Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: Mao’s Last Dancer

Happy Friday folks! Time for a new trailer since I skipped last week.

From Oscar nominated Aussie director Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies, Driving Miss Daisy), it’s a drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao’s cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet.

While I was browsing the Apple trailer site, the poster caught my attention because the color scheme reminded me of Gone with the Wind with its fiery red and yellow combination. I love how graceful and melancholic it looks. For a second I thought the male dancer was played by this hunky Korean actor Daniel Henney, but it’s actually Chinese ballet dancer Chi Cao in his debut film. It’s always tricky when you have a story about dancing, as the believability factor hinges on how the dance sequences are executed. Do you get an actor and train him to dance, or get a dancer and train him to act? Since they go with the latter, I hope he pulls off the emotional scenes.

Joan Chen as Li’s mother, Bruce Greenwood as the British dance instructor, and Kyle MacLachlan as Li’s attorney round up the cast. Stories of forbidden love always appeal to me, and Li’s story is certainly worth telling. Alas, most likely it’ll be a dvd viewing for me, as it’s only going to be out in limited release in the US starting August 20.


Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Tarsem’s ‘War of Gods’ is now renamed ‘Immortals’

So now that we’ve got the story of Perseus, we’ll see how the other Greek mythology tale is going to pan out. As I’ve outlined in the Battle of the Greek Mythologies and an updated news item on this project, this one centers on Theseus. He’s a demigod (half-god, half-man), the son of mortal parents King Aegeus and Aethra, who’s also said to have been conceived by Poseidon, God of the Sea, who slept with Aethra the same night – is it any wonder the kid’s got issues?

Anyway, the project was called War of Gods or Dawn of War for a while, but based on this Montreal Gazette article,it’s been renamed Immortals.

When we met earlier this week (the article was dated April 2nd), Welsh actor Joseph Morgan had just finished a full read-through of the script for Immortals (formerly titled Dawn of War) with most of the cast, including Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Freida Pinto, Kellan Lutz and Luke Evans. The big-budget epic set in ancient Greece, which is set to start filming in Montreal on Monday, also co-stars Mickey Rourke, who is not yet here.

Tarsem Singh

The story line sounds very similar to Clash of the Titans, Immortals follows young warrior Theseus, who leads his men into battle with the immortal Greek gods to defeat evil elder gods of the Titans in order to save mankind. I have high hopes that director Tarsem Singh can put his unique spin on this and make something truly stunning visually, as well as have some weight on the story. Even though I’ve never heard of the screenwriters – two Greek-American brothers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides from New Jersey – I really think the script can’t possibly be any worse than Clash, I mean come on, that would be even more tragic than all Greek tragedies put together. I also hope that Henry Cavill will be more convincing as the hero, and that he’d have a strong chemistry with Frieda Pinto as Phaedra.

Just a few notes on Mr. Singh, he was a renowned music video and commercial directors before he went into movies (his first flick was the J Lo’s sci-fi fantasy/horror The Cell), winning numerous awards including MTV Music Awards, Grammys, and a couple of Cannes trophies for his commercial work. But his most famous one is probably this ‘Gladiator-inspired’ Pepsi commercial with all the pop stars like Britney, Pink and Beyonce. But in order to REALLY appreciate how talented this guy is, you have got to see The Fall (see trailer below). Apparently he’s been “…obsessed by the idea of telling a story about storytelling for 27 years…” according to this MPR article, which also fulfilled his craving for world travels (the movie was shot in 24 countries!). It’s also said that “… he wanted to use real places, not models or computer generated special effects”, so judging by that statement alone, I’m hopeful Immortals will NOT be a run-of-the-mill action flick.

Now, if there is one flick I’m curious to see in 3D, that’d be this movie. But then again, it’d have to be originally shot in 3D, not converted after the fact, so come to think of it, better to just leave it the way it is.

Have you seen The Fall, folks? If so, please chime in and let me know what you think.

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 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.

Inception International Teaser Trailer (English version)

A new International teaser trailer for the upcoming Christopher Nolan movie is here, showing a lot more footage than the original teaser back in August. Unfortunately, it’s in French right now. I saw the exact same version in English when I saw Sherlock Holmes yesterday and I literally jumped off my seat when I saw it. It’s The Dark Knight meets The Matrix, with Leo as Bruce Wayne/Neo perhaps? Nolan sure knows how to ruffle our feathers, and for the first time in a long while I’m actually psyched to see a Leo DiCaprio movie. But then again, I’ll watch anything Nolan does.

See it below courtesy of before it’s yanked off. I’ll post the English version when it’s available.

Here’s the English version of the trailer:

Again, I’m glad Nolan keeps the plot kind of obscure in the trailer, I mean the purpose is to tease us instead of revealing the entire synopsis! I’d say the less we know about this flick, the better.

Prince of Persia ‘Courageous’ Posters

If there’s a Razzie award for posters, these Prince of Persia movie posters should take the cake!

Boy, I thought the trailer was terrible and now this. Is this supposed to be a motivational poster with that humdrum blocky Helvetica (or is that Arial) font? Yeah, as if that’s supposed to convey Arabian adventure or just adventure per se. As for the one-word sentiment, perhaps Disney has to absolutely convey that despite the melancholic expression of Jake G’s face, their hero definitely has COURAGE. I mean, he’s got that mean sword, ultra-buff bod that can defy gravity leaping around in the dessert, what’s not courageous about that? Ha! Oh wait, maybe the only courageous thing about this flick is that it’s bold enough to go against Iron Man 2 that’s also out next May.

The other two in the series featuring Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley (yes, THAT Ben Kingsley who won an Oscar for Gandhi!) don’t fare better, either. Kingsley is peering menacingly so he’s definitely vengeful. And Arterton’s could pretty much double as a cover for DESTINY new-age magazine!

Ok, enough with the rants. Folks, any of you even remotely interested to give this one a chance?

Conspicuous Trailer of the Week: Remember Me

Interesting title. I don’t think Robert Pattinson will ever that problem for quite some time now. With a slew of teeny-boppers — and their moms — swarm the theater to see New Moon, I couldn’t help being intrigued by the trailer of R-Patz new flix. Check it out below:

Pattinson plays a rebellious young man who has a strained relationship with his father. Tyler, who lives in New York City, is a guy who tries to break every rule. He thought no one could possibly understand what he was going through until the day he met Ally through an unusual twist of fate. However, their newfound relationship is threatened after Ally witnesses her mother’s murder and Tyler deals with the suicide of his brother, causing his parents to divorce. Moreover, hidden secrets are revealed and the circumstances that brought them together slowly threaten to tear them apart.

Pierce Brosnan plays his distant father, and they actually look believable as relatives. The rest of the excellent cast include Chris Cooper and Lena Olin, hmmm it can’t be that bad if Mr. Cooper is involved. But it’s clear this is a Pattinson’s vehicle, as the floppy-haired young Brit makes a real attempt to find a career beyond Twilight. The role doesn’t seem much of a stretch though, he’s still brooding and cranky like Edward, but at least he doesn’t sparkle =) I got to admit the guy is pretty nice to look at, though having seen the vampire flix once, I really don’t get what the fuss is about. But hey, I’m not going to bash someone’s taste, I mean we all have our guilty pleasures. It’s mostly the manic reaction and calculated overexposure that’s what’s sickening about it. To be fair, I think R-Patz and Kristen Stewart are probably a pretty gifted actors, and I for one would rather see them in other (read: better) flix.

Speaking of which, shortly after this trailer is released, it’s reported that Uma Thurman has joined the cast of his new flix Bel Ami, based on Guy de Maupassant’s short story of the same name. The story tells of George Duroy (Pattinson), a young journalist who rose from poverty to become one of the most successful men in Paris via the ruthless and calculating bedding of the city’s most glamorous and influential women. Sounds like a tailor-made role for the Hollywood boy du-jour, wouldn’t you say?

Thurman & Scott-Thomas will romance R-Patz

Kidman was rumored to have gotten the part earlier, but apparently it wasn’t a done deal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, British actress Kristin Scott Thomas also has joined the cast. Thurman’s role will be the wife of Duroy’s friend, a woman who is extremely involved and connected in the goings-on of Parisian society. She helps Duroy in his ascent, later becoming his wife. As for Thomas, she will play a socialite who falls for Duroy, becoming clingy in the process.

Let’s see how the young heartthrob fares against the two accomplished ‘mature’ actresses.

Daniel Day-Lewis musical NINE’s release delayed

This is a bummer! I was really looking forward to seeing this on Thanksgiving weekend, alas the release has been pushed back to December 25. Well at least I don’t have to wait as long as four months, which is the case for Scorcese’s Shutter Island (delayed from October to February!).

Kate Hudson and Daniel Day Lewis
Day-Lewis with Kate Hudson

According to aceshowbiz, the move was made by The Weinstein Company who’ll distribute the flick, because the studio’s other movie The Road, featuring Viggo Mortensen, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron, finally settled on the November 25 date. So this has nothing to do with a rumored production delays. The Christmas release means it’s now competing with the highly anticipated Guy Ritchie flick Sherlock Holmes and the Meryl Streep rom-com It’s Complicated (also starring Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin).

To me, there’s no competition here, I’d definitely see NINE before the other two, just see the fabulous trailer and you’ll know what I mean. Even if you aren’t into musicals, the cast alone should at least piqued your interest.

Led by the dashing and brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis as world famous film director Guido Contini, it is supported by Marion Cotillard as Contini’s wife Luisa, Penelope Cruz as his sultry mistress Carla, Nicole Kidman as his film star muse Claudia Graham, Judi Dench as his confidant and costume designer Lily, Kate Hudson as young American fashion journalist Stephanie, Sophia Loren as his mother, and Stacy Ferguson aka Fergie as Saraghina.

Now that’s what I call a real star-studded cast!

Time Traveling with Sam Worthington

Worthington as Perseus and Jake Sully
All armored-up as Perseus and CGI-ed in blue as Jake Sully

Sam Worthington’s got to be the most enviable young actor working today. Though he’s not exactly a novice acting-wise, most US audiences have only seen him recently in Terminator Salvation. Yet, instead of working his way up in supporting roles or ensemble cast type of stuff, Hollywood readily entrusts him to be the next big leading man. Thanks to James “Titanic” Cameron who entrusts him to carry a 200 million blockbuster on his shoulders, offers keep pouring in for the 33-year-old actor. Within the next 12 months alone, he’s set to star in five feature films — two of them huge blockbusters — with meaty roles ranging from period/futuristic pieces to classic drama/thrillers. Now, I haven’t even seen any of his films, other than the trailers and clips of TS & Avatar, but from what I’ve seen so far I can definitely say this guy’s got the manly presence and charisma of a real movie star. Just read his interview with Esquire and tell me if he isn’t the next Aussie brute force since Russell Crowe. Some people may call him arrogant, like they did Crowe, but I say he’s got panache. I have no problem with that, especially if he’s got talent to burn.

In any case, Worthington’s been doing some time traveling lately since his stint in the futuristic world of Terminator. In Avatar, he’s once again transported to a distant future, and next year in Clash, he’ll be going back in time to ancient Greece to fight the gods as Perseus. A new batch of stills from two of the most anticipated films have just been released. UK film mag EMPIRE is featuring Clash on the cover (which means I got to make a stop at Barnes & Noble this weekend), and you can see all the photos on their website. He totally resembles Crowe in some of the poses, and the costumes looks somewhat similar to Gladiator as well. As for Avatar, FirstShowing has six new hi-res photos on their site. WOW, the intricate details of the images are quite amazing. As I said in my previous post about Avatar day, this is the kind of movie to fully experience in 3D.

This busy dude isn’t taking any break any time soon —  but when you get offers like he does, why would you? — he’s got two more flicks out in 2010 that is currently in production. One is a thriller set in the mid 1960s called The Debt, which reminds me a bit like Spielberg’s Munich, about a rebel Israeli Mossad agent hunting down a notorious Nazi war criminal. But before you label him the Aussie action hero, he aims to prove he’s got range by starring in a romantic drama Last Night — a love triangle with Keira Knightley and Eva Mendez, heh, that’s a dreamy gig even for an established actor! He’s even got yet two more flicks slated for 2011, The Candidate (about a DA blackmailed for murder of his one-night-stand) and The Tourist, as a replacement for Tom Cruise who dropped out of the project. Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have now been tapped to star in The Tourist. Worthington instead opted to star in – and produce — The Last Days of American Crime. According to MTV blog, the movie takes place in the near future where the U.S. government is about to implement a new technology that will make it impossible for anyone to commit a crime. Worthington will portray Kevin Cash, a safe-cracker recruited by a career criminal who may be a dangerously unstable sociopath.

Whew, I’m exhausted just listing all the projects this guy’s got going. The roles seem pretty diverse, I don’t know how he keeps it all straight! I sure hope Avatar is a good one, but if not, his career is probably going to remain unscathed. Well, with a decade-worth of projects in just the next couple of years, he’ll still be riding his success for a while now.

Law Abiding Citizen’s 4th Clip – Biblical

Ok yeah, that line will get spoofed on a lot. It’s kind of like Butler ‘THIS IS SPARTA!!’ line from 300.

GB’s channelling Kevin Spacey’s John Doe role in Se7en here, and longtime GB fans know he’s got that darkness/danger edge to him beneath his jovial nature. He even said so himself according to LA Times blog: “This is the Hannibal Lecter role. It’s Kevin Spacey in ‘Se7en,’ “

I follow LAC’s director F. Gary Gray on Twitter and lots of people who got lucky enough to see the screening in L.A. and NY tweeted their responses and they all seem to like it. One called it a ‘roller coaster of a movie,’ and another even gushed that it was a spectacular movie. I’m just hoping it’d live up to the trailer and GB has a substantial movie in his hands after a couple of recent duds.

Daniel Day Lewis’ new musical NINE

Daniel Day Lewis and his band of babes
Daniel Day Lewis and his band of babes (click on the image to see a larger version)

Nine seems to be the lucky number in Hollywood this year. There’s that recent sci-fi indie-blockbuster set in South Africa, the animated feature film voiced by Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly set in post-apocalyptic world, and just in time for Thanksgiving, there’s NINE the musical!

The description on Apple trailers’ page says: NINE is a vibrant and provocative musical that follows the life of world famous film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he reaches a creative and personal crisis of epic proportion, while balancing the numerous women in his life including his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer (Judi Dench), an American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), the whore from his youth (Fergie) and his mother (Sophia Loren).

Rob Marshall, who got an Oscar nomination for Chicago, directed and co-choreographed  the film, and the late Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) co-wrote the screenplay. The story is based on Arthur Kopit’s book of the same name, which was derived from an Italian play by Mario Fratti inspired by Federico Fellini’s autobiographical film . The original 1982 Broadway production with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, won five Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Taking over from fellow Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), who dropped out of the project, this looks like every actor’s dream role. I don’t think I’ve seen this many famous actresses involved in one movie, many of which have bagged at least one Oscar. Judging from the trailer, it looks mah-velous! It’s the kind of movie to escape to and just be lost in the music and dancing. Daniel looks great as usual, you can throw this guy into pretty much any genre and he’ll dazzle you, that’s just how talented this guy is. I’m not a huge musical fan per se, but with a cast like this, it’s definitely a must-see for me!