24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: July 2011

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'The Music Never Stopped': On the cutting room floor [Exclusive]

July 29, 2011 |  4:27 pm

 J.K. Summons in 'The Music Never Stopped.'

If rock 'n' roll movies were to be broken down into musical genres, "The Music Never Stopped" would have the slow reveal of a ballad and the storytelling sensibility of a '60s troubadour. Based on a published case history by bestselling author Oliver Sacks, "The Music Never Stopped," out on DVD on Aug. 2, refashions a strained father-son relationship as one that can only be healed through rock 'n' roll.

A feel-good story, yes, but one that cleverly underscores how music can shape a personality and stand as a generation dividing line in the sand. Lou Taylor Pucci stars as Gabriel, the once freewheeling hippie whose been long estranged from his father, Henry, portrayed with touching coldness by J.K. Simmons. A brain tumor renders Gabriel unable to form new memories, and sends him home to reconnect with his family.

With the help of a music therapist, Henry and Gabriel have the opportunity to bond, but only by allowing Gabriel to explore the music that shaped his life -- the songs of Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and more. One problem: Pops hates rock 'n' roll, and the songs not only provide a cinematic soundtrack, but cut to the core of the film's tension.  

In reviewing the film for The Times, Robert Abele wrote, "In key spots, thanks to Simmons' brilliantly wounded gruffness and Pucci's nimble toggling act between vacancy and awakened spirit, 'The Music Never Stopped' achieves an admirable poignancy about our emotional, healing relationship to the songs we love."

The home video editions will come equipped with the requisite deleted scenes and interviews. Among them are clips that showcase Gabriel's inability to hold a constant thought, as well as those that flash back to his '60s recklessness. The deleted scene below is of the latter, yet it also provides a brief foreshadowing of the illness to come.

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A western with Leonardo DiCaprio?

July 29, 2011 |  3:37 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Westerns are continuing to have their moment in Hollywood, with this weekend's "Cowboys & Aliens" looking to pick up where last winter's breakout "True Grit" left off.

Now another project is gathering heat. "The Creed of Violence, a western-flavored script based on the 2010 novel from cult author Boston Teran, has attracted the attention of Leonardo DiCaprio, who's eager to play one of the lead roles, according to a person who was briefed on the actor's plans but could not talk about it publicly because he was not authorized to speak for DiCaprio. DiCaprio has been offered a lead part but has not decided whether he will accept it yet, a source said.

The movie has been in development with "In the Bedroom" director Todd Field for several years; like "Cowboys & Aliens," the film is set up at Universal. A studio spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment on DiCaprio's interest. A DiCaprio spokesman declined to comment.

"Creed" tells the 1910-era story of a criminal named Rawbone who tries to take a cache of weapons into Mexico as part of the country's revolution but is caught and then accompanied by a government agent who, it turns out, shares a secret past with him.

DiCaprio could play either of the two characters, said the source. If he plays the government agent, it would continue a recent pattern of law-enforcement roles in movies ranging from "Shutter Island" to the upcoming historical biopic "Hoover." If he plays the bad guy, it could mark the second time he's going back to a harsh period of American history to do so: He looks to come aboard as the villain in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."


Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained: Are you read to see him play the bad guy?

Cowboys & Aliens: Jon Favreau is lassoing up everything

Cowboys & Aliens: Movie review

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Boston Teran's "The Creed of Love." Credit: Counterpoint Books

Critical Mass: Split decision on 'Cowboys & Aliens'

July 29, 2011 |  2:30 pm

Photo: Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde star in "Cowboys & Aliens." Credit: Universal Pictures The crowds flocking to see "Cowboys & Aliens" this weekend will likely be split into two camps: those rooting for the cowboys and those rooting for the aliens. The critics have already divided into two camps of roughly even size: those who enjoyed director Jon Favreau's genre mash-up and those who would rather see the movie hogtied and shot.

The Times' Kenneth Turan is in the latter camp. Despite boatloads of talent, he calls the film "a leaden mash-up of western and science-fiction elements that ends up noisy, grotesque and unappealing." He goes on to say, " 'Cowboys & Aliens' displays one thumping cliché after another as if its bankrupt derivativeness was in some way reinventing the wheel."

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Polanski's 'Carnage' to open New York Film Festival

July 29, 2011 |  2:10 pm

Roman Polanski's latest film, "Carnage," based on Yasmina Reza's Tony Award-winning play "God of Carnage," is set to open the 49th annual New York Film Festival, which starts Sept. 30 and continues through Oct. 16. The announcement was made Friday by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

"Carnage," which chronicles an evening meeting between two Brooklyn couples after their children are in a playground fight, is one of the prestige picks of the fall. The film, which stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, was also selected for the Venice Film Festival. The New York screening will mark the film's North American premiere.

Polanski's first feature, "Knife in the Water," screened at the first New York Film Festival in 1963.


Venice Film Festival lineup: Polanski, Friedkin, Cronenberg

LucasFilm's long-delayed 'Red Tails' coming in January [Trailer]

July 29, 2011 | 12:56 pm

It's been a long road for "Red Tails," the film about the Tuskegee Airmen from World War II that George Lucas produced and financed through his LucasFilm. Starring Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr. and a slew of young up-and-comers including David Oyelowo ("The Help") and Michael B. Jordan (best known for his role in the television show "Parenthood"), "Red Tails" began production in 2009 only to get slowed down in the edit bay.

The film required reshoots, and director Anthony Hemingway had to move off the project to resume his duties on the HBO series "Treme." As such Lucas and producer Richard McCullum oversaw the reshoots --with Hemingway's approval.

The film now has a release date: Jan. 20, 2012 -- the Friday following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday -- courtesy of 20th Century Fox, the studio that's released all of Lucas' films. Check out the trailer below.


From the L.A. Times archives: Lucas on 'Red Tails' in 1990

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: George Lucas and the stormtroopers. Credit: Richard Lewis/EPA

'The Help' women talk film, civil rights and Hollywood

July 29, 2011 | 11:42 am

Gather actresses Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Emma Stone and Jessica Chastain in a room, and wait five minutes. You'll be destined to hear lots of laughs, some oohs and ahs, and likely some valuable insight. They are five strong, independent-minded actresses that clearly formed lasting relationships with one another while filming the adaptation of the best-selling novel "The Help" deep in Mississippi. Each one has a different perspective on her character, the movie, and what it's like being an actress today in Hollywood.

Directed by Tate Taylor, "The Help" bows on Aug. 10 and is a complex tale of white women and their relationships with the black maids who clean their houses and care for their children. Click here for our Sunday Calendar conversation with them, and here for exclusive online excerpts. 


2011 Movie Preview: 'The Help'

Kathryn Stockett gives Tate Taylor some 'Help'

Thumbs up or down for 'The Help' movie trailer?

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in a scene from "The Help." Credit: Dale Robinette/Dreamworks

Could 'Kill Bin Laden' affect the 2012 presidential election?

July 29, 2011 |  9:45 am

The debt-ceiling crisis may still be on the minds of voters when they head to the polls to choose a president 15 months from now. But on Thursday Sony threw a more subtle monkey wrench into the contest when it announced that it would release "Kill Bin Laden," Kathryn Bigelow's movie starring Joel Edgerton about the American efforts to kill the terrorist leader, on Oct. 12, 2012.

Whether purposeful or merely convenient, the choice has the potential to shade what will already be a fraught moment. The film will come out just 25 days before Americans head to the polls to elect a president -- meaning that "Kill Bin Laden," which reunites Bigelow with her "Hurt Locker" screenwriter Mark Boal, will likely still be in both movie theaters and in the cultural conversation when we next choose a leader.

On its face, and no doubt in the formulation of studio marketers, "Bin Laden" is a movie that sits above politics, an ideology-free "thriller" about a dangerous mission undertaken by strong-stomached heroes. But even though we don't yet know the still-gestating film’s level of political explicitness, it's impossible to separate many of the Navy SEAL moments from a real-world storyline. "Kill Bin Laden," which began life as a tale about the 2002 mission in the caves of Tora Bora, now will doubtless get a happy coda with the terrorist leader's assassination in May. That means that the film could overlap with not one but two political periods.

The original mission was carried out by a team sent by President George W. Bush that failed to capture the Al Qaeda leader in the months after Sept. 11, 2001. The second, of course, was the result of a strike force authorized by President Obama that successfully targeted the terrorist mastermind. In an election that is shaping up to be a test of Obama's effectiveness at home and abroad, Bigelow and Boal's movie will offer all kinds of cinematic reminders of real world questions that we’ll already be grappling with.

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Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week: 'Project Nim'

July 28, 2011 |  5:26 pm

Project Nim

You always know you're in for something as special as it is substantial when documentary filmmaker James Marsh slips into the director's chair. His 2008 “Man on Wire” on Philippe Petit's daredevil, and illegal, tightrope walk between New York's twin towers back in 1974 was spine-tingling stuff and won him an Oscar.

This summer there is “Project Nim,” another '70s-era oddity. It’s the story of Nim, a baby chimp raised in a brownstone in Manhattan's Upper West Side like a human, by a human family. The intent at the time was to study behavior and language. The result was tragedy and travesty, and in Marsh’s hands, it has become an immersive story of scientific hubris that says far more about the human condition than merely what happened to Nim.

The documentary has been met with a wave of critical acclaim, but audiences have been slow to warm to it. Prehaps it’s the fear of tears, and it is indeed a film laced with more than a few regrets. But Marsh's portrait of the human beast proves so riveting and what the film has to say about the price of scientific progress so telling, that “Project Nim” should not be missed. (At Laemmle Monica through Sunday).


Around Town: Westerns, disco movies and LACMA films

Betrayal and revenge in Clooney's 'Ides of March' [Trailer]

J.J. Abrams eager for 'Star Trek' sequel but says he won't rush it

— Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Researcher Laura-Ann Petitto teaches Nim sign language in "Project Nim." Credit: Susan Kuklin / Roadside Attractions.

J.J. Abrams eager for 'Star Trek' sequel but says he won't rush it

July 28, 2011 | 12:08 pm


"Star Trek" fans were heartened this weekend when one person involved in the 2009 reboot said that the planets were finally aligning for a sequel. A movie that continues the prequel adventures of the young crew of the USS Enterprise could potentially begin shooting next year, producer Damon Lindelof told several outlets, with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and the rest of the crew back on board.

On Wednesday, J.J. Abrams, who is expected to return to direct the new movie, told 24 Frames that the process is finally kicking into gear but that he and his team need to remain deliberate about it.

"What works, in the feature world and television, is something that has real staying power," Abrams said. "We're working hard on that, making the kind of headway that frankly I wish we were able to make months ago. But you can't do everything."

Photos: 'Star Trek': You'd never guess these stars were Trekkies

The schedules of many of the principals has indeed been stacked with other projects. Abrams has spent much of the time since the first "Star Trek" concentrating on "Super 8," his throwback monster movie that has become a breakout hit earlier this summer. He's also had a full plate on the television side, shepherding the new Fox prison series "Alcatraz" and new CBS conspiracy-thriller "Person of Interest" (more on "Person of Interest" shortly).

"Star Trek" writers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, meanwhile, have been working on their drama "Welcome to People," while Lindelof has been working on Ridley Scott's "Prometheus." All three were involved in this weekend's "Cowboys & Aliens."

Kurtzman and Orci have said that parts of the new "Star Trek" movie have been sketched out. But based on Abrams' comments, there's clearly a lot more work to be done, which would mean that the sequel won't start shooting until sometime in 2012 at the earliest.

Paramount is itching for a new "Star Trek" installment, what with the last film taking in $386 million around the world and earning critical plaudits to boot. (The studio had tentatively said the movie could come out next June; that's obviously not going to happen.)

Abrams acknowledged that he felt pressure to up the pace but said he felt he needed to push back. "There was a lot of desire [on the studio side] to fast-track a new 'Star Trek' and have it be shooting already," Abrams said. "And in theory we could have done that. But what all of us [the creative team] were concerned about is the release date be the master we were serving.

"Nothing is more disheartening than something going in front of the camera before it's ready. The crew can feel it and the cast can feel it. It's just a heart-attack machine."


'Star Trek' app: Does your iPad need an Enterprising spirit?

'Star Trek': Twitter users give James T. Kirk the death he deserved

Video: Damon Lindelof talks about What's next for the 'Star Trek' Starfleet

— Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Zachary Quinto, left, and Chris Pine in "Star Trek." Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Betrayal and revenge in Clooney's 'Ides of March' [Trailer]

July 28, 2011 | 11:51 am

"Nothing bad happens when you're doing the right thing," Ryan Gosling's young-buck campaign strategist tells George Clooney's presidential contender at the start of the trailer for "The Ides of March" -- which is pretty much the surest sign that in the scenes to follow, people won't do the right thing and plenty of badness will indeed happen. The trailer for the political drama, which is based on Beau Willimon's off-Broadway play and figures to be a significant award contender, lays out a checkerboard of idealists and opportunists playing a twisty, high-stakes game. It's a kind of more thriller-y "Good Night and Good Luck" (which, like "March," was also directed by Clooney).

There's perhaps a bit too much amped-up suspense in the trailer -- fade-outs, dramatic pronouncements, that sort of thing -- but smart entertainment, which the trailer suggests in spades, has a way of forgiving all sins of melodrama. The movie kicks off the Venice Film Festival and also plays Toronto before opening commercially on Oct. 7.



A Carell-Gosling bromance in Crazy Stupid Love

George Clooney and Brad Pitt highlight Toronto Film Festival

Oscar pundits back Ides of March and War Horse

— Steven Zeitchik




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