Random Thoughts: The Chameleon vs. Perpetually-Typecast Actors

Well, clearly we have winner on the movie battle of the muscled men vs. Julia + her men vs. a nerd boy hero. The Expendables exploded at the box office with $35 million, with Eat, Pray, Love came out in a distant second with about 10 million less. I guess Sly’s gamble paid off, it could’ve easily gone completely the other way. Well, whilst Sly and Julia are going ka-ching, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim only came up at 5th place with a dismal $10 million. That’s a long ways away from its $60+ production budget, yikes!

The movie’s not on my radar until its marketing was kicked into high gear and suddenly it’s everywhere. Sounds like an original concept and even the critics embraced it, but why did it tank despite all the hype at ComicCon? HitFix had a long analysis as to what possibly went wrong, and at the top of the list is the lead actor: Michael Cera. Perhaps he just wasn’t ‘likable’ enough to audiences or as Julian observed from an Entertainment Weekly’s article comments section, it’s that perhaps people are tired of seeing him in a string of repetitive roles (as this article also suggests). Now, I haven’t seen enough any of his movies to offer an insight on that topic, but it brings up an interesting notion. This morning a local radio DJ mentioned a list of Terminally Typecast Actors, she didn’t say where the list is from, but it sounds a whole lot like this one. Well, guess who’s at the top of that list?

Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar in HBO's ROME

Obviously such lists are extremely debatable, I mean this one from ScreenJunkies even included beloved thespians the likes of Pacino and De Niro. I for one wouldn’t dispute such picks, but I know a bunch of people would. I guess when it comes to actors, consistency isn’t always such a virtue. It’s not like a restaurant where we expect our favorite food to be cooked the same way every time we go there. We don’t want our Pad Thai or what have you to suddenly be super spicy one day and utterly bland the next. But with actors, though we expect a consistent quality of performance, we generally want to see Actor A brings out a different set of characteristics from role to role. We want to see him/her be all bad ass in one movie, but then vulnerable and despondent the next. My friend Becky were talking about Irish character actor Ciaran Hinds the other day as she has just seen Persuasion. I bet most of you have seen the Irish actor in several movies, but don’t realize right away who he is. Those are the chameleons who ‘disappear’ into any roles. For me, those that fit into such category are Gary Oldman, Cate Blanchett, Edward Norton, Sam Rockwell, the list goes on…

Mark Strong as a Jordanian Prince in Body of Lies

Yet, there are actors who consistently deliver great performances playing a certain type of roles. One thing that came to mind right now is Mark Strong. He’s a great actor, but he’s become everyone’s favorite villain and by his own admission, he actually likes playing bad guys. When someone asked him, “Are you stuck in the villain roles?” He said, “Absolutely not. Swap the word ‘stuck’ for ‘enjoying.’ I’m enjoying them because they give me leeway to make them all different.” And it doesn’t even have to be a certain role category, it could be more of the essence of a character, i.e. tortured soul type or the brooding anti-hero. There are a certain set of actors that we prefer playing such roles because they do them very, very well. To me that would be Christian Bale, Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Day-Lewis, etc. Just to clarify, by no means do I suggest that these three actors are in the same category as those who play ‘repetitive’ roles. In fact, they’re proven to be adept at showcasing their range even if some of the roles they play share similar personalities.

So in that sense, ‘typecast’ doesn’t sound so bad. There’s nothing wrong with putting a fresh spin to a ‘classic’ role. I think as long as Actor A can still bring something new to the table even if the character is essentially the same, I don’t mind it so much.

Well, what do y’all think? Would love to hear your take on the topic… or perhaps you have your own theory why Scott Pilgrim bombed.

Who will win the weekend? The Expendables vs. Eat, Pray, Love

Everyone’s been calling it the ultimate battle of the sexes at the movies this weekend. Of course it isn’t the first time an explosive action-packed movie opens against a chick flick, nothing new there, but it seems that with The Expendables vs. Eat, Pray, Love, the contrast couldn’t be more… well ginormous. As massive as the size of these guys’ biceps!

VS

Well, if you’ve visited FC long enough you’ll know which theater I’ll be in. As far as chick-flicks go, Eat, Pray, Love is like the “mother-lode” of that genre, and no, it’s not the Four Weddings and a Funeral kind, if you catch my drift. Movieline said this when the trailer first came out: “… it is about a woman who gets tired of having sex with Billy Crudup and James Franco, so she goes around the world eating carbs until she gets to have sex with Javier Bardem.” Ha! It’s an oversimplification of course, but hey, judging from the trailer, it’s pretty spot on IMO. Ok, I also have a beef about it… Julia’s character says, “I’m going to Italy, then to India, and end the year in… Bali.” Ok, so not people know where Indonesia is, but not only would it makes a perfect trio of countries starting with the letter ‘i’, Bali isn’t a freakin’ country!!

Anyway, I read this one review I found through WordPress dashboard, and it pretty much sums up why this movie doesn’t appeal to me at all. Looks like even the critics are more in favor of Mr. Stallone and the gang on rottentomatoes. So yeah, BRING IT ON, guys! (It looks so testosterone-charged I’ll probably grow balls by the end credits) 🙂

So, between these two and Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim, what will you be watching this weekend?

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.

Updates on FC’s Top Ten Most Anticipated 2010 Flix: Part 2

Here’s the second part of my earlier post. Two of the last five have ‘fallen out’ of my anticipated list, but I might still check ’em out on DVD.

6. Rum Diary (TBD, 2010)

Photo courtesy of http://www.thebadandugly.com

Wow, this movie still has yet to find a distributor, despite having Johnny Depp and Aaron Eckhart as the lead actors. As I said in my previous post back in July with the on-set pics in Puerto Rico, the movie is based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson with the same name, Depp plays an American journalist named Paul Kemp, which is loosely based on the author’s own life journey.

According to CinemaBlend, “…the rumor is that the movie may show up at Cannes or barring that, the movie’s producer may show up at Cannes looking for someone to distribute [it].” Well, I hope we get to see it this year yet.

7. Robin Hood (May 14th, 2010)
Two of my favorite Aussie actors Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett in a movie that echoes one of my beloved movie Gladiator. What’s not to love? This is one of the few critics-proof movie for me this year. The second trailer wets my appetite even more!


8. The TownSeptember 10th, 2010

I think Ben Affleck is probably a better director than he is an actor, as proven by his excellent effort in Gone Baby Gone. He’s going to do both in this crime thriller set in his hometown of Boston. The plot: As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the FBI agent looking to bring him and his crew down. Based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, NOT to be confused with the Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood flick 🙂

The movie’s got two hot TV stars: Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as the FBI agent and Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) as Affleck’s troubled ex-girlfriend, who happens to be Jeremy Renner’s sister (fresh out of his Oscar nom for The Hurt Locker). Chris Cooper will play Affleck’s father and Rebecca Hall as the bank manager. Great cast, though I’m primarily curious to see how Affleck’s direction on this one will pan out.

9. The Next Three DaysNovember 19th (replacing Leaves of Grass – I was stoked when I first heard about this almost a year ago, but as soon as I saw the trailer let’s just say I lost interest, double Ed Norton notwithstanding)

Per SlashFilm, this crime drama is a remake of a French film, about a husband (Russell Crowe) looking to break his wrongly imprisoned wife (Elizabeth Banks) out of jail. At least, she says she’s wrongly imprisoned.

The film also stars Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Jonathan Tucker, Brian Dennehy, and RZA. Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) pens the script AND directs the film, which is now listed to be in post-production. I hope this is more Casino Royale than Quantum of Solace, which were both written by Haggis, but I’m always up for seeing two great thespians (Crowe + Neeson) square off on-screen!

10. The A-Team June 11 (replacing Mel Gibson’s Edge of Darkness)
Suffice it to say the second trailer won me over. “They’re the best and they specialize in the ridiculous!” Jessica Biel’s FBI agent quips. Yeah, BRING IT ON! It’s the quintessential summer popcorn flick and this one looks darn entertaining! Love the part when BA whistles the A-Team tune before he blew off the skyscraper window. I find myself humming that tune every so often now 🙂

….

Honorable mentions:

  • The Expendables (August 20)
    I know I’m going to get flak for putting this on the honorable mentions, but I was kind of meh about the trailer (which I said to Marc in the comment section of his post). I still might see this in the theater, I’m just not as psyched about it as when I first heard about it.
  • Knight & Day (July 2)
    I’m not a huge Tom Cruise fan by any means, but the trailer of the action-comedy looks like fun. Plus, director James Mangold did Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma, so how bad can it be, right?
  • Paul (TBD)
    Simon Pegg/Nick Frost team up again in this sci-fi comedy about two British comic-book geeks traveling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51. As a fan of Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz, naturally I’m intrigued by this one. I’ll spotlight this project sometime soon.

Anticipated Flix Updates: The Expendables’ new poster & Coriolanus’ Concept Art

The Expendables

Normally this isn’t my go-to genre, but hey I did grow up with 80s and 90s action flicks starring most of actors that make up the cast. I first heard about it earlier this year that I just had to blog about it, and now a new poster’s been released that is as clever as it is bad ass!! In fact, my husband quipped that it should’ve been called that. It’s one of the best looking poster I’ve seen in a while, it’s like the butterfly of death that you can’t take your eyes off. I like the tagline, too, it fits the visual perfectly. It’s brutally simple, in your face, subtlety be damned – which is what could be said about the movie.

Click poster for a larger version

Lionsgate also released the official plot details: 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. (more official synopsis on SlashFilm)

I don’t see Arnie Schwarzenegger’s name on the poster, but Petter Sciretta of Slash Film saw the trailer at ShoWest Cinema Expo and has this to say: “It was incredibly cool, showcased all the big action star names that pack the cast. It even shows a clip from the scene with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, which drew huge cheers from the crowd. If I have any complaint it is that the trailer was lighter on action than I would have expected.”

So I guess the Governator will be making a cameo? We’ll see if the trailer – and the flick itself for that matter – will be as awesome as the poster. I just might see this one on opening night come August 13.

….

Coriolanus

Even as a fan of Gerry Butler, ‘psyched’ isn’t a word I’d use to describe my reaction to The Bounty Hunter‘s release. The single-digit Tomato-meter doesn’t help matter, it actually confirms my dread after seeing the trailer a few months back. The only thing the two leads should be relentlessly hunting down is a decent script, oh and a new agent while they’re at it! Alas, I’m actually going to see it tonight as my friend and I have planned this weeks ago (I’m not backing out, Prairiegirl!), if anything it’s ample material for an amusing review.

Enough about that one, there is a silver lining in Butler’s career – whom even Roger Ebert calls “… a hunk who can also act” in his double-thumbsdown review. One of them is Ralph Fiennes’ directing debut Coriolanus. I just found out via Twitter there’s a new blog dedicated for the film version of Shakespeare’s political tale, started by Fiennes’ personal friend.

Here’s what the British thespian (who’ll direct and star in the movie) revealed about the project:

“When I performed it theatrically, I knew there were nuances and visual aspects that could emerge more strongly on film. I want to bring out the biting political nature of the piece, and the story’s great panoramic potential. The People, for example, play such a leading role in Coriolanus. It’s hard to capture that sense of a clamoring multitude in the theater… It never left me that I wanted to see this play on film.”

As for his rationale for opting to make it contemporary, instead of the swords & sandal version:

Coriolanus is a strong, complicated, gritty piece,” Ralph explained. “I thought about whether it should be Roman with swords and sandals, or even 19th century. But ultimately, I believed it had to be set in today’s world. It should have a high momentum and earn its ability to suddenly be still for one or two key moments when the human element has to have space to breathe.”

Thanks to GB.net, I was able to view these hi-res concept arts and on-location photos in Serbia. Click the photo for a larger version.

Coriolanus Concept Art

Set location in Serbia

Film shoots already begun yesterday (March 17) in Belgrade. Can’t hardly wait for this one!

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: The Expendables

Every once in a while comes a movie where simply the cast alone gets me intrigued. Well, The Expendables definitely did it for me. I first learned of it a few months ago when a British film magazine had a picture of Sylvester Stallone with his hands in the air on top of corpses of military men. I brushed it off thinking it was his next Rambo movie, his fifth I believe is in the works? Of course a Rambo fan would know right away from the lack of blood on him — and his black headband — this is a different flick.

In any case, Sly is writing/directing/starring in an ensemble cast of what movie sites call the action heroes homecoming or who’s who of cinematic bad-asses: Sly himself, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also part of the cast are Oscar® winner Forrest Whitaker and the late Brittany Murphy (not sure if she’s wrapped all her scenes for the film or not). Hmmm, where’s Jean Claude Van Damme, did you ask? (Well, I know one friend of mine who’d be interested in the answer). Well, according to FirstShowing, Sly did offered him a part in this movie, but he turned it down, citing um… lack of character development. Ha! Sorry, but I find that somewhat comical coming from him, but hey more power to you, dude.

Anyway, the plot is this: A team of mercenaries head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator. Ah, the poor dictator. Might as well wave your white flag now.

Gosh, this make me reminisce about one New Year’s Eve when I was a teenager, going to a double-feature showing at a local cinema with my mother and older brother. The movies? Tango & Cash (Sly & Kurt Russell) and Showdown at Little Tokyo (Dolph Lundgren and the late Brandon Lee). Did I tell you I had a super cool mom? I miss her terribly.

Sly and Jason Statham on location

The Ethelmae Blog posted an on-set experience in Brazil where Bruce, Sly and Arnold filmed a  scene together. “… the whole crew was mesmerized as we watched the three of them play off of each other in a pivotal scene that sets up the whole movie. And while I can’t/don’t want to give too much away I can tell you that Arnold’s character is Trench and Bruce is Church, the scene was shot in an empty church without extras and minimal set dec and it has tension and humor …” Ugo movie blog also posted their on-set experience if you’re interested.

Check out a few of the posters for the movie on Collider.com site. The release date has been pushed from April to August 20, 2010.

This movie sounds like there’d be too much of mind-numbing action for my taste, but I might watch it just for the cast.