Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
Action star anchors a crazy genre mash-up of vampires priests and cowboys
Maggie Q, ladies and gentlemen, appreciates good 3D
I had the opportunity to sit down with "Nikita" star Maggie Q to talk about her upcoming action/monster/western movie "Priest" which opens tomorrow. A funny and energetic woman, especially for the dreadful after-lunch time slot I had scheduled with her. I walked in and almost tripped over her german shepherd Caesar who was peacefully dozing on the floor. I guess when you're a star's pet you get used to people.
Taking place in a post apocalyptic world, "Priest" follows the quest of a rogue priest (Paul Bettany) who embarks on an odyssey to rescue his niece from the clutches of a horde of vampire monsters. Maggie Q plays a priestess from Bettany's order who is sent after him by their church with orders to capture and bring him back. The movie has a lot going on, to say the least, but is a fun ride once you're on board.
HitFix is pleased to offer you a chance at tickets to one of the year's most fun films
You better believe we're going to keep talking about 'Attack The Block' until it's finally in theaters
Credit: Screen Gems
One of the most important tips I got before coming to Cannes this year was from James Rocchi, who told me to buy my membership to the American Pavilion early. I had no idea what that even meant, but I did what he said, and so far, it's been a life-saver. Turns out, there's an entire village of pavilions set up behind the Grand Palais, the headquarters for the festival, and each country has one. The membership I bought allows me to use the wi-fi and crash at the AmPav between films, and it's really the only way I'm able to post stories in a timely manner while I'm here.
Like with many festivals, volunteers appear to be a huge part of keeping things working here, and the AmPav uses young students who seem to work for vouchers that get them into marketplace and festival screenings. Yesterday, while I was working on a story, a volunteer in his early 20s ran into the AmPav and grabbed two of the other guys by the shoulders. "Ohmygod! You have to come with me right now!" The volunteer coordinator said they were both working and asked why he wanted them to leave with him. "Because I got tickets to 'Attack The Block' and it's about to start!" She looked at all three of them, and I think she could sense the impending mutiny because she just shrugged and told them they could make their hours up later. They bolted before she even finished her sentence, and she turned to another volunteer, confused.
"What the hell is 'Attack the Block'?"
Director Lynne Ramsay makes an amazing return to film after eight years off
Tilda Swinton is the star of 'We Need To Talk About Kevin,' an emotionally devastating new film from the director of 'Morvern Callar'
Credit: BBC Films
When I think of my children… and we're not even talking about times when I'm with them or when we're doing things together… but just when I think of them, I am gripped by such a powerful emotion that calling it "love" seems to do it injustice.
When I was in the delivery room and the doctors handed me my first son for the first time, I wept at the flood of feelings that hit me. Until that moment, I did not know the meaning of the term "unconditional love," and I would argue that no love between adults is ever truly unconditional. We meet someone, we learn about them, and we develop these relationships through time and experience and attraction. But with your own children, there is something innate that kicks in immediately, a desire to protect and nurture and inspire.
Having kids has been the single greatest thing for me as a person because it taught me how to truly, completely put someone else before me. I would do anything for my children. My own happiness is secondary to theirs. I can't imagine my life with them on any other terms. Like I said… I didn't choose this. It just happened the moment they were born.
And what if it didn't?
The two young stars of the film play Western movie archetypes
Happy to be out of the desert and back at the Four Seasons
The post-apocalyptic world of 'Priest' is made of many elements from different genre's that I'm guessing a lot of M/C readers will may happily identify. It mixes a little 'Mad Max' with a little "Matrix," for vehicles and fight action, then sprinkles a little of Orwell's "1984" for foreboding mood, then brings it all together with spaghetti-western archetypes for characters and a lot of the set dressing.
Lily Collins and Cam Gigandet play two of these western movie regulars. Lily Collins plays Lucy Pace, the farm girl who's ready see the world, but is unfortunately kidnapped by vampires before she can do so. Cam Gigandet plays Hicks (get it?), the small town sheriff in love with Lucy and determined to rescue her. Hicks is good with a gun, but no match for the vampires, so he enlists the help a social drifter, Paul Bettany's Priest to help him track her down.
Although they share little screen time, as Lucy is kidnapped early in the first reel, the two actors were paired for interviews and I had the chance to sit down with them and talk about the film.
A striking and confident debut film for director Julia Leigh doesn't quite add up
First you drink the tea, then the robe comes off, then all sorts of squishy things happen. Just another day at the office in Julia Leigh's 'Sleeping Beauty'
Credit: Screen Australia/Transmission
Julia Leigh is a first time filmmaker, but you'd never know it from the confidence that is on display in each and every frame of her film "Sleeping Beauty."
There are few tricks more difficult in filmmaking than tackling the subject of sexuality on film in a frank and adult way without making something that is, for lack of a better term, pornographic, and yet it seems like one of the things that serious filmmakers attempt every so often, and that has baffled even some of our very best. For someone to make their debut with a movie that digs into onscreen eroticism and that attempts to do so in an intriguing, almost clinical manner is genuinely daring, and it is impressive how close Leigh comes to pulling it off.
Even tougher is making a film with a passive protagonist, but that's the entire point of this film. Lucy (Emily Browning) moves through life as if she's watching it on TV, disconnected from almost everything she does in her daily life. She works a handful of jobs while going to college, and as we watch her deal with the details of her day -- washing tables, submitting to a repeated experiment for cash, copying and collating papers -- she is barely there. Even when she goes out to bars looking for empty sexual encounters, she lets things happen. She leaves her fate up to a coin toss. The only person she seems to have any real connection to is a young man named Birdmann (Ewen Leslie) who is in the final stages of some unnamed fatal illness, and it's obvious it takes a huge emotional toll on her each time she sees him.
Two very funny ladies, and one very funny subplot
Â Here's a tip for when you're watching "Bridesmaids."Â As much fun as the leads are in the movie, this is the sort of comedy where there are unexpected returns that come from paying close attention to everything happening in the background of the movie as well.
In particular, keep your eyes on Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper, two very funny women who take supporting roles in the film as an opportunity to suggest this whole other movie happening just off-screen.Â I love that sort of thing, and this is a lovely example of it.Â And in addition to being subtle and expertly defined, it helps that their storyline is totally deranged.
Little surprise, really.Â
If you're familiar with McLendon-Covey's work from "Reno 911," you know how blisteringly filthy and delightfully strange her character work can be, and I'm glad to see her in this kind of high-profile role.Â I missed her in the last couple of seasons of the show.
See: Xavier with hair! Mystique is a good guy! much more
This man is serious about mutants
I'm sure everyone feels as badly for Drew as I do. He's stuck in a beach town in France, watching movies with a bunch-a-nobodies, while we get to hang out with our beloved computers and be among the first to see cool stuff like this new scene from 'X-Men: First Class.'
As you know, this is the prequel to Brian Singer's "X-Men" films that ended on a relatively low note with Brett Ratner's "Last Stand" in 2006. Director Matthew Vaughn was brought in to revitalize the franchise, and if this clip is any indication, he's on the right track.
In the clip, Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy, offers his (mutant) help to the CIA, presumably with the Cuban Missile Crisis (unless there's some other crisis in the movie that's left out of the trailer) and Raven Darkholme, AKA Mystique, AKA Jennifer Lawrence demonstrates some mutant abilities to get their attention. Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) also appears as a young Dr. Moira McTaggart, (She's my most favorite Byrne after David Byrne)
McAvoy's aggressive energy as Xavier lets us know that this is not the reserved peacemaker embodied by Patrick Stewart, this Xavier is strident and ready to push for his cause. He doesn't take kindly to derision and proudly proclaims the advantages of being a mutant. Of course we all know this eventually backfires in his life, but it's great to see young Xavier fighting the good fight.
Spanish dancers and giant boots mark press event for 'Shrek' prequel
Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek in their natural habitat: at the beach in France promoting a movie.
Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, the two stars of Dreamworks "Puss in Boots" made an appearance at the Carlton Pier at the Cannes Film Festival today after screening some footage from the film. The two stars braved the typically aggressive European press and and waved for throngs of fans as they made their way down the pier giving interviews then finally climbing up a giant pair of boots bearing the name of the film and waving for cameras.
The animated film is a spinoff of the popular "Shrek" series starring Mike Myers. 'Puss' is a prequel, however, taking place before the character even meets Shrek, and when his lifestyle is may not be as above the board. In the film the feline swashbuckler is teaming with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) and Kitty Softpaws (Hayek) to steal the Goose that lays the golden egg.
Given the glimpses of the movie in this footage, the professional Spanish dancers at the event, and the casting choice of Mexican actress Hayek, we predict a 'Spanish' flavor to the film. However, considering the 'Fairy tales in a blender' thematic mashup that is the 'Shrek' universe, anything is possible.
Surprising choice could pay off in wonderful ways
Woody Harrelson, seen here at the Academy Awards last year, is planning to train some tributes as Haymitch in 'The Hunger Games'
Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Woody Harrelson has just been announced as Haymitch for "The Hunger Games," and I have to say… didn't see that coming, but I like it.
I haven't gone out of my way to cover every single casting hiccup on "The Hunger Games" precisely because I knew they risked burning audiences out on this before they've ever seen a frame of film. There are a ton of speaking roles in the first film, and as a result, Lionsgate has been careful to announce each new tribute, no matter how unknown the actor, and I've been waiting for a few key roles to write about instead.
Haymitch might be my favorite character in the books. He was the one tribute from District 12 to ever with the Hunger Games, and he's spent every year since then trying to burn the memory out of his head with booze. He's a ruined man in many ways, propped up by the Capitol as a symbol despite his best efforts. When Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are picked as the tributes for this year, Haymitch is told to mentor them, and once he realizes they stand an actual chance of winning, he snaps himself out of his funk to try and teach them whatever they'll need to survive.
It's a great part, and I think Harrelson could turn out to be inspired casting. Just look at his work in "Zombieland," which seems almost like a variation on Haymitch. He's also one of those actors who younger actors seem to really enjoy working with, and that's important here.
A sly supporting cast takes a slight joke and gives it real depth
Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard are almost as luminous as the city around them in Woody Allen's 'Midnight In Paris,' opening the Cannes Film Festival tonight.
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Woody Allen was one of the first people who taught me about screenwriting.
Not directly, of course. These days, young writers are positively spoiled with the number of scripts they can read, and not just ones that have been officially published. Almost anything you're curious about is floating around out there online, easy to get hold of, often before the film is even released. As a result, the basic language of screenplay is far more accessible to young writers now than it ever has been before.
When I was first interested in film, though, it was not a commonplace thing to publish every screenplay, and if you were interested in learning about the craft, you either had to go to a film school's library or, every now and then, you'd be lucky enough to see a script in book form. One of the guys who made the effort to collect his scripts and publish them was Woody Allen, and reading his scripts led me to read his prose and his plays, and taken as a whole, his printed body of work informed the way I felt about him as a filmmaker, and some of my ideas about film in general.
In Allen's world, the word is primary. His films are these rich cascades of language, and sometimes it all adds up and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, it all snaps into focus and you get a genuine emotional and intellectual rush from what he does, and sometimes, it just lays there, intelligent but without a pulse. And it's often a matter of degrees between the two. Some of what he did in his short fiction wouldn't really work on film, and sometimes, his films feel like rough drafts, the result of his unrelenting schedule of a film a year.