Helena Bonham-Carter

Great Expectations Trailer

Call it “lowered expectations” or a “great mistake” or just answer that titular question with a big “it already happened, and just last month” – but yes, Mike Newell, Helena Bonham Carter, and Ralph Fiennes made a movie and none of you bothered to see it. That’s perhaps a bit hyperbolic as some people saw it, but the odds that you, the one reading this right now, didn’t see it are exceedingly high. And no, I’m not getting high and mighty on this one – even I didn’t see the film, and that’s entirely the point here. It was called (or, well, still is called, I guess) Great Expectations, and no one cared to see it when it finally hit the American box office in November. Guess the high schoolers haven’t hit that part of their syllabus yet. Earlier this year, I examined whether or not the modern box office (or, at the very least, this season’s box office) was in need of both a new Romeo and Juliet and a new Great Expectations. Curiously, I determined that, sure, a new Great Expectations could be okay (bonus – Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham) and that Romeo and Juliet was a nonstarter. That determination was wrong, at least as it applies to audience turnout.

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Great Expectations

Teens with a book report due pretty soon and Dickensian fans unite and rejoice, for Mike Newell‘s Great Expectations is finally seeing its U.S. release date. The trailer for the costume drama looks every bit like the dreary world Charles Dickens lays out for you in page one of his classic novel, with some much needed color provided by Helena Bonham Carter‘s Miss Havisham – truly the role she was born to play. For those who had to read “Jane Eyre” instead during their study groups, Great Expectations is the story of an orphan named Pip (Jeremy Irvine) who befriends an eccentric dowager named Miss Havisham (Bonham Carter) and falls in love with her beautiful ward Estella (Holliday Grainger); but since Havisham was betrayed by her love long ago (the tattered wedding gown any indication?), she’s trained Estella to hate men and destroy even cuties like young Pip. It’s kind of a shame, because a wealthy mystery benefactor leaves Pip a hefty sum of money to allow him to become a gentleman, so girl is missing out. Though the U.S. trailer has some gorgeous visuals, I wish they would have stuck with more elements of the UK version (which our own Nathan Adams wrote about last year here); having the trailer focus more on character performances feels more compelling. Look at what Bonham Carter can do with crazy. And Ralph Fiennes in the role of escaped convict Magwitch is downright nervewracking. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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bonhamcarter

What is Casting Couch? It’s one more shot of casting updates before you’re off to enjoy your weekend. Read on for stories involving Anne Hathaway, Gerard Depardieu, and Scarlett Johansson. Helena Bonham Carter has always had an otherworldly quality to her. That’s probably why she’s spent much of her career playing queens, witches, ape women, junkies, and the like. And it’s probably why Kenneth Branagh has tapped her to play a very magical role in his upcoming live action take on Cinderella. THR is reporting that she’s been hired to play Cinderella’s fairy godmother, the mystical benefactor who’s famous for helping the little servant girl along by turning pumpkins into stage coaches and water into wine, or whatnot. She joins a pretty stacked cast that features names like Downton Abbey’s Lily James as the title character, Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as the charming prince, and Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother.

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Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 4.53.07 PM

There is a lot of buzz about the live singing on the set Les Misérables. All of the actors sang as the cameras rolled rather than recording in a studio first, and that’s a great accomplishment since many of the actors have wonderful singing voices and don’t exactly need autotuning. This live singing in combination with the film’s grand scope – finally, a film of the legendary Boublil/Schönberg musical! – is supposed to make this a great film. But, very sadly, it does not. While the film is filled with a lot of great talent and certainly is watchable, it buckles under the often mind-blowingly heavy-handed direction by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and never becomes the epic piece of cinema that it so clearly set out to be. The story is fairly common knowledge (and quite involved), but Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is finishing up his prison sentence for breaking into a house and stealing a loaf of bread. He thinks he is free, but because of being on a stringent parole at the hand of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) he cannot get employment after his sentence is over. Valjean vows to make another go of it and when we find him years later, he is living under an assumed identity as the mayor of a small town. Valjean pays his good fortune forward when he helps factory worker-come-prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway). After Fantine’s death, he bails her young daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen) out of an abusive boarding house […]

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Les Miserables

Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper took the easy road with his follow-up feature to his Oscar-winning The King’s Speech. While Hooper’s decision to again tackle a period piece with a new film version of an already often-adapted piece of work might have seemed simple when it was first announced, Hooper’s inspired idea to make his Les Miserables as close to an actual stage production as possible is anything but safe or expected. With Hooper making the bold decision to use “live” singing from his cast (not going the more traditional route of lip-syncing and recording tracks in post-production), his version of Les Miserables places quite the premium on getting truly great musical performances out of its stars. Which is why it might be confusing to many a moviegoer that the cast of Hooper’s Les Mis is rounded out by big name movie stars that most people wouldn’t necessarily associate with the Great White Way. But Hooper knew exactly what he was doing when he cast such stars as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathway, and Amanda Seyfried in his film, because while the cast of Les Miserables is rife with well-known acting talent, it’s also filled to the brim with exceptional (and, in most cases, exceptionally trained) songbirds. Not sold on the dulcet tones and vocal stylings of this new Les Mis cast? Let’s take a look at their singing backgrounds.

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Great Expectations Trailer

Seeing as we already got a version of Charles Dickens’ assigned-to-you-freshman-year-of-high-school classic “Great Expectations” that was adapted by a Harry Potter director (Alfonso Cuarón) back in 1998, some might be under the impression that we don’t need another. But Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell would beg to differ, so he’s put together his own film version of the much-loved-except-by-high-school-freshmen story, and he’s challenged Cuarón to a secret benefactor showdown. For those of you (us) who slept through your high school English classes, Great Expectations centers on the character of Pip (War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine), a young boy of meager means who nevertheless befriends a creepy old rich lady named Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter), falls in love with her beautiful but twisted young ward Estella (Holliday Grainger), and eventually becomes a young gentleman with a bursting pocketbook and a wealth of potential due to the generosity of an anonymous benefactor (identity withheld). How does this all hash out in regards to Newell’s new film? If its new UK trailer [via Empire] is any indication, it gives Newell the chance to distance himself from the miserable failure that was his last film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, re-embrace the spooky mood-building that made him a good fit for the Harry Potter franchise, and work with respected actors like Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, and Sally Hawkins.

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Great Expectations Trailer

Oh, thank goodness! Today we finally get our first look at a film that most of us have forgotten was even being made (mainly, because it doesn’t need to be)! If nothing else, Mike Newell‘s take on “Great Expectations” exists for one reason – to allow Helena Bonham Carter the role she was born to play, the culmination of every terribly-clad madwoman she’s ever portrayed on screen – Charles Dickens‘ irrepressible Miss Havisham! As ever, Great Expectations focuses on the impoverished orphan Pip (Jeremy Irvine), the convict who changes his life (Ralph Fiennes), the crazed rich lady who also changes his life (Carter, of course), and her wickedly beautiful and wickedly cold niece (Holliday Granger) who inflicts on him the emotional equivalent of a wrecking ball’s best work. The film also features Robbie Coltrane, so it’s possible that such a talented cast will make up for an over-adapted source from a screenwriter who can’t even accurately adapt his own novels to the screen (sorry, David Nicholls, but you missed the boat on One Day in a big way). Check out the film’s first (appropriately overwrought) trailer after the break.

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Les Miserables Anne Hathaway Shaved

Most trailers are anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes, but very few pack as much grandiose power as the new teaser for Les Miserables manages in just a minute and a half. To be fair, director Tom Hooper is utilizing time-honored music that swells and soars, but there’s also a power in the shots, the set design, and in Anne Hathaway‘s voice as she laments the death of a dream. With a shaved head. The scale looks nasty, brutish and epic. Check it out for yourself:

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Dark Shadows, the old ABC gothic soap opera, is such natural material for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp that you almost wonder why they bothered. Of all the movies and TV shows to remake, it’s perhaps the most logical choice for the men who brought us Beetlejuice and Captain Jack Sparrow, respectively, not to mention Edward Scissorhands and other offbeat luminaries in their partnership. Lighthearted macabre quirk is the tandem’s specialty and the primary operating mode of their new movie, a visually-pleasing haunted house/vampire comedy. But even if Dark Shadows is a case of safe, smooth sailing for its makers, it’s still far more spirited and thoughtfully made than most summer movie counterparts.

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It’s a mystery why Tim Burton gets stuck in the black and white world from time to time because he’s one of the few filmmakers who can make primary colors creepy. Apparently the marketing department for Dark Shadows is pretty good at it too. With Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Moretz and more popping boldly into the foreground, these posters are a reminder of the idiosyncrasy inherent in some of Burton’s filmmaking: vibrant grays and disturbing, bright colors. Check them out for yourself:

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Alice in Wonderland tested my love for Tim Burton, a fandom I am fully aware is unpopular to have online nowadays. His Disney remake was garish, soulless, and calculative, all adjectives Burton’s greatest critics have said of him before. Alice in Wonderland felt like Burton at his most bored and expected, with zero sense of passion on-screen. Yet, with the release of the first trailer of Dark Shadows finally online, it seems as if Burton is having actual fun. Check out the trailer below to see Burton’s take on the material, including Johnny Depp turning down sex with Eva Green. Burton and company have had a tough time expressing the tone of the picture, but this trailer does it nicely: dark, tongue-in-cheek, and silly. Nothing about this screams “box-office smash!”, but that same sentiment could be applied to most of Burton’s hits.

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The Film: Fight Club (1999) The Plot: Our nameless Narrator (Edward Norton) works for a major auto manufacturer, investigating fatal crashes caused by product defects and running cost-benefit analyses to decide whether it’d be more expensive to recall the deadly cars or to pony up settlements in future class-action lawsuits. Sound like an amoral, soul-murdering job to you? Our Narrator agrees and embarks on a fumbling quest for peace. He gets a hearty shove down the path toward enlightenment when a) his apartment full of “versatile solutions for modern living” mysteriously explodes, b) he strikes up a love/hate relationship with the morbid nihilist Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), and c) he joins forces with soap entrepenuer and terrorist mastermind Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) to found the Fight Club movement.

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On the heels of the news that director Tom Hooper will likely make the cast of his upcoming Les Miserables adaptation sing “live” on camera (versus inserting vocals after they’ve been polished up in a traditional recording studio), comes news that The King’s Speech helmer may have two other vocal talents to add to his production. Twitch reports, thanks to two different exclusive scoops, that offers are out to Amanda Seyfried and Taylor Swift for a pair of key parts (and both angles on a looooove triangle!). Seyfried (who actually has a background in opera, fun trivia!) has been offered the essential role of Cosette. Cosette is the daughter of Anne Hathaway‘s Fantine (yes, Hathaway is just three years older than Seyfried), the ruined and tragic prostitute. Fantine gives baby Cosette to the rich Thénardiers, thinking they will care for her, though they mistreat her until she is eventually saved by adoptive papa Jean Valjean. And just why do the Thénardiers abuse her? Well, they’re really evil, and they’re also busy lavishing treats on their real daughters, including eldest Eponine. Swift has reportedly been offered the role of Eponine, rich girl turned street urchin. Both Cosette and Eponine are in love with second-generation baron Marius Pontmercy (to be played by Eddie Redmayne) in Victor Hugo’s classic story. The addition of Seyfried is a bit of a no-brainer, she’s well on her way to an established film career (despite some missteps like Red Riding Hood and Dear John), and her actual background in and talent for […]

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Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper doesn’t make some interesting choices when it comes to filming his projects for maximum veracity. His Oscar-winning hit The King’s Speech was shot on a former porno set (grit!), he used Colonial Williamsburg for a number of sets for his John Adams (gritty, in a different way!), and now it looks like he’s going full-hilt on his first musical feature. Hooper’s next film is a full-scale musical feature version of the done-to-starving-death Les Miserables, and while a new take on Victor Hugo’s classic material doesn’t strike most people as necessary, Hooper is going to give the project its own spin to liven it up. No, no, he’s not going to make it some sort of bizarre “reimagining,” he’s going to make its stars actually sing. No, no, it’s much more interesting than that – he’s going to make them sing live. A “source close to the production” has told the Sun UK that “the director is determined to make the project as authentic as possible.” As such, “the cast will record their vocals live on camera rather than go into a studio first then mime on film to the pre-recorded vocal…First they have to learn the complex songs, then they’ll have to get it right on set in front of the other stars and crew.” This does provide a look inside Hooper’s vision for the film, which may be much more classically theatrical than first suspected. Hooper has already lined up […]

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Casting continues to come together for Jaume Collet-Serra’s live-action adaptation of the dystopian anime Akira. Or, at least, casting rumors continue to come together. I’m not certain that any of this has been officially announced by the production. For a while now it’s been thought that Tron: Legacy’s Garrett Hedlund is signed to play the character Shotaro Kaneda, the motorcycle gang-leading protagonist of the story. That one seems to be a pretty sure lock. Recently, word came out that roles had been offered to veteran actors Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter as well. That announcement seems a little less certain than Hedlund’s involvement, but it hasn’t been refuted by any official sources. And now Twitch is adding to the casting rumor pile by saying that Kaneda’s sometime adversary, sometime love interest Kei has been cast as well. Apparently, an offer is on the table for Kristen Stewart to play the psychic medium with terrorist ties. If this is the case, then it would put Stewart in yet another high profile role in yet another high profile genre picture. Factor in that next year she is starring in Snow White and the Huntsman, and that’s a lot of mystical lasses for one young actress to take on. When you’re cast in something that’s as big of a phenomenon as Twilight, the threat of being typecast is always there. Is Stewart having trouble finding non-genre roles after being ingrained in most of the world’s head as Bella Swan, or are these […]

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This whole Akira remake business is still incredibly flimsy, but it’s starting to get some weight behind it. Even though Jaume Collet-Serra hasn’t done anything so far to prove that he can handle this type of material (or that he’s anything more than average as a filmmaker), and even though it was recently rumored that Tron Legacy‘s Garrett Hedlund was being considered for the main role, news of two heavy-hitting actors possibly joining the cast might help wash away all the bad aftertaste. Or at least some of it. Twitch is reporting that two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham-Carter and shockingly no-time Oscar nominee Gary Oldman are in more developed talks to join the cast as Lady Miyako and The Colonel respectively. Oldman’s role (going by the original) would see him doing some awesome genetic testing, placing Neo-Tokyo (or wherever they end up setting it) under martial law, and generally being a bad ass. As for Bonham-Carter, Miyako was a male figure in the original, so it’s unclear whether she’d be playing his wife, or if the character has been changed to a female role. Casting two incredible actors helps a lot, but the whole project is still a massive gamble that just hasn’t set any fireworks off yet. Seeing a poster for a beloved story that reads “From the Director of Orphan” isn’t exactly the kind of thing that sets heartbeats pounding. Maybe a villainous Oldman is enough?

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For a while, the only thing we really knew about Disney’s upcoming The Lone Ranger is that Johnny Depp would be starring, curiously enough, as Tonto. Then, as the project began to take shape, we learned that he would be re-teaming with his Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango director Gore Verbinski, who came on to helm things. Then the third big piece of the puzzle came into place when The Social Network’s Übermensch Armie Hammer signed on to play The Lone Ranger himself. And now that the big names are in place, it has come time to begin filling out the rest of the cast.

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Here’s a fun fact: Prior to 2001′s releases of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, fantasy movies were frequently silly, low-budget shlockfests that actors only wanted to make so they could eat something other than whatever they scraped from under their fridge for another month. (For the record, I am told that this lifestyle — I like to call it Underfridging — is good for bolstering your immune system. On the other hand, high potential for scurvy. Your call.) And since the Harry Potter series has spanned eight films and employed every single actor in Britain at least once (twice in the case of Warwick Davis), you know there’s a treasure trove of painfully cheesy fantasy movies lurking in their collective resumes. Let’s take a look at some of them!

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Dark Shadows is the next chance for Tim Burton to succeed, and he’s playing in a very familiar sandbox. A too-familiar sandbox for some, but there’s still hope that in retuning to Gothic roots in a passion project for Johnny Depp, the director can recapture some magic. The one mystery about the movie is what kind of tone it will take. The television show is well known enough, but the movie could take it seriously, keep the camp, or shoot for something entirely different. Fortunately, there’s a plot synopsis  lurking about (thanks to a Warner Bros. press release announcing the start of filming). Unfortunately, it won’t tell us anything about the tone. Read the synopsis for yourself and try to figure out if Burton and company are going more Scissorhands or more Ed Wood here:

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran in November 2010, but since The King’s Speech just won the Academy Award for Best Picture, it seemed incredibly relevant. Enjoy. According to the dictionary, to be kingly is to be “stately or splendid, as resembling, suggesting, or befitting a king; regal.” The great movie kings — Henry II, Richard III, Arthur — fit that description, being strong, alpha male types, domineering presences unafraid to exert their authority and make their reign felt. What a surprise, then, to encounter George VI (Colin Firth) in Tom Hooper’s eloquent, emotional The King’s Speech. The current Queen Elizabeth’s father ascended to the throne in 1936, at a time that called out for a forceful leader. With scandal in his wake, spurred by his brother Edward’s abdication, and the European continent on the precipice of war, the new king faced the daunting task of inspiring an empire rife with tumult.

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published: 04.18.2014
A
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+

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