Movies with themes of WWII or geniuses or mathematicians in central characters – think ‘Good Will Hunting,’ ‘A Beautiful Mind’ – usually get lots of love from the Oscar committee. The latest is ‘The Imitation Game‘ from The Weinstein Company. It has all the markings, characteristics and traits you can ask for. The trailer is compelling even though most of the stars are not A list. Regardless, ‘The Hurt Locker’ won Best Pic with an unknown cast at the time. Look for ‘The Imitation Game’ to make some awards noise this Fall. Read More
Joe Wright will direct the epic romance Anna Karenina, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). The Working Title Films production will commence filming in the U.K. and Russia this month. Focus Features will distribute the movie domestically, and Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the movie internationally, in the second half of 2012.
Anna Karenina marks Mr. Wright’s third Working Title movie with Focus and UPI, following the award-winning boxoffice successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Also for Working Title and UPI, he directed The Soloist; also for Focus, he most recently directed the hit adventure thriller Hanna.
Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing Anna Karenina with Paul Webster; the three were Academy Award nominees as the producers of Mr. Wright’s Best Picture-nominated Atonement. Also with Focus, Mr. Webster was a Golden Globe Award nominee as producer of Eastern Promises.
Keira Knightley, Academy Award-nominated for Pride & Prejudice, will star as Anna Karenina in her third collaboration with Mr. Wright. Ms. Knightley will be starring opposite two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law, as Anna’s husband Aleksei Karenin; and Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy), as Count Vronsky. Rounding out the cast will be Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Alicia Vikander (The Seventh Son), two-time Academy Award nominee Emily Watson, Olivia Williams (Hanna), and Ruth Wilson (Luther).
Also reteaming with Mr. Wright on Anna Karenina are Academy Award-winning composer Dario Marianelli, twice-Academy Award-nominated costume designer Jacqueline Durran, and three-time Academy Award-nominated production designer Sarah Greenwood. The cinematographer will be Academy Award winner Philippe Rousselot. Melanie Ann Oliver (Focus’ Jane Eyre) will edit the feature. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui will be the choreographer on the movie.
The story unfolds in its original late-19th-century Russia high-society setting and powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, from the passion between adulterers to the bond between a mother and her children. As Anna (Ms. Knightley) questions her happiness, change comes to her family, friends, and community.
Focus Features CEO James Schamus said, “Joe Wright is a master filmmaker, and with Tom Stoppard’s brilliant screenplay this Anna Karenina will be full of both pageantry and emotion. To realize Joe’s vision, we have the perfect producing partners in Working Title and Paul Webster, whose acumen is unsurpassed. With Keira Knightley playing this iconic role and a splendid cast supporting her, today’s moviegoers will be drawn to this powerful story.”
Mr. Bevan commented, “Everyone at Working Title is proud to affirm a longtime collaboration with Joe Wright through this, our fourth picture together. That we are able to re-convene cast and crew from Pride & Prejudice and Atonement makes it all the more exciting. We anticipate that this will be a defining screen version of Anna Karenina.”
The “1-4-0″: ‘Last Night’ explores temptation from the female and male perspectives. Which one will give and the questions that surround it in is what this film centers on.
The Gist: Infidelity. Can people really be faithful to one another no matter how in love they are? This is the topic director Massy Tadjedin explores in an authentic, intimate, emotionally charged depiction of love in New York City. During an evening apart, married couple Joanna and Michael encounter tempting opportunities to cheat on each other: Michael spends time on a business trip with his sexy colleague, Laura, while Joanna crosses paths with a former flame, Alex.
What Works: I really enjoyed this film. ‘Last Night’ is a realistic look at what happens to people when sexual temptation is presented to them front and center. What most pulled me in was how director Tadjedin delved deep into the struggles of infidelity. The performances are modest here, but great casting choice in Eva Mendes who was perfect as Washington’s seductive paramour. This is an eye opener, one that shows how much pain and anguish one goes through when feelings of unfaithfulness begin to take hold. You stick around intensely engaged to see how the whole thing will it end. Will they cheat on each other, will you as a viewer lose faith in your own relationship because of it? The storyline is relatable, the outcome is unexpected, just like in real life.
What Doesn’t Work: If you’re not used to intensive dialogue, even one as interesting as this one, then you shouldn’t watch this film. It’s for people who enjoy cinema that cates to real issues that people can identify and connect with.
Pay or Nay? Pay. Keira Knightley is becoming good at acting in these indie romance NYC films that focus on women in search for love in the big city. The movie serves up a good dose of raw emotion and tension in the form of temptation. It’s a wonderful date movie, one which will perhaps spark many questions about your own relationship.
‘Never Let Me Go‘ is based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, the drama is followed by a sci-fi twist that can be perceived as realistic. It is developed over three different chapters narrated by Kathy (Carey Mulligan), who tells the story retrospectively, which should give you a better sense of the story but still leaves some gaps in it. The film has a nostalgic feel all throughout, the characters are seen smiling on screen briefly; the pained feeling is always floating in the atmosphere. This thriller/drama is well done, but if it wasn’t for the ambiguity of key points to the movie it could have been better.You will be left with a hollow feeling after watching it and after being hit with a very strong closing line.
The story is set in England, it revolves around Kathy and her two childhood friends Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield), who grew up in a boarding school for special children called Hailsham. The school seems to be an orphanage as the only adults are the teachers better known as ‘guardians’, here the children are taught to take care of their bodies and obey all rules without questioning them. The children’s faith is revealed pretty early in the story and that is what sets the mood for the rest of the film. The love triangle that is formed and continues to follow the children into their adulthood is meant to be a strong aspect of the movie and although it is easy to sympathize with it, their naivety and innocence which brings them together takes away from the strength of this bond.
These three children are forced into companionship by their own loneliness and fear of a world that they don’t know. When at 18 they leave the premises of Hailsham knowing the purpose for their existence they try to explore the world around them and figure out where they came from. Kathy becomes isolated by the relationship between her friends and she suffers silently until she makes the decision to change her life, even if it is still within the realm of what she is allowed in the few opportunities they are given. When they reach adulthood they try to fix mistakes made in the past and try to change the path they were given.
Knightley’s casting as a secondary character was surprising, but by the nature of the character it is understood, she gives a good performance and even makes us pity her. Mulligan’s innocence is really convincing and her sweet and obedient attitude keep the mood of the movie steady and at some points you just want to shake her to give her some confidence. Garfield is just there, but he does play one of the strongest moments of the movie remarkably. For director Mark Romanek this is definitely a step up from One hour photo.
The movie questions ethics, humanity, relationships and how much we really understand about our own lives and our purpose on earth as well as our time in it. The story line is good but it is not strong enough to be convincing. It is worth a watch specially for the hopeless romantics, but it is also worth the wait on the DVD.