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Category: Nicole Kidman

Cannes 2012: Festival turns 65 with a lineup heavy on U.S. titles

May 16, 2012 |  5:00 am

Cannes Film Festival

If all film festivals are balancing acts, it stands to reason that the annual extravaganza at Cannes, likely the world's most celebrated cinematic event, has more to balance than most. Especially this year.

Opening Wednesday night with Wes Anderson's oddly endearing “Moonrise Kingdom,” Cannes is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year and marking that milestone by embracing all kinds of opposites: old and young, dramatic and documentary, commercial and politically committed, avant-garde and classic, even American and not.

The U.S. presence seems especially strong, starting with the official poster, an Otto Bettmann photo of a luminous Marilyn Monroe blowing out a birthday cake candle. An 80- by 40-foot version looms impossibly large on an outside wall of the Palais des Festivals, while the building's inside walls feature photos of other Hollywood luminaries, including Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable and Judy Garland, even Marlene Dietrich and Ernst Lubitsch, having a go at birthday cakes of their own.

Cheat Sheet: Cannes Film Festival 2012

On one level, American films are thick in the main competition, with a roster that includes new movies by Lee Daniels, who is following his Oscar-winning drama “Precious” with “The Paperboy,” and Jeff Nichols, whose “Mud” comes after the acclaimed apocalyptic meditation “Take Shelter.”

But some of the most eagerly anticipated American films — Walter Salles' take on Jack Kerouac's legendary “On the Road,” Andrew Dominik's Brad Pitt-starring “Killing Them Softly” (based on George V. Higgins' “Cogan's Trade”) and John Hillcoat's Prohibition era “Lawless” — were all directed by filmmakers who hail from other countries.

Speaking of elsewhere, new films are also on offer from such stalwarts as France's Jacques Audiard (“Rust & Bone”), Italy's Matteo Garrone (“Reality,” following up on “Gomorrah”), Britain's Ken Loach (“The Angels' Share”) and Austria's Michael Haneke (the Isabelle Huppert-starring “Amour”).

The honor of being the oldest director in the competition goes to 89-year-old Alain Resnais, here with the puckishly titled “You Haven't Seen Anything Yet.” Considerably younger, with films in the Un Certain Regard section, are debuting Americans Adam Leon, whose “Gimme the Loot” took the grand jury prize at this year's South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, and Benh Zeitlin, whose “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did the same at Sundance in January.

Straddling the young-old divide in a personal way are Canadian director David Cronenberg, in competition with the Robert Pattinson-starring “Cosmopolis” from the Don DeLillo novel, and his son Brandon, in Un Certain Regard with the thriller “Antiviral.”

Though the world's artier directors are always to be found at the festival, Cannes is also determined to embroil itself in the commercial side of things, which it does by scheduling the animated adventure “Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted” in an out-of-competition slot.

Then there are the numerous billboards for features that dot the city's streets and the fronts of hotels. Most noticeable this year is the way names that were considered edgy once upon a time have now become commercial enough to merit major-league spending.

Billboards could be seen not only for Quentin Tarantino's “Django Unchained” but also for Harmony Korine's “Spring Breakers.” And who should look right at home in the prime real estate of the entrance to the Carlton Hotel but Sacha Baron Cohen in full Admiral General Aladeen regalia for his satirical comedy “The Dictator.” Thus pass the bad boys of the world.

Perhaps even more startling, however, is the recent announcement from Canada's Alliance Films that it would charge Canadian journalists for interview access to the stars of some of the company's films.

If this is starting to sound all too frivolous, Cannes has political antidotes all ready to go. There will be a special screening of “The Oath of Tobruk,” Bernard-Henri Levy's doc about the fall of Moammar Kadafi, with “four key figures of the Libyan revolution” in attendance.

Closer to home is “The Central Park Five,” a quietly devastating documentary co-directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband, David McMahon, that examines how and why five innocent teenagers ended up being convicted of and imprisoned for the savage rape of a jogger in New York's Central Park in a case that became an international media sensation.

If you view film as a refuge from the cares of the real world, Cannes is ready for you as well. The ever-expanding Cannes Classics section features an impressive variety of restorations, including Alfred Hitchcock's silent “The Ring,” a 4-hour, 13-minute reconstruction of Sergio Leone's “Once Upon a Time in America” and Andrei Konchalovsky's aptly named “Runaway Train.”

Also, there are master class lectures by director Philip Kaufman (here with HBO's “Hemingway & Gellhorn” starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen) and 97-year-old Norman Lloyd, who has seen a lot (he co-founded the Mercury Theater with Welles) and remembers it all.


Cannes 2012: Alexander Payne, Ewan McGregor named to jury

William Friedkin to serve as L.A. Film Fest's guest director

'Gangster Squad' trailer highlights L.A. landmarks

— Kenneth Turan

Photo: A giant canvas of the official poster of the 65th Cannes Film Festival featuring Marilyn Monroe. Credit: Stephane Reix / EPA.

Adam Sandler dominates the Razzie nominations

February 25, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill" earns Razzie nods


In a dubious achievement, Adam Sandler broke all records Saturday evening, earning 11 Razzie nominations for his various work as an actor, a writer and a producer on three 2011 movies: "Jack and Jill," "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star" and "Just Go With It."

The nominations for the 32nd annual Razzie Awards, honoring the worst accomplishments in film, were announced on the eve of the Academy Awards. The Razzies have traditionally been presented the day before the Oscars, but co-owners John Wilson and Mo Murphy have moved the ceremony this year to April Fool's Day to give the Razzie voters “additional time to see the dreck" before casting their ballots.

Sandler's gender-bender comedy "Jack and Jill" — in which he portrays both title roles — earned 12 nominations, including worst film, actor and actress for Sandler, supporting actress for Katie Holmes and supporting actor for Al Pacino (yes, you read that correctly).

Rounding out the worst film nominees are "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star," which Sandler co-wrote; "New Year's Eve"; "Transformers: Dark of the Moon";  and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1."

Sandler earned a second worst actor nomination for "Just Go With It" and will compete against Russell Brand for "Arthur," Nicolas Cage for three films — "Drive Angry 3-D," "Season of the Witch" and "Trespass" — Taylor Lautner for "Abduction" and "Breaking Dawn," and Nick Swardson for "Bucky Larson."

It was a good year (or perhaps a very bad one) for men in drag at the movies. In addition to Sandler, a few other actors earned nominations in the actress categories. David Spade is up for worst supporting actress as Monica in "Jack and Jill," while Martin Lawrence is nominated for worst actress in "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," and Brandon T. Jackson from that film is in contention for supporting actress. 

Joining Sandler and Lawrence in the worst actress category are Sarah Palin in "Sarah Palin: The Undefeated," Sarah Jessica Parker for both "I Don't Know How She Does It" and "New Year's Eve," and Kristen Stewart for "Breaking Dawn."

Rounding out the supporting actress category after Spade, Jackson and Holmes are Nicole Kidman for "Just Go With It" and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley  for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

Competing with Pacino for worst supporting actor are Patrick Dempsey in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," James Franco for "Your Highness," Ken Jeong for four movies — "Big Mommas," "The Hangover: Part II," "Transformers" and "Zookeeper" — and Nick Swardson for "Jack and Jill" and "Just Go With It."

Vying for worst screen ensemble are the casts of "Bucky Larson," "Jack and Jill," "New Year's Eve," "Transformers" and "Breaking Dawn."

Worst director nominees are Michael Bay for "Transformers," Tom Brady for "Bucky Larson," Bill Condon for "Breaking Dawn," Dennis Dugan for "Jack and Jill" and "Just Go With It," and Garry Marshall for "New Year's Eve."

Nominated for worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel are "Arthur," "Bucky Larson," "The Hangover: Part II," "Jack and Jill" and "Breaking Dawn."

Vying for worst screen couple are Cage and "anyone sharing the screen with him in any of his three 2011 films," Shia LaBeouf and Huntington-Whiteley in "Transformers," Sandler and either Jennifer Aniston or Brooklyn Decker in "Just Go With It," Sandler and either Holmes, Pacino or himself in "Jack and Jill" and Stewart and either Lautner or Robert Pattinson in "Breaking Dawn."

Worst screenplay nominations went to Sandler, Allen Covert and Swardson for "Bucky Larson"; Steve Koren and Sandler with story by Ben Zook for "Jack and Jill"; Katherine Fugate for "New Year's Eve"; Ehren Kruger for "Transformers"; and Melissa Rosenberg from the novel by Stephenie Meyer for "Breaking Dawn."


Movie Review: Adam Sandler's 'Jack and Jill' is a drag 

Movie Review: 'Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

— Susan King

Photo: Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill" earned 12 Razzie nominations. Credit: Tracy Bennett/Columbia Pictures 

Toronto film festival adds Jennifer Hudson, Nicole Kidman movies

August 16, 2011 |  7:00 am

The already-crowded 2011 Toronto International Film Festival lineup just got more packed with the addition Tuesday of eight galas and 18 special presentations, including "Winnie," the biopic of South Africa's Winnie Mandela starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard; "Trespass," a  Joel Schumacher thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage; and the French film "Beloved," starring Catherine Deneuve.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher ("Precious") will unveil his directorial debut, "Violet & Daisy," featuring  Saoirse Ronan ("Hanna"), Alexis Bledel ("Gilmore Girls") and James Gandolfini. Meanwhile, Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton will star in Nick Murphy's thriller "The Awakening."

The festival, which runs from Sept. 8-18, will feature the British film "Page Eight" as the closing-night film. Starring Bill Nighy, the spy pic from director David Hare also features Michael Gambon and Rachel Weisz.


Bono, U2 doc will open Toronto International Film Festival

George Clooney, Brad Pitt highlight Toronto film festival lineup

Toronto Film Festival documentary lineup includes Herzog, Spurlock

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Jennifer Hudson, left, and Terrence Howard in a scene from "Winnie." Credit: Toronto International Film Festival.

Oscars: What's next for the winners?

February 28, 2011 |  5:00 pm

Yourhighness They might have stood on the most prestigious stage in Hollywood on Sunday night. But this year’s Academy Award winners won’t necessarily be in Oscar mode when they next pop up on a movie screen.

Because they took jobs before the awards angel landed on their shoulders — or because they simply want to perform in  diverse roles — many of the winners will star in more commercial films than the ones that netted them their statuettes.

In April, Natalie Portman will appear in the (not exactly Oscar-like) stoner comedy “Your Highness" (and opposite Oscar co-host James Franco). Just a month later, she’ll star as a scientist in a Marvel superhero movie, "Thor," the new take on the Norse god. (She'll also appear in a supporting role in the independent drama “Hesher,” which is expected to get a limited release.)

After that? It could be a while before we see the pregnant actress on screen again; Portman said backstage at the Oscars on Sunday that she had no idea how impending motherhood would affect the roles she takes. “One of the exciting things about becoming pregnant is that I’m expecting a complete unknown,” she said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Candid quotes from the red carpet and beyond

Melissa Leo, the “Fighter” costar who provided the, er, most colorful moment of the Oscars during her acceptance speech for supporting actress, will next make more niche appearances on the big screen. She’ll play a gun-toting member of a homophobic cult in Kevin Smith’s “Red State,” which the filmmaker is self-distributing in October, and she’ll star in an independent golf dramedy titled “Seven Days in Utopia,” which does not yet have a theatrical distributor. (She also has a recurring role on HBO’s post-Katrina New Orleans-set series “Treme.”)

After years of romantic comedy roles leading up to his turn as George VI in “The King’s Speech,” lead actor winner Colin Firth is skewing a little bit more commercial than the film that landed him his statuette — but only a little bit.

The English actor will next be seen in the adaptation of John le Carré’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” a film he was shooting while promoting “The King’s Speech” this season. He plays a British intelligence officer (code name Tailor) suspected of being a Russian mole. The espionage drama, whose rights have just been acquired by Universal Pictures, does not yet have a release date.

 Firth this summer also aims to shoot Park Chan-Wook’s “Stoker,” a mystery drama that will put him in a film with another 2011 award-season personality, Nicole Kidman.

PHOTO GALLERY: Behind the scenes of the 2011 Academy Awards

And Christian Bale? He's spent the last part of his Oscar campaign in an artistically rigorous place: in China shooting a part as a heroic priest in the Asian period piece “The 13 Women of Nanjing." But blockbusters aren’t too far from the actor’s mind; Bale will reprise his superhero role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” which is scheduled for the summer of 2012.

“When I finish the movie in China,” he told reporters Sunday, “it’s straight to Batman. Much more Batman.”

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Natalie Portman, Danny McBride, center, and James Franco in "Your Highness." Credit: Universal


Hot with Oscar buzz, Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman look to new roles in 'Stoker'

February 11, 2011 | 11:05 am

EXCLUSIVE: Colin Firth has had his pick of roles in Hollywood ever since the Oscar buzz started for his portrayal of King George VI in "The King's Speech." Now it looks like he's made up his mind.

The British actor is negotiating to join "Stoker," a family mystery-drama that South Korean filmmaker Chan Wook-Park is making as his first English-language movie, according to a person close to the production. It would be the first movie that Firth has shot since "The King's Speech" became a box-office and critical phenomenon. (Firth had previously become attached to a remake of “Gambit” that the Coen brothers wrote, but that would in all probability shoot after “Stoker.”)

Nicole Kidman, herself gaining award-season buzz for her turn as a grieving mother in "Rabbit Hole," is also negotiating to come aboard in a lead part, the person close to the production said.

Penned by actor Wentworth Miller, "Stoker" tells of a girl and her mother who are visited by a mysterious uncle after the girl's father dies. Kidman would play the mother and Firth the uncle. The Fox Searchlight film, which is being produced by Ridley and Tony Scott's production company and will star Mia Wasikowska as the girl, India Stoker, is set to start shooting in late spring. Representatives for the actors were not immediately available for comment.

Firth and Kidman, both visiting Los Angeles this week, met with "Oldboy" auteur Park to discuss the nuances of their roles, according to a person familiar with the meeting who was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

The castings would mark the next chapter in the long and complex careers of both Firth and Kidman. The former had heretofore been known to U.S. audiences primarily for supporting roles in movies such as "Bridges Jones's Diary." Kidman, an Oscar winner for "The Hours" in 2002, had recently starred in a number of disappointments, including "Australia" and "The Golden Compass." 

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Colin Firth in 'The King's Speech.' Credit: The Weinstein Co.

Are women over 40 really getting the best parts of their lives?

February 9, 2011 |  2:28 pm


A 43-year-old Julia Roberts has just been cast as the Evil Queen in "Snow White." The 50-year Melissa Leo, as she's been not shy in reminding us in her glammed-up ad, is going strong with her turn as a domineering mother in "The Fighter." Helen Mirren didn't let the fact that she was blowing out 65 birthday candles last summer stop her from blowing away the bad guys in "Red."

A few years ago the conventional wisdom was that women over 40 were relegated to minor screen roles, or at least to roles that fit more stereotypical notions (Meryl Streep's recent casting as an older married woman in "Great Hope Springs," for instance). Cable was the place for women over 40 to get meatier or unconventional parts.

But change has been in the air, as evidenced by a host of parts this season, including a 43-year-old Nicole Kidman's complex turn as a grieving mother in "Rabbit Hole" and 52-year-old Annette Bening's Oscar-nominated part as a lesbian mom in "The Kids Are All Right."

On Monday night at the AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards, comments about a new era trickled down from the podium.

"I do think things are slowly, slowly getting better for women, and this year proves that," said the British actress Leslie Manville. Manville plays one of the year's most memorable female characters -- the semi-alcoholic, daffy Mary in Mike Leigh's "Another Year" -- and she called this year a "milestone" and went on to say that "women over 40, women over 50, women over 60, are playing roles that are sexy and sexual and interesting and intelligent."

My colleague Rebecca Keegan reported recently that the percentage of women over 40 in principal screen roles, according to the Screen Actors Guild (which doesn't distinguish between television and film), has jumped from 11% to 28% in the last seven years.

"Hollywood, an industry so often driven by the ids of 14-year-old boys, used to usher actresses into retirement after they lit their 39th birthday candle," she wrote. "But this year, leading ladies in their 40s, 50s and 60s have elbowed their way onto the screen in an abundance of principal roles in both studio and independent films."

It's a continuation in some ways of last year's film season, when a 45-year-old Sandra Bullock collected accolades and an Oscar statuette for her role as the brook-no-nonsense mother Leigh Anne Tuohy in "The Blind Side."

But Manville's "slowly, slowly" may still be the more operative phrase. A number of these movies ("Rabbit Hole," "The Kids Are All Right") were made outside the Hollywood system. And many of the films have women playing parts that they've played for years, as mothers (or queens).

Manville may be right that notions of sexuality have changed -- "10 or 15 years ago, playing a woman who was as sexy" was not common, she said -- but the idea of a wholesale change may, at the moment, be overstated. As Kidman said in The Times story, "Unless I produce, it's rare that I get to read scripts of substance."

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Helen Mirren in "Red." Credit: Summit Entertainment.


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Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week: Nicole Kidman in 'Rabbit Hole'

January 12, 2011 |  4:58 pm

Nicole Kidman never makes the easy choice. If there are cliffs to dive from, she’ll pick the highest; cuts to cut, she’ll slice the deepest.

As an actress, she is not interested in giving comfort to either us or her women -- consider "The Hours," "Margot at the Wedding," "Portrait of a Lady" or "Dogville," to name just a very few.

When it comes to holes to burrow into? For that, there is the exquisitely rendered pain of "Rabbit Hole," in which she plays a mother dealing with the tragedy of her young son's death. It's accidental; no one's fault, really. But without blame, how do you heal? That is the central dilemma with which her Becca is dealing.

Loss is such a strange blend of individual and universal pain, and Kidman blurs that line beautifully as a hollowed-out shell of a human, not sure if she wants to locate a pulse ever again. She is one half of a broken couple, opposite an excellent Aaron Eckhart, in playwright David Lindsay-Abaire's quietly hopeful adaptation of his searing play in the cautious hands of director John Cameron Mitchell.

The film is not perfect, but Kidman’s Becca is so finely crafted that she is sure to stand alongside the many extraordinary faces of Eve the actress has given us.

-- Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole."

Credit: JoJo Whilden



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