably the part I’m best at” as well. The line-up for all his films have been amazing, and this one will be no different. Plus, even if Cruise has a “central” role, the film also has an “ensemble character intrigue”, meaning that other parts will be as important as his. I’m not worried –just surprised in a disagreeable kind of way. It doesn’t fare well for the box-office perf of the film, though. Because I can see it coming –the film being marketed as the next Tom Cruise vehicule; and people have been so sick and tired of him, too. But I reckon it doesn’t matter, because obviously, Bryan is not making this film on the basis of how it will fare at the box-office -never had to because he’s such a successful director, and never will because his name isn’t Brett Ratner. Hem.
Okay, the other thing to discuss in this bit of article is the tidbit about the plot, which I’ve bolded in the citation. Empire developed a bit in their own story, quote:

We also now know the story – it’s the plot to kill Hitler, as made not all that famous by a TV movie called The Plot To Kill Hitler back in 1990. It focuses on several of the Nazi dictator’s own generals, who tried to do the monster in by planting a bomb in his battlefield bunker. Now, Hitler did die in a bunker, but hopefully it’s no great spoiler to reveal that it wasn’t from a bomb blast (watch Downfall for that particular story). See where this is going?

Now, I think this is the most interesting part, even more so than The Cruise inviting himself (oooh okay, starring in the film on Bryan’s invitation). That particular story sounds WICKED but most of all, it sounds very difficult to tell in a proper way. In no way am I questioning Christopher McQuarrie’s skills, but how do you expect the audience to have sympathy for a bunch of Nazi generals? Even if they tried to kill Hitler? (and they failed to do so!) …
I’m sure they came up with something great, though. I can see why Bryan would want to tell such a story, and it does seem to have great potential -suspense, betrayal, murder, morally questionable characters…
Now all we need is a title, more announcements about the casting and most importantly the CREW, a release date, a trailer, and I’ll be set and ready to see this film. Even if Cruise’s starring in it.