Photo Updates to Coriolanus & The Expendables

Woot, woot! What have we got here? Back in early May, I posted some photos of the Ralph Fiennes’ modern-day Coriolanus adaptation with the cast on the set in Serbia. Well, thanks to Collider.com, we’ve got some new stills from the movie.

Photos courtesy of KinoGallery.com

More stills available at the KinoGallery.com site

In the second pic, we have a glimpse of Brian Cox as Menenius, a slick politician (well, is there any other kind?) and Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia (Coriolanus’ mother). Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd is back to familiar territory after winning some kudos for The Hurt Locker, that last photo is definitely reminiscent of that movie.

In early May, a writer of The Guardian was on the set to observe the shoot and interview the actor/director Fiennes. The article states that Coriolanus has been described as Shakespeare’s least sympathetic tragic hero. Banished from Rome, he turns renegade and joins with Aufidius to march on the city, and that fact is actually what draws him in. “I kind of like his unlikability,” Fiennes says. On Butler’s casting, Fiennes said he wanted an actor with physical charisma. Someone the audience would believe as a contender. “People need to think he can win. Is Aufidius going to beat the s*** out of Coriolanus?”

Judging from this on-set knife fight still below, looks like this is going to be one gritty and bloody adaptation… not to mention explosive!

Writer Andreas Wiseman also posted his on-set experience and experience in the 30Ninjas blog. Looks like they’re going to use the Shakesperean words/dialog a la Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Sweeeet!

Coriolanus: “I’ll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee.”

Aufidius responds with equal disdain: “We hate alike.”


Speaking of gritty and bloody, not much else conjures up such thought than The Expendables. Most of you probably have seen the poster I posted here, and now we’ve got the one featuring the full main cast. Funny how they start with a bald dude and ends with a bald dude 🙂

In case you’re at all interested about the plot:

THE EXPENDABLES is a hard-hitting action/thriller about a group of mercenaries hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator.  Once the mission begins, the men realize things aren’t quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal.  With their mission thwarted and an innocent life in danger, the men struggle with an even tougher challenge – one that threatens to destroy this band of brothers. (per IMDb)

Looks like Sly pulls all the stops in the action stuff and the level of brute force one can jam into one movie. And if this photo of Jason Statham below is any indication, preposterous action sequences should be the order of the day!

How does one even get up ther … oh, never mind, just BRING. IT. ON!

The Expendables is out August 13.

Chat-Worthy Upcoming Flix: ‘Coriolanus’, Nolan’s Superman/Batman & ‘Jane Eyre’ remake

CORIOLANUS

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’ve sort of aspire to be a casting agent. One of my casting wish is to have my fave actor Gerard Butler to co-star with fellow Scottish actor Brian Cox. The multi-award winning actor is known for his villainous roles in Troy, Bourne Supremacy and X-Men 2, and he’s the first actor to play the role of Hannibal Lecter in Michael Mann’s Manhunter. Well, talk about wish granted! William Hurt’s apparently no longer attached to this project as previously reported, and Cox is his replacement! He joins another esteemed thespian Vanessa Redgrave, who just co-starred with him in the TV project The Day of the Triffid.

To refresh your memory, Coriolanus is Ralph Fiennes’ directing debut in which he’d play the lead role and Butler is playing his arch enemy Tullus Aufidius. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Fiennes cast actors with theater background for this Shakespearean political tale. Coincidentally, Butler’s professional acting debut was playing the title Coriolanus, and his other stage work was Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer with Rachel Weisz.

Empire reports that shooting will start on location in Belgrade starting St. Patrick’s Day next week, and this is the most intriguing part: “… we’re told that the story will take place in a contemporary setting, so don’t expect togas.” Well, as much as I love to see ’em showing off their legs, I’m kinda digging the modern flair of this, a la Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo + Juliet.  In any case, we know the cast is impressive, but looks like Fiennes’ rounded up some stellar crews as well. The script is penned by John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Aviator), and he’s also got cinematographer Barry Ackroyd and sound mixer Ray Beckett, who are fresh out of their BAFTA and Oscar win for The Hurt Locker.

I hope this is just one of many more ‘meatier’ roles to come for Gerard, and by that I don’t mean showing off his abs … though if that’s the case here, who am I to complain? 🙂

Nolan speaks on Batman/Superman combo project


Wow, not a week goes by about some kind of news on the two DC comic superheroes, with Christopher Nolan at the center of it all. Last month I blogged about the British auteur’ involvement as a mentor in the next Superman movie. Now the man himself is working every fanboy/girl in a tizzy with a spatter of updates on the two highly-anticipated projects.

As found in the L.A. Times Hero Complex Blog (who sat down with the director over tea in his Hollywood home), these words coming from his mouth is enough to wet my appetite: “It’s very exciting; we have a fantastic story” – referring to the indestructible Man of Steel, the biggest kahuna of all superhero. Interestingly enough, the idea came about during Batman’s relative standstill. Apparently not one to twiddle his thumb, writer David Goyer (chief collaborator on Nolan’s two Batman films) came up with his dream vision of the Kryptonian hero:

“He basically told me, ‘I have this thought about how you would approach Superman,’” Nolan recalled. “I immediately got it, loved it and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I’ve never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting. I wanted to get Emma and I involved in shepherding the project right away and getting it to the studio and getting it going in an exciting way.”

But since a director hasn’t been secured yet, and casting is probably going to take an even more arduous process, this project still seems so far away in our horizon, so I just don’t want to get too fired up. Batman 3 is probably a ‘closer’ prospect, but even that Nolan still won’t confirm his directorial involvement. It is interesting, as the reporter points out, ‘how inspirations originate.’ Notice how Nolan’s Batman films have such a spectacular cast? I mean he’s got the likes of Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Tom Wilkinson in supporting roles. Well, that idea came from Donner’s Superman:

“I went to the studio with the analogy of ‘I want to cast the way they did in 1978 with ‘Superman,”’ where they had [Marlon] Brando and Glenn Ford and Ned Beatty and all these fantastic actors in even small parts, which was an exotic idea for a superhero movie at the time. It really paid off too. As a kid watching ‘Superman,’ it seemed enormous and I realized later by looking at it that a lot of that was actually the casting, just having these incredibly talented people and these characterizations. And Marlon Brando is the first guy up playing Superman’s dad. It’s incredible.”

Despite his coy attitude, my hunch is that Nolan will indeed helm this project, so I guess we can expect the same kind of caliber ensemble in the third Batman installment. He did confirmed that his brother Jonathan is writing the script (another reason to think he won’t let someone else direct it): “My brother is writing a script for me and we’ll wait to see how it turns out…. He’s struggling to put it together into the epic story that you want it to be.”

As The Dark Knight ends with the caped crusader being a hunted fugitive, it’d be nice to see the third as a ‘closure’ to Nolan’s Batman franchise, so I really appreciate his answer to the ‘What happens next?’ question: “Without getting into specifics, the key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story,” he said. “And in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story.”

I’m not particularly concerned about who’ll be the villains and all that, I think that just comes naturally with a great storyline. Besides, any great director would (or should) know how rudimentary it is to get the villain right in such a franchise, as you can see in casting Heath Ledger as the Joker, arguably the best superhero villain we’ve seen to date. That is why I’m confident that Nolan won’t go the ‘circus freak’ route with the villains as Joel Schumacher did. It might work in the comic book world, but it just comes across very silly to the point of obnoxious in the movie adaptation. One thing for sure though, don’t count on Mr. Freeze making an appearance as long as Nolan’s involved. Bravo!

A ‘darker’ Jane Eyre? Yes, please!

Fukunaga

As a huge fan of the Charlotte Brontë’s gothic tale, I was so psyched to hear that Michael Fassbender’s been cast as Rochester, especially since I was rather dismayed to hear the Wuthering Heights’ remake is getting Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick (ugh!). Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska also seems to be a fitting choice as the petite yet indomitable young governess. Both actors are definitely on the rise, and apparently so is the director.

Cary Fukunaga is a 33-year-old director of Japanese/Swedish descent whose highly-acclaimed writing/directing debut Sin Nombre won directing award at Sundance last year, as well as other nods from various film festivals. On top on such credence, Jane Eyre is one of his favorite films. Movieline asked if he’s “.. daunted by remaking one of his favorite films? Not quite, Fukunaga said.”

“The Orson Welles-Joan Fontaine version was of an era. You wouldn’t make a film like that anymore. I’m a stickler for raw authenticity, so I’ve spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Brontë was feeling when she was writing it. That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story…there’s been something like 24 adaptations, and it’s very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it’s just a period romance, and I think it’s much more than that.”

I really like what I’m hearing here. It’s definitely more than just a period romance. The essence of the Jane Eyre story is gothic and dark, so I’m intrigued by how Fukunaga will tackle that aspect. You probably already know that I love Timothy Dalton’s portrayal as Rochester in BBC’s 1983 version, but the entire production left so much to be desired. It’s got some gothic undercurrents but it’s just lacking something overall that I hope to see in this version. At least they seem to get the casting right. I can see Fassbender bring out that mercurial mood and volatility of the Byronic hero. The rest of the cast is shaping up nicely, too. Here’s some detailed info on who’s playing what (courtesy of Filmstage):

Dame Judi Dench will play Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper of Thornfield Manor who hires Jane, and disproves of Jane’s relationship with Rochester. One of my fave young thespian Jamie Bell (Defiance, Billy Elliot) will play St. John, a young clergyman who helps Jane in a time of need, and turns out to be connected to her by blood. Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, An Education) will play Mrs. Reed, Jane’s terrible aunt, who terrorizes and abuses Jane as a orphaned child.

In any case, not that there’s a correlation, but the last time a director of Asian descent (Ang Lee) tackle a literary classic, the result was the much beloved – and one of my fave movies of all time – Sense & Sensibility. I absolutely can’t wait for this movie, but looks like it won’t be out until 2011.

Friday Flix Question: What’s your guilty pleasure flix?

Ahhh… weekend is just around the corner, always a good thing. Just to change things up, I thought I post a question for you dear readers, ‘coz it’s Friday and we all want something fun on Fridays.

I have no qualms to fess up that I have quite a few, heck perhaps half of my DVD collections are probably comprised of them. They’re not only fun for pure indulgence sake, but also quite handy. They’re the kinds that can spice up any routine cardio workout, or offer the perfect antidote for a cold, rainy afternoon. It’s no surprise that one flix I’m going to highlight today involve a certain Scot best known for playing a Spartan King =)  No, it’s not 300, though that’s a pretty good one to pop in during a workout naturally, but it’s the 2001 USA network TV miniseries Attila — where he plays another warrior King — that’s easily one of my ‘guiltiest.’

Check out the trailer below:

It’s not aiming for historical accuracy by a long shot, but that’s a given on a production like this. I mean just look at the guy portraying Attila himself. Wikipedia describes the historical figure as “short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were small, his beard thin and sprinkled with grey; and he had a flat nose and tanned skin, showing evidence of his origin.” Well, Gerry Butler looks incredibly tanned for sure, looks like he had been baking under the Mediterranean sun non-stop for a full straight month. But short he ain’t, nor the rest of the description matched him in the slightest. Just take a peek at the illustration here and compare it with the promo shot of GB for the movie here. That never fails to make me chuckle.

Despite some cheesy dialog, the flick itself is quite entertaining, not bad at all for a TV movie. The cast include Powers Booth (whom I’ve never seen before but is pretty good here), Steven Berkoff, Tommy Flannagan, and Tim Curry. As you probably know, Berkoff is the actor who gave Butler his first ever acting job on the London stage.

I even spotted Isla Fisher, Sacha Baron Cohen’s gal pal, as one of Attila’s many wives. I never noticed her before, but then again she hasn’t made it big until fairly recently. But the star is definitely Butler — there’s that wild and raw quality about him that’s perfect for playing Attila. Plus, he’s never looked as good as he did here, his gray/green eyes looked even more piercing with his darker complexion and jet black hair. His commanding screen presence is what makes him so captivating to watch, it’s no surprise to me that his breakthrough role five years later had him playing another military leader. So thanks to Ralph Fiennes for casting him as Roman general Tullus Aufidius in his Coriolanus project. I’ll never tire of watching Butler being all raw, intense and powerful… now, having him go toe-to-toe against Mr. Fiennes is definitely icing on the cake!

Anyway, enough about that. Now, it’s your turn, readers. I’d love to hear about your guilty pleasure!

Gerard Butler joined Ralph Fiennes in Coriolanus

Woo hoo, this totally made my week! Ok, so it’s almost Friday which in and of itself is a very good thing but when I saw this on IMDb mid morning Thursday, I almost jumped out of my seat! Just yesterday I was desperately hoping for him NOT to go the graphic novel route, but actually do something small and poignant. Well, wish granted!

For GB fans, we know what CoriolayoungGBnus means to him. It’s the first acting gig he’s ever got after he was fired just one week shy of becoming a lawyer. He’s told this story numerous times in interviews, including just yesterday to Baltimore WJZ, how actor Steven Berkoff  — who later became his co-star in Attila — let him audition despite his zero acting experience. If I remember correctly, he also told Jay Leno that his performance was rather over-the-top, but he impressed Berkoff enough that he actually got the part! This pic I found on Flickr looks like a scan from the actual program from the London play, click for a larger version with his short bio.

Ain’t it cool‘s ‘Quint’ was actually on the phone with the actor himself who confirmed his involvement in Ralph Fiennes’ directing debut:

It looks like I might be doing Coriolanus, the Shakespeare play, the movie version… the adaptation of. Ralph Fiennes will be directing and playing Coriolanus, and I’d be playing Tullus Aufidius his nemesis!

Quint added this bit of info: “Of course he said “nemesis” with the evil voice on, which made it sound even more badass.” Ha! That sounds like GB all right.

Here’s a brief summary of Shakespeare’s least-produced play:
Coriolanus is a powerful political drama about a Roman general whose arrogance leads to his own destruction. Caius Martius earned the name Coriolanus when he defeated the Volscians, led by Tullus Aufidius, in the Italian city of Corioles. Coriolanus was never a man for the people, which propelled the Roman citizens — under the influence of two conniving tribunes — to drive him into exile. It’s then that he turned to his former nemesis Aufidius out of vengeance and contempt for his own people. Though they consider each other blood enemies, Coriolanus actually respected Aufidius and regarded him as equal in martial nobility (this kind of reminds me of Attila the Hun’s relationship with Roman general Flavius Aetius).

So basically, Coriolanus is like an antihero, I mean he’s obviously arrogant and treacherous, not to mention his Oedipus complex toward his manipulative mother, Volumnia. I can’t wait to see Fiennes going toe-to-toe against Butler, clad in Roman garb and bellowing Shakespeare. William Hurt and Vanessa Redgrave have been cast, and the screenplay will be penned by John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Sweeney Todd). Wow, this is what I’m talking about, Gerry. I’m psyched to see him surround himself with such thespians! Though I may not be as harsh as this article about putting GB on movie star probation, I must admit I wasn’t too keen on his role choices of late. So this is definitely a good step in the right direction.