Noomi Rapace

Seeing Septuple

The threat of overpopulation (and the strange-yet-potentially-necessary child-limiting laws that follow) are already a part of today’s terrifyingly modern world. So it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a future time where the entire Earth is regulated with a strict “one baby per set of babymakers” policy. That’s the idea behind What Happened to Monday, a new science fiction film that’s just been reported (by Deadline Hollywood) to have cast Noomi Rapace in its lead role. Or, to put it more precisely, its seven lead roles. Rapace will be playing a set of septuplets who have to keep themselves concealed from society, as their very existence is a great big no-no in the film’s future world. Director Tommy Wirkola states that he originally intended Monday‘s multiple protagonists to be male, but when considering to the complexities of playing so many separate roles, “Noomi was the ideal actor – male or female – to bring them to life,” which is something fairly refreshing to hear these days.

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When Prometheus came out in the summer of 2012, it wasn’t just the die-hard Alien fans that took issue with it. People with an interest in real science also had some problems with the film. Granted, there were plenty of silly actions in the movie by brilliant so-called scientists, like taking off their helmets on potentially hostile alien worlds, trying to make friends with an evil cobra-headed acid worm, and being unable to run in any direction but a straight line. However, the question of a DNA match between humans and Engineers is maybe the most interesting element. For a film that should have been grounded at least partially in hard science, there seemed to be some problems with its basic presentation of high school genetics. After Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) brings the head of an Engineer back to her lab, only to have it spontaneous wake up and explode, she runs a DNA test on the head’s genetic material. A few seconds later, the computer screen comes alive with a graphic comparison, declaring a “DNA Match” to human beings. So that got us thinking. If we ever find ourselves with an exploded kind-of-human head in our lab, what are the chances it will be a genetic match to our own DNA?

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passion

The past few years haven’t been Brian De Palma‘s finest time as a filmmaker. Neither Redacted nor The Black Dahlia left a mark with audiences, critics, or most of his fans. De Palma explored new territories and some old ones too with varying results. He does the same for Passion, which has been billed as a “erotic thriller”. Like the masterful Femme Fatale, De Palma plays with an audience as much as his characters do with each other. While the two female leads play their games De Palma is calculating just as sinister of a move of his own. Or maybe some will see that narrative trick coming from a mile away. It’s all there in the highly-stylized aesthetic, never exactly hiding its impending reveal. A viewer will either find it on-the-nose or comforting. With De Palma’s tongue slowly cutting through his cheek though the result should be the latter. A part of how his reveal plays depends on one’s attitude towards the first half of the film. The set up is this: Isabelle James (Noomi Rapace) is an up and comer in the cutthroat world of marketing. She’s impressionable and naive, at least when it comes to her ice queen of a boss, Christine Standford (Rachel McAdams). At first their relationship resembles a friendly but flirty mentor/student dynamic, but it turns ugly when Christine takes credit for Isabelle’s successful ad idea — a commercial that, as hilariously pointed out, got millions of hits over night. It’s Christine and Isabelle’s film, and when it comes to casting, De Palma got at […]

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Brian De Palma

Passion, by all means, is a Brian De Palma movie. You’re either sold on that pitch or you’re not. De Palma has never been one to satisfy everyone despite coming from a generation of filmmakers — Scorsese, Spielberg, and Lucas – who are famous for achieving the opposite effect. The polarizing nature of his work has been affecting viewers ever since he briefly attended NYU. In his own words, he’s a film school reject (even if spent two semesters at one of the most prestigious film schools on the planet). His remake of 2010′s Crime d’amour pits Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace against each other, two actresses De Palma is clearly very fond of. Getting a chance to speak with him, the writer/director couldn’t stop himself from cracking up about the playfulness between the two (when you see McAdams’s performance you’ll understand why), reveling in the sheer joy of his work with the pair.

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Passion is an erotic thriller that brings quite a bit of pedigree to the genre. First off, it’s a remake of a French film called Love Crime, and everyone knows that the French are some of the loosest people on the planet. Secondly, it was made by director Brian De Palma, who was pretty much a master of bringing slightly sleazy cinema into the mainstream from the 70s all the way through to the 90s. If you’ve heard about the film already, that’s probably because it played the festival circuit last year, and it had a trailer that teased a big lesbian kiss between Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams. Well, now the movie is ready for its North American release, so it’s come out with another trailer—one that doesn’t just tease a lesbian kiss either. Nope, this one features a couple of them in all of their pervy glory. That’s not all the sleaze that De Palma looks to be offering up either. Passion is a movie that also features blindfolds, restraints, weird masks, back stabbings, and even a little murder. Might it be tawdry enough to become the Basic Instinct of a new generation? Check out the trailer for yourself and decide.

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Dead Man Down

Last week saw the English debut from Korean director Park Chan-Wook, and now with Dead Man Down we’re seeing another American feature from an acclaimed foreign director, Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Park evaporated any fear of him losing his personality in America thanks to the visually spectacular Stoker. His fingerprints are all over that film, and it’s a shame the same cannot be said for Oplev. While a high-minded Oplev appears every now and then in Dead Man Down, he is overshadowed by the tropes we expect from a WWE movie. When their logo came on screen, audience members laughed, and for good reason. Given what WWE is famous for, one would expect a great deal of machismo from Dead Man Down. The film’s more action-heavy moments are unsurprisingly its greatest strength, but that WWE sensibility seriously clashes with the drama Oplev and his cast are aiming for. The two tones never mesh coherently, leading to an uneven revenge movie.

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There was a major opportunity for Terrence Howard to blow up some scenery and do some violent mustache twirling in Dead Man Down. Mind you, Howard does shout, “I got something for your ass!” when a mansion becomes an overpriced shooting gallery in the film, but that’s as far as the actor goes when it comes to getting his hands silly. It makes sense, considering playing pure evil doesn’t seem like a role Howard would ever want to try out. Speaking with the Academy Award nominated actor, he sees his characters, even a villain like Alphonse, through a philosophical light, noting that “the past, the present, and the future” are happening right now, as he discussed using pieces of himself for a character. Despite the fact Howard was minutes away from boarding a flight, he was kind enough to make time discussing his relationship with his characters, how he proved Juilliard wrong, and more about his newest movie:

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Ridley Scott on Prometheus Set

With a project as massive as Prometheus, it’s nigh impossible to place blame on any single individual, but considering the original draft and the work he did adding incomprehensibility, it’s not unfair to ask Damon Lindelof what happened there. Maybe Ridley Scott and company won’t let him mess with the script to the sequel, which is being written right now. In an interview with The Playlist, Noomi Rapace confirmed that thoughts are being thunk, and words are finding their way to paper. “They’re working on the script,” the actress said. “I met Ridley in London a couple of weeks ago. I would love to work with him again and I know that he would like to do another one. It’s just like we need to find the right story. I hope we will.” Ah, the magic words. Finding the right story. Let’s also hope they find it, and that my headline turns out to be a tongue-in-cheek quip instead of a repeated reality for the franchise.

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Dead Man Down

Niels Arden Oplev and Noomi Rapace made a deadly combination in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The director coldly orchestrated some horrifically emotional scenes, and Rapace became a mohawked icon of devastation and ennui. They’re back together with Dead Man Down, they want revenge, and we’ll get to see what they’ve wrought in March. Colin Farrell plays the right hand man of a crime boss (Terrence Howard) who is seduced by the wife of one his victims (Rapace). If this soaring trailer is any indication, things are going to get ugly.

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Whether you loved Prometheus or hated it with every fiber of your being, you can’t deny the fact that it was at least successful in continuing a cinematic conversation about it long after it debuted in theaters. After the film’s Blu-ray release in October, the original script was leaked online, sparking a slew of articles to be written about the differences between it and the final film. (For a look at FSR’s take on that, check out J.F. Sargent’s The 8 Worst Parts of Prometheus Made Sense In the Original Script.) This week, coinciding with the leaking of that script, we’re going straight to the horse’s mouths about the writing of Prometheus. As interesting as Ridley Scott is, let’s lend an ear to the writers of the film as they discuss the differences in the many drafts of the film. If you haven’t seen the film yet, be warned: there are many spoilers in the discussion below. And on to the commentary…

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Brian De Palma’s Passion, as alluded to in this review, teeters on a level of badness that, in turn, becomes camp. This female-vs.-female rivalry film with strong Sapphic overtones and a constant back and forth of ludicrous backstabbing can’t help but draw comparisons to Paul Verhoeven’s “epic,” Showgirls. Without revealing too many spoilers, below is a list of categories with which to pit the two films against each other in a brutal cat fight. Will the newcomer reach the near-impossible Razzie-winning, midnight screening heights of the Paul Verhoeven disaster? Let’s find out with these seven totally scientific, head-to-head category comparisons!

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Good camp films know what they are doing. They manipulate the audience into feeling exaggerated sorts of emotion and possess a sort of bravura that makes them unabashedly watchable. Based on Alain Corneau’s 2010 film Love Crime, Brian De Palma’s new offering, Passion, is definitely campy, but oftentimes it borders on just plain stupid. It is aimlessly over-the-top with eye-rolling twists and turns – for nearly the last quarter of the film, De Palma wastes the audience’s time with fake out after fake out (just kidding, guys – she was dreaming… TIMES FIVE!). The director lacks the artfulness in filmmaking that he once possessed in classics like Dressed to Kill. Christine (Rachel McAdams, scenery-chewing rather excellently) is a young, high-powered ad executive working in Berlin. She wants to work in New York City again but needs the right account to bring her enough success to propel that next move. Her answer, or so she thinks, comes in the form of Isabelle James (Noomi Rapace) – a “genius” creator of ad campaigns who she calls upon to come up with a marketing concept for a new smartphone.

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Beautiful women, classical composition, a dreamlike quality, and classy locations…that’s how you can describe much of the work of Brian De Palma. And those are certainly some of the descriptions his latest film, Passion, have been receiving ever since its Venice premiere; in usual De Palma fashion, the reaction to his remake has been split. To the director himself, that may not be such a bad thing. Whether you come out loving or hating Passion, at least you’ll still know it’s a De Palma picture. The director was kind enough to make time to speak with us before Passion‘s New York Film Festival premiere, in which we discussed his style, dealing with ranting and raving, and why beautiful women need film:

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Rachel McAdams in Passion

The past decade hasn’t been too kind to Brian De Palma. The director’s past few films have been his most divisive and critically lashed efforts of his career. With disappointments like The Black Dahlia and Mission to Mars, it’s easy to see why that is. After a five year absence, De Palma is returning to the big screen with Passion, an “erotic” thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace that’s a remake of the recent French film Love Crime. The film is set to premiere  at the Venice Film Festival, which will then be followed up with screenings at both TIFF and the New York Film Festival. Check out the film’s first trailer to see Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace having…a good time, shall we say:

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Simply put, Prometheus is the most divisive film of the summer. The Internet’s anticipation had been at an all-time high for years leading up to its release, so when the film didn’t end up being “the greatest thing ever!” more than a few people came away disappointed. From a wonky third act to a few head-scratching character decisions, much of the film’s problems were laid upon co-writer Damon Lindelof‘s Twitter feed. In terms of what didn’t work, many labeled the movie “Lostian.” Now, Lindelof is discussing those issues and critics, with the exception of the ones that actually matter. There’s been some legitimate criticisms made over Ridley Scott‘s return to science fiction, but Lindelof doesn’t appear to be all that interested in discussing them…or perhaps no one has simply asked him about them yet. In an interview with the SpeakEasy blog at the Wall Street Journal, Lindelof (kind of) talked about the reception of Prometheus. Unfortunately, he never went beyond declaring the divisiveness a case of “I love ambiguity and you guys just, I dunno, don’t!” Even as a big fan of Prometheus who has no problems with the film’s ambiguity, Lindelof’s stance comes off mildly dismissive of the film’s biggest critics.

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One of the biggest complaints people had coming out of Ridley Scott’s epic in scope sci-fi spectacle Prometheus was that it raised more questions than it answered. Well, today brings good news for those of you looking for closure. It turns out Scott knew what he was doing all along: he raised a bunch of questions about the origins of humanity, got us on the hook for wanting answers, and now he’s going to sell us all tickets to a sequel. Pretty clever, movie industry. Confirmation of a Prometheus 2 comes from THR, who have published a comprehensive look at which of the big movies from this summer are likely to spawn sequels. In addition to the Prometheus confirmation, they reveal that movies like Ted, Magic Mike, American Reunion, and Snow White and the Huntsman are all likely to be given follow-ups as well.

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Expectations can be dangerous things. Ridley Scott‘s twentieth feature film is a return to a genre that he hasn’t visited in thirty years, but it’s also one that’s simultaneously been quite good to him. Alien and Blade Runner are seminal works of science fiction that went on to influence a multitude of future films, and by any stretch of the imagination they set an impossibly high bar for anyone to reach (let alone the director of A Good Year). Like some ambitiously misguided mash-up of those earlier movies Prometheus features stark futuristic settings, scenes of graphic biological horror and grand questions on what it means to be human, but while its pieces excite and engage its whole fails to form anything resembling a finished thesis. Instead we have big ideas in the form of casual statements destined to go unchallenged. It can’t be overstated how frustrating this is when so many of the film’s smaller elements leap from the screen (in 3D or 2D) to make our eyes widen, our pulses race and our minds quiver at the possibilities. Stunningly beautiful visuals, both natural and effects-wise, help create a dangerously seductive world that wraps viewers in slime covered tentacles and thoughts. Call-backs (call-forwards?) to Alien tease us with answers and even more questions while other parts offer enticing glimpses of creation itself. This is epic science fiction storytelling that too frequently forgets it’s telling a story and yet still manages to be worthwhile spectacle in spite of itself.

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The site’s most anticipated film of the summer, Prometheus, has long been kept under lock and key for sometime now. “Is it an Alien prequel or isn’t it?” Obviously, the film shares stylistic and world ties to Alien, but would we see the origin of the Xenomorph? That’s a question which remains a mystery, a big question mark that the film’s co-writer Jon Spaihts may or not have taken on with his work. The questions Spaihts, director Sir Ridley Scott, and Damon Lindelof are exploring are clear: searching for answers we should not have the answer for, what it means to be human, and the mystery of the Space Jockey. Answering some of those major questions can’t be easy, but, as Jon Spaihts put it, although Prometheus will shed light on some burning questions fandom has, it could possibly create new ones as well. Here is what screenwriter Jon Spaihts had to say about building a whole world, the thematic and visual importance of a female protagonist, and why Prometheus is more 28 Days Later than 28 Weeks Later:

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Prometheus

It’s okay, everyone, our long national nightmare is over – we finally know that Ridley Scott‘s heavily anticipated maybe-prequel to Alien, Prometheus, will be rated R. So much for toning down the “sci-fi violence” to get a younger crowd into theaters (though the odds of scads of thirteen-year-olds showing up for the film seem somewhat slim). After a few weeks of chatter revolving on whether or not the film would end up with a PG-13 rating to presumably pull in larger crowds, a pre-sale ticket posted on IMDb (thanks to Collider) revealed the film to be rated R, with 20th Century Fox confirming the news. The film will be rated R for “sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language.” Language! Heavens me! 

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French actress Isabelle Huppert has been a force in the film world for quite a while now, winning Best Actress awards at Cannes for her work in Violette and The Piano Teacher, and a César for her role in La Cérémonie. Though she’s really only appeared in I Heart Huckabees and episodes of Law & Order: SVU in English-speaking roles (as far as I know?), she’s been a top international actress long enough that most everyone interested in acting and such Stateside should have an idea of who she is. Niels Arden Oplev hasn’t been around the scene for quite as long, but after he took the world by storm directing the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, he solidified his place on the list of filmmakers that everyone is keeping their eyeballs on. His success launching that franchise has led to his latest project, Dead Man Down, signing mainstream names like Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, and Dominic Cooper to its cast. Though shooting on the film started last week in Philadelphia, apparently we’re not at the end of the good news when it comes to its cast.

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