Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tintin cast! Billions of blue blistering barnacles!

Steven Spielberg and gang have announced the leads for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, the first of a planned trilogy of 3-D motion-capture pics based on the beloved Herge comics.

Tintin, boy reporter and sporter of slick mini-Mohawked blond locks, will be played by Jamie Bell, of Billy Elliot fame (and of Mister Foe no-fame-whatsoever, though this dark, twisted little Scottish indie deserves to be seen). And 007 himself, Daniel Craig, will play fabled pirate of yore, Red Rackham. Bell and Craig can be found together right now in the Holocaust drama, Defiance.

Peter Jackson is in line to direct the second Tintin installment. Jackson's LOTR cast mate, Andy Serkis, is reportedly set as Tintin's gruff, boozing best friend, Captain Haddock.

To keep track of all the latest Tintin developments -- film and otherwise -- click on the official Herge site.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar snubs

Academy Award nominations always have their disappointments -- the wouldas, shouldas and couldas that went un-uttered when the names are read off in the wee hours of the Beverly Hills morn. The folks and films not making the cut this year include Clint Eastwood, touted for a best actor slot for his grumpy racist war veteran retiree in Gran Torino; Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt's true love in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (had she been nominated, The CC of BB would have tied Titanic's record 14 noms); The Dark Knight, which many thought would eke out a best picture nod; and actresses Kristin Scott Thomas (I've Loved You So Long) and Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy).

I would've voted for Ms. Scott Thomas and Williams over Angelina Jolie for sure, and probably over Kate Winslet, too, though I'm glad she was recognized for her work in The Reader rather than the tragic housewife she plays in Mad Men, I mean, Revolutionary Road.


Although The Curious Case of Benjamin Button dominated with 13 nominations (one shy of Titanic's record), the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked kindly on some great little indies when the nominations came down this A.M..

Richard Jenkins as a worn-out academic who rediscovers some joy and love in his life thanks to a pair of illegal immigrants, recognized in the best actor field for The Visitor.

And Melissa Leo, a hardbitten upstate New York trailer mom who falls into smuggling illegal aliens (hey, it's a trend!) in Frozen River. The little-seen film set in upstate New York might hopefully get a re-release in theaters now. Its writer/director, Courtney Hunt, also received a original screenplay nomination, putting her in the company of Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, Martin McDonough's In Bruges, Dustin Lance Black's Milk and the Pixar gang's Wall-E.

And I'm still feeling good about the Maximum City momentum of Slumdog Millionaire, although it would have been nice to see leading dude Dev Patel greeted with a nod. But ten nominations, including best picture, best director and adapted screenplay. Good day for India, good day for the indies!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rule Britannia, and Britannia rules at the Golden Globes

The Brits -- and the Commonwealthers -- have always done well when it comes time for the Golden Globes and the Oscars. After all, the thesping tradition goes back to Shakespeare and before across ye olde Pond. But the 2009 Golden Globe awards were dominated by the Union Jack and its Down Under brethren more so than recent years. Of the six movie acting winners Sunday night, only one -- Mickey Rourke -- is American. Kate Winslet (supporting actress), Kate Winslet (actress/drama) and Sally Hawkins (actress/comedy) are English, of course. Colin Farrell (actor/comedy) hails from Ireland, and the late Heath Ledger from Australia.

And although the night's big best picture winner, Slumdog Millionaire, is set in Mumbai,India, its director is Britain's Danny Boyle, its winning screenwriter Anglo Simon Beaufoy..

On the TV front, it wasn't quite so limey-lopsided, although Globe glommers Tom Wilkinson (supporting actor/miniseries), Gabriel Byrne (actor/miniseries) and Anna Paquin (actress/miniseries) are, respectively, English, Irish and a Canadian-born New Zealander.

Mickey Rourke, wrestling with his past

Mickey Rourke won the acting Golden Globe on Sunday night for his gut-wrenching turn in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler , and Rourke's got a good shot -- if he doesn't blow it with any more Sean Penn/Milk bad-mouthing -- of repeating his shaky march to the stage when the Oscars roll around in February. It was clear from the reception he received at the Globes' Moet-fueled lovefest in Beverly Hills that his peers still appreciate the guy, and appreciate his story: a self-destructive, drug-ravaged dude making his triumphant career comeback. (Variety reports that Rourke's in line to play the heavy opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2.)

So, here are some pithy ruminations from my Toronto interview with the Rourkester:

About committing to the role of The Wrestler -- like really commiting to it, body and soul:

"I mean, I’d rather go all of the way and fall on my ass than go half way and wish I could have done it better. What’s the point? Life is too short for mediocrity, to play it safe. Hey, we’re only here for a cup of coffee. Why not hang your balls over the fence?"

About asking the Boss to contribute a song for the title track (for which Springsteen won the best song Golden Globe):

"I wrote Bruce Springsteen a letter because of how I felt about him. Bruce was in the middle of a tour, he had lost two members of his band this year. He had a lot on his plate. He went out of his way to write a song called `The Wrestler.' He did it for me as a special favor. It’s a beautiful song. And I’m so proud of it. I love it so much.
"You know, you meet a lot of famous people, talented people, and he’s one of the really, really good souls. Wherever we go, he’s going to go to the best place after this lifetime. And I’ll probably hang out in purgatory for a few centuries. I’ll be in purgatory, Bruce is going to Heaven. And Darren, he’s going to Hell."

About being a former pro boxer. Didn't Rourke have contempt for the fakeness of professional wrestling? Isn't there a general feeling in the boxing community that wrestling blows?

"Yes, yes there is. And I didn’t have any respect for wrestling. Because, man, what we do in boxing, we go in there and really hurt each other. These guys are dancing and everything is choreographed and everything is pre-orchestrated.
"But what I did gain a respect for is it’s like a ballet, it’s choreographed, and yet the sacrifice to their bodies works for the audience, there’s an adrenalyne rush and you really end up getting hurt. In my first two months I had three MRIs... I gained a respect for this as a sport, as entertainment sport. Because you do have to be an athlete... There are some guys, Shawn Michaels, Ray Mysterio, Ricky Steamboat — they're extremely gifted as athletes. I was just ignorant to it, but boy, now I know.
"Man, when a guy who weighs 250 throws you across the ring and you land on your back, your teeth rattle. I got veterbrae damage and neck damage from the boxing, and every vertebrae, every tooth in your mouth, the real ones and the fake ones, they’re all — they all rattle, you know what I mean? All the old broken bones hurt again."