November 9, 2012

The Search For Tarzan

Who will don the notorious leopard skinned loin cloth? I have always found it interesting when the names of actors who audition for certain parts are leaked. Usually, it's very hush hush except when it's a part that a lot of people are vying for (and the search for Christian Grey continues...)

With that being said I was rather surprised by the shortlist of actors who could possibly play Tarzan. Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hardy, Alexander Skarsgard, and Henry Cavill, were named as the top casting choices for the jungle man and according to Anne Thompson of IndieWire, director David Yates is already meeting with Hunnam, Skarsgard, and Cavill while Warner Brothers is eyeing Hardy.

Now I am fond of Skarsgard, Hunnam, and Hardy as public figures while I feel that Cavill has potential to be a great leading man (waiting for 'Man of Steel' to see how he does. I hear some say he's great while others have called his performances 'wooden'.) Since I am more familiar with 3 out of the 4 actors, I have my own personal opinions on who I think could benefit and pull off this role. David Yates is best known for directing the past 4 Harry Potter films so the guy knows his stuff. I don't think this is going to be some cheesy melodrama with a beefcake leading man with a waxed chest and oiled pecs. I can see a darker Tarzan. More rugged and less kitchy. I mean when you have Tom Hardy as your top choice you know this isn't going to be a Jungle version of Nicholas Sparks.

Let me just start off and say what I think about the possible candidates:

Hunnam: Yes.
Hardy: No.
Skarsgard: No.
Cavill: Yes.

Whew. That was easy.

Hunnam: I started catching up on Sons of Anarchy this summer and I was immediately hooked. The quasi-Hamlet driven plot line has so much blood and action it's downright twisted. However, the show's success can also be pinpointed to the show's lead Charlie Hunnam whose deep guttural voice (which tries-sometimes in vain-to hide an accent that can only be described as 'one of a kind') and intense glares has won over a sub-section of fans (mostly women.) You see Hunnam is a rare bird. If you read his interviews throughout his career he seems to be all too aware of the dark side of the entertainment industry and it's 'bullshit'. He's an artist. He's not in it for the fame. He aspires to be low key like Daniel Day Lewis (don't we all wish we could be like Daniel Day Lewis, sweetie?) He's the type of actor who could've been big by now, but has chosen his roles with the utmost procession (in other words he didn't choose every script that has been thrown at him.)  He's got the physicality and the emotional depth to play the part. He keeps in shape and would probably have no problem doing his own stunts. He also is a good actor. Despite his ever changing accent on Sons of Anarchy he can be mincing and dangerous one minute and bring on the water works the next minute. If given the part I can see Charlie definitely making the character his own. VERDICT: YES.

Hardy: Oh how I adore Hardy. Handsome, insightful, talented, recovering from a dark past, and a sense of humor which reaches the epitome of British wit. The man rocks. Which is why I'm not surprised that Warner is itching for him to take the role. His career is hot right now and you can't blame the company for wanting a piece of the action. Hardy has one thing that the other 3 don't have. He is appealing to both men (gay and straight) and women. He's a guy who isn't afraid to show his sensitive side but will curb stomp you to the ground if you act up and push his buttons (Hardy is a total hood by the way.) He hasn't had a leading man role yet (this will change when Mad Max comes out....or at least manages to finish filming on time.) However, out of all the guys Hardy is probably the safest bet on box office success. The guy is always trying something new and I could totally see him as Tarzan. However, the guy is BUSY. Super busy. Like every 2 weeks he's attached to some kind of project. Something tells me that he isn't going to try and open his schedule to make way for a Tarzan remake. Also, I just can't see him wanting to do it. This role totally seems like a role for an up and comer and not an established A-lister like Hardy. Maybe a few years ago when he was just breaking out, but now he has joined the big leagues. VERDICT: NO.

Skarsgard: I watch True Blood for Alexander Skarsgard. If the show had killed him off I would've been out by now. He is the sexy blonde viking which has millions of women watching every week in the summer. Being the oldest offspring of Stellan Skarsgard, he has made a solid name for himself in the entertainment community. With one quasi-high profile relationship and a big blockbuster under his belt he is still climbing the ladder. Alex has all the fixings of a Hollywood golden boy. Tall (so tall), handsome, blonde, charismatic, and a goofy, but charming smile. It's all there. However, in my opinion, he has yet to shine or showcase what he can really do outside of True Blood. Something physical like Tarzan could do the trick, but I just can't see it. Maybe, because he's getting up there in age or maybe it's because of something else I can't pinpoint, but when I see Alex, I don't see him as 'wild' like Hardy or Hunnam. Even when he's scruffy, he still seems so clean cut and, dare I say it, a tad generic to me. I really do like Alex and I am excited to see what he does after True Blood ends, but I personally don't think Tarzan is it. VERDICT: NO.

Cavill: Now here is a name that I can definitely go with. British export Henry Cavill who will being making a big debut in 'Man of Steel' has already started some chatter in the film community. I don't  know much about him, but I do sense that he is so fresh on the scene that it may be good for him. He's a blank slate. This could give him a chance to broaden his target audience and launch his career. He is the youngest of the bunch which I think gives him a slight advantage (again they may want a fresh, new face) and if 'Man of Steel' takes off then the studio would've hit the jackpot with him. Also, he is extremely handsome w/wo facial hair so playing a jungle man will def. bring out the women at the very least. Not sure about the men, but I think Cavill has a very masculine air about him which I think will draw men as well. VERDICT: YES.

What do you think?

November 3, 2012

Drive By Reviews- 11/3/12 "Drive" "South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut," "Heathers"

3.5/5- Giggled a lot and enjoyed the songs (which is why Trey Parker and Matt Stone should write more musicals. Book of Mormon is a revelation.)

3.5/5- Can see why this is a cult classic but I thought it was decent. Enjoyed the 80's fashion and its always nice to see Winona Ryder in her prime.

4.5/5- The visuals, the camera shots, the action, the suspense (which totally reminded me of 'No Country For Old Men'), and the acting. I loved it all. I get the Gosling hype. I finally get it. Of course the director is the same person who directed one of my favorite films "Bronson." Tres Bien.

November 2, 2012

W./E. Film Review

The story is about the passionate love affair of American-born Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII. As history goes when forced to choose between his throne or Wallis, Edward (we're going to be calling him David since that's his nickname in the film) gives up his title and his future just to be with her (and may I say thank you because we wouldn't have Prince Harry naked pictures if it wasn't for that.) The film's other storyline is based in modern day where we have our lead Wally Winthrop who is married to a super rich British psychiatrist. Wally is having her own issues due to her struggle to have a baby and her husband's wandering eye. As the film goes on we are given an insight into both Wally and Wallis Simpson's life and how they endure their individual obstacles.

The main issues I had with the film stems mostly from the modern day storyline. With 50 Shades of Grey styled dialogue we are introduced to Wally's sad, pitiful life. We see these exaggerated yuppies come up to her, telling her how lucky she is to have a husband like hers who is so successful, handsome, and British (all this while he's practically mouth groping some blonde's ear.) Wally plays the dutiful wife ignoring his indiscretions and pumps herself up with hormone shots to increase her chances of pregnancy. All this would be fine and dandy if the lead actress played by Abbie Cornish wasn't so bad. I want to believe it’s the dialogue she's been given but she just comes off as a dead fish, flat lining most of her lines. You can play aloof and closed off without being a sopping wet blanket. Also Wally seems to have a thing for touching 18th century items in museums (something that is brushed aside because apparently it is totally okay to take off an antique dress worn by one of the most famous people in history and have NO ONE stop you or arrest you.)

The film itself is all over the place. Extremely inconsistent and no sense of flow whatsoever.

Maybe it’s due to Madonna's musical prowess but W./E. tends to play like a chic music video. It’s trying to be innovative and edgy with close up and out of focus shots. I found some of the transitions to be extremely uneven. 

This is definitely a vanity project for the Queen of Pop. See! Look what  I can do with a camera. Aren’t I amazing with my minimal, black and white styling? Huh? HUH? Can you believe this is my first time making a film? Yes, Madonna I can tell this is your first crack at film making. And I am totally cool with artist trying out different outlets and the film is decent for a first time.  I'm just saying that there is a reason why this didn't sweep the Oscars and The Kings Speech did.

The film is very disjointed as it flips back and forth from 1930's Wallis Simpson and modern day Wally. First it’s about her having a baby, then it’s about her obsession with Simpson and David, then it’s her husband who is probably cheating, and the list goes on. And I could care less. I wanted more Wallis and David. It was their love story after all. The film was trying so hard to pull a “Julie and Julia” and failed miserably.

I LOVED Andrea Riseborough who played the role of Wallis Simpson (which is funny because she stars in one of my least favorite films Angel.) I don't know much about Simpson but Riseborough totally portrayed the character as a strong female who I was rooting for the entire time. When she and Cornish were together it was like day and night. Which is why I scoff whenever they tried to parallel the two stories. Of course you feel sympathy for Wally when she is being physically and verbally abused by her husband but I have the distinct feeling that the real Wallis Simpson would roll her eyes at her. As Wally lives vicariously through Simpson the film makes her seem pathetic and a tad obsessive. They try to throw a weak reason onto why she is so invested in the story (she was named after Wallis Simpson, I guess) but that alone doesn't support some of her actions. How can Wallis be compared to this limp bag of potatoes Wally who slaps on Chanel and some Black House White Market clothes and think she's emulating Simpson. Not even! In one scene which has Wally magically transported (in her mind) to the 1930’s Wallis tells her to “Get a life." Wow, some ones actually telling this girl what she needs to hear.

The thing that I did enjoy about this film was definitely the style (because I feel that the movie focused more on looks then actual content.) The cinematography is stunning and the set pieces and costumes were gorgeous. Also there were times when the camerawork was very interesting (but like this movie it was inconsistent and was all over the place after awhile.) Another little touch that I enjoyed were some of the song choices. Madonna tries to incorporate different genre of songs into the film to give it a certain edge. One song in particular called "Love, Love Alone" by Blind Blake is used very cleverly. Listen:

The song is great. However, it is used at the worst place in the film. Their are even times when dramatic scenes are accompanied with peppy upbeats that belittle and dilute the drama. It's like she had a bunch of songs that she desperately wanted to use and tried to crow bar them into scenes where it was not needed.
The story of Wallis Simpson and King Edward is very interesting. Being a history buff myself, I was so intrigued. I wanted more information. When did they start falling in love? How did Wallis meet her second husband? What was David’s relationship like with his brother (this was shown unsuccessfully by a random spurt of the two playing together, once again, at the worst possible time in the film) and etc. I was hungry for this information and when it started getting interesting it would flip back to modern day, to Wally, who I could give two flying flips about.

Now I do have to give Madonna credit. The movie was not a failure by any means. If this was directed by anyone else I’m sure the reviews would’ve been a tad kinder. I think the style of the film was beautiful. Some of the shots were very lovely and it was a very interesting way to tell a story so aged. However, her inconsistencies come through. Their was one scene which involved booze, drugs, and the Sex Pistols, but the film doesn’t know whether to be edgy (kind of what Coppola did with Marie Antoinette) or stay classic, sophisticated, and chic. It jumps back and forth and their seems to be no clear vision.  

The film could've been so much more.  If only they had nixed the modern day storyline and kept with Wallis and David's story (or at least focus more on them and less on Wally's story.) The style alone is one of the films few saving graces but it can't hide the flat story being told. The film is beautiful on the outside but hollow on the inside. No depth whatsoever and left me feeling disenchanted. C-