Production Underway on “Ender’s Game”

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 8:00 am

Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game is the story of a gifted child who is taken from his family at age 6 so that he can be trained to lead the Earth’s military forces against “bugger” aliens who have twice attacked our planet.  The winner of Hugo and Nebula awards, the book has been a classic since it was first published in 1985 and speculation about a possible movie version began almost immediately.  It’s finally happening with writer/director Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi”) and scheduled for release in November 2013 with Harrison Ford as Commander Graff, “Hugo’s” Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin, and Abigail Breslin will play Ender’s sister Valentine.  Cinema Blend has some intriguing details about the “Ender’s Game” production courtesy of producer Roberto Orci.  Everyone is curious about

how the film team would be “approaching the great deal of wonderful internal monologue.” It becomes pretty clear in the book that Ender isn’t a big talker. He’s a thinker (and a really good one), and he also proves to be especially emotional and empathetic, which affects the choices he makes as a budding leader and among his peers. A big part of what makes the book so great isn’t merely seeing what Ender does, it’s understanding why he does it and how he makes his choices. Not all of that is expressed through dialogue, so this is a really good question. And Orci has a really good answer to go with it. It starts with a muppet… 

“We have a muppet of the Colonel who narrates the whole thing from the future.  Oh, no wait, different movie.  I joke because that is a great question and I think Gavin would tell you that it was the biggest challenge he faced in composing his script.  It was also the most challenging aspect of the casting process.  So here we have two things that really make it happen.  First, we got such an unbelievable group of actors who can convey so much with their faces and body language… frankly, with their performances, which is something a book is denied using to convey inner emotion or thought.  And secondly, of course, Gavin elegantly translated some of the inner thought into action or character decisions in his script — drama — and that allowed him to find natural places for the characters to speak about what they are going through.”

Orci is providing more information via his Tumblr blog.

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Based on a book Behind the Scenes Science-Fiction

Summer Series — Television

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I’m old enough to remember when summer television meant nothing but reruns.  So it always seems like a special bonus to me when we get a whole extra season with returning favorites and promising new shows.  While I wait to see whether Victoria got off the plane before it exploded in “Revenge” and try to imagine what Jay will think about Gloria’s big news on “Modern Family” I’m excited about:

1. Royal Pains (USA Network) I’m hoping for more Hank and Divya and less of Evan and Paige (and Paige’s family) this year in this series about the “concierge doctor” to the wealthy residents of the Hamptons.

2. Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime) I love the story of the beautiful model whose soul enters the body of a plus-size lawyer, mostly because Brooke Elliot is so endearing  the effervescent spirit of Deb and the integrity and intelligence of Jane.  I’m also a fan of April Bowlby as Deb’s best friend and fellow model Stacey and Ben Feldman as Deb’s guardian angel.  I’m not looking forward to guest star Kim Karsdashian but have high hopes for upcoming appearances by Serena Williams, Patty Duke, Lorraine Toussaint, Ian Gomez, Valerie Harper, and John Ratzenberger.

3. Necessary Roughness (USA Network) Sports psychotherapist Dani Santino (warm and wise Callie Thorne) is the lead in this engaging series.  I am looking forward to seeing her make progress with brilliant but volatile football player Terrence “TK” King (Mechad Brooks).

4. The Newsroom (HBO) If Aaron Sorkin is writing it, I want to see it.  One reason is his highly literate scripts but another is that those scripts attract the best acting talent.  Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, and Jane Fonda star in this new series about the news — and how we learn what we know.  (And if you haven’t watched Sports Night, crank up your Netflix cue.)

5. Political Animals (USA Networks) Signourney Weaver stars as a one-time Presidential candidate and ex-wife of a President who is currently Secretary of State.

6. Bunheads (ABC Family) comes from “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.  It stars my favorite Broadway performer, Sutton Foster.  It co-stars Kelly Bishop of “Gilmore Girls” and “Dirty Dancing.”  Oh, yes, I am on board.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uSqu_kYguQ

 

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Television

The Real Story: Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm

HBO’s new movie “Hemingway and Gellhorn,” premiering this week, stars Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman and is directed by Philip Kaufman (“The Right Stuff,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”).  Today Ernest Hemingway is revered as one of the formost authors of the 20th century for his spare, masculine stories like For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms.  Martha Gellhorn, who became his third wife, was a pioneering journalist and war correspondent who covered armed conflict around the world for five decades.   Some of her writing is collected in The Face of War.  She wrote a memoir called Travels with Myself and Another and there is a biography by Caroline Moorehead called Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life.

Unabashedly anti-war and politically left-wing, Gellhorn met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she was working as a government investigator reporting on the Depression for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and they became close friends.  She was on her way to report on the Spanish Civil War for Collier’s magazine when she met Hemingway and they went to Barcelona together.  She also wrote about the rise of Hitler and WWII battles including D-Day, which she covered by pretending to be a stretcher bearer.  And she was one of the first to write about the Dachau concentration camp.  Hemingway admired her courage, intelligence and talent but did not like her absences while she was reporting.  Their years together were scrappy and they both had affairs with others.  She refused to discuss him in later years as she continued to cover conflicts through the war in Vietnam and wrote fiction and non-fiction.  But today she is best remembered as the only one of Hemingway’s four wives to ask him for a divorce and the inspiration for the character of Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls.  Hemingway committed suicide in 1961.  Gellhorn, blind and ill, also committed suicide, in 1998.

Critic Odie Henderson describes the HBO film as corny but entertaining:

This is Kidman’s best work in years, smart, brassy, funny, sexy and tough. She brings her A-game because Owen’s showier role must be legendary, a larger than life evocation of masculinity suited for the name Hemingway. Cinematographer Rogier Stoffers introduces Owen in a desaturated fishing sequence that culminates in an explosion of bright red blood. Owen’s Hemingway grabs the bull by the horns, resisting cliché just barely enough to feel the breath of caricature on his neck.

 

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List: Snow White and the Seven Movies

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

Somewhere around 100 films have been inspired by the fairy tale about the princess with skin as white as snow and the evil stepmother who tried to kill her with a poison apple.  One is a historic and artistic milestone, Disney’s first animated feature film. One opened just a couple of months ago and another opens this week. One even featured the Three Stooges. Here are seven of the best — one for every dwarf.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  (1937) Adriana Caselotti was a teenager when Walt Disney called her conductor father to ask him to suggest a girl who could sing operatically to play Snow White in the first feature-length animated film.  Caselotti, listening in on the line, began warbling over the phone.  Soon she was singing “Someday My Prince Will Come” and dancing with Sneezy, Sleepy, Doc, Bashful, Grumpy, Happy, and Dopey.  As Disney likes to say, it’s still “the fairest of them all.”

2. Mirror Mirror Rocker Phil Collins’ daughter Lily is radiant as Snow White and Julia Roberts has a lot of fun playing the evil stepmother in this colorful update.  In this version, Snow White is the one who rescues the prince (Armie Hammer) — with a sword, not a kiss.  And be sure to watch through the end for a Bollywood-style dance number.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwYRhZ8egcU

3. Snow White And The Three Stooges  This one is worth watching just to confirm that it actually exists.

4. Faerie Tale Theatre – Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs Actress Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre was a labor of love for all involved and it shows.  Every one in the series is superb and this is one of the best, with a luminous Elizabeth McGovern (of “Downton Abbey”) as Snow White and a steely Vanessa Redgrave as the Queen.  Pop star Rex Smith is very appealing as the prince.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBx-e7bbMd0

5. Sydney White  Amanda Bynes stars in this updated version set on a college campus where the mean girl sorority president checks her status on the school’s “hot or not” website and a virus poisons Sydney’s Apple laptop.  When she is booted out of the sorority, Sydney ends up living with seven “dorks,” including one who is sneezy, one who is sleepy, one who is grumpy, etc.  Sydney learns how to make friends by letting her own dork flag fly.

6. Snow White Diana Rigg is a deliciously evil queen in this version, part of the Canon series of fairy tale adaptations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh9_UncKFUM

7. Snow White: A Tale of Terror  As the title suggests, this is a scary, darker version of the story with Sigourney Weaver as the queen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOlQ75fhWKE
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