Bill Condon

Belle and Book in Beauty and the Beast

If you were a teenager or adjacent to a teenager anytime since 1999, you are likely familiar with writer Stephen Chbosky and his tear-stained book found in the back of many a geometry classroom, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It’s the epitome of teen angst, the coming-of-age story about an introverted boy named Charlie and the events that he goes through — some normally adolescent, some traumatic — during his freshman year of high school. You know, just a great time. The book was adapted into a film by Chbosky in 2012, so if you heard any wailing in the theater next door or saw some disheveled 15 year olds grasping each other by the concession stand, you know what’s up. Now Chbosky (who also wrote Rent) is heading to Disney, where he’ll pen Bill Condon‘s live-action Beauty and the Beast. Sure, it’s a tale as old as time, but in that moment, didn’t you swear that girl from the poor provincial town and the monster prince holding her captive in a mansion full of sentient objects were infinite? The studio’s new vision sees their 1991 Oscar-nominated animated classic directly adapted with music from the Broadway show added. Evan Spiliotopoulos, who penned the recent Hercules (the one with Dwayne Johnson) as well as a number of Disney direct-to-video animated movies, already wrote a draft of the remake, but it’s now up to Chbosky to complete a rewrite.

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The Fifth Estate

Editor’s note: Our review of The Fifth Estate originally ran during this year’s TIFF, but we’re re-posting it as the film opens today in theatrical release. If nothing else, Bill Condon’s tone-deaf and inept The Fifth Estate will make plain the impact that the controversial Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks have had on modern journalism, the Internet, and whistle-blowing in general. Unfortunately, little of the depth and power of Assange’s work is conveyed via adept filmmaking, instead the facts have to speak for themselves, and it’s to their credit alone that they manage to emerge from the mess Condon’s film has made of a compelling story. Thank goodness Benedict Cumberbatch is there to make an otherwise shockingly uninspired biopic even remotely interesting.

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Coming off the highly marketable Twilight movies, director Bill Condon decided to go a bit more mature but stick with a pasty pale figure that strikes fear into the heart of many: Julian Assange. It’s fitting Condon’s approach is radical in its own way. Assange himself has publicly taken issue with the film, and when you see the warts and all portrait, you’ll understand why. Thus far the movie has been as splitting as the man in question. Critics have been mixed, including our own Kate Erbland who reviewed the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it’s the reaction Condon expected. It’s probably not the response he wanted, but, as he says, it happens. Condon sat down with us to discuss those responses to the film, as well the battle between great characters and real life.

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McKellen

It’s not enough that we already have three Sherlock Holmes TV series (that’s right, three- Sherlock, Elementary, and an upcoming Russian series) and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films. As a society, we’re not running anywhere near our full capacity for producing Holmes-related media. There must be no stopping until we have entire world economies based around adapting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s works. Every TV channel, every theater and every bookstore will overflow with deerstalker caps, pipes, and magnifying glasses. Ian McKellen has the right idea. The actor has just signed on for A Slight Trick of the Mind, as an older, retired Holmes who investigates an unsolved case without the aid of Watson and with his famous intellect drifting away with age. Technically, it’s not actually one of Conan Doyle’s stories- it’s based off a novel originally released in 2005 by author Mitch Cullen, but McKellen fits so perfectly for this role that it’s more or less impossible to complain.

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It’s been two years since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warned us about widespread survillance on our tech devices, and the world is still fascinated with the silver-haired whistleblower. While the real Assange is still camped out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Benedict Cumberbatch is stepping into his shoes and bleached hair for Bill Condon‘s The Fifth Estate, which focuses on Assange’s partnership with Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) and the rise of the mighty WikiLeaks. Though we already got a glimpse of the film and Cumberbatch’s excellent Aussie accent from the trailer (which our own Scott Beggs wrote about here), the film’s team has some released new stills and posters – unfortunately they’re not giving us much to work with. There’s Assange on camera during an interview, a group of concerned Suits in a situation room probably learning about a new leak and a truly terrifying close-up of Peter Capaldi looking into your soul as if you’ve done something personal to offend him. Check them out after the break, and head on over to The Playlist for some futuristic-looking posters.

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Drinking Games

Well, folks, it’s finally over. The Twilight Saga rang its final bell this past weekend with the release of Breaking Dawn: Part II on DVD and Blu-ray. Chances are, the fans out there have already secured a copy and have had it on a continuous loop since it hit the streets. If you happen to be the significant other (or father or super good best friend) with a Twi-hard making you watch the last installment in the franchise, you’ll want to knock back a couple drinks in the process. Raise your glass to the end of an era, an end of a franchise, and an end of body glitter in the multiplex.

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commentary-breakingdawn

Well, Twi-hards, with the release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II on DVD and Blu-ray this week, the series has come to a final close. (That is, of course, until Lionsgate decides to reboot the franchise or Stephenie Meyer cranks out more stories in this universe. ‘Cause we all know that’s gonna happen soon enough.) To help tie the final two chapters of the saga together, Lionsgate has also released the extended edition of Breaking Dawn – Part I. Both movies feature a commentary by director Bill Condon. Now don’t worry too much. While I (and many of the writers here at Film School Rejects) am not a fan of the series at all, I can respect the fan base. This won’t be a lengthy article goofing on the flaws of the series. Instead, let’s break down what the director has to say about wrapping up the series with a one-two punch of the final book brought to life on the big screen. And on to the commentaries…

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Jackie Chan

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that has a lot of new casting news today, so settle in. Even after only two movies, the number of aged action stars who have yet to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series has dwindled down to a select few. So, given his age, his lengthy resume, and the way he’s linked almost exclusively to the action genre, Jackie Chan has to be seen as one of the biggest fish out there that Stallone has yet to catch. It looks like that’s going to change in The Expendables 3, however, as Chan has told Cinema Online [via Coming Soon] that Stallone has invited him to join the cast of the film, and he has agreed to appear as long as it’s in a featured part and not just a cameo. Looks like we might finally get our chance to see Dolph Lundgren get beat up with a ladder.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s starting to wonder how many times Hugh Jackman can play Wolverine before his sideburns start to stick that way. Hot on the heels of the announcement that the original Professor X and Magneto, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, would be joining Bryan Singer’s X-Men: First Class sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, comes word that yet another actor from the original X-Men trilogy, Hugh Jackman, is also negotiating. This makes sense, of course, because Jackman’s brief cameo in First Class was the first indication we got that Matthew Vaughn’s reboot and Singer’s original films might actually exist in the same universe. Now that Singer has Stewart, McKellen, and Jackman on board, the only other actors he needs to poach from those first X-Men movies is…well, no one. It’s kind of amazing how well those movies cast these three guys and how poorly they cast every single other character. Hopefully this is the end of the colliding of worlds. [THR]

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

As someone who’s somehow resisted the pull of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight books but has seen all five films, I feel confident saying the first three movies (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse) exist on a sliding scale of awfulness. They’re bland, lacking in anything resembling emotion or humanity, poorly acted, terribly written and insulting to the concepts of free will, family, gender equality, canine care, individuality and love itself. Breaking Dawn Part 1 changed some of that for the better. The themes were still offensive to rational people who prefer a uterus be connected to a functioning and free-spirited brain, but director Bill Condon managed to inject a degree of humor and zaniness to the proceedings that embraced the entertainment value inherent in the story but missing from the earlier films. Basically, he made it fun. And thankfully, he returned to helm part 2. To recap part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) the human and Edward (Robert Pattinson) the vampire have married, fornicated and given birth to a baby they felt it necessary to name Renesmee. While still a fetus the little scamp had sucked the life from its mother leading to Bella’s death shortly after Edward decided to perform an emergency Cesarean with his teeth. He acts quickly and bites her again, this time in an attempt to save her life by turning her into a bloodsucker, and it works. She opens her inhuman, crimson eyes, and the credits roll. Oh, and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) the werewolf pees on Bella’s newborn daughter […]

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What is Casting Couch? Today it’s proof that if you star in something about sexy young vampires, you will continue to get more work. Warner Bros.’ Lego movie already had names like Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Morgan Freeman signed for its voice cast, thus making a stupid-sounding idea suddenly seem promising, but now they’ve really gone and made Lego into a movie that you can start looking forward to. Deadline reports that the film has just added Will Ferrell to its cast as the bad guy, President Business, Liam Neeson as the bad guy’s main henchman, Bad Cop, Parks and Rec’s mustachioed Nick Offerman as a revenge-obsessed pirate, and Community’s cheery-voiced Disney Princess Alison Brie as a member of the protagonist’s team who holds a powerful secret. That may just be the weirdest/most fun cast ever assembled, and it almost makes up for the fact that the movie is going to be in 3D.

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THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2

The fine folks over at MTV had a special statue-delivering party last night, and they took a small break to take a little look at Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2. This is the first we’re hearing of the supposedly giant film. Jokes aside, doesn’t it feel that way? Doesn’t it feel like the end of a worldwide phenomenon has been shockingly silent throughout the year? And how would you combat that silence if you’re a potential event movie? Have Kristen Stewart tackle a Goddamned mountain lion. Then enjoy a delightful Christmas celebration. Check it out for yourself:

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Culture Warrior

When I purchased my ticket for the Thursday night midnight show of Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, I had no idea what I was in for; not because I hadn’t seen any of the previous Twilight films – I have, in fact, seen them all – but because I had never seen a Twilight film in a theater before, much less on opening night. The Twilight subculture befuddles me, as I’m sure it does any non-initiate of the series. Having seen all the films, I still feel like I’m viewing them from afar, like it’s some strange anthropological project of a phenomenon whose worth and value I will never fully understand. Twilight seems to encapsulate the drastic changes that have taken place in big-budget event filmmaking in the last thirty years. Rather than a film made with the intent of mass appeal (like franchises ranging from Indiana Jones to Jason Bourne), the Twilight films play almost exclusively to a specific – but dedicated – demographic. Of course, one could make this argument about many film franchises. Everything from Star Trek to The Dark Knight certainly have rabid fanbases at their core, but the audiences for these films seem to be “filled in” with a significant amount of casual fans. For example, I once viewed the Harry Potter films similarly to the way I now approach Twilight – not in terms of filmmaking quality, mind you, but in terms of being a cult phenomenon surrounding a fictional narrative that I […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in layers and layers of rain gear to brave the estrogen storm that comes with the showing of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I. After enduring that non-masterpiece, he dances down a few screening rooms to watch the new Happy Feet movie. Confounded by the gelatinous goop that masquerades as movies this weekend in American cinema, Kevin eventually curls up in a ball and softly weeps.

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As the “worldwide phenomenon” that is The Twilight Saga of films (adapted from Stephenie Meyer‘s equally as popular and blockbuster-selling quartet of novels) has progressed through the years, it has become increasingly difficult for those not already inoculated into the cult of human-vampire-werewolf love triangles to process, enjoy, and understand just exactly what they’re seeing on screen. Which is a nice way of saying that the tale of Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and a whole mess of other humans and mythological creatures has spiraled almost totally and nonsensically out of control. Following their star-crossed high school courtship, unsteady human Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her smoothie vampire suitor (Robert Pattinson) have decided to take things to the next level. For most eighteen-year-olds (or ostensible eighteen-year-olds with Edward’s immortal appearance), that would mean getting down in the carnal sense – but for Edward and Bella, that means getting married (his choice) so that Bella can finally be turned to match her lover and his family (her choice). These are certainly big decisions for a girl who is barely an adult, but they’re made immeasurably more difficult by a hairy problem – teen werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who is just as in love with Bella as Edward is. That’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 in a straight-faced nutshell. Yet, even fans of the series must admit that the final entry into Meyer’s series is absolutely crammed with elements that, at their best, could be described as bizarre. […]

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There were people camping out for the notoriously crowded Hall H line up to two days before the Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 panel kicked off the events in that hallowed space. I hope they had a sense of humor because at least 500 seats remained open throughout the event, and late-comers’ wait time was non-existent. Regardless, the fans were out in full force, screaming at just about everything that moved on the stage. Director Bill Condon set a tone for the discussion (that wouldn’t last long), talking about the joy of joining a story already in progress. “It’s all third act. I started out in horror movies, and in the second act [of Breaking Dawn] it turns into a really cool horror movie.” All talk of horror ended when Kristen Stewart was asked about the wedding scene.

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With its tropical setting, make out sessions under waterfalls, and questionably ethical male lead, Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Part 1 of a 2 Part Series) might very well be the Cocktail of our generation. They’re basically the same movie except for the vampire fetus that will eventually fist-pump its way into existence. This trailer gives a sense of the scope of the film, the scope of the vampire-on-human sex, and the scope of the lavish wedding that makes all of that intercourse legitimate. Watch for yourself and try to explain the music choices:

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. One of the three cornerstones of Holocaust literature still hasn’t seen the big screen for an adaptation. In a way, it’s understandable. No one can even agree on whether the book is a memoir, a fiction, a fictional memoir, or a true memoir with fictional elements – so making its way to the screen would be a difficult task. On the other hand, this book is so well recognized (Oprah even loves it), that it seems blatantly obvious that a movie version would be both financially successful and garner critical Hallelujahs if done with any sort of skill at all. If you put the right pieces together, the puzzle makes for an astonishing picture.

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Breaking Dawn and the rest of its Twilight counterparts are infinitely fascinating because they stand as artistic entries dealing with gruesome subject matter (the love included) that’s aimed squarely at a young teen audience. So far, there’s been a profound emptiness in the movies, but since each installment has been inevitable, there’s been a flicker of a glimmer of a spark of some hope that it would be better than its predecessors. That hope still exists for the two part final entry, but USA Today is reporting that the film will be walking the fine line of shooting for a PG-13 sex scene and birthing scene. The question of how they’ll pull that off will make a major impact on the quality of the movie. Assuming the other parts of the movie are also quality. The point is that it could be the nail in the coffin or the scene that brings everything together. This glosses over a very obvious fact, though. They are shooting a sex scene for 12 year olds to watch. That’s a tough and creepy prospect that usually involves renting a panel van, but the key according to producer Wyck Godfrey is the perspective of the shots. Apparently it won’t be “soft core porn,” but a sex scene without sex usually turns out that way. There’s a challenge there. The production needs to fulfill a long-promised culmination of a relationship while also delivering it in a responsible way to young teenagers. Expect a lot of glowering.

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Twilight: Bella and Edward

Summit Entertainment may not know this, but the world is supposed to end in the fall of 2012. This is why studios such as Paramount, Warner Bros. and others are unleashing a slew of films that summer — titles like The Avengers, Star Trek 2 and Christopher Nolan’s sequel to The Dark Knight. Fans will need to see these films before Roland Emmerich’s wet dream finally wipes humanity off the map. Even so, Summit is hedging its bets on the Mayans being wrong, scheduling The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 for a November 16, 2012 release. The Bill Condon directed film will be “the astonishing conclusion to the series illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.” Perhaps we’ve all been wrong all along about the apocalypse. Perhaps Twihards are the chosen ones… and their reward for surviving the fall of man will be the final Twilight film. Don’t laugh; it could happen.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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