Alexander Payne says he only finished post-production last Friday on his Cannes competition entry , Nebraska which had its press screening this morning and will premiere tonight. Reviews coming in so far are largely mixed to very good. Even though Paramount won’t release it until November 22, Payne likes to take a while in post to get everything right. There was initial concern about even making the Cannes date, so that is why until just a week before this year’s official lineup was announced did Paramount and Payne even decide to take a shot. He brought the film to Paris, showed it to Thierry Fremaux with only two days to spare, and landed tonight’s slot. Payne is becoming somewhat of a Cannes regular although , other than 2002′s About Schmidt, this is only his second film in competition. He has served on the juries of both Un Certain Regard and , last year, the main selection.
The film , which will be one of Par’s Oscar hopes this year, played well to nice, but brief, applause from the press at the screening and at the press conference that followed (especially when stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte were introduced). It’s pure Payne in its humanist, gently funny style and captures that Middle America folksy style in beautiful black and white, but it is definitely what I would call a small film that will need tender loving care from the studio (the only major studio film in competition).
And I say thank God for Payne , a film geek who knows as much about the history of movies as he does about making them, for realizing widescreen B&W is becoming a lost art. And it was the first question he got today. “I wasn’t expecting that question at all (laughs). It just seemed like the right thing to do for this film. It is just how I read it and saw it. True , I have always wanted to make a film in black and white. It’s such a beautiful form and it really had left our cinema because of commercial, not artistic reasons, but had never left high art photography, and this modest, austere story seemed to lend itself to being made in black and white. It was a visual style perhaps as austere as the lives of the people in the film,” he said adding that the budget had to be adjusted downwards because there were finanacial concerns from the studio, especially in living up to their deals in selling to television which requires color. Payne talked about the influence of a couple of B&W 70′s films of Peter Bogdanovich, Paper Moon and The Last Picture Show and you can definitely see the inspiration here, particularly the latter film.
The script by Bob Nelson came to Payne 9 years ago. And before finally shooting it he spent a solid year just casting and scouting locations in the heartland. He likes that the script was humorous and full of melancholy and also that it was somewhat autobiographical on the part of the writer (who was not in Cannes). It is the only one of Payne’s (recipient of two screenplay Oscars for The Descendants and Sideways) six features that he didn’t have a hand in writing. Dern noted it is the first movie in his own long career where he didn’t change a single word in the script.
Nebraska (Payne was born there) basically is a road trip movie about a son (Forte) driving his increasingly senile old father (Dern) from Montana to Nebraska in order to cash in a certificate from a publishing house that broken-down dad believes says he has really won one million dollars. Payne actually had the script while making Sideways but didn’t want to do another road trip movie so soon, hence the long wait to get it made. But road trip genre aside, essentially it’s a touching , if at times frustrating, father/son story in which the child tries to help an aging parent retain a level of dignity in his final years. That’s what appealed to Payne. “My parents are in the home stretch. That was very personal to me because I feel that with my own parents, and in old age there are events and moments that can reduce dignity, and I think it’s nice when we sons and daughters try to restore some of that dignity. And I like very much that theme in the screenplay,” he said.
Dern says he has been waiting eight years from the first time he read the screenplay to get a chance to do the role, and that it is probably the first “leading” part in a movie he has had in nearly a quarter of a century, although the thrust of the story really leans to Forte and his efforts to deal with an alcoholc , fading father. For Paramount’s awards campaign they could either push the 75 year old (or 76 – he wasn’t sure which) Dern in lead or support, the latter being a spot where he could have a better shot since veterans often are rewarded there (witness Christopher Plummer last year). Good as he is, the role itself doesn’t have quite the same scope as Robert Redford’s (also 76) in All Is Lost ,which premiered last night out of competition. As Dern’s wife, June Squibb also is superb and actually could have a shot in Supporting if the Oscar Gods are smiling. What the Cannes jury will make of the admittedly modest, character-driven film is anyone’s guess. Payne went home empty-handed for About Schmidt.
Dern was the life of the press conference with stories about working with legends like Hitchcock, Kazan and others in the same cinematic pantheon he says he now places Payne. Clearly he is stoked to have this career opportunity. Ironically daughter Laura Dern, also in town for the premiere, starred in Payne’s first directorial effort Citizen Ruth in 1996. ”I’ve done a lot of movies but I haven’t done, really until today as far as I’m concerned, a film…This man goes down where you are, picks you up in his arms, brings you back on the edge and says ‘let’s make magic’… The exciting thing about going to work for Alexander Payne, every day you’re excited , and why? Because he might do something that’s never been done,” he said.
Like make a major studio movie in 2013 with no big stars or special effects and then shoot it in Black and White? Magic, indeed.
Starz/BBC series The White Queen will debut on Starz on Saturday, August 10, following the Friday season finale of Magic City. The 10-episode drama, based on the bestselling historical novels by Philippa Gregory, is set against the backdrop of England’s Wars of the Roses and stars Max Irons, Amanda Hale, James Frain, newcomers Rebecca Ferguson and Faye Marsay and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer. Colin Callender is executive producer for the series, produced by the UK’s Company Pictures.
Bill O'Reilly told Jon Stewart that he's been "too easy" on President Obama, and that recent cases of the Justice Department spying on reporters proves it.
Meetings between O'Reilly and Stewart are always great television: The liberal and conservative hosts have learned to play off each other and even occasionally find common ground, as they did on Wednesday's "Daily Show."Related Articles: Bill O'Reilly Condemns Jon Stewart to Hell -- But He's Already There (Video) 'Killing Jesus': Move Over, New Testament - Bill O'Reilly Has a Fresh Take on the Death of Christ
After a sun dappled excursion to Hawaii with his most recent family drama "The Descendants," Alexander Payne returns to his native Midwest in the aptly named "Nebraska," which debuted Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival.
It's another story of estranged parents and children and another road movie for an idiosyncratic director who has made a name for himself by contorting and collapsing the reliable genres to find something fresh and human in films like "Sideways" and "About Schmidt."Related Articles: Cannes Review: 'The Bling Ring' Rips Open the Fame Game Cannes Review: In 'Nebraska,' Alexander Payne Paints an American Life Ryan Gosling's 'Only God Forgives': Critics Really, Really Hate the Crime Drama
"Fast & the Furious 6" is widely expected to dominate the Memorial Day box office and potentially become the highest grossing film in the lucrative franchise's history.
For a franchise keep growing as it enters its second decade and sixth installment is nearly unheard of in Hollywood, where sequels tend to burn hot and fast, dying out quickly. Yet Universal Pictures has adroitly managed the car racing series by tapping into international markets, catering to under-appreciated moviegoing audiences and recognizing the power of Diesel fuel -- Vin Diesel that is.Related Articles: How an Extreme Movie Makeover Saved 'Fast & Furious' From Going Direct to DVD 'Fast & Furious 6' Review: Bypasses Logic and Drives Straight to the Pleasure Center
"Fast & Furious 6" has become a road race to riches without a finish line in sight.
Roaring into theaters Friday, the movie is expected to generate $80 million or more over the Memorial Day weekend -- astounding numbers for a franchise that is more than a decade old, and isn't "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones."Related Articles: 6 Lessons Hollywood Needs to Learn From 'The Fast & The Furious' How the Battle Over 'Star Trek' Rights Killed J.J. Abrams' Grand Ambitions 'Fast & Furious 6' Review: Bypasses Logic and Drives Straight to the Pleasure Center Why the Rock Is the First Pro Wrestler (or Athlete) to Become a Movie Star
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Vin Diesel's still got it, at least according to the women in Jay Leno's audience. Oh, and Leno himself, who swooned over Diesel's cover photo on this month's Men's Fitness magazine. Leno comically referred to the workout magazine as "my bible."
The segments got even more charming -- and slightly weirder -- from there.Related Articles: Vin Diesel Battles an Army of Bounty Hunters in 'Riddick' Trailer (Video) 'Fast & Furious 6' Full Trailer Takes Action to 'a Whole New Level' - Of Ridiculous (Video) Vin Diesel to Star in, Produce MGM's 'The Machine'
Did you notice what LeBron James did as soon as it was over?
By Tara Fowler
This weekend sees the sixth (sixth!) installment of the "Fast & Furious" franchise hit theaters (and it's not the last — a seventh is set for next summer). The action series received a blast of adrenaline in the form of Dwayne Johnson with 2011's "Fast Five," and "Fast & Furious 6" promises to be just as, well, fast and furious thanks to the big guy's return (and that's saying something, since there are quite a few "big guys" — sorry Vin Diesel!). Here are seven things you may or may not have known about Johnson and his 18-inch biceps below:
1) He has a degree in criminology: And a criminal record. In fact, Johnson elected to get a degree in the field partly due to his shady past. "I struggled to stay on the right path," he told the Examiner. "I had multiple arrests by the time that I was 17. The last time I was arrested, my parents came down to the police station to get me. My parents were struggling at that time, even to put food on the table. That was a lot of stress at that time and I was adding to it. "
2) He made his acting debut on "That '70s Show": Though "The Mummy Returns" was Johnson's entrance onto the big screen, he previously played Rocky Johnson (that is, his own father) on a 1999 episode of "That '70s Show" and also appeared on an episode of "Star Trek: Voyager" as "The Champion."
3) He became a pro wrestler only after he was rejected by the Canadian Football League: Johnson was actually a stellar football player in high school, earning a scholarship to the University of Miami, only to be sidelined by a shoulder injury. After playing a short while in the CFL, he was cut from the team and decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a wrestler.
4) He still holds the rights to his nickname, "The Rock," but prefers to be called by his real name now that he's an actor: "I no longer am a wrestler," he told Entertainment Magazine in 2006. "I am now pursuing a future as an actor and someday as a director. I am not The Rock. I am Dwayne Johnson."
5) He holds a Guinness World Record: Thanks to "The Scorpion King." Johnson was paid $5.5 million to appear in the film, the most any actor has ever received in their first starring role.
6) His grandfather was a Bond villain: And Johnson hopes to play one someday as well. Peter Fanene Maivia appeared as a ne'er-do-well car driver in "You Only Live Twice." Here's hoping Johnson gets a more high-profile role. YOLO!
Will you check out Fast & Furious 6 this weekend?
Stephen Colbert opened up Wednesday's "Colbert Report" by comparing his difficulty in selecting which Obama administration scandal to report on as akin to trying to pick which of your children to impeach.
Congress and Colbert chose to focus on the IRS' admission to targeting Tea Party groups -- who may or may not have eaten chips in Colbert's den -- apparently a big no-no in his household.Related Articles: 'Downton Abbey' Stars Cook Up a Hilarious 'Breaking Bad' Spoof on 'Colbert Report' (Video) 'Colbert' Cancels Tapings Without Explanation; New Episodes Expected 'Soon' 'Daily Show,' 'Colbert' Clips Return Online After Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom, DirecTV (Video)