September 30, 2007

Monday, October 1

In Praise of Julie Taymor
Last week I took issue with NY Magazine putting four white guys on the cover heralding the re-ascendency of the American auteur. The film press is very free with calling male directors auteurs, yet very seldom do they describe women directors that way. Here is an official definition from

A filmmaker whose individual style and complete control over all elements of production give a film its personal and unique stamp.

Well, it is clear to me that Julie Taymor qualifies for that title and having just seen Across the Universe, I firmly believe she is one of the most interesting and artistic directors working today -- male or female.

Across the Universe
tells the story of the political upheaval in the late 60s through the music of the Beatles. That in itself makes it interesting. Whereas Hairspray was a very traditional musical, Across the Universe is very untraditional. They are moments of brilliance (the army induction sequence) and moments of self indulgence. The film is too long by about 20 minutes, yet it is one of the most original and visually interesting films I have seen in a long, long time.

The cast of mostly unknowns (except for Evan Rachel Wood) who has come a long way since My So Called Life, is given such rich material and choreography that I can only imagine how fun the shoot was. There are beautifully choreographed sequences, specifically the juxtaposition of the funeral of a young white soldier killed in Vietnam and the funeral of a young black boy killed in the Detroit riots to the lyrics of Let it Be (sung by the young boy) is amazing. There are also fun cameos by Eddie Izzard, Bono and Salma Hayek.

Go see this film, I guarantee you won't be bored. Stephen Holden of the NY Times agrees. Here is a great quote:
Somewhere around its midpoint, Across the Universe captured my heart, and I realized that falling in love with a movie is like falling in love with another person. Imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you’ve tumbled.
Backstage has an interview with Jane Fleming head of Women in Film who discusses their second annual entertainment forum which will take place in LA Oct 6-7. (via HerHollywood) Some interesting quotes from the piece:
"Thirty-five years ago, when [WIF] was started, there were very few executives, and now that landscape looks enormously different. I feel like the tide is shifting for women behind the camera," she said. "Hopefully, in 30 years from now, we'll be looking at a whole different landscape."
"You have a variety of [female] showrunners," she said, referring to writer-producers such as Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy), Jenji Kohan (Weeds), and Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, The Game). "The great part of a woman running a show is that they inevitably employ many women, and then those women get trained to be able to run their own shows. So there's a real domino effect that can happen quite quickly in television.
Women in Film Honors Behind-the-Scenes Femmes (Backstage)

Sarah Polley won best director honors at the annual Directors Guild of Canada awards for her feature debut Away from Her. (available now on DVD) (Variety)

A woman directing men is not as common as one might think. Mimi Leder is set direct Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas in The Code. This is her first feature since Pay it Forward in 2000. "Freeman will portray a veteran thief who recruits a younger crook, played by Banderas, to help him pull off one final job in order to repay his debt to the Russian mob." (Variety)

Anne Thompson on how Stacey Snider's doing at Dreamworks. Hint...really well.
Stacey Snider makes Dream work (Variety)

Marsha Mason has been out of the limelight for some time growing herbs on her organic farm in New Mexico. On the eve of her return in a new off-Broadway play, Mason puts her ranch on the market.
Actress Marsha Mason selling `a little piece of heaven' (AP via Miami Herald)

Tilda Swinton is an actress with the ability to be in the biggest films (Narnia) and the smallest films (Stephanie Daley- rent this if you haven't seen it). This Friday she opens opposite George Clooney in the legal thriller Michael Clayton.
Tilda Swinton Faces Off Against George Clooney (NY Daily News)

Helen Mirren blames women for body image problems. What's up with that?
Helen Mirren attacks stick-thin waif ideal (New Zealand Herald)

Angelina Jolie talks to the Australian Press about playing Marianne Pearl in A Mighty Heart. Wonder if the film will do better overseas?
Hollywood's Super Woman (Sydney Morning Herald)

Catherine Keener has joined the cast of the Soloist. "Story centers on Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless musician with schizophrenia who dreams of playing at L.A.’s Disney Hall." Script is by Susannah Grant. (Variety)

This one sounds good
Kathy Baker and James Brolin have joined Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson in the indie romantic drama Last Chance Harvey.

Baker plays the ex-wife of Hoffman, a down-on-his-luck New York jingle writer with a tough boss (Richard Schiff). He becomes romantically involved with a lonely bureaucrat (Thompson) with an overbearing mother (Eileen Atkins) on a trip to London.
(Hollywood Reporter)

Tube Tonight
Season premiere of Girlfriends at 9pm on the CW