Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Taymor casting TEMPEST!

'Tempest' cast includes Helen Mirren
Jeremy Irons, Djimon Hounsou among other stars cast
By Borys Kit, Hollywood Reporter

Julie Taymor is gathering a cast ranging from blue-blooded Oscar winners to up-and-comers for her big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" that, in a gender-defying twist, will see Helen Mirren reigning over the magical island.

Although the play centers on Prospero, an exiled duke-turned-sorcerer, Taymor -- who likes to take an experimental approach to her stage and film projects -- has rechristened the lead character Prospera so that Mirren can take on the role.

Mirren will be surrounded by Jeremy Irons, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Ben Wishaw and Felicity Jones. Geoffrey Rush is in negotiations to join the cast.

The film, being produced by Bob Chartoff, Lynn Hendee and Julia Taylor-Stanley, is eyeing a November start date in Hawaii. Miramax has acquired the rights to all English-speaking territories; Icon is handling foreign sales.

Shakespeare's play mixes romance with fraternal politics and the supernatural. As revised for the screen, it will center around Prospera, her daughter Miranda (Jones) and a shipwrecked crew full of Prospera's enemies.

The island's other inhabitants include Hounsou as the deformed slave Caliban and Wishaw as the airy spirit Ariel.

On the ship are rising comedy star Brand, playing Trinculo, a jester; Irons, as Alonso, the King of Naples; and Molina as the drunken butler Stephano. Rush would play Gonzalo, a royal adviser and old ally of Prospera's.

The cast includes an unusually high concentration of Oscar-winning stars: Mirren earned best actress honors for "The Queen," while Irons took home the best actor trophy for "Reversal of Fortune" and Rush got the nod for "Shine." All three are repped by CAA.

Hounsou won best supporting actor nominations for "Blood Diamond" and "In America." The actor continues to be repped by Gersh and the Peter Safran Co.

Brand, repped by Endeavor, will next be seen in "Bedtime Stories." Brit actors Wishaw and Jones worked together in Miramax's "Brideshead Revisited." Molina is repped by Endeavor.

"The Tempest" is Taymor's second big-screen foray into Shakespearean territory -- she turned his "Titus Andronicus" into the 1999 film "Titus."

The pic also continues the strong relationship Taymor has developed with Disney, for which she directed the Broadway musical adaptation of "The Lion King," and Disney's specialty division Miramax, which released her Salma Hayek-starrer "Frida."

Thanks, Mr Chattaway...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Vancouver's Hollywood Theatre in "Married Life"

I watched a pleasing film the other night, something of a genteel noir by way of Douglas Sirk. The noir comes from "Five Roundabouts To Heaven" by John Bingham, the crime novelist from England (which accounts for the gentility) who may have been the model for John Le Carre's "Smiley" character.

Strong cast (Patricia Clarkson, Pierce Brosnan, Rachel McAdams, and a somewhat miscast Chris Cooper - his working-class naturalism takes the sparkle and starch out of some of his early dialogue, though he connects powerfully with the soul of the character, especially in the final reel), intriguing psychological subtleties that bridge the noir / weepie chasm and bring nifty plot reversals, and a terrific look (including a fabulous opening credit sequence).

But there's added fun in the setting. Relocated from England to an unspecified (but probably Pacific Northwest) American locale, the film is actually shot in Vancouver, BC. Some of the novelty of that has worn off in the past twenty years - though it's always fun to play "spot the actor," and particularly pleasing to see Terence Kelly (who was one of the jurors in PT's staging of TWELVE ANGRY MEN) as a doctor - but the really great part for Vancouver movie buffs is the use of our beloved old-time cinema "The Hollywood" in a couple movie-within-a-movie sequences. 

Well worth renting.  And if it plays at The Hollywood, let's all go see it - maybe Pierce Brosnan will still be there!