Richard Burton

Almost unfathomably, Lifetime’s (your life! your time!) Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton pseudo-biopic, Liz & Dick, continues to actually exist. Sure, star Lindsay Lohan had some troubles while filming (and even before filming, let’s be real here) and, yes, every still we’ve seen of the film has been heinous, but this movie is going to be on your TV soon, goddammit, so let’s look at it. On second thought, maybe not. Here’s the root of the production’s problem (Lohan aside) – it’s a television movie. Liz & Dick just doesn’t have the backing, the funding, or the time to be the sparkly production a Taylor-and-Burton film should be. These two were Hollywood royalty! They were Hollywood! And this is how they’re remembered? As further proof of the slapped-together nature of the film, we’ve got the first poster for the film. It speaks for itself (no, really, it’s just a bunch of words that yell out things we’re supposed to know – “tabloid front page”!). Check it out after the break, if you’re into sullying the memories of stars and such.

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Despite what many people say, biopics don’t live and die based solely on how much actors look like the real-life people they are portraying. It’s surely the easiest element to pick at, but a skilled actor or actress can inhabit anyone, no matter how much they may or may not look like someone. Of course, I said “skilled.” Deadline Fort Collins has provided us with yet another official still from Lifetime’s hilarious Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton biopic, Liz & Dick, and, unlike the first still from the Lindsay Lohan- and Grant Bowler-starring film, this one is in color. It does not help. Whereas that first black and white vampire neck-lock made it seem as if just anyone was playing Taylor and Burton, this one removes all doubt – it’s Lohan and Bowler, and damn if they don’t have even an ounce of the spark that Burton and Taylor did. What these (posed, blank, studio-shot) looks show is that Lifetime is desperate to prove that they can make Lohan and Bowler look like Taylor and Burton (too bad they can’t) and they’ll rush these stills if they have to (apparently, they thought they had to). With a number of highly unflattering paparazzi stills of the production hitting the internet over the past few days, who can blame them? But these are boring, bland skills without context. Lifetime, ease up. Sit on it. Wait. Then release some clips or trailers that can help prove once and for all that Liz & […]

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While first look images of Lifetime television movies aren’t exactly our bread and butter around these parts, I’ve spent enough time ripping into Liz & Dick that I thought we’d be remiss not to provide a look at the film, no matter how scant it may be, particularly now that it’s actually (almost unfathomably) in production. The Lindsay Lohan- and Grant Bowler-starring film centers on one of Hollywood’s greatest (and most notorious) love stories – that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. As Lohan and Bowler don’t exactly ring bells as Taylor and Burton (Lohan in particular is really pushing the bounds of cinematic believability), the team behind the inexplicable film seem aware of what they’re working with – which is likely why this first look conceals both actors’ eyes and half of each of their faces. It’s the Magic Eye image of movie photos – it all but begs for squinting and head-tilting, which just might bizarrely result in brief flashes of recognition. Sure, they could look like Taylor and Burton, but who’s really to say? It could be anyone in this picture (and isn’t it fun to pretend it’s anyone but Lohan and Bowler?). Deadline Hampstead first posted the picture, which you can get a bigger look at after the break.

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Grant Bowler Cast as Richard Burton

While most people would likely rather eat a shoe (or place some sort of bet on the shoe starring in a Lifetime movie about Elizabeth Taylor) than see the train wreck that will be the Lindsay Lohan-starring Liz & Dick, the production just keeps chugging along. And good on them, too, with rumors abounding that Lohan has been displeased with the parade of actors who have been brought around to try their hand at the Richard Burton role, adding still more fuel to the fire that Lohan is a bad choice for the role both in terms of her behavior (bad) and her talent (negligible). Somehow, though, they’ve finally found the Dick to her Liz! Deadline Wellington reports that, “after an extensive search,” Kiwi actor Grant Bowler has been set to co-star as Burton in the film. Executive producer Larry A. Thompson continues to be unusually chatty about the production, proudly nattering on about how he wanted a Welsh actor for the role but how Bowler’s “gravitas” made him the perfect fit for the part. For good measure, Thompson even recited his own mini-Burton history: “Burton was a Welsh poet, a rascal, and a man’s man, who swept Elizabeth Taylor off her feet and flew her so close to the sun that they both exploded into stardust that still lights up Hollywood.” So…he was Icarus? Cool! Old Hollywood was so wacky and mythologically obtuse! Of course, this all begs the question: just who in sweet hell is Grant Bowler? Only […]

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Okay, Lifetime. After months of speculation, the network has now announced that Lindsay Lohan is set to play Elizabeth Taylor in the their Original Movie, Liz & Dick. The film will center on Taylor’s “historic romance” with Richard Burton (a role that has yet to be cast). With the film set to start filming in June, that announcement is imminent, and it will be quite interesting to see just which direction the network plans to go with the role, with them going completely insane with their Taylor casting and all. Rob Sharenow, Executive Vice President, Programming, of Lifetime Networks commented, “We are thrilled Lindsay will portray beloved Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor…She is one of the rare actresses who possesses the talent, beauty and intrigue to capture the spirit of such a provocative icon.” Um. Alright. Lohan piped in, “I have always admired and had enormous respect for Elizabeth Taylor.  She was not only an incredible actress but an amazing woman as well.  I am very honored to have been asked to play this role.” At this point, the controversial actress should be pleased to be getting any roles.

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Just last week, we bemoaned the news that Lindsay Lohan was “in early talks” to play Elizabeth Taylor in an upcoming Lifetime movie. But now, a blabby producer has proven two points in a recent chat with E! News – one, it’s bad news to report on “early talks” and two, it’s pretty likely that big names (even tarnished ones like Lohan, especially tarnished ones like Lohan) are getting tossed out into the press to drum up interest in what will likely be a throwaway TV movie. So why keep covering this? Because I cannot wait to see how it shakes out. Larry Thompson, the executive producer of Liz and Dick reportedly told E! News that Lohan is not the only actress in talks for the role – Megan Fox is also a possibility. Thompson said, “I’ve been talking to Lindsay Lohan directly, and with her reps, and have been in conversations with other actresses, including Megan Fox.” However, Thompson reportedly gave E! News a lesson in how Hollywood works, as he “added that being in talks with more than one actress is not meant as an affront to the talent involved, but rather is simply de rigueur for projects of this nature.” Too true, Thompsy. He continued, “it’s a very serious selection. It’s like casting for Hollywood royalty.” No, it is casting for Hollywood royalty.

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When it comes to stories about Hollywood, Martin Scorsese is a solid choice as storyteller because of how obsessed he is with the town’s history. Also, you know, because he’s a ridiculously talented director. According to Deadline Wensleydale, Paramount is developing an adaptation of the Sam Kashner book “Furious Love,” alongside known history and the personal records of (hopefully) both Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton for Scorsese. As most know, the pair met on the set of Cleopatra and developed a heated affair (they were both married at the time) which became a full blown marriage. Unfortunately, the passion was too hot to be stable, and the pair divorced, remarried, and then re-divorced around a decade after. There’s a ton of intimate drama here alongside the glamour of glitzy Hollywood in a time where people first realized that stalking celebrities could be considered a career (by those who don’t consider it solely bile-slathered). It’s obviously fertile ground for a master filmmaker to play around with. The only issue is who could play Taylor and Burton. Taylor famously didn’t want anyone to play her, but it’s unclear if there’s any known talent that could really handle the job with any degree of realism.

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Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. Richard Burton as Mark Antony. Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar. There’s nothing quite like the huge spectacle of Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s take on the Queen of the Nile. Everything about it is larger than life, including the egos. It’s possibly going to be remade with Angelina Jolie under the starring crown (why they aren’t casting Monica Bellucci is a mystery), so we’ll get to see whether they try to make it even more expensive, whether they’ll need to hire special guards to protect extras/slave girls from having their butts pinched, or if they’ll dust off the old Todd-AO system for 60s authenticity. Probably not. On all counts. But we can still enjoy the original trailer.

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This trailer is a trip. It seems completely unnecessary considering the source material but absolutely believable considering the year of release. Nineteen Eighty-Four is an incredible film, but it’s not one you want to show at two in the morning when everyone’s already feeling sleepy. It’s a slow-burn featuring some damnable performances from John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton, and Richard Burton (in his last film appearance). There are a ton of fascinating things about this adaptation of George Owell‘s seminal novel, but the best piece of trivia involves the shooting schedule. As most know it was released in 1984, but it was also shot in 1984, and the days (which you can keep track of by watching Winston write in his journal) are the actual days they filmed on. An example? When Winston jots down that it’s April 4, 1984, it’s because the cast and crew were shooting that scene on April 4, 1984. Pretty clever. Has any other movie shot in fake real-time?

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Culture Warrior

Modern romance and the movies are arguably dependant on one another, as movies have a long history of affirming the idea(l) of the perfect relationship. Hollywood movies in particular have developed a mastery at the formula of bringing imperfect individuals together into perfect couplehood and framing marriage as the closure of all previous conflicts and difficulties. Many romance movies, thus, teach us what romance and couplehood are or, perhaps more dauntingly, what it should be. That romantic films are a staple in the box offices of commercial movie theaters to reparatory screenings or are marathon’d on television every Valentine’s Day is evidence of our ritual association of considering real-life romances in fictional terms. It is rare that movies, especially Hollywood, seem to do the opposite: reflect the distinction between ideal romance and the ostensible “reality” of relationships in all their complexity, grittiness, slow development, necessary problems, and (most of all) subtlety. Perhaps the most evident turns cinema makes in this direction is in the break-up movie, that rare narrative that situates itself as a disruption from the normal mode of portraying couplehood through representing its antithesis, the dissolution of a couple. The most recent example is Blue Valentine, the great Cassavetes-style, character-driven psychodrama about a couple who continue making the wrong turns and can’t make it work despite, or because, of themselves. Breakup movies from the light – (500) Days of Summer – to the heavy – Blue Valentine – often self-consciously (either by testament from the filmmaker like in […]

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Culture Warrior

A few months back, a fight for free expression was exercised by the Weinstein Company for the Sundance-indie favorite Blue Valentine to be theatrically released with an R-rating instead of the dreaded NC-17. Many things about this pseudo-fight are nothing special: there’s hardly anything surprising about fights with the MPAA or about the Weinsteins making a fuss – it’s how they’ve succeeded in the business for decades. But this fuss, and the anti-MPAA lobbying contained within it, seemed significantly more justified because it was exercised in the name of potentially getting an exceptional indie into more theaters across the country (and while the film does star two recognizable names, it is, economically speaking, very much a truly modest indie of the classic Sundance variety). In the end, the Weinsteins got their way, and justifiably so. The NC-17 rating has become an economic form of censorship: nothing associated with the label, or the institution that bestows that label, has the power to actively stop distribution of NC-17 films, but because of the rating’s associations with sexually-explicit content, and because of the liability and extra measures required of theaters in preventing young people from sneaking their way into such films, many theaters (and some entire theater chains) will not exhibit films with such a rating. This would have relegated Blue Valentine, at best, to arthouse theaters in big cities. Such theaters are no doubt where Blue Valentine will play best regardless, but the key word here is opportunity – an R-rating provides […]

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lookbackinanger

The remnants of the class system keep things tense between two lovers from different backgrounds. “You’re hurt because everything is changed and Jimmy’s hurt because everything is the same.”

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published: 04.16.2014
C-
published: 04.16.2014
B-
published: 04.14.2014
B
published: 04.14.2014
A-

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