24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Chris Pine

CinemaCon: Chris Pine, talking 'Guardians,' nods to J.J. Abrams

April 24, 2012 |  9:59 am

Lending his voice to Jack Frost in the upcoming animated film "Rise of the Guardians" has given Chris Pine a new appreciation of the secrecy surrounding J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek."

"Rise of the Guardians," is a 3-D DreamWorks Animation movie featuring folklore characters like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny; it's set for release near Thanksgiving. It might not seem to have much in common with "Star Trek," but Pine, 31, says working on "Guardians" has given him a better understanding of why "Star Trek" director Abrams is so adamant about keeping the plot of his films a mystery.

"J.J. is super-secretive. The scripts are color-coded, and walking to and from set we have to wear coats and everything," the actor said at the CinemaCon convention of theater owners in Las Vegas, where he was on hand to promote "Guardians."  "It's such a pain in the [butt], but I think about how awesome it is, because what he's protecting is the magic of the unknown."

With the advent of the Internet, Pine says it's harder to preserve a sense of wonder among audiences, including children. Can the fantastical "Guardians" work for kids who are jaded at an early age?

"I think probably there's a certain amount of earlier cynicism because of technology and stuff -- they can look Santa Claus up online, and they'll find a blog post from some hater about he doesn't exist," he said. "I do think there's something genetically programmed in the brain of a child that wants to believe."

DreamWorks Animation screened roughly 15 minutes of the new movie to theater owners at the Caesars Palace Coliseum on Monday night, and director Peter Ramsey showed illustrations of each character and described them in elaborate detail. Pine gave an earnest speech about how his imagination ran wild as a kid. It seems the actor took his work on "Guardians" quite seriously. While Chris Rock told 24 Frames he finds doing voice work on the "Madagascar" films an easy gig, Pine said he agonizes over his delivery of every line.

"I do the voice for BMW too, and I'm always thinking, how do you paint a picture with words when the subtle nuances of just you and I sitting here together you can't display?" he said. "I'll go in sometimes and think I did a great job and hear it back and think, 'Well, that's not what I was trying to do.' It's the worst art form for an OCD perfectionist like me."


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-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Chris Pine talks about "Rise of the Guardians" at CinemaCon. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

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."


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— Steven Zeitchik

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

Cannes 2011: Cannes director and 'Memento' producer will collaborate on new film, possibly with Chris Pine [corrected]

May 15, 2011 | 11:15 am

EXCLUSIVE: As his star has risen in the last few years, Chris Pine has become known primarily for action roles -- his reprisal of the Capt. Kirk character in "Star Trek" in 2009, or as the upstart train man to Denzel Washington's veteran rail rat in "Unstoppable."

But those who have sensed that Pine has more serious acting chops could get a chance to see them in a new drama.

Photos: Cannes Film Festival 2011

The actor is in talks to star in a new movie called "Mud," a coming-of-age story that will be written and directed by emergingCannes director Jeff Nichols and produced by "Memento" producer Aaron Ryder, according to a source close to the project who asked not to be identified because talks were ongoing.

In an interview Sunday, Ryder declined to comment on the status of the Pine talks. But he did confirm the project and described it as in the vein of "Stand by Me," essentially a drama about figuring out one's place in the world. 

Nichols is the filmmaker behind the supernatural-tinged drama "Take Shelter," which is playing in the Critics Week section at the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie, which stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, had a strong showing at Sundance and will hit theaters later this year.) [Corrected, 6:33 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to its star as Michael Sheen; it is, in fact, Mr. Shannon.]

Nichols' new movie will center on two 14-year-boys who come across an adult fugitive of the law, the titular Mud (who would be played by Pine) and must help him escape off an island in the Mississippi. The ambiguity of the story lies with Mud, who is both an unsavory and a redemptive character and who teaches the boys as much as he learns from them.

The riverside setting and coming-of-age motif will inevitably draw comparisons to Huckleberry Finn, though the film will be set in the contemporary world.

"Mud" comes from a company called FilmNation, which is founded and run by independent-film veteran Glen Basner. Though it initially focused on financing movies by way of the sale of international rights -- it was behind the sale of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Looper" and is also peddling the Shia LaBeouf movie "The Wettest County in the World" -- it also is beefing up its financing and production arm under Aaron Ryder, a close associate of Christopher Nolan's who produced "Memento" and "The Prestige," and who will produce "Mud" with veteran Terrence Malick producer Sarah Green.
Ryder said his association with the blockbuster helmer had helped inform his current projects. "What Chris helped teach me," he said, "is that you can make commercially viable movies that people want to see that are still smart and sophisticated."

Basner said he aimed to make an assortment of deals for domestic and international rights on his films and also said the goal of FilmNation was to make movies that used budgets wisely, enabling it to take risks on the original material studios often eschew. "We're not interested in re-creating the movies from the past," he said. "We want to create new ones for the future."


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-- Steven Zeitchik


Smells like tween spirit: Miley Cyrus and Channing Tatum at the Oscars

March 2, 2010 | 12:42 pm

A new crop of Oscar presenters were announced Tuesday by the show's producers, a group that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Pine, Gerard Butler and Sam Worthington.

Miley There have been several points that one can infer from the growing list of celebrities set to appear on the Bill Mechanic- and Adam Shankman-produced show.

Organizers obviously are looking to strike a balance between the serious (Kate Winslet, Pedro Almodovar) and the youth-baiting (Taylor Lautner, Channing Tatum and Zac Efron, the latter two of whom have starred in Shankman-produced films). Despite the presence of some tween pin-ups, Shankman told my colleague Amy Kaufman, in a story set to be published in Wednesday's edition of The Envelope, that he could have pushed the Disney Channel angle a lot further.

"The biggest requests I get on Twitter -- and I’m not kidding, I’m still getting these daily -- are requests for Ashley Tisdale and Hilary Duff and Adam Lambert singing 'Time for Miracles.' And I was like, you know, you just have to sort of ignore that. Because those are not people in the movie business.”

What's particularly interesting about today's batch of presenters is not the youth but how many of them have something new to flog. Previously announced presenters who have movies coming out in the coming months include Steve Carell ("Dinner for Schmucks," "Date Night"), Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man 2," "Due Date"), and Miley Cyrus ("Last Song").

The new crop is even more marketing-ready: Stars like Gyllenhaal ("Prince of Persia"), Pine ("Unstoppable") and Butler ("The Bounty Hunter") all have movies set to be released this year. A few have multiple pictures, like Sam Worthington ("Clash of the Titans," "Last Night" and "The Debt").

The Oscars have always (but increasingly in recent years) tried to indulge the impulse for historical seriousness as well as the crowd-pleasing popcorn (well, the Oscar version). And producers of the show are often in a no-win situation: If they ignore the pop they're accused of being out of touch; if they embrace it, they're charged with pandering.

Still, the abundance of both young stars and actors with something to promote -- and not necessarily movies that will sweep voters off their feet -- makes us wonder if this will be the kind of year when the show tips a little more promotional than reverential (and further arouses the question of how much of that will be by the design of Mechanic and Shankman). Mechanic, for his part, at least nods to the demographic aspect. “The younger side of the audience has been drifting for years, so we’re more conscious of trying to build a youth element into the show," he told Kaufman.

We also wonder if all of this might make us yearn for a moment in the 2008 ceremony, when Jon Stewart offered an insider quip about stars' tendency to promote movies -- and then subverted it. "According to IMDB," Stewart said, "our next presenter is the star of 2010 Untitled Nicole Kidman project.'"

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Miley Cyrus. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Roman Polanski's 'Ghost Writer' doesn't wow them in Berlin -- UPDATED

February 12, 2010 |  4:00 pm

Roman Polanski's new film, "The Ghost Writer," had its premiere on Friday as part of the first full day of the Berlin Film Festival -- and provoked a mixed response.

Pola Co-written by Polanski and novelist Robert Harris, the film tells the story of a former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) who enlists a writer (Ewan McGregor) to ghost write his memoir. As the former PM, living in exile in the United States, fights charges that he assisted the CIA in illegal torture, the writer discovers information about his new employer that plunges him headlong into a world of Polanski-esque paranoia and deception.

Writing for indieWire, Brian Brooks noted "mixed reactions" to "The Ghost Writer," saying that "unfortunately, it seemed the film only received a tepid response after its initial screening." As more reviews have begun to appear online, the critical reaction to Polanski's latest was perhaps best summed up by David Hudson. Writing for the website the Auteurs, he said that " 'The Ghost Writer' won't be toppling governments or, most likely, any best-of-2010 lists, but it's a fine minor entertainment."

Polanski, still under house arrest in Switzerland while awaiting possible extradition to Los Angeles, was not in attendance at the festival. The director's absence was noted during the news conference for the film, with producer Robert Benmussa quoted as saying that "not having Roman at the center of this podium seems very strange for us all."

UPDATE -- 9:34 AM, SATURDAY: The film drew a stronger reaction at a screening for Los Angeles reviewers and tastemakers Friday night. Most in attendance were piqued or even heartened by the effort, which proved to be a taut thriller and an effective mood piece. We'll see what the critics say....--S.Z.

-- Mark Olsen

Photo: Roman Polanski. Credit: Roberto Pfeil / Associated Press

'Book of Eli' star Denzel Washington, at an action-movie crossroads

January 14, 2010 |  7:00 am


Denzel Washington, whose "The Book of Eli" opens this weekend to what will likely be strong box office, has worked with Tony Scott on four previous movies and recently wrapped their fifth, a train thriller titled "Unstoppable" with newly minted Captain Kirk Chris Pine.

The title "Unstoppable" carries particular irony because the project was delayed several times by what insiders have said were diverse factors such as budget-related studio reluctance and star hesitation.

So how unwilling was Washington? In a conversation about the religious and other aspects of "Eli" -- he notes, incidentally, that Warner Bros. wanted Bible references toned down to the point that "it sometimes got ridiculous in how you were trying to hide it"; see the full fruits of that interview here -- the actor tells 24 Frames that he pretty much didn't want to make "Unstoppable."

"To be honest with you, I didn't want to do the movie," Washington said. "The studio [Fox] didn't care. I said, 'I don't want to do it' and they said 'Good, get out.' I said, 'Fine.' But then Tony said, 'I don't want to do it unless he [Denzel] does it.' The way it was told to me, he said, 'If he's out, I'm out.'"

That prompted Scott to make the hard sell to Washington. "Tony just wouldn't let it go," Washington continued. "I said, 'Come on.' He said, 'I need you, I need you.'" I said [going to a whimpering-little-boy voice], 'I don't want to be on top of a train.'"

So what made Washington finally relent? "Because I love him. What am I going to do?" he said, adding, "That was one for him. He owes me one now."

Scott's recollection of events pretty much dovetails with Washington's -- though he's not shy about putting a fine point on it: "I kept beating on his door and saying ... do it." (Washington, as he was later hanging on to a train hurtling along at something like 50 mph, recalled quipping to Pine, "You know we're all just pawns, right? It's all about the trains.")

Washington's future holds a few other possibilities. He's soon headed to Broadway for an August Wilson revival, is toying with the idea of moving forward on a World War II drama called "Brothers In Arms" and is even contemplating a return to the political roles for which he became famous earlier in his career. A South African producer has recently sent him a script about a person he describes as a "prominent" South African politician ... who may or may not be currently personified on screen by Morgan Freeman. Whatever Denzel takes on -- for now, at least -- he seems to be hopping off the action train.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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