Spotlight on ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ + Interview with Jamie Campbell Bower, Lily Collins, & Kevin Zegers

I just heard about this young adult series was I went back to Jakarta last June. My 9-year-old niece had been carrying The City of Bones novel in her bag, which had a shirtless guy on it on the cover. I thought for a moment it was one of those Harlequin novels, thank goodness that’s not the case, ahah. So yeah, my three nieces, age 9, 11 and 13 are all huge fans of the books, and they can’t wait to see this film!

The Mortal Instruments is a series of six young adult fantasy novels written by Cassandra Clare, of which five have been published so far, and City of Bones is the first film adaptation of what’s positioned to be the latest young adult sci-fi franchise to hit the big screen.

CassandraClare
Author Cassandra Clare with her best-selling novels

On July 28, fans had a chance to meet three of the main stars at Mall of America. Originally author Cassandra Clare was also scheduled to appear, but she was unable to travel that weekend due to pneumonia. Now, before I get to the interviews, here is the synopsis of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones:

Set in contemporary New York City, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” tells the story of a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, as secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures.

Director: Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid)
Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Heady, Robert Sheehan, CCH Pounder, Jared Harris, Aidan Turner.
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 min.

I’ve posted the event photos in the weekend roundup post, but here they are again:

About an hour after the autograph signing, me and two other bloggers were escorted to the Mall of America Green Room downstairs for the interview. Take a listen to Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Kevin Zegers.

MortalInstruments_CharacterPosters

What’s the most interesting part for you guys to train to play shadow hunters?

Lily (Clary) and Jamie (Jace):

“I got to learn how to knife fight, which was really fun, I had done sword fighting before in other movies, so switching the blades up was pretty interesting, and in heels, the whole deal, was pretty fun.” – Lily

Kevin (Alec):

“… Shadow Hunters, the characters are so defined by fighting and by the way they fight. I really wanted to establish what, a lot of what these characters are is the way they look, the way they are, the way they walk, the way they fight, especially. So it was important to not just have some generic style of fighting …” – Kevin

MortalInstruments_Cast

You guys are getting on the ground floor of a new franchise… what was it like becoming these characters that people already love in the books?

“… I’m an actor but I’m also a fan. So it’s trying to put little bits of Lily in there, but staying true to how Cassie wrote her, but I think most of my character came into play once everyone else got into the room, you feed off of everyone else’s energy …” – Lily

“I guess what we have to do is we have to take on board what Cassie given us, the sort of bible there, for me I also wanted to please the fans, so I looked to what they wanted, and had to do stuff for me. It’s sort of those three things combined that, we worked around it and hopefully did something that was… comfortable.” – Jamie

“At the end of the day we’re making a film, and in order to, you’re not creating the exact person that was written on the page, you’re creating a person that has the same essence as that person.” – Kevin

There seems to be a lot of green screen in the filmmaking process, and also there’s a good dynamics between the three of you, so how’s the first day of filming like?

“There wasn’t too much green screen, maybe, like extending the height of the library, and there was a guy in a green suit pulling me when I was going through the portal. They pretty much had all the sets built for us, they had the characters, a lot of prosthetic work, so it wasn’t too difficult pretending.” – Lily

“… what I’m really keen to put out there that this a world that, the movie isn’t based in a world of werewolves and vampires, they’re just additions. It’s not like we’re trying to recreate the werewolf or the vampire, as an image, like some modern movies. They exist in this world but ultimately the story is about this girl who goes on this incredible journey who finds out who she is, and her heritage.” – Jamie

MortalInstruments_JamieCampbelBower

What drew you to the part that ended up being your role?

“I think to me it was an honor to be able to say “I can create this really strong, kind of badass character and have him also be gay”, and sort of kill some of the stereotype of the prototypical gay character.” – Kevin

“… there was this sort of “rock star element” that I really liked about Jace. The vulnerability about him, that I really dug…” – Jamie

MortalInstruments_LenaHeady

“I liked the fact that this series in general, it’s not about romance, it’s not about drama, it’s not about action. It really stems from, it’s an ensemble piece, but the catalyst to start this whole experiment with Clary really finding out who she is, this whole journey is her finding her mom (played by Lena Headey)... I’m really close to my mom, so that to me was something I thought was really admirable about her.” – Lily


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opens Wednesday, August 21 in the US and the UK.

(For Grace, Gina and Gladys: It opens in Indonesia on August 28 😀 )


What do you think of this one folks? Will you be seeing the movie?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Brendan Gleeson’s Passion Project At Swim Two Birds

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d highlight an upcoming Irish film starring actors and this one has been on my radar for some time, thanks to my Cillimaniac friend Novia 🙂

This project is actor Brendan Gleeson’s passion project he’s been working for quite a long time. And according to my friend Stella’s @ Byrneholics, Ireland’s Cultural Ambassador Gabriel Byrne announced that Gleeson has secured funding for the movie, yay!

Mr. Byrne himself is to be a part of the most awesome Irish ensemble cast ever! I mean we’re talking the who’s who of Irish cinema (most of whom are in my Top 10 Irish Actors list :D):

From top left: Byrne, Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Most of those actors have worked with Gleeson in various films. Gleeson’s son Domhnall (Bill Weasley in Harry Potter Part 7) has also been cast.

Whew! This is one of those movies that I’d run to the theater just for the cast and of course the Irish scenery as it’s likely to be filmed there.

The premise itself sounds intriguing. Here’s the book description from Amazon:

A wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds has influenced generations of writers, opening up new possibilities for what can be done in fiction. It is a true masterpiece of Irish literature.

Gleeson told Collider whilst promoting The Guard last August that “It’s one of the funniest and most anarchic novels I’ve ever read… It’s a great book but it’s kind of unfilmable in the way that the book was unwriteable.” But he confirmed that he’s got the script and so it’s just a matter of time for this project to be underway.

So how close to filming is this project?

“Well, fingers crossed, we’re trying to stitch it in this year. All things are going well but we’re not quite there yet. We’re hoping to be there in the next month or two to where we put a start date on it,” Gleeson said (via Irish Central). According to BBC UK back in Summer 2011, they’ve secured the funds for the project, but there hasn’t been any news since 😦

Mr Gleeson himself has been quite prolific lately, starring in three films in 2011: The Guard, Albert Nobbs, and The Cup, Safe House & The Raven in 2012  and The Calvary in 2014.

Oh man, I sure hope this film gets off the ground soon! I absolutely can’t wait to hear more about this one and hopefully filming happens soon and all the cast above will be involved!


What do you think folks? Interested in this one?

DVD Picks: Slumdog Millionaire & August Rush

I wrote these reviews before I decided on the Britastic blog series, but they work just fine because they’re both British-related. Slumdog Millionaire is directed by talented British director Danny Boyle, and Freddie Highmore who plays the title role in August Rush was born in London. They both also share a similar fairy-tale element in the storyline, but obviously these are two very different films.

Slumdog Millionaire

I finally got a chance to view the 2009 Best Picture Winner, and I’m glad to say that this one does live up to the hype. British director Danny Boyle paints a compelling and heart-wrenching rags-to-riches story that tugs at your heart right from the start.

The film centers on an unlikely teen, Jamal Malik, who grew up in the slums of Mumbai. He somehow defies all the odds to win the highest prize of the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and the story of how he got there and knew all the answers is told in flashbacks as he’s being interrogated on suspicion of cheating.

Though the one of the endorsements on the dvd cover says, ‘The feel-good film of the decade,” Slumdog Millionaire is actually tough to watch at times. Boyle doesn’t pull any punches in presenting the stark contrast between the haves and have-nots, and it’s fascinating to see how movie stars there are worshiped as if they’re immortal gods. The length Jamal took to get an autograph from one of them — who arrives on the slum via a chopper no less — is bizarre and devastating at the same time. There’s also scenes of unimaginable tragedy that these two boys have to endure that force that to survive on their own.

Dev Patel & Frieda Pinto

The heart of this fairy-tale is an unfaltering love story between Jamal and Latika, who also manages to escape the massacre in their village. Somewhere along the way they get separated, but Jamal refuses to give up on his long-lost love up no matter what the cost.

Played by three different actors, all of them portray Jamal with such heart and charm, though the older they get the lesser the resemblance between the two brothers (tricky casting I presume). Dev Patel as the older Jamal captures the essence of a young man who’s seen too much too soon, yet somehow retains that seemingly-uncrushable buoyant spirit. Gorgeous Frieda Pinto is enchanting as Latika, and the two share a believable chemistry even with so little words spoken to each other.

On top of all the great points I’ve mentioned above, this movie looks and sounds good as well. The cinematography is exuberant and colorful, and the music by A.R. Rahman compliments the urban realism nicely with its high energy and edgy beat. Kudos to Boyle for creating such an extraordinary film. His versatility is quite impressive, but whether he’s tackling a zombie thriller flick (28 Days Later) or sci-fi adventure (Sunshine), he rarely disappoints.

….

August Rush

“I believe in music like some people believe in fairy tales,” Evan Taylor tells us in the beginning of the movie.

From the time the movie opens in the lush wheat field, it sets the fairy-tale tone of the movie. This is the kind of movie cynics need not bother, as it insists that you simply surrender to its sweet energy and let it touch your heart. Really, once the music starts playing, whether it’s a refined symphony or the ‘music’ of the hustle and bustle of every day life, I was ready to be swept away. Predictable? Yes. But the journey is worthwhile to watch.

The story basically revolves around Evan Taylor, an outcast in an orphanage who never stops believing that somehow, somewhere, his parents miss him as much as he misses them. That dream and the music around him keeps the lonely boy company and helps him cope with the harsh reality. The movie is none too subtle in revealing that the young dreamer’s got an extraordinary musical gift, and he knew it’s the key to finding his parents.

Highmore and Robin Williams as 'Wizard'

The rest of the movie goes back and forth between Evan’s journey to New York — which also reveals the significance of the title August Rush — and the flashback story of how music is definitely in his genes. Throughout the movie, music plays an integral part, the blending of classical, hard rock and ‘street’-music was phenomenal. In fact, the music is a tremendous factor in what make the movie so enjoyable. So clearly the filmmaker is as passionate about the music as Evan does.

Freddie Highmore — one of the best young actors working today — first caught my eye in Finding Neverland. As the title role, the 18-year-old actor who was 15 at the time looks believable enough as an 11 year old, and he is affecting with his wide-eyed tenacity and sincere longings, even without much words spoken. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Kerri Russell as the estranged parents have a nice chemistry together, though is it just me or does Rhys-Meyers looks like he’s about to cry in every single scene? Robin Williams as ‘Wizard’ is not as over-the-top as he usually is, though his character isn’t fully developed and we never really know what his real motive is.

Beautiful parents: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers & Keri Russell

This movie is a real tearjerker so have a bunch of Kleenex handy as it was hard keeping my eyes dry throughout the movie. I find this movie far more touching than another musical-themed movie The Soloist, for sure this one is far less tedious. The cinematography of places like Central Park and close-up shots of instruments being played are beautiful, though in some of the close-up shots of the Evan playing the guitar, it’s clear that it’s a mature adult’s hands, ooops!

If you appreciate music of any kind and don’t mind a little schmaltzy-ness and grand happy endings, this is a movie for you.

Top Ten Chat-Worthy Irish Actors

I haven’t done a top-ten list in a while. I meant to post this last week around St. Paddy’s day, but took me a while to finish it. Well, as the green dye in the Chicago river hasn’t completely washed out, I hope you don’t mind reading another Irish-related post. Here’s my list of ten Irish actors that have done some buzz-worthy projects (including TV work) in the past decade, as well as those ‘rising stars’ that I really hope to see more of. I’m going to limit my list to just those born and bred in Ireland (at least for most of their childhood), so not those of Irish-descent as it’d take this entire blog to list them all.

Here they are in random order:

  1. Colin Farrell
    Of all the vile things Joel Schumacher is known for as a director, you could say that he has an eye for talent. He cast Farrell in Tigerland which got the Dublin native noticed. I first saw him in the sci-fi action Minority Report alongside Tom Cruise, and then the Terrence Malick’s The New World. His foray into historical action hero in Alexander was ridiculed panned by critics, and he nearly became a Hollywood cliche with his womanizing ways and drug/alcohol abuse, but he manage to maneuver a career comeback with his Golden-Globe-winning turn in the Irish black comedy In Bruges (2008). He recently had a small-but-memorable role in Crazy Heart, and a lead role in the Irish drama Ondine.
    ….
  2. Liam Neeson
    Probably the most famous Irish actors of the bunch, Neeson is one of the hardest working actors right now. His diverse resume is impressive by any thespian standard. From historical figures (Michael Collins, Rob Roy, Schindler’s List), comic-book villain (Batman Begins), to playing bad-ass action star hell-bent on revenge (Taken), Neeson adds gravitas to any role he’s in. Can’t wait to see him as Zeus bellowing ‘Release the Kraken!!!’ in Clash of the Titans.
    ….
  3. Saoirse Ronan
    She may be only sixteen, but Ronan’s got that wise-beyond-her-years thing going for her, plus enormous talent to boot. She was phenomenal in Atonement as the little girl who couldn’t quite figure out how to channel her attraction to the opposite sex that led to disastrous consequences. She pretty much comes out unscathed even when The Lovely Bones bombed artistically and financially. She’s currently re-teaming with her Atonement director Joe Wright in Hanna as a 14-year old assassin, talk about range!
    ….
  4. Cillian Murphy
    Most people recognize him as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, but his memorable role is perhaps in the zombie flick 28 Days Later. His impossibly chiseled cheekbones and dramatic eyes somehow make him the perfectly creepy yet sophisticated villain, as he displayed in the horror/thriller Red Eye. Renowned directors such as Christopher Nolan and Danny Boyle obviously like working with him, as he’s done two movies for Boyle (Sunshine & 28 Days Later) and Nolan also cast him in Inception.
    ….
  5. Michael Fassbender
    (Ed note: Though he’s born in Germany, Fassbender is half-Irish and was raised in southwest Ireland)
    I’ve mentioned this guy A LOT on my blog lately and for good reason, he’s definitely eye-candy material but with acting chops to boot. Thanks to Zach Snyder for casting such great actors in 300 even in smaller roles, as I definitely noticed Fassbender as the loyal and valiant Stelios. He’s then proved his amazing range in transformational role in Hunger, and another indie darling Fish Tank which won him several nods from various European Film Festivals. He’s currently starring in a Roman actioner Centurion where he again displays his versatility. His next projects are definitely chat-worthy, there’s that darker Jane Eyre adaptation where he’ll play my favorite literary hero Rochester, and the historical drama The Talking Cure where he’ll play psychoanalyst Carl Jung alongside Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud.
    ….
  6. Gabriel Byrne
    I first noticed Byrne in The Point of No Return as Bridget Fonda’s sympathetic mentor. He may not always get the lead roles, but you always remember him (The Man in the Iron Mask, Little Women, The Usual Suspect) The charismatic 60-year-old actor definitely still got the looks and is currently starring in the well-received HBO drama In Treatment as a psychotherapist where he won a Golden Globe last year. I certainly hope he’ll do more movies in the future!
    ….
  7. Ciarán Hinds
    You may not know his name, but you certainly recognize this tall, dark and handsome Belfast native. His dark look makes him suitable to play people from different nationalities: English (Phantom of the Opera, Amazing Grace), (Israeli (Munich), Roman (as Julius Caesar in HBO’s Rome), Russian (The Sum of All Fears), and that’s just a sampling. His new indie flick set in his native homeland The Eclipse (NOT Twilight 3) is to be released this weekend. Glad to see him get the lead role for a change.
    ….
  8. Kenneth Branagh
    For all the Shakespearean work he’s done (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet), I initially thought Branagh was an Englishman. The RADA-educated actor had his start in theater when he joined The Royal Shakespeare Company at 23. Soon after he formed his own performance art company called The Renaissance Theatre Company, which counts Prince Charles as one of its royal patrons. Surely he’ll inject some of that artsy and sophisticated sensibilities to a comic book adaptation, Thor, that he’s currently helming.
    ….
  9. Pierce Brosnan
    He may not be my favorite James Bond, but Brosnan has proven before and after his 007 role that he’s not to be type-cast. He balances the ‘suave, elegant, sophisticated men in suits’ roles (Bond, Thomas Crown Affair) with small indie dramas (Evelyn, Married Life), quirky comedy (The Matador), gritty Western (Seraphim Falls), even musical (Mama Mia!). He’s currently starring as a British PM in Roman Polanski’s latest The Ghost Writer, which was lauded by the critics.
    ….
  10. Jonathan Rhys Meyers
    I first noticed Meyers in the wholesome soccer flick Bend It Like Beckham as Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra’s coach. But he rose to fame as soon as he’s cast as the ruthless, womanizing King Henry VIII in Showtime’s The Tudors. His confidence swagger and devilish charm makes him a perfect seducer and unabashed casanova (Match Point). His recent foray into blow-em-up action From Paris With Love bombed, but it’s more of a reflection of John Travolta’s box office clout than his. His next project At Swim-Two-Birds is definitely an Irish production. It’s fellow Irishman Brendan Gleeson’s writing/directing debut about a playwright who begins to mingle with the fictional characters he has created. His co-stars all appear on this list: Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell and Gabriel Byrne!

….

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn, Michael Gambon


Again, with this kind of list, it’s likely that I’m forgetting someone, so please do clue me in, readers 🙂

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Nifty flix teaser poster: From Paris with Love

frompariswithloveLuc Besson’s new spy thriller’s got a super cool looking teaser poster! It’s so clever in its simplicity, yet so beautiful and elegant I can’t take my eyes off it! The Eiffel tower icon is sort of cliche in a way but I don’t mind it at all here, it’s a bit James Bond-y. Could be perfect if they’re making a From Russia with Love version in Paris, eh?

The trailer however, is meh (and it’s NOT in HD, it’s annoying when a YouTube clip is mislabeled). It’s cool if you like Luc Besson and the Fifth Element. I’m not a huge fan personally, I LOVE the original Transporter with arguably the B-movie king Jason Statham, but the 2nd & 3rd sequels should be obliterated from cinema history IHMO. Travolta is sporting a bald look again, which makes me immediately think of him as the baddie, but he’s playing an FBI agent here. He’s teaming up with the Tudors‘ Henry the VIII, a.k.a Jonathan Rhys Meyers to stop a terrorist attack in the city of lights.