Richard LaGravenese

The Last 5 Years

Hey, did you know that Anna Kendrick can sing and act? Did you know she’s pretty good at both on their own, but extremely good at doing them together? Have you missed the slow revival of the movie musical? You can correct that now, thanks to Richard LaGravenese‘s The Last 5 Years, a long-in-the-making big screen version of Jason Robert Brown‘s beloved off-Broadway musical of the same name, a cinematic take on a work originally meant strictly for the stage, and one that succeeds primarily because Kendrick clearly wants it to so damn badly. The film is a two-hander to a tee — the opening credits only list Kendrick and her co-star Jeremy Jordan, and good luck even remembering the names of the random supporting characters who so briefly flit across the screens with little regularity — and is entirely dedicated to a romance we know is going to fail, if only because the first sequence tells us plainly that this ship has sailed. But LaGravenese has good material to work with (or, at least, good enough), including vast reserves of catchy songwriting and a crafty narrative conceit that drives things along, and The Last 5 Years is a modest success and a fine approximation of what works so well on the stage. And, again, it stars Anna Kendrick, who knows how to do this stuff with one hand tied behind her back.


Beautiful Creatures

Launching a new take on the box office-saturated “Paranormal Teen Romance” genre in early 2013 was perhaps not a good idea. Twilight fans were still reeling from the end of their beloved franchise, The Hunger Games Mockingjays were busy gearing up to share what had become a hugely successful franchise, Divergent devotees were busy dream-casting, and Percy Jackson fans (fan?) were far too consumed with celebrating that their (his or her?) series was not dead. Even with strong shelf sales, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s best-selling “Caster Chronicles” series didn’t seem poised to be the kind of cinematic juggernaut that could compete with Twilight and The Hunger Games and whatever would come next – it simply didn’t have the heat to push it over the top – which is a damn shame, because the duo’s Gothic romance spawned one hell of an underrated feature in Richard LaGravenese’s Beautiful Creatures. The film was released last Valentine’s Day (Happy Birthday, Beautiful Creatures!), and while the Alice Englert- and Alden Ehrenreich-starring film lovingly brought Garcia and Stohl’s vision to the big screen with some well-planned tweaks, the film was still little seen and even less appreciated. The film made a relatively scant  $19.4M at the U.S. box office, a take that was eventually bolstered by its worldwide dollars ($40.6M). While that was enough to give the film a final gross of $60M, neatly matching its reported budget of, yup, $60M, that doesn’t mean that it really broke even (most reported budgets don’t include […]


review beautiful creatures

Let us pause a moment to reflect on the fallen… Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Eragon (2006), The Golden Compass (2007), The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (2007), City of Ember (2008), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009), I Am Number Four (2011) These are all movies adapted from the first books of best-selling, young adult fiction series, and while each of them had hopes of spawning cinematic franchises along the lines of Harry Potter and Twilight… all of them failed. The high rate of disappointment hasn’t quenched Hollywood’s thirst though, and many, many more YA adventures are hitting screens in the next few years. The newest one, and happily, one of the best in some time, is the supernatural themed Beautiful Creatures. The film follows the destined but doomed romance between a mortal teen yearning to escape his backwater hometown and a girl whose upcoming sixteenth birthday will see her claimed by either the forces of light or the patrons of the dark.


Anna Kendrick

If you’ve yet to see the season’s bonafide feel-good feature of the season otherwise known as Pitch Perfect, you should bookmark this post, check the film out post-haste, and then return here so that you too can bask in the news that star Anna Kendrick has singed on for another aca-awesome film that will require her to use her very own musical prowess. Good lord! Moviehole reports (via CinemaBlend) that Kendrick is now set to star in director Richard LaGravenese‘s adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s off-Broadway musical, The Last Five Years. Based in part on Brown’s own love life (to the point that his ex-wife, Theresa O’Neill, threatened legal action due to the play mirroring their struggles a touch too closely), the play centers on a pair of struggling creative types who meet and fall in love – with a twist. The play uses a nifty storytelling trick – “the young woman’s story is told in reverse chronological order (beginning the show at the end of the marriage), and the male’s is told in chronological order (starting just after the couple have first met). The characters did not directly interact except for a wedding song in the middle as their timelines intersect.” Ah, crafty. And sure to come complete with all sort of wrenching emotional connections (they’re falling in love but also falling apart! they are meeting cute and also breaking the hell up! the humanity!).



In a surprising move, Alcon Entertainment has quietly replaced the male lead in their upcoming big screen adaptation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl‘s “The Caster Chronicles” novel, Beautiful Creatures. British actor Jack O’Connell was first set for the role of Ethan Wate back in February (along with lead actress Alice Englert), but Deadline Burlington now reports that he’s been replaced by Alden Ehrenreich. There’s no word on just why the replacement has occurred. Ehrenreich has been on the cusp of stardom since Francis Ford Coppola cast him in 2009’s Tetro, and he’ll next be seen in the director’s Twixt. Beyond that, Ehrenreich has only lined up a few other roles, including a supporting role in Chan-wook Park’s Stoker and a starring spot in Melanie Shaw’s Running Wild, so this casting should prove to be a huge boost for his career. The film is set in small town Gatlin, South Carolina and it follows the intersecting lives of Lena (Englert) and Ethan (Ehrenreich) after the bewitching Lena moves to town. Lena is apparently in possession of some sort of supernatural power as a “Caster,” one that endangers both her and Ethan after they fall for each other and discover a family curse that involves both them and most of Gatlin.



Sometime around 2008, when The Twilight Saga was proving to be beyond bankable, bookstores were deluged with a bevy of YA titles that all seemed hellbent on capturing the presumed magic of Stephenie Meyer’s series. As if some of their plotlines didn’t already sound interchangeable enough (magic, mythical creatures, forbidden love, weak characterization), most of their cover art looked oddly similar – which is why I can recall seeing the covers of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl‘s Caster Chronicles series, but never happened to pick them up to take a look. It looks like I might need to change that, at least if I want to stay current with my YA-books-getting-turned-into-movies news. The first book in the five-book series is set for a big screen adaptation, thanks to Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment, and while Beautiful Creatures already got a major credibility bump when Viola Davis joined its cast last week, now the real news is out – who will star as the leads in yet another tale of star-crossed lovers. Jack O’Connell (“Skins,” This is England, Harry Brown) and relative newcomer Alice Englert (The Water Diary) are set to play Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, respectively. Beautiful Creatures is set in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina and follows the fortunes of Lena and Ethan after the bewitching Lena moves to town. What I’ve gleaned from some Internet sleuthing is that Lena possesses some type of supernatural power (the fan site CasterGirls tells us that a caster is […]



Steven Soderbergh has been trying to get a movie about the life of Liberace off the ground for a while now. Or, more specifically, he’s trying to make an adaptation of a book called “Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace” that was written by Liberace’s long-time live-in lover Scott Thorson. Thorson’s book details his relationship with the famous singer, what their last meeting was like, and gives a little bit of insight into both men’s childhoods. Even though it won’t be coming to a theater near you, Soderbergh will still get his wish, as HBO Films has greenlit the project for production. Don’t think that because HBO is doing this and not one of the big studios that it’s going to be any sort of B-level affair though. Very A-list actors Michael Douglas and Matt Damon have already signed on to portray Liberace and Thorson, so this movie is set to be a big deal, no matter where audiences can find it. Of the HBO distribution model, Soderbergh had this to say, “From the inception of this project, we’ve had two priorities: getting it right creatively, and getting as many people as possible to see it. HBO’s fearless approach to original programming and their unparalleled ability to pull in viewers make them the perfect fit for us. Apart from my hair growing back, I couldn’t be happier.” Soderbergh himself will still direct the film from a screenplay by Richard LaGravenese. I’ll bet Douglas and Damon are off in a […]

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published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015

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