Ron Howard

Michael Keaton Monk

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  Whatever your feelings are about the new RoboCop remake, there’s no denying that it’s great to see Michael Keaton up on the big screen again with such a prominent role. The actor hasn’t been in a lot of movies over the past decade, and in those he has done he’s mostly played some young starlet’s father. Or he’s merely provided his voice for a few minor Pixar characters. And now in 2014 alone we get to see him stand out in three movies, including RoboCop, next month’s Need for Speed and, best of all, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman, in which he’ll star, reflexively, as a washed-up actor best known for having portrayed a superhero in the movies. If we’re lucky, next in line for Keaton is a return to another one of his most famous characters: Beetlejuice. Imagine if he’d not stuck with Hollywood long enough to work with Tim Burton and deliver his two most iconic performances? He also wouldn’t have gone on to notably play the same FBI character in two unrelated movies (Jackie Brown and Out of Sight), but then again he wouldn’t have done Jack Frost and Multiplicity either — not that he’s not great in the latter, only that he’s too good for how bad it is overall. If Keaton had left acting in 1985, we would still have his hilarious work […]

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Ron Howard

With director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) dropping out of the project due to scheduling issues related to post-production duties on his latest film, Birdman, Warner Bros. has approached Ron Howard to take the helm on their live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. The script, written by screenwriter Callie Kloves, is an adaptation from novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling’s short stories featuring feral jungle child, Mowgli, and his animal pals Bagheera and Baloo, and the ever awful Bengal tiger, Shere Khan.

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I have a pet theory that Ron Howard is like Spielberg without all the cinephile love. They’ve both done broad genre work, fantasy adventure and prestige films that earned Oscars. They’ve had giant successes in just about every realm, and they’ve also had monumental failures. They also both continually push to learn new things, both from a content standpoint and technical perspective. It’s also impressive that Howard has evolved so thoroughly that we often don’t even think about him as a child actor who emerged to continued success. For several generations, Howard has always been a sophisticated filmmaker with a wry sense of humor and a keen ability to deliver a fist-pumping moment of Hollywood satisfaction. Every once in a while, the realization that he’s been in the industry since he was six hits home and puts his career into both a surprising and completely sensible context. Of course he’s done what he’s done…and yet how many child actors can make the same claim (or have enjoyed the same enormity of success)? So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who just can’t grow a beard as well as Spielberg.

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Escargots JGL

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. This weekend sees the release of two major films directed by former child stars. There’s Rush by Ron Howard, who got his true start as a boy on TV shows like Dennis the Menace and The Andy Griffth Show, and Don Jon by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who got his true start as a boy on TV shows like Family Ties and Roseanne. So, given the link, I thought it would be worth it to double up on the latest column. Both actors eventually became directors (Howard made the full switch while Gordon-Levitt is actually still a rising screen star), and before the made features they directed a few shorts. Howard’s are more like home movies made with his brother Clint and friends. Gordon-Levitt’s are mostly animated collaborative works produced through his hitRECord company. Let’s look at Howard’s first. In 1969, he shot three amateur Westerns, which he also appears in. Maybe he directed others in those teen years, but we only know about Old Paint, Deed of Daring-Do and Cards, Cads, Guns, Gore and Death because they were included on the DVD of The Missing. Because of the genre. Cards, etc. is the only one I can find online, and man is it adorable. And very bloody. The plot is your basic cliche card game that get out of hand when someone is accused of cheatin’. Young Ronny […]

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ENTERTAINMENT-US-RUSH-WRITER

Director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan have taken a real liking to each other over the years, and for good reason. With Frost/Nixon and Rush, the two have produced critical darlings that pit opposites against each other. While the 2008 drama was about fighting with words, Rush – which portrays the Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) — the battles are done on a race track. Morgan wrote about their budding relationship out of pure, personal interest. This started off as a spec script which eventually led to a $50m British indie, not your standard Hollywood-produced Oscar contender. Of course it also helps when a storyteller has some distance from the story. Here, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter talks about time’s effect on biographical movies, his collaboration with Howard and what he modeled the structure for the Rush script after.

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Beautiful Mind Commentary

Ron Howard is at his best when he’s directing award contenders. “Oscar bait” would be the cynical way to label them, but the sincerity of Howard’s movies makes it difficult to approach them with that type of mindset. As much as I love Night Shift and Parenthood, those movies were sometime ago, and since then, Howard has jumped from making lightweight entertainment to audience-friendly dramas. After the Robert Langdon movies and The Dilemma, I hoped to see him make more movies like A Beautiful Mind. He’s now returned to that territory with Rush. What makes Howard’s take on material like the Formula One rivalry work is the amount of fun he brings to potentially heavy drama. He certainly achieved that balance with A Beautiful Mind as well. The movie may deal with mental illness, but the espionage segments of the film are as exciting as a Bond movie, and there’s genuine joy to be found in the romance. For the release of Rush, I gave a listen to an engaging Howard with the commentary he supplied for his 2001 Best Picture Winner. Here’s what I learned.

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Senna

Ron Howard’s Rush opens with a curious bit of voiceover – Daniel Bruhl, acting as Niki Lauda, tells the audience that he’s known for two things: his feud with fellow Formula One racer James Hunt (played in the film by Chris Hemsworth) and the accident that nearly claimed his life. In the context of the film, it’s not a weird choice, as most of Rush centers quite firmly on the rivalry between Lauda and Hunt that its third act plot point – the one about Lauda’s horrific accident and his subsequent recovery – feels almost shoehorned in. But it is strange because the Lauda storyline is, on its own, extremely compelling stuff. Sure, Howard’s film attempts to comment on the nature of competition and how having a professional nemesis can drive certain people to great things in a pretty definitive way, but anyone who knows anything about Niki Lauda knows that it was his accident that really defined him. James Hunt was simply a part of that. Rush is fine as is, featuring some great performances and one hell of a third act, but it’s a misfire because it doesn’t give its all to the very best part of the story and just go pedal to the metal on a true Niki Lauda biopic. Fortunately, for anyone who isn’t compelled to see Rush right now (or perhaps ever), there’s an available alternative that makes Howard’s latest blockbuster look easy, emotionless, and utterly middle of the road. It’s called Senna, and […]

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Rush

Ron Howard is kind of an everyman’s director. He isn’t above his audience, knows exactly what they want, and generally gives it to them without pandering. Sometimes the end product doesn’t workout — see The Dilemma or the Robert Langdon movies to learn that the hard way — but when it does, the final film can be quite special, especially if Howard really has something to say. With Rush, he definitely does. It’s easy to see why Howard was attracted to the characters at the center of Rush including competing Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The film raises questions every filmmaker must grapple with: What is success? How do you overcome failure? And how can one bring personality and passion to a business? The balance of art and commerce is something Howard’s dramas — Cinderella Man, Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, and A Beautiful Mind — have achieved in the past, and so does Rush.

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01-1

Where were you in ’73? August 11, 1973, to be specific? I wasn’t alive, but just because I wasn’t there on opening night doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate the 40th birthday of American Graffiti, which hit theaters on that date*. Just the same, it doesn’t matter that I can’t really answer the film’s tagline of “Where were you in ’62?” George Lucas‘s nostalgic teen movie is as classic as the cars that appear in it, and that’s because it resonates for viewers of all ages and all eras. Maybe we didn’t grow up on the same music and meet up at the same kind of hangout as Mel’s Drive-In, but we can all find something familiar in this multi-narrative feature. It’s no wonder Richard Linklater’s own nostalgic ensemble teen movie, Dazed and Confused, is so similar to Lucas’s. Teen life hadn’t changed all that much in 14 years. Nor is it all that different after 51 years. It’s kind of strange to think about how American Graffiti was set only 11 years before its release. We’re quickly nostalgic today, but that was a pretty quick turnaround for audiences to get so sentimental about the culture of a decade prior. It’d be like us getting a deeply nostalgic movie about 2002 now. Yet 1962 probably felt more like an eon ago to people in 1973. The characters in the movie haven’t been through the JFK assassination yet, let alone RFK and MLK, they haven’t seen the worst of Vietnam or the […]

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Rush

Today the third trailer for Ron Howard’s upcoming Formula-1 historical dramatization Rush hit, and much like the second one did after the first, this new look at the rivalry between legendary drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) looks at the story from an entirely new angle and sets an entirely different tone. The first time around Rush got sold to us as a dramatic period piece about a legendary rivalry that took place in a dangerous world. The kind of thing that would be right at home during awards season. The second look at the film made it seem much more like a popcorn movie, as the focus was on flash, speed, sex appeal, and explosions. This time around the focus seems to be put much more firmly on Hemsworth. Not only do we get introduced to his character by having him painted as being a ladies man and a charismatic superstar (we even get to watch him seduce Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer), but then the trailer takes a turn and zeros in on the character arc that he goes through over the course of the film. Gone is the equal rivalry of the first trailer, and in its place is the question of whether Hunt—our apparent protagonist—can rise to the occasion of beating the untouchable racer that is Brühl. Whether that’s an accurate interpretation of the end product here or just a shrewd means of drawing in fans of Thor remains to be […]

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Tom Hanks stars in Columbia Pictures

Dan Brown writes books faster than Ron Howard can make movies. The filmmaker was at one point planning — alongside a hundred other projects — to make The Lost Symbol as a third installment of the Robert Langdon Da Vinci Code series with Tom Hanks back in the lead role, but according to Deadline Hollywood, Sony is skipping over that entry in order to make an adaptation of “Inferno.” The latest novel in Brown’s series hit just two months ago, but more than simply being current, Howard had dropped out of making The Lost Symbol, wanting to produce it instead of directing, but something has enticed him to return to the helm here. The development mess that Symbol had become might be a big part of that — a desire to be back in this narrative world on his own terms. Whereas the previous project would have seen Langdon running around D.C. on a highly personal quest, Inferno will follow him in Italy (again) as he solves hidden meanings in paintings (again) and wrestles with Dante (if you couldn’t guess by the title) on the edge of a global pandemic. The script is being written by David Koepp, who adapted the repetitive string of events that was “Angels and Demons,” so he’s not new to the Langdon universe. Thus, the powers behind a relatively harmless, forgettable mystery series are back to make another.

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howard 2

In 2011, everyone who knew Bryce Dallas Howard the actress was introduced to Bryce Dallas Howard the director thanks to Canon’s “Long Live Imagination” campaign. Howard’s father Ron (one of the country’s most famous narrators) also played a role in Canon’s project, selecting eight photos out of over 100,000 consumer submitted pics for Ms. Howard to use as inspiration for a short film. The result was when you find me, following up her debut Orchids. The experience for Howard was good enough that she’s returned for yet another round of Canon’s project and even though she’s not behind one of the films this year, she’s working with the likes of Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria, Biz Stone, Georgina Chapman, and James Murphy. Like Howard did almost two years ago, they’re all making shorts out of submitted photographs, but you can join that bunch by making your own. If you’re up to the challenge of making a 1-10 minute short out of a few ambitious photos, then head this way.

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Rush

Call it the Fast and Furious effect, but this new trailer for Ron Howard‘s Rush certainly seems far sexier and speedier than the last look we got at the fact-based racing tale. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl face off in the film as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, talented and celebrated drivers who became mired in one of sport’s greatest rivalries back in the seventies. While the first trailer made no bones about the drama of the film – Lauda was the victim of a horrific race crash that nearly claimed his life, burnt his body, and sent him into a coma, and he still came back to race Hunt – this new look is all fast cars, fast cuts, and even a glimpse of a couple of stars getting it on in the shower. The film also stars Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jamie de Courcey, Pierfrancesco Favino, and Natalie Dormer so, like we said, sexy. After the break, check out the pulse-pounding new trailer for Rush.

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Rush

Okay, Ron Howard, this will do just fine. For his first post-The Dilemma directorial outing, Howard has returned to his dramatic roots with another true life story that should fit in quite nicely alongside Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon. Howard’s Rush centers on one of sport’s greatest rivalries and one of the most wrenching comebacks in the history of athletics. The fact-based film stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, respectively. Hunt and Lauda were long-standing rivals on the F1 circuit, a rivalry that was both shaken and reinforced by Lauda’s 1976 crash that left him with extensive facial burns, damage to his lungs and blood, and in a weeks-long coma. Despite the heavy Hemsworth presence in this trailer, Rush is ostensibly focused primarily on Lauda’s life and his amazing comeback, with that action framed up against his rivalry with Hunt. Only six weeks after his horrific accident, Lauda returned to racing with an intent to beat Hunt and win the F1 title (one determined by a point system). The first trailer for Rush looks absolutely stunning, and if the final film lives up to this new bit of marketing, we’re in for one hell of a treat. Not sold yet? Did we mention that Olivia Wilde co-stars? Buckle up and check out the first trailer for Rush after the break.

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ronhoward_contemplating

While it might normally seem appropriate to scoff at a multi-hyphenate powerhouse like J.J. Abrams and a name brand director like Ron Howard taking on a new adaptation of a foreign TV movie that’s nearly a decade old, producer Abrams and now-attached-director Howard have certainly picked a potentially compelling project to team up on. Vulture reports that Howard is now set to helm a remake of Israeli TV movie Kol Ma She’Yesh Li, to be titled All I’ve Got (per its English translation) that Abrams is producing through his Bad Robot shingle. The original film was written and directed by Margalit Keren. If you don’t know who Margalit Keren is, that’s fine, but most other outlets seem intent to report that she also wrote “numerous episodes” of the Israeli show Be’Tipul, which Showtime ultimately adapted into its In Treatment. It’s okay if that bit of trivia doesn’t help you get a grasp on Keren and her work, because it hasn’t done much for us either. Lucky for all of us, the film sounds compelling!

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Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman must not have put out enough finger sandwiches because Variety is reporting that Warners has passed on their ambitious Dark Tower project which has already morphed quite a bit in attempts to appease studio sensibilities. Most notably, Universal turned down the film, but while Warners was the next suitor in line, the future of the movie is no wholly uncertain. Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Media Right Capital (Ted, Elysium) is now in talks to finance which might be a good fit. However, if MRC takes on the promise of three feature films and a television series, it might be a larger signal of studio potency flagging while independent groups begin handling bigger budget fare. It still remains to be seen whether MRC will take the gamble, and it will be a gamble, but at this point it’s only safe to say that The Dark Tower isn’t completely dead.

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According to Deadline Hollywood, Warners is going to decide within the next two weeks whether it wants to move forward with the Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman-led adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series. With Javier Bardem out now, the filmmakers are looking to Russell Crowe to play gunslinger Roland Deschain. Crowe could plausibly play the part with the grit, grisel and quiet nuance it deserves, but his potential casting (and, yes, the potential of the project happening at all) almost doesn’t matter. Why? Because it’ll still be a muted Howard/Goldsman project. Both have managed to make interesting movies amongst mediocre ones, but they just aren’t daring enough to make this compelling.

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of links and thinks from around the world of movie and television news and reviews. It spends its weekends racking its brain trying to cull together the strength to go forth with its usual Monday entry, knowing full well that it can’t spend all of its page space on Mad Men and Game of Thrones. This is a movie website, after all. We begin this evening with a shot from Rush, the racing movie about Formula 1 driver James Hunt starring Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde. Director Ron Howard and his leading lady have been tweeting them like crazy. Including pics of Hemsworth and Wilde getting married as Hunt and his wife, model Suzy Miller. I chose the one above to highlight because it’s badass. 

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Not only is George Orwell‘s “1984” a formidable classic on paper, it’s also iconic in film form as well. Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Imagine Entertainment – the production house led by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard – wants to take another stab at it on the big screen. Apparently they’ve been hunting down the rights alongside graffiti artist Shepard Fairey and LBI Entertainment’s Julie Yorn. It’s unclear why Fairey was involved in the process, since he isn’t traditionally involved with film production past the point of designing posters and appearing in documentaries. It also seems unlikely that Howard and Grazer would need Fairey’s assistance in getting the rights from the Orwell Estate, which means that the partnership is based on something creative and far more fascinating. Although, the THR piece says Fairey was “instrumental” in the deal being struck and might get a producer credit if and when everything is finalized. The big question, of course, is whether this is a necessary remake or re-adaptation or whatever they’d like to call it now. It seems wholly uninspired, especially when the 1984 flick starring John Hurt was such a fantastic vision of the book. What’s to be gained by following in its big footsteps?

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