Thursday, November 24, 2011
The Artist Paints a Nostalgic Picture
It’s black and white. It’s silent. And it’s French. But don’t let that turn you off from The Artist, probably one of this year’s most pleasing big-screen gems. What it’s lacking in dialogue, it makes up for in vibrant performances, an expressive score and deft visual cues. Part Singin’ in the Rain, part A Star is Born and part Charlie Chaplin film, The Artist gives us nostalgia without feeling stale.
It takes place in 1927, when motion picture making is on the brink of sound. Hollywood’s biggest silent film star is George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a dapper fella who can rock a tux and charm an audience with a raise of his eyebrow. He’s got the movie-going public - and the studio - in the palm of his hand and he knows it. At one of his big premieres, he quite literally bumps into one of his biggest fans - a pretty young thing named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). Their picture gets snapped together and just like that Peppy becomes George’s “mystery girl” in all the papers.
Her newfound “fame” is just the confidence boost she needs to audition as an extra on George’s latest film. George and Peppy have instant chemistry - they both can go toe-to-toe on the tap dancing floor. The seasoned actor sees the eager young ingenue’s allure and takes her under his wing. But just like in A Star is Born, the student is destined to outshine the teacher. Especially when the rise of talkies begs the need for fresh talent.
It’s not that George gets pushed out - he simply refuses to get on board. While the studios start cranking out films with the latest sound technology, George dismisses it all as a passing fad and sets out to make his own silent film. His refusal to move into the future is what ultimately makes his future a bleak one. He must forgo his pride or face living in obscurity forever.
In less capable hands, The Artist could have been a gimmicky mess - a parody of sorts. Or it could have been too, well, artsy, thus alienating the average moviegoer. But filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius has done his homework. He knows what made the classics great and he applies those elements to his own film, giving all the old timey tricks a more polished finish. There are barely any words - just the occasional title card to give context to a scene - but the film is still a rich experience. The score plays throughout, and there’s even a dream sequence where sound is used for clever effect. You never feel as if anything’s missing.
He may have been silent, but the Oscar buzz for French actor Jean Dujardin is almost deafening. He’s perfect for this part in every way. He has Old Hollywood good looks, but much like the actors of that time, his face also has character. He uses expression and body language so well that you forget he’s not saying anything at all! His George Valentin goes from cocky to desperate, and all the while you continue to like him.
Dujardin has an equally adept partner in Berenice Bejo, who plays Peppy. With a glowing smile and a buoyant personality, it’s not easy to see why Peppy becomes a big star. We begin to feel the same adoration for her as her audience in the film.
My one gripe is that George’s fall from grace drags on a bit too long. It takes a while for him to fully hit rock bottom and find the strength to pick himself up again. You may get frustrated with him as he rejects Peppy’s well-meaning attempts to help get him back on track. But, as I said, the film is ultimately a crowd-pleaser, and you’ll be smiling ear-to-ear by the end. I certainly was. Sometimes, silence really is golden.
You can also find my review on TheCinemaSource.com!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
My Take on My Week With Marilyn
You can also find my review on TheCinemaSource.com!
Friday, November 18, 2011
Wood's Death Revisited!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Piper Laurie Winner!
Friday, November 4, 2011
CONTEST: Win a Copy of Piper Laurie's New Memoir!
Attention people who like free things! I’ve got another book contest for you! I scored a brand new copy of Piper Laurie’s memoir (released in stores earlier this week) called Learning to Live Out Loud. It chronicles her rise in Hollywood, and her transition from contract roles to more creatively fulfilling projects. Plus there are some juicy revelations – like how she hooked up with Ronald Reagan on the set of her first movie, and later had an affair with Mel Gibson! Scan. Da. Lous. You know you wanna learn more.
**Put your answers in the comments below OR tweet or Facebook them to me! I’ll pick my favorite answer NOVEMBER 11th. Winner gets a copy of the book! (Only U.S. residents please. Sorry!)**
Special thanks to Crown Publishing for providing On the Marquee with this amazing book!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Steve McQueen Winner!
Monday, October 24, 2011
When The King Met The President
How’s this for unexpected? Variety has just revealed that Eric Bana has signed on to play Elvis Presley in the new flick Elvis & Nixon. For some reason, I would’ve never pegged Bana as the Elvis Presley type, but now that the casting’s been made, I can sorta picture it! Last time someone portrayed Presley in a high-profile way was when Jonathan Rhys-Meyers won a Golden Globe for the 2005 TV mini-series Elvis.
It’s this movie’s premise that’s the real source of intrigue here, though. Apparently, in 1970, Presley wrote a detailed, six-page letter to President Richard Nixon, requesting a meeting with him. Presley had the notion that Nixon should appoint him “Federal Agent-at-Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Would anyone really trust The King of Rock ‘n Roll with that position? Well, ok, maybe Nixon would.
Presley and Nixon did in fact meet - on December 21st of that year - but unfortunately Presley did not secure the federal agent job. No hard feelings though. The King brought Nixon presents - including a Colt 45 pistol (ya can’t make this stuff up) - and showed him family photos during their brief encounter. Nixon reportedly found the whole thing totally awkward.
Danny Huston is set to portray Nixon in the film, and The Princess Bride star Cary Elwes is making his directorial debut. This bizarre tale seems primed for a big-screen retelling. I certainly had no idea this strange meeting ever went down, but I’m completely and utterly amused that it did.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Contest: Win a Copy of the New Steve McQueen Bio!
Got some good news for all you classic movie buffs/bookworms out there! I’ve managed to snag a copy of the upcoming Steve McQueen: A Biography by Marc Eliot. The book comes out October 25th, but you can win you’re own copy right here on On the Marquee! The in-depth bio chronicles McQueen’s film and early TV appearances, his relationships, his battles with addiction and - here’s something that intrigued me - his obsession with Paul Newman and how it shaped his career.
We’ve talked a couple of times on this blog about which modern day actor should play McQueen in a biopic. While Hollywood seems to have settled on Jeremy Renner, I wanna hear what you guys think! Tell me which actor you believe would be best at playing McQueen and why. Best answer wins the book! Simple as that.
**Leave your answers in the comments section (along with name and email) OR feel free to tweet or Facebook your answers to me!**
Special thanks to Crown Publishing for providing On the Marquee with this amazing book!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Coat of Armor
Friday, September 2, 2011
Guest-Blogger: Daniel Meets Audrey
Hello, I am Daniel Bayley, a film-student and co-writer for the blog, Bayley and Napoli At the Movie Theater. I am so happy to be able to write for one of my favorite blogs, On the Marquee, and get to share with you a little story about my past week discovering a classic film star everyone adores (and now I do too)... Audrey Hepburn.
A few years back my sister came home with a new purchase from Best Buy. Elated, she showed me her new DVD box-set. To my disinterest, it was only the Audrey Hepburn Collection. She told me I had to see the classic films it included (Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday, and Sabrina). I told her I would when I got around to it.
Welp, I will estimate it took about 3-5 years for that to happen (wow...time flies), but here I am: A 21-year-old film student discovering Audrey Hepburn as a sheer talent. I know I'm preaching to a choir that has probably seen the entire classic lexicon of Hepburn's films and have admired her screen-talent for years, but let me just say I could not be happier to join this club. Let me take you briefly through my little journey.
I started last week by popping in Blake Edwards' 1961 film, Breakfast At Tiffany's. It was one of those nights where I felt, "Well, I've watched all my dvd's...might as well put on something I've been meaning to get to." With the opening credits set to "Moon River," I was immediately entranced. As Hepburn walks past Tiffany's along the streets of Manhattan, this classic tune plays and I had not heard it til just then. This could easily jump into a personal list for the Top Ten Best Songs for a Feature Film. It fits perfectly. It's quiet, swift, and heart-felt. This is exactly how I felt the film was. Our young Ms. Hepburn meets her charming neighbor, George Peppard, and he falls in love with her. Peppard's character sees her for who she truly is. Sees past her beauty and falls for her, strengths and faults and all. But Hepburn makes this character so likable and so delightfully watchable, the film is completely hers. I could watch the scene of her playing "Moon River" on guitar on a fire-escape all day.
A few days later, I threw on Roman Holiday, with some excitement I might add. This was #4 on the American Film Institute's Top 10 Romantic Comedies List. Gregory Peck was in it. What could go wrong? My answer is....nothing. Nothing went wrong. It was perfect. It's rare to find a perfect film and I feel like I can safely say this is a perfect romantic comedy. Hepburn's breakthrough, Oscar-winning performance is as a princess who escapes her royal agenda for a night out in Rome. She bumps into Gregory Peck's American newsman character who takes her in. They spend the next day together. Peck's character begins to gaze upon her as merely a story and an opportunity of a life-time (getting a close and juicy, in-depth interview with a Princess), but instead finds himself falling in love with her. She is adorable in this film....so we do too. Hepburn handles her character brilliantly. We believe her as an elegant royalty who is just young enough to feel the angst and rebellion of the planned and trapped life set out for her. Watching her delight unleashed upon the city opposite a strong and stern lead like Peck makes this film an experience. Something to fall in love with again and again. William Wyler, our director, photographs the entire film on location in Rome, making it almost a character itself for our two leads to play against. If I have not gotten my feeling across enough yet...let me say it one more time. Roman Holiday is not only a wonderfully captivating film to enjoy Hepburn...it's a wonderful film to just watch. A strong recommendation to throw this at the top of your Netflix Queue.
So finally I found myself watching Sabrina two days ago. This one I found to be my least favorite of the three, sadly. I will just briefly say that Hepburn's character was not my favorite to fall in love with (maybe I was expecting to and that hindered my enjoyment), though she is quite strong along-side the likes of William Holden and Humphrey Bogart. Bogey steals the show here. He plays Linus, who is just a man from a rich family who loves Hepburn's "Sabrina", though she is strongly infatuated with his brother, played by Holden. Your sympathies as a viewer go right to Bogart's strong presence and sad demeanor falling in love with her. Although I found myself only watching Bogart, maybe viewers only see "Sabrina" and therefore this film is a worthy entry into the box-set.
I remember seeing My Fair Lady many years ago in a middle-school music class. I did not pay too close attention to it but I cannot wait for it to reach my DVD player soon. I want to keep my Hepburn-kick going. She just carries something with her when she is on screen. It's a beauty, a class, and a presence I can not put my finger on. All I know is that she carries good movies and has made them something special. As I end this blogpost, I go and Youtube the instrumental "Moon River" film version to play me out. I hope you all will do the same, wherever you are.
"Everything I learned I learned from the
— Audrey Hepburn
Sunday, August 28, 2011
A Star is (Re)Born!
But there’s one movie in particular that has never seemed to be able to rest in peace: A Star is Born. It has had numerous incarnations over the years and Hollywood doesn't seem to be sick of it yet! I’ve only seen one version - the original. Released in 1937, it starred Janet Gaynor as an aspiring Hollywood actress taken under the wing of an alcoholic has-been actor played by Fredric March.
Cut to 1976 and the story is updated with Barbra Streisand as an up-and-coming singer who falls for a fading rock star (Kris Kristofferson).
Now it’s 2011 and Clint Eastwood is looking to put his own spin on the decades-hopping flick. Get this - Beyonce is being touted for the starring role. First it was rumored that Will Smith might play opposite her, then it was Leonardo DiCaprio, now it’s being reported that Christian Bale is considering the role. But the Oscar-winner has a lot of other options on his plate, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets crossed off the list soon too.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think Beyonce’s a good choice? Who would be a good male lead? Dunno about you but I can totes see Hugh Jackman in the role.
Friday, August 26, 2011
It's Always the Quiet Ones!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Chaplin Family Tree
Get this: In addition to having Charlie Chaplin for a granddad, Oona’s grandmother and namesake Oona O’Neill (above) was the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill. Chaplin married Oona O’Neill in 1943, when he was 54 and she was just 18. Can’t say the marriage was a sham though - they had eight kids together and remained married until Chaplin’s death in 1977.
Oona’s parents are actress Geraldine Chaplin (below) and Chilean cinematographer Patrico Castillo. No need to ponder her path - sounds like it’s predestined!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Marilyn Gets a Poster!
Monday, May 9, 2011
All About That Dialogue!
Almost everyone knows the movie’s famous line, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” But I wanted to document some others, if only for the fact that while I was watching, I kept saying in my head, “I need to write that down!” I’ve also included some handy notes on how to work these lines into your everyday life. It might get you some weird looks - or it might get you cast in Broadway play. Not quite sure, haven’t tested it...but here goes.
Next time someone accuses you of being insensitive, call upon this exchange between Bill (Gary Merrill) and Margo: Bill: Have you no human consideration? Margo: Show me a human, and I might have!
Next time someone points out your ego, tell it like Addison DeWitt (George Sanders): “We all come into this world with our little egos equipped with individual horns. If we don't blow them, who else will?”
Next time someone tells you shut up, throw ‘em this Margo gem: “Peace and quiet is for libraries!”
Next time someone comes on too strong, say what Bill said to Eve: “What I go after, I want to go after. I don't want it to come after me. Don't cry. Just score it as an incomplete forward pass.”
Wanna learn more about All About Eve? I recommend the book All About All About Eve by Sam Staggs. You’ll learn juicy tidbits like how Bette Davis’ unfortunate case of laryngitis gave Margo her signature whiskey-throated rasp, plus you’ll find out what she really thought of her costars. In the meantime, what are some of your fave lines from All About Eve?
Monday, May 2, 2011
Way back in the blog - we’re talkin’ January 2009 - I told you about a potential Steve McQueen biopic that was supposedly in the works. Well today I can officially tell you that it’s...still in the works. But! There have been some new developments.
In my first post I mentioned some possible candidates for the “King of Cool,” including Daniel Craig (my fave pick at the time), Damien Lewis and Cam Gigandet. Now, the Hollywood Reporter is revealing that Jeremy Renner and his production company have put the wheels in motion to finally get this McQueen flick rolling. Renner seems to be a good fit. I never considered him at the time because, well, who the hell knew who he was before The Hurt Locker? But he could certainly play a hellraiser - which McQueen was in his day. Let’s just hope we’re not sick of him before this movie makes it to the screen. After all, Renner has at least four new films coming down the pipeline: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Bourne Legacy (yup, he’s replacing Matt Damon), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (huh?) and Ice Age 4. Ok, so he also clearly has McQueen’s active nature. Full speed ahead!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Siren Centerfold: Elizabeth Taylor (2/27/32 - 3/23/11)
I heard about Elizabeth Taylor’s passing today along with the rest of the world, and I immediately knew the tributes to this Hollywood icon would be instant and endless. Because it wasn’t just the death of an actress - it was the end of an era. And while I’m aware my own personal tribute will get lost in the sea of all the rest, it’s simply an On the Marquee necessity to commemorate such a beautiful, talented, tragic figure.
Taylor was many things to many people. The truth is, some knew her as Liz “White Diamonds” Taylor, others knew her as a perpetual husband-trader (9 in all), some knew her as a fervent AIDS activist and still others may have only recognized her as being one part of Michael Jackson’s eccentric entourage. But to most she was the gorgeous girl with the violet eyes who dominated Hollywood with her roles in films like A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Giant, Cleopatra and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
To honor her, I bring you an old On the Marquee standard - the Siren Centerfold.
Strikingly beautiful from a young age, Taylor made her first movie appearance in 1942's There's One Born Every Minute, at the age of ten. Two years later, National Velvet turned her into a bonafide child star.
Taylor was the epitome of Hollywood royalty. She was the first actress to earn $1 million for a movie role (Cleopatra) and she's also owned some serious bling, including the 33-carat Krupp Diamond. Not to mention she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.
Though she may not always have been loyal to her husbands, Taylor was a loyal friend. When her bestie, actor Montgomery Clift, was in a nasty car accident after leaving a party at her house one night, Liz was the first one on the scene and saved him from choking on his own broken tooth.
"If someone's dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I'm certainly not dumb enough to turn it down," she once said.
Monday, January 17, 2011
So director George Lucas apparently thinks he has the power to raise the dead. He’s certainly a high and mighty presence in Hollywood, but he ain’t no God. Here’s the deal: A bizarre rumor began floating around the internet back in December that the Star Wars creator has been buying up the rights to dead movie stars, so he can “bring them back” with the use of new technology. Imagine James Dean and Marilyn Monroe co-starring in a new film together. Weird, right? And kind of creepy.
A Lucasfilm spokesperson quickly shot down the story, but according to ABC News, it might not be as far-fetched as we think (or hope). CMG agency, which has represented the estates of such late movie legends as Ingrid Bergman, James Dean, Errol Flynn and Bette Davis, said they have indeed reached out to Lucasfilm. No word on whether any definitive deals have been made, though.
Up until now, dead stars have appeared only as digital cameos in films - like Laurence Olivier in 2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, or Marlon Brando in 2006's Superman Returns. Could a digitally rendered likeness of one of these films greats carry an entire movie? Or, more importantly, would anyone even see a movie like this? It’s almost like cloning or cryogenics - it prompts ethical debate. Shouldn’t we preserve the memories of these stars and just leave well enough alone? Computers can capture their likeness, but not their essence. It’s like when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Inception realizes his dream wife will never be the real thing. “I can't imagine you with all your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection,” he says. Yup, these digital characters would be just a shade, and therefore just not good enough.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Valentine With Heart
In her latest film Blue Valentine, which opened Dec. 30th, she gives perhaps the rawest performance of her career opposite Ryan Gosling. They play a couple whose relationship is on the brink of collapse, and we see their love story play out in both the past and present. I had the privilege of covering the press junket for the film, and got to ask Williams about a project I’ve mentioned several times on the blog - her role as Marilyn Monroe. The role is daunting to say the least – Marilyn is the iconic bombshell, after all – and Williams realizes that. When I spoke to her, she had just completed the film My Week with Marilyn about two weeks earlier and she said she still had “one foot in it.” I got the impression that the roles she takes on are generally hard for her to shake (she said she even kept her character’s wedding ring from Blue Valentine).
When asked why she decided to step into Marilyn’s shoes, she considered her answer very carefully.
“Because I am a glutton for punishment,” she said before searching for a more complete explanation. “A few things. Because for some reason I won’t let myself shrink from a challenge and I think that’s how I find myself in these situations, making these movies. While my intellect is saying ‘Retreat, retreat, retreat,’ my heart is already there. Luckily, I guess, that’s the stronger decision making mechanism and that’s what ultimately wins. I think when I read something I like to have two reactions going at the same time - one is an inkling that I can play that part and the rest is that it’s a mystery and it compels me to untangle it. So they’re kind of opposed to each other, but if they’re both up and running at the same time, that’s how I make a decision.”