My Week with Marilyn

As far as I can tell, regular folk don’t care for movies about movies or films about filmmaking. They used to, back when Hollywood was a more glamourous and idolized place for Americans. Classics like Sunset Boulevard, Singin’ in the Rain, The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1954 version of A Star is Born were among the top-grossing releases of their time. But 60 years later, it seems the only people really interested in stories of Hollywood, actors, directors, screenwriters, et al. are people involved with the film industry — the self-indulgence being one step below all the awards nonsense — and movie geeks, including film critics and fans. If you’re reading Film School Rejects, you’re not one of the aforementioned “regular folk,” and you probably get more of a kick out of stuff like Living in Oblivion, Ed Wood, Get Shorty, State and Main, The Hard Way, The Last Tycoon, The Stunt Man, The Big Picture, The Player, Bowfinger, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Argo than those people do. While it is true that The Artist faced the challenge of being a silent film, another major obstacle in the way of box office success must have been its Hollywood setting. Argo isn’t really literally about filmmaking, though, and that might be working in its favor. Ben Affleck‘s period thriller, which is expected to finally take the top spot at the box office this weekend, is about not making a film, so it should have the opposite result of most movies in which […]

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The movie industry has always been incapable of stopping itself from taking whatever is popular in current culture and tacking the phrase “: The Movie!” onto it in a lame attempt at making a quick buck. So, with the way social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have taken control of people’s lives over the last decade, and with the success that David Fincher had making The Social Network, a movie about the establishing of Facebook, it was always only a matter of time before we got hit with a deluge of embarrassing movies that had people sitting around on websites as their main conceit. Well, when movie geeks of the future look back on this period of history, many years from now, Thursday, April 12, 2012 might be seen as the day that the dam finally burst in that respect. Not one, but two social media-inspired films have been announced as getting underway in the last few hours. The first report comes from Variety, who says that My Week With Marilyn director Simon Curtis has decided that his second feature film will come from a script called Click to Connect. It was written by Liz Tuccillo, who co-wrote the best-selling book “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and it’s said to be a dating anthology set in the world of online dating sites like match.com and eHarmony. Curtis was reportedly drawn to the material, which is completely different from his period-set biopic debut, because he wants to show his […]

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Actress

In recent years, the Best Actress Oscar has been a far more compelling race than the Best Actor Oscar. Where Best Actor winners have been those whose time has come (like Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart or Colin Firth in The King’s Speech), the Best Actress Oscar has been a tighter and less predictable race. The roles that have won Best Actress have been increasingly edgy over the past decade or so, as well as honoring relatively younger actresses (including Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, and Hilary Swank). This year offers an interesting mix of candidates who cover a range of ages and experiences. The actresses in Hollywood should be proud that their top roles are about such challenging subjects as sexual identity and female empowerment. This is a more radical turn from the Best Actor field, which has roles dealing with relationship drama, sports and spying. To quote an old cigarette campaign for Virginia Slims, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” It’s been a long way from the early days of Hollywood where more traditional damsel roles were far more prominent. The meatier roles and blockbuster heroes continue to go to male actors, but the real depth of character and challenging subject matter has been making its way to the women of Hollywood, if in a smaller degree at least a more noticeable degree. Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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Reel Sex

Most people, as they recover from seasonal snacking comas and hangovers brought on by liquid medication for too much concentrated family time, spend these last few weeks of December reflecting on the year past. While fellow Reject Landon Palmer pointed out earlier today that 2011 has already been lauded as a “quiet” year by many of our peers, I would like to address how cinematic sex and relationships embrace this quietness through an enveloping theme of sadness. As base as it might sound, a lot of tragic shit went down in 2011; from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Oakland riots to the honoring of ten years post-9/11, this year was a study in human perseverance. And as great art always succeeds at doing, film mirrored the world’s rising tension, air of tragedy, and sense of loss time and time again.

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Year in Review: The Best Scores and Soundtracks of 2011

It has been quite the year in film, but even more so when it came to the music in those films. We got scores that pushed the envelope, soundtracks that were full of nostalgia and orchestration that could easily fit in to the 1930s. It was an eclectic year that introduced us to new talent while also reestablishing the music from existing ones. Normally when the year comes to close, I look back on the various soundtracks and scores from the films that came out and I can easily hone in on a handful that most stood out to me. 2011 was not that kind of year. With even more artists becoming composers (The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx), impressive composers coming to the forefront (Cliff Martinez with his scores for The Lincoln Lawyer, Contagion and Drive, two of which made this list) and childhood favorites back on the big screen (The Muppets and Winnie the Pooh), there was a huge pool of talent and good music to choose from. And although it makes my task of rounding up the top picks more difficult, it also means films are getting filled with more and more good music – a trend I hope (and expect) will continue in 2012. But on to this year’s picks!

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn isn’t really a bio pic. Underneath the core love story of a naive dope, it’s about a clashing of two actors. In one corner, there’s Miss Marilyn Monroe, wanting to be taken seriously. In the other (and more respectful) corner, there’s Sir Laurence Olivier, possibly wanting the fame Marilyn has, at least according to a few characters. Marilyn needs to “find” the character, while Olivier believes it’s all on the page. The veteran actor sticks to his classical roots, while the blonde bombshell attempts more unusual methods. Kenneth Branagh, who portrays an artistically frustrated Olivier, sympathizes with both sides. Underneath their differences, the two portrayals of Monroe and Olivier are similar at heart: they’re both simply trying to create something, but they use the opposite methods. My Week with Marilyn is a deconstruction of what it means to be an actor, and those types of discussions seem to be the kind Branagh revels in. Here’s what Kenneth Branagh had to say about faking the truth, the fright of acting, and how you don’t have to be a murderer to play one.

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The life of a celebrity (regardless of what they are famous for or what era we may be in) is a confounding and, at times, seemingly crazy circus of people, cameras, and lights. We have seen it with the young starlets rising (and falling) today to those featured in films like Country Strong, which try and show what it is like to live in the eye of that storm. Surrounded by yes-men and an unquestioned supply of pills, you begin to wonder what is fantasy and what is reality. In the trailer for My Week With Marilyn we see Marilyn (Michelle Williams) ask Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) if she “should be her,” meaning what the public thinks of when they think of Marilyn Monroe – the eyes, the lips, and the hips – hinting at the idea that there is more to Marilyn when she lets you behind that closed dressing room door. Based on the real-life memoirs of Clark, My Week With Marilyn follows Colin as he falls in love for the first time – with both filmmaking and a beautiful woman. Growing up in a successful and pressure-filled family, Colin found solace at the theater and decided he wanted to pursue a career in the film business. After refusing to take no for an answer (and thanks to his puppy dog eyes that charmed any woman in his path), Colin landed a job as the third Assistant Director on Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) film, The Prince and the Showgirl, starring none other than Marilyn Monroe.

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With AFI FEST presented by Audi just one week away, fellow FSR-er and AFI FEST attendee Kate Erbland and I went through the impressive list of films on the schedule and selected the ones we are most looking forward to seeing. To the credit of those putting together this year’s AFI FEST, I found myself practically highlighting the entire schedule grid as I saw film after film that had already been on my “to-see” list. From films I have been anticipating for the past few months (Shame) to ones I had not heard of until now (Butter), this year’s AFI FEST looks to be one of its strongest lineups yet. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, check out my list of my top ten most anticipated films of this year’s AFI FEST. Which films are you planning on seeing at this year’s AFI FEST?

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As it turns out, I’ve been slightly remiss when it comes to praising this year’s 25th edition of AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi. I’ve tossed off comments about how the festival gets better with every passing year, but in the wake of today’s announcement of the festival’s Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings, I’ve realized that I have not gone far enough. AFI FEST has not just gotten better this year, the festival has made a dramatic jump to top-tier status, rolling out titles that play like a cinephile’s Christmas list for 2011. Today’s lineup announcement is essentially a “best-of” list of this year’s festival favorites, including Michel Hazanavicius‘s The Artist, Steve McQueen‘s Shame, Oren Moverman‘s Rampart, Lynne Ramsay‘s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Roman Polanski‘s Carnage, Simon Curtis‘s My Week with Marilyn, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Gerardo Naranjo’s Miss Bala, and Wim Wenders‘s Pina. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting October 27). After the break, check out the full list, including descriptions and showtimes, of the films to be featured as AFI FEST Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings.

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While some lucky individuals have already had the chance to see Simon Curtis’ peek into the life of a sex icon My Week with Marilyn at the New York Film Festival, the rest of us plebeians have to wait until November for our own chance. Now, early buzz for the Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe) vehicle has been favorable, however that is not what’s piquing my interest in the project. Rather I’m curious to see the maudlin-looking Williams’ embodiment of the sexpot. Williams is of course a stunning actress when she’s dressed for award season, but we rarely see that beauty on screen as she tends to embrace homely, makeup free characters. Clearly she will add an intriguing element of wistful sadness to the woman many of us wish to be.

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Simon Curtis’s upcoming film starring Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe doesn’t look like the typical film about historical figures. This isn’t a look at Monroe’s entire life, the tale of her rise and fall. This film is, just like the title says, about one week only, the week when Marilyn Monroe went to England to film The Prince and the Showgirl and ended up getting escorted around by a regular guy named Colin Clark. It doesn’t look like it’s really a story about Monroe or her costar in that film Sir Laurence Olivier, so much as it is a character drama that happens to have real life famous figures in it. That’s an interesting approach and it keeps me from dismissing this as just being yet another movie about Marilyn Monroe. The other thing that keeps me from dismissing My Week With Marilyn is the outstanding cast. It’s got veteran performers that are reliable rocks like Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, and Judi Dench. It’s got promising young actors like Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne (who was the only thing worth watching in Derick Martini’s new film Hick). And it has an actress enjoying the prime of her career, one of the most talented ladies on the planet, Michelle Williams, in the title role.

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We’ve been following the development of British TV vet Simon Curtis’ Marilyn Monroe film My Week With Marilyn for quite some time. First, there was the news that Michelle Williams had replaced Scarlett Johansson as Monroe. Then we got our first look at how Williams looked when dressed up as the sexual icon. And now we have news of where you’ll get your first chance at seeing the film.

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I’m declaring today officially Michelle Williams Day here on Film School Rejects. I doubt anyone will object, as Ms. Williams has been an object of our affection for quite some time. Above you see the first look at Williams as Marilyn Monroe in Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn. She’s one of two top-level actresses who will play the iconic dame, the other being Naomi Watts. The film is currently shooting at Pinewood Studios and in and around London. It follows the story of Colin Clark, a 23-year old assistant who spent an uninhibited week with Monroe during her time working on The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. As you can see, the first image of Williams accurately captures both the beauty and the distance that defined the look of Monroe. The wait for a first look at Naomi Watts’ Marilyn begins now. [via Coming Soon]

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michelle-williams

Production Weekly is reporting this week that Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy, Brokeback Mountain) is in talks to play Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. We find this interesting.

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