Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Aidan Quinn -- and Welcome Back, Jack!

It's March 8, which means it's Happy 52nd Birthday, Aidan Quinn!

The first time I saw Aidan Quinn was in Legends of the Fall, and I was impressed. He held his own against a Brad Pitt who, for the first time in his career, had been allowd off the leash. In retrospect, we know all about what a Brad on the rampage is capable of, and Aidan was admirable in the part of the elder brother ... more sane, more stable, competing for the hand of the lovely Julia Ormond, and not really succeeding. Though, the fact is, in real life ... welllll, I think he would have. Not that Brad's character wasn't amazing, but I think Julia's character would have opted for Aiden's character, and a long, peaceful life! And why not? Because we're talking about tasty, here ... seriously tasty!

I think the next one I saw was probably Benny and Joon, with Johnny Depp, and I'll always remember Practical Magic, with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. In Benny and Joon, Aidan went up against Johnny Depp in full-on "cute as a bug" mode, and was terrific; and in Practical Magic he had the sanest, most normal, least outrageous ... and nicest of all the characters to play, which was quite a challenge. Go up against that cast and be visible? Neat trick, if you can do it -- and what's more, he did!

So, Happy 52nd to Aidan, and many more of them.

Second bit of news that has me blogging today:

Welcome back, Jack!

As in, Sparrow.

Go to the movies right now, and you'll be seeing this:

(Click on that -- I put it up at 1000 pixels wide, because it's such a treat. May. Woot! Can't wait!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Adrian Paul, back on Australia's radar (at least on this page)

I was going through boxes the other day -- trying to figure out what to chuck, to make space, because I don't live in a TARDIS (wish I did!), whaddayaknow ... so that's what happened to the Highlander paperbacks that came out in the Days of Yore, and which I used to mail order from the States because no way could you get them here.

Highlander was my favorite show back in 2000-ish, and Adrian Paul s still one of my all-time favorite actors. But when you live in this country (yeah, yeah, I come from a land downunder) you get used to living on a solid diet of A-list shows, movies and actors, because that's all the local networks buy. Anybody who isn't on the A-list will vanish off the radar. So let me see if I can do a little bit to put him back on Australia's radar!

Even for Highlander -- I used to have a mate in Canada who taped it offair for me and mailed me VHS videos, because it wasn't on here! Even now, it's not available on DVD (and before anyone leaves a comment to say, "Yes it is, it always has been," let me qualify this ... it's NOT available on Region 4 DVD, and our machines do a pretty cruddy job of playing American DVDs, which are coded Region 1, even if one could afford the high price of shipping them into the country, which -- right now, at least -- I can't).

So I lost track of Adrian Paul, big time, after about 2000, and here it is, 2011 already, and I'm wondering, "I wonder if Adrian retired?"

Ha! Good God, it's only at times like this when you realize how faaaaaar away Australia really is, and how hard you have to work (how much you have to spend!) to keep up with even the simplest little things such as, "I wonder if Adrian Paul retired?"

No, AG. The man didn't retire ... he never stopped working, he has a boatload of credits, and not only that, he still looks damned good at almost 52 (birthday = May 29).

The better question is: Why is this man not A-listed? He had the smoldery looks to blow the doors off anybody but Johnny Depp, (in fact, there's something about Christian Bale which reminds you of Adrian, and something about Adrian that reminds you of Sean Connery) plus a "weight" to his on-screen personality and performance that rivalled Brad Pitt, plus all the athleticism needed of today's action heroes, and a flair for comedy, to boot. *sigh*

So there's the answer to one question (Adrian Paul is still working, busy as a team of beavers), and another one for which there ain't no good answer, because the A-list is full of folks who have no more talent, half the looks and a quarter the athleticism. Go figure.

Anyway -- check out his IMDB list for the full catalog of credits (including Sir Francis Drake, whom he portrayed in 2009 for TV!), and here's the official site, which makes interesting viewing. Now, I'm off to work in a little while, but I'm taking an old Highlander paperback with me, and the next time I'm on a break, it'll be a blast from the past!

Have some more pictures, before I go...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Elijah Wood and Brendan Fraser ... it's all about the feet

Okay -- Brendan first, then Elijah, okay? Because B comes before E, and F comes before W, maybe. Beside, this was the order I typed it in!

Journey to the Center of the Earth was one of the movies I enjoyed most in the recent ocean of 3D offerings, and a large part of the enjoyment came from the small fact Brendan Fraser plays this sort of role so well, with just enough gravitas to make you believe in the character, yet a flair for comedic timing that's second to none. So I was very sad to find that the second Journey moved (Mysterious Island, loosely based on another Verne idea) will be Brendanless.

Seems Brendan said "no thanks" when the company -- and it's New Line! -- tried to go back on the actor's fee. Promise him a certain figure, then actually pay a lot less. That's not the kind of thing any tradesman (and acting is a trade no less than plumbing ... it's just has a lot more glam and gets a lot more publicity) can go along with, so quite rightly Brendan put his hat back on and hopefully didn't slam the door too hard on his way out. Why would New Line pull this stunt? After the Lord of the Rings trilogy, they must be floating away on cash. (Then again, Peter Jackson had to sue them over non-payment of royalties, so ... go figure.)

In fact, he's signed to do a drama next. It's something called Seconds of Pleasure -- and to this point no one has the slightest idea what it's about, just that it ain't no comedy, and also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth and Ed Harris. Well, with a cast like that you won't go far wrong! So we can only hope it's a role that'll give Brendan the chance to flex his dramatic muscles rather than the ones he acquires (rather temporarily these days) in the gym in order to make the rambunctious big adventure movies.

So what does all this have to do with his feet? Absolutely nothing ... unless maybe the situation got him so uptight (and it'd sure do it to me!) that a nice pedicure sounded like a great way to relax...

It's a cute little story, (running here with more pictures -- but beware: Brendan ain't wearing his glamorous facade. He really is the guy next door in these pictures, so if you don't want your bubble punctured, stay on this page). Let me give you in a thimble. Lady pedicurist does a superlative job on his feet ... quotes her fee as $16. Being from Hollywood, Brendan heard "Sixty," not "Sixteen," and when the pedicurist was far too honest to let him overpay, he said words along the lines of "You need to charge more," and with a smile, paid the sixty bucks.

Cute, cute story, that, to which I have but one addition to make, after looking at the above picture: Brendan, sweetheart, put your glasses on. Squinting to read is bad for your eyes, gives you headaches, and ... God knows, everybody in the world wears glasses!

Except, I suspect Elijah Wood has switched, or is switching, to contact lenses, because you rarely see him in glasses these days, while his eyesight was notorious way back in the Frodo days.

But it really is about the feet -- again! Now, this news is so new, they haven't even updated the cast list for The Hobbit on IMDB. Go there, and you won't see the name of Elijah Wood mentioned, but (and I'm chuckling with glee!) I just saw a piece on, and yep, there's a part in The Hobbit for Elijah. Now, he says it's a small part, which is fair enough -- especially since he's long been saying he wouldn't be putting the feet on again. Who would blame him, after seeing the routine he, Sean Astin and the other kids went through every day with those hobbit feet? Eep.

But it turns out that Elijah Wood will be back in the feet for a small part in both parts of The Hobbit, and with any luck at all they'll be able to dragoon David Tennant into the part of Thranduil, which is so close to a done deal, it's actually listed at IMDB. I would dearly love to see David Tennant as Thranduil.

Also watch out for Elijah Wood in Treasure Island, which is shooting in Puerto Rico soon-ish. Mind you, you might not recognize him! A dozen years ago he'd have been playing Jim Hawkins, but this time around (and doesn't this just show you how time flies?) he'll be playing Ben Gunn! Seriously! They're all good parts, but the cogs and gears of time never stop turning, do they?

Let's have some more pictures before I sign out for today. As I always say, it's not as if there's any shortage of them, so why be stingy?

So there you are -- a tale of four feet and five movies (The Hobbit is being done in two parts). And now ... lunch, while I watch some of the Tour Downunder on tv. Ahhh, the bliss of a day off...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chris Hemsworth or Brad Pitt ... do I *have* to choose?!

Yes, Aricia, you have to choose, because unless we're talking about The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which is a very special case, you can only have ONE actor playing the same part in he same movie at the same time! (Well, Doctor Who can be played by up to five actors at once, but only when there's a temporal screw-up and the universe is about to collapse. So that doesn't count. Right.)

And The Mighty Thor is the part to end all parts ... and it went to another emerging Aussie, a lad by the name of Chris Hemsworth:

Part of me (and a large part -- which isn't fair to Chris. But still, see below) wants to say, "Durnitall, I wish they'd twisted Brad Pitt's arm a bit harder, or maybe offered him some more money."

But the fact is, that's rather a daft thing to be saying in any case, because before I saw The Fellowship of the Ring, I was saying, "Viggo who? Orlando what--?" And a week before Avatar a lot of us, self included, were saying, "Sam, who-d'you-say?"

So to speak, give the lad a chance for goshsakes, because ... well, pictures speak louder than words, so let me clam up and show you a few!

And you have to admit ... if you couldn't get Brad ... about which, whimper, but they couldn't, obviously, for reasons undisclosed. Maybe Brad is too sleep deprived with all those babies running amok in the house? And just maybe he's had quite enough of living in the gym, pumping enough iron to build the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and eating like a rabbit while he does it! Don't be fooled, kids -- that's what it takes to get the ripped physique. It don't happen in nature, only in the gym where the salad bar is your only comfort. Gak. Where did I put my Mars Bar?

As I was saying, if you couldn't get Brad, get someone who'd easily pass for Brad in dim light, and especially if he can act as well. And it turns out, the lad can! The official trailer is playing across the www right now, so check this out: (click on the little icon to PLAY FULL SCREEN ... it looks great that way...)

So don't be deterred by the Bradlessness of The Mighty Thor, because I have a feeling the Aussie assault on Hollywood is about to continue with a vengeance. The late Heath Ledger, plus Hugh Jackman, Sam Worthington, Eric Bana, and before them it was Russel Crow, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, and these are just the mega-stars. There's also hosts of slightly-lesser stars without whom movies just wouldn't be the same. In recent years, Sam Worthington in particular has impressed the heck out of me. He was brilliant in Terminator Salvation, and it was so cool to actually hear him in Clash of the Titans, where they let him "do" it in his own voice. Yes!! Go Aussie!! [Waves flag till somebody throws beer cans]

So I do expect to be well and truly impressed by Chris Hemsworth in this one, and I think that after May 11 you'll have a hard time visualizing anyone else in the part. Still, though, I can help thinking back on Brad Pitt in Troy, and I know I've said elsewhere on this blog that Achilles looked more like Thor than Thor does! Would I kid you? You want the evidence? Here you go:

From the trailer, it seems to me that Marvell is gifting The Mighty Thor with all due gravitas, and this is great. The one thing that had concerned me was that the project would get trivialized in the translation to the big screen. Needn't have worried, and after Iron Man, it was probably never something to waste worries on. Roll on May 6!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Taylor Kitsch is headed for Mars!

There you are, you see? And you didn't believe in Santa! Turns out, dreams do occasionally come true after all ... and I have no idea how this one blew by me till I was surfing around a few hours ago, and I thought, "I wonder if you can download the John Carter of Mars books as ebooks?" So I searched on "John Carter of Mars ebooks," and came up blank ... but what did show up was "John Carter of Mars (2012)," with a URL at IMDB attached --

Hold it right there! Say -- what?

Do you remember being a little kid and stumbling backwards into the most amazing fantasy worlds, sandwiched between paperback covers? I mean, back in the days when people used to actually read. Well, John Carter of Mars is like that. It's a series of fantasy novels written around 100 years ago (in fact, 2012 will make the centenary of the publication of A Princess of Mars) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And discovering these novels was 14-year-old heaven on a stick...

A few years ago I found that some of them had passed into the public domain, which doesn't bear thinking about. It's crass. It means the works have been abandoned. And then ... well, see above: Taylor Kitsch, who played Gambit in Wolverine, is playing the southern gentleman, John Carter, who is somewhat magically teleported to a Mars that never existed -- but by golly, there's about five generations of fantasy fans who wish it did!

Here you go -- John Carter, mostly nekkid, all ripling muscles and swords -- put Taylor Kitsch into this costume and let your imagination rip! And the similarly almost nekkid Dejah Thoris, who's being played by Lyn Collins, also out of Wolverine. In fact, Wolverine is the only movie I've seen her in, but I liked what I saw.

Now, loooong before all this headed for the movie screen (and you just know it's going to be done in 3D, right? At least, I'm hoping and praying it will be) this whole "universe" was created down to the last exotic moon hurtling through the tropic skies of this fantasy Mars. Burroughs wrote 11 of these volumes as the "Barsoom Series" (there's actually a round dozen, but the last two were short -- they came out in SF magazines of the day -- and were later published under one cover. Check out the Wikipedia page for the series.)

And bringing this to the screen will have been a job on about the same scale as Avatar, because ... this is where it gets interesting. Taylor Kitsch and Lyn Collins have got it easy. All they have to do is live in the gym, look great in skimpy costumes, and run about being athletic in front of big green screens...

...and I'm pretty sure they can manage to do that! But consider the part of Tars Tarkas:
For a start, he has four arms and is about ten feet tall, and green. And here's where the production starts to run along the same lines of Avatar, because (yowzer!) Willem Dafoe is going to play Tars Tarkas, and he can only be doing it the way Sam Worthington played Jake Sully's avatar. You've seen the "making of Avatar" movie, right? It's runs 104 minutes and it packed on Disk 3 of the Special Collector's edition of Avatar that was stacked up under about ten million Christmas trees around the world, along with the aftershave and curling wands and RC trucks.

You saw Willen Dafoe as the Green Goblin in Spiderman. And you actually won't see him in John Carter of Mars --

-- because the character of Tars Tarkas looks nowhere near human. It's not like putting Sam Worthington's face on a Na'vi. It's more like Andy Sirkis playing Gollum -- in fact, Sirkis also did the motion capture for King Kong, which was an interesting switch of roles. From the smallest character to the biggest. Neat.

I would have to say, I think it takes vast courage for an actor to play these parts, because he's going to be utterly invisible, yet he can't just "phone it in," like an actor doing a voice part -- say, Johnny Depp voicing Rango the lizard. Any actor doing performance capture is going to be on the set, flinging himself around in front of the big green screen, taking all the falls, and yet he's going to be utterly invisible. My hat's off to Willem Dafoe, same as it was to Andy Sirkis.

So now I'm going to be on tenterhooks for a year and a half, because Disney Pixar has John Carter slated for release in June 2012. So long? Waaaaah! I believe I shall spit the dummy.

But a dream is in the process of coming true. The movie also stars Mark Strong and Thomas Haden Church. These might not be names that ring bells with you, but you saw Strong as the villain in the Sherlock Holmes movie (the Robery Downey Jr. and Jude Law version), and you must have seen Church as the villainous, vile Lyle van der Groot in George of the Jungle. No? Really?! Then you missed one of the major treats of our time -- Brendan Fraser at age 28, buff-naked, having just walked out of the gym. (Buff -- what? You forgot the shower scene, with the bar of soap? Shame on you. Go rent the movie. Now.)

So I'll just have to be patient, and make do with the move is that are coming along in a few months: Johnny Depp is back as Jack, and word is, it's 3D. Then Anthony Hopkins is Odin in The Mighty Thor -- which is definitely 3D. And the next Star Trek movie is also due ... but if it's 3D, by golly, I hope they NAIL THE CAMERA TO SOMETHING and stop it jiggling around, because if they do the jiggly camera thing from the previous movie, and add 3D too, AG will be in the bathroom, tossing her popcorn.

Patience, my children.