The Pitt-Affleck Paradigm

 

When Brad Pitt won the Venice Film Festival's Best Actor award two weeks ago for his portrayal of the legendary leader of the James Gang in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the victory amounted to yet another confirmation of the star's lofty perch at the top of Hollywood's A-list. Golden-haired, fit as a gladiator and possessed of a face that has aged gracefully past the performers'-nightmare age of 40, Pitt is almost surreally well-suited for the position of movie star, as if his genes wouldn't permit him to be anything but. 

This blessed aura - to say nothing of his talent - has powered him to such honors as an Oscar nomination (for 12 Monkeys), three Golden Globe nods and – much to pal George Clooney's delight - two separate years of recognition as People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. He has also maintained a balance of box-office hits (Ocean's Eleven,Troy) and risky auteur-centered provocations (Fight Club, Babel), while his personal life - most notably his romance with equally gorgeous and talented actor Angelina Jolie - exerts an undeniable fascination to mere mortals.  

Oh, but if only fate were to spread the wealth at least a little, and nudge that Best Actor prize from the Italian fest over to Pitt's Assassination co-star Casey Affleck. An idiosyncratic, innately likable veteran of oddball indie fare like Gerry and Lonesome Jim, Affleck has yet to reach true celebrity status. This could be by his own choosing - the life of a character actor likely yields richer creative rewards than that of a marquee name - or, as with Pitt, it could be a matter of essential DNA. 

(Source: Yahoo)

RELATED: The Short History of Jesse James

20 greatest big-screen comic book heroes

 

With NBC's Heroes one of the most talked-about shows on TV, an enthusiasm for super-powered heroes no longer carries the social stigma it once did. 2008 promises yet more comic book characters migrating from the page to the cinema , with big budget debuts for the long awaited Watchmen, Iron Man, The Flash, and half a dozen lesser characters already in production.

We thought it might be timely to review the biggest players in the superhero movie franchise business and assess their future prospects. We've scored them according to a range of substantially arbitrary criteria, focusing on their longevity both in comics and on film, and concocted a box-office score based on an average performance of all movie appearances by the character to date. 

(Source:  Times Online UK)

Woody Allen goes European

 

You can attribute Woody Allen's upcoming misfire Cassandra's Dream to a range of factors: a miscast Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor as skint London brothers ensnared in a doomed murder-for-hire plot; an underdeveloped script with an ending foreshadowed around the fourth or fifth minute; Philip Glass' overdramatic score; Allen's rudimentary framing and disinclination toward coverage; plot points blunt as river rock -- you get the point.

(Source: The Reeler)

‘Gossip Girl’ courts ‘The O.C.’ crowd

 

JOSH SCHWARTZ was shooting the finale of "The O.C." in Pasadena last season when he began to get an inkling about the potential of his next project. "All these teenagers from the neighborhood had gathered, upset the show was ending," said Schwartz, the young writer-producer who created the gauzy Newport Beach teen soap. "They said, 'You have to do another show for us.' "

In fact, Schwartz told them, he was starting work on a television series based on the popular "Gossip Girl" books. "They all started screaming," he recalled. "I thought, whoa -- this is deep." Set in the rarefied milieu of Manhattan's Upper East Side, the novels by Cecily von Ziegesar have an ardent following among teens, who lap up the tales of a set of pampered private-school students and the anonymous Gossip Girl blog that snarkily documents their misdeeds.

That built-in fan base -- according to its publisher, the 11-book series has more than 4.5 million copies in print -- combined with Schwartz's reputation as a purveyor of smart, sexy teen drama, has helped generate feverish anticipation for the CW television show long before its Wednesday premiere. 

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

Macho Blow-out: Kurt Russell vs Patrick Swayze

  

When I was a kid I thought that Kurt Russell was the coolest guy in the world. He was tough, mean, trashy, funny, and even kicked demon ass in Big Trouble in Little China. And yeah, he was Snake Plissken. But outside of the John Carpenter films, he didn't do much for me.  At the same time I hated Patrick Swayze. Of course, this is the time that Dirty Dancing had taken over the world: from an omnipresent soundtrack, to the fact that every girl in my high school was obsessed with it. Heck, I had a girlfriend that used to come home and watch it on VHS every day during lunch break. And through it all I couldn't help but watch the movie and think that Swayze was such a pussy, if you'll pardon my 17-year-old vernacular. 

Over the years, my positions have changed, and it seems like I am constantly see-sawing back and forth between these two cheesy American actors. But why them in particular? Well, despite each starring in some of my favorite all time bad movies (Big Trouble in Little China and Road House, to be specific), I have also come to realize that Russell and Swayze are like the dark and light versions of the same male macho fantasy. And so, I decided, in good manly fashion, to pit them against each other in a no-holds-barred career grudge match. You may be a sensitive Swayze type or smart-ass Russell wanna-be, but either way, the parallels will astound you.

(Source: WFMU Blog)

Michael Douglas on balancing work and family

 

It's hard to balance work and family. I work in an industry that has a relatively short window of opportunity, extremely long hours and can take you away from home for months at a time. The rewards can be fantastic: fame, wealth, artistic gratification, never standing in line for a table at a restaurant. But the guilt of shortchanging your family can gnaw away at you. 

(Source: Newsweek)

Impending Hollywood strike pushes studios priority films toward production

 

You may or may not have heard that there is a distinct possibility that the Writers Guild, the Directors Guild AND the Screen Actors Guild will all be striking next spring, if negotiations with the Producers Guild do not get settled between now and then.

With the chance that they might go months without any new productions, everyone in Hollywood is making sure their pet projects are getting set up before the hurricane hits. 

(Source: Filmjerk)

Welcome to the Ghetto Film School

 

It was in many ways a typical film-school scene. On a recent hot afternoon, a group of eager young students crowded around a big-time director, asking for advice about backlighting and the best way to establish a scene of anarchy.  

But the students quizzing David O. Russell, the director of “Three Kings” and “I ? Huckabees,” weren’t enrolled at New York University or Columbia or any other august institution.  

They were from the Ghetto Film School, an unaccredited training program in the South Bronx that operates in the summer and on weekends during the school year. It gives teenagers a rigorous introduction to filmmaking and, despite the humblest of origins, has built up an enviable roster of Hollywood donors and supporters inside city government. 

(Source: New York Times)

Actors turn directors for career self-preservation

 

Sean Penn is one of the great actors of his generation, yet he'd like to give it all up to remain behind the camera.  

"It's a good idea," Penn said at the Toronto International Film Festival, where "Into the Wild," his fourth directing effort, played in advance of its Sept. 21 theatrical debut.  

The Toronto festival is showcasing a big collection of films by actors turned directors, among them the filmmaking debuts of Helen Hunt, David Schwimmer, Gael Garcia Bernal and Alison Eastwood, whose father, Clint Eastwood, is a paragon for performers who want to make their own flicks. 

(Source: Yahoo)

How George Clooney handles fame

 

Even people who don't care much for George Clooney (and there are some) would admit he handles this fame business with consummate skill.   At a time when so many celebrities revel in being loud and embarrassing - falling drunkenly out of cars, flaunting their addictions, careering in and out of rehab - Clooney stays composed and cool in the eye of a media hurricane, maintaining his dignity and his sense of self. 

This much was in evidence at the Venice Film Festival two weeks ago. He was promoting his new film, Michael Clayton, a sophisticated thriller about an amoral fixer in a corporate law firm. In Venice, he was easily the star most hotly in demand from both the public and the media: more so than Brad Pitt, Michael Caine, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor or Charlize Theron. 

(Source: The Telegraph UK)


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