Judy Davis

Perhaps we were spoiled with last year’s Midnight in Paris, auteur Woody Allen‘s return to (delightful) form after a few years of basically forgettable, minor efforts like Whatever Works, Scoop, Cassandra’s Dream, and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Suffice to say, Allen’s next cinematic trip to a classic, romantic European city has come complete with heightened expectations, and while his To Rome With Love occasionally harnesses some of the charm and ease of Paris, it’s a wholly different film experience, and a less enjoyable one to boot. Much like Paris, Allen has lined up a sizable and talented cast for his latest outing, though he’s chosen Rome as his own spin on throwaway rom-coms like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day and the far superior Love, Actually, instead of focusing on a single leading character. Allen uses the city of Rome as the (often only) link between all manner of people – Italians, Americans, young, old, famous, common, talented, sexy, unsexy, ambitious, bored, confused, the list goes on – and lets them play out their theatrically-tinged trials and tribulations against a gorgeous Roman backdrop. It’s frothy and fizzy enough, but To Rome With Love isn’t the sort of film that is likely to leave a lasting impact on its audience. It’s popcorn entertainment for the indie set.

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Woody Allen continues his European tour with his next film, To Rome With Love. This time around, the auteur appears to stick with the light fluffiness that made his Midnight in Paris such a delight to behold, but with a much deeper cast of characters to suit the film’s vignette style. The film’s synopsis tells us that it “is comprised of four separate vignettes and tells the story of a number of people in Italy—some American, some Italian, some residents, some visitors—and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into.” Players in those various vignettes include Allen himself, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Robert Benigni, Judy Davis, Alison Pill, and Greta Gerwig. With the film’s first trailer, we get our first glimpse what we can expect from each section – Allen being neurotic (shock); a potential love triangle involving Eisenberg, Gerwig, and Page; a flimsy and flighty Cruz; and Benigni becoming famous for something. I can already guess which vignettes I’ll feel the most amore for – can you?

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Midnight in Paris is still out there making money and finding new audiences, so it’s less than surprising that Sony Pictures Classics has already picked up Woody Allen‘s follow-up film, Nero Fiddled, which was produced last year. According to Cinema Blend, the movie is described by Allen as a broad comedy with several overlapping stories. It stars Jesse “Woody Allen” Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni and Judy Davis. Woody Allen is also playing a role, but he lamented earlier in the year about not being able to play the romantic lead anymore. Which is ridiculous. Who wouldn’t want to see a hunky 76-year-old man embroil himself in the heart and loins of a gorgeous counterpart? Exactly. As long as it takes place in Rome, it’ll be romantic. I’m pretty sure that’s even where we get the word. So if you were at all worried that you’d go a year without hearing from the workhorse of filmmaking, fear not! More Allen is on the way. Just try not to loudly pontificate about the meaning of his work while waiting in line at the cinema.  

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On Halloween night, 1993 River Phoenix cut his own life and acting career short when he died of a drug overdose outside The Viper Room in West Hollywood. Before he died, he had made a strong mark on the movie world with performances in Stand By Me, My Own Private Idaho and an Oscar nomination for his role in Running On Empty. Phoenix appeared in three films that were released in 1993, but there was one left unfinished – a thriller called Dark Blood that dealt with the long-term effects of nuclear testing and saw Phoenix playing a hermit widower living out in the desert awaiting the end of the world. Eighteen years later, director George Sluizer (The Vanishing) is announcing that he plans on editing the film into a completed print and releasing it sometime in 2012. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sluizer plans on requesting that Joaquin Phoenix do some voice over work as a stand in for his late brother. It will be wonderful to see River Phoenix on screen again, but beyond the curiosity here, the film doesn’t sound particularly remarkable. Sluizer had an uneven career, and the script for Dark Blood was written by Jim Barton – who has 5 lesser works to his name. However, the film co-stars Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis, and there’s always the chance that Sluizer can create something as electric as The Vanishing once again.

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Even though Woody Allen’s latest film Midnight in Paris is still doing gangbusters in theaters, it’s time to start talking about his next project. I mean, the guy does one of these things a year, there’s no time to sit back and soak up any success. His next film, The Bop Decameron, sees him continuing his tour of Europe by filming in Rome. Makes sense, seeing as ever since he stopped filming in New York City we’ve already gotten movies from him set in England, Spain, and France. Why wouldn’t Italy be next on the itinerary? The films location isn’t the thing worth talking about though. What’s really newsworthy is that earlier today Allen made a show of announcing the official cast. His first announcement was that he himself would be returning to acting for this one, something we haven’t seen him do for half a decade, since 2006’s Scoop. The rest of the casting news is that The Bop Decameron will star, alphabetically, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page. There are just too many actors I love, especially young actors, in that list to even begin dissecting why this is an awesome cast. I’ll just say I’m gushing at the thought of hearing Eisenberg deliver Woody dialogue and leave it at that. In addition to these names, Allen also says that the film will co-star Antonio Albanese, Fabio Armiliata, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ornella Muti, Flavio Parenti, Alison Pill, Riccardo Scamarcio and […]

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