Khamis, 26 September 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Ben Affleck the superhero


Like him or hate him as the new Batman, Ben Affleck has worn a cape in movies before.

IT has taken Ben Affleck years to lay to rest his past life as a smug, aspiring Hollywood leading man, and to re-invent himself as an Oscar-winning filmmaker.

But you can imagine that smirk returning to his face – that same look he wore in movies as diverse as 1997's Good Will Hunting and 2001's Pearl Harbor – now that he is set to play Batman in Zack Snyder's Batman Vs Superman.

Affleck has donned a cape before, playing Superman actor George Reeves in 2006 biographical film Hollywoodland.

He also played blind superhero Daredevil in the 2003 comic-book movie of the same name, a commercial and critical disappointment that led him to say: "I have innoculated myself from ever playing another superhero."

Obviously, he has had a change of heart. Publications such as The Hollywood Reporter and New York magazine say Batman Vs Superman is an unmissable chance for him to re-visit his acting ambition.

Never mind that Twitter can scarcely contain the fury of fanboys who find him unworthy of the role.

Never mind that he may deserve to star in a better film.

As New York magazine's Vulture blog puts it, "the man who directed the latest Oscar winner for Best Picture is going to be directed by the man who did Sucker Punch," the reviled 2011 action-and-lingerie movie.

Playing Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman in a Man Of Steel sequel, "Affleck gets to be a tentpole actor again without the tentpole actor risk," says The Hollywood Reporter.

After all, "Ben Affleck didn't come to Hollywood to be a great director", says Vulture, though he won an Oscar for last year's Argo. "Ben Affleck came to Hollywood to be a famous, well-liked actor and he clearly still wants to be."

Here are some other actors who have played Batman on the big screen:

Michael Keaton, 61

Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), total gross US$678mil (RM2.1bil)

Reaction: Twitter did not exist then or it would have exploded into rage when Keaton, known for Burton's 1988 comedy Beetlejuice, was chosen as the Caped Crusader. Instead, fans wrote 50,000 protest letters to Warner Bros. Ultimately, however, they were won over by Burton and Keaton, who took the Batman films in a dark, serious direction.

Afterwards: After hanging up the cape and cowl, he was the voice of a Ken doll in Toy Story 3 (2010) and will be in Toy Story 4.

Val Kilmer, 53

Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever (1995), total gross US$337mil (RM1bil)

Reaction: The actor cut a fine figure in the Batsuit which, unfortunately, was ridiculed for the director's addition of nipples.

Afterwards: Kilmer clashed with Schumacher and refused to return for another Batman film, starring in Michael Mann's 1995 Heat instead. Kilmer, whose ballooning weight in recent years has drawn tabloid concern, is directing and starring in Mark Twain And Mary Baker Eddy.

George Clooney, 52

Schumacher's Batman & Robin (1997), total gross US$238mil (RM752mil)

Reaction: The campy movie was so hated that the franchise was in deep freeze for years. Clooney, who was called the worst Batman for his lightweight performance, disliked the film too and called it "a waste of money".

Afterwards: He has ascended to the A list, on the back of hits beginning with Steven Soderbergh's Out Of Sight (1998). He has won two Oscars, one for acting in Syriana (2005) and the other for producing Argo.

Christian Bale, 39

Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), total gross US$2.46bil (RM7.7bil)

Reaction: Putting on 45kg of muscle and a growly voice to play the menacing, tormented superhero, Bale is a fan favourite.

Afterwards: He has many high-profile movies coming up, including David O. Russell's American Hustle and Terrence Malick's Knight Of Cups. He is set to play Moses in Ridley Scott's biblical drama Exodus. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

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Get ready for Gotham

Margot Robbie's time has come


Margot Robbie is the most nearly-famous almost-star you've never heard of. 

MARGOT Robbie is the most nearly-famous almost-star you've never heard of. At only 23 years old, the Australian actor has already been directed by Martin Scorsese and Richard Curtis and starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio; a call from Woody Allen can't be far off. Next month she begins filming the caper comedy Focus, in which she'll star as a pickpocket who falls for a con artist played by Will Smith.

Consequently, she has a lot to be excited about. So once she starts talking about the thrill of getting this callback while she was doing that read-through, or interrupting a backpacking holiday in Croatia with her brother to travel for 50 hours by plane, train and catamaran to an audition in New York, it's best to just to let her finish; it's also highly refreshing to find that she has not yet had the ebullience ground out of her by promotional duties.

Near the end of our interview, the studio PR pops her head round the door to wrap things up, and I have to confess sheepishly that I will need a little longer. We've been talking for 45 minutes and we haven't even got round to discussing the film that Robbie has been flown here at great expense to promote: Curtis's time-travel romcom About Time.

It's not that I didn't try. When Robbie mentions her habit of people-watching, I ask how this came in useful in About Time. When she tells me that it's unwise to finalise a character's backstory in your mind - "The director might say, 'We're gonna make it that she had an abortion two years ago,' and you'd be, like, 'Really? I had her down as a virgin'" - I ask whether she and Curtis differed at all over her About Time character.

But on each occasion, she steers the conversation round to Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street, which she recently finished shooting opposite DiCaprio. He plays the drug-addled stockbroker Jordan Belfort.About Time, on the other hand, provides her with a small, decorative role as the woman of the hero's dreams.

It isn't that she's not proud to be a part of Curtis's film. "You fall in love instantly with his characters," she says once we are all Wolfed out. "You want everything to go right for these people two minutes after meeting them." She has a bright, moonlike face, open and direct, with blond hair scraped back; she could pass for Denise Richards' naive kid sister.

She's sparky enough in About Time, but there isn't very much for her to play. It doesn't surprise me when she reveals how her character was described in the script. "It was so intimidating to read: 'She steps out of the car and she's the most gorgeous thing he's ever seen, she's got these beautiful long legs ...' I'm thinking: 'Oh, no, my legs aren't like that ...'

You just hope Richard's going to use reaction shots to convey all that, so it takes the pressure off me. Seriously, there were two whole sentences about how stunningly attractive she is. It was the same with Wolf ..."

There is a faint air of disbelief in the way she talks about The Wolf Of Wall Street. She keeps examining it from different angles, as if to confirm that it really happened - that she isn't going to wake up and still be starring in the Australian soap opera Neighbours, on which she was a regular for three years. Not that she has any shame about that. Why would she? Now that Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kylie Minogue and Jesse Spencer (from House) have all passed through, it is practically the Australian equivalent of the Actors Studio.

Robbie was still a television actor when Scorsese called: she had been part of the ensemble cast of the now-cancelled Pan Am.Still, silver linings and all that: if Pan Am had continued, she wouldn't have been free to hurl herself at doors and walls under Scorsese's direction, or to tear her vocal cords to shreds howling like a banshee at DiCaprio for weeks on end.

It is around this point that the door creaks open and Curtis lopes in unexpectedly, snowy-haired and pink-faced in a comfortable jersey. As the PR beckons me out to allow actor and director some privacy to shoot the breeze about the previous evening's premiere, I find myself hoping for Curtis's sake that their conversation doesn't swing round too quickly to The Wolf Of Wall Street. Let the filmmaker enjoy his moment. It'll be Margot Robbie's time soon enough. – Guardian News & Media

Related story:

Love is all around Rachel McAdams

Love is all around Rachel McAdams


Rachel McAdams is fast establishing herself as the rom-com queen.

THE idea for About Time came when director Richard Curtis (Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill and Love, Actually) had a conversation with a friend on what they would do if they only had 24 hours to live. Curtis' answer was simple – a normal day at home with the family, doing normal everyday things. Having reached this conclusion, Curtis was interested to incorporate it into his next movie. Hence, About Time is a romantic comedy with a time-travel element, and it features a lot of family dynamics.

It was this very subject that attracted Rachel McAdams to the project, apart from the fact that she is a huge fan of Curtis' films. In an interview transcript provided by United International Pictures, McAdams said: "Curtis reminds us to really enjoy and celebrate the best things in life which are sometimes hard to find and easy to overlook.

"And I felt that this film celebrated the small things in life, which are actually the biggest, most important things. It's about appreciating the people around you, the people you love, your family and friends. And it's about enjoying, and appreciating, the moment."

About Time revolves around Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) who finds out that the men in his family have the ability to travel through time. This 21-year-old then decides to use this ability to get a girlfriend. Well, he discovers through many trials and tribulations that love, actually, doesn't work that way.

This is especially true when Tim falls for Mary (McAdams), an insecure woman. Wanting to make his courtship absolutely perfect, Tim goes back in time whenever something goes wrong. But with any time-travel adventure, there is always repercussion – in one instance, Tim doesn't even meet the love of his life.

Describing her character as a little bit quirky and unsure of herself, McAdams said: "I love Mary. She's not a straight up ingénue. Part of the story is about how she gets together with Tim and how they become more sure of each other ... They bring out the best in each other. They are definitely meant to be together but it just takes a while to work it all out, even with the help of Tim's ability to travel back in time."

The 34-year-old actress from Canada is no stranger to romantic films – one of her first breakthrough role was in 2004 film, The Notebook, opposite Ryan Gosling. Since then she has apeared as the love interest in Wedding Crashers, Sherlock Holmes, Morning Glory, Midnight In Paris and The Vow. She has done one other film involving love and time-travel in The Time Traveler's Wife, opposite Eric Bana.

Even with all these films in her resume, she still found the experience of working on About Time a little different especially with Curtis' approach the film set.

"He does these family ensembles and everyone plays such a vital part in that unit and you can't live without each other. There are so many great actors in this film who contribute to that family dynamic. In fact, even the friends feel like family and that's what it's like working on a Richard Curtis film – you feel like you are part of his family.

"You are definitely brought into the inner circle and you are there to stay and everyone is valued and appreciated and treated incredibly well. So I feel like this is a real reflection of what Richard radiates out into the world. He is such a lovely man."

The filming locations included London and Cornwall. McAdams recalled that on the day she finished shooting in Cornwall, an ice-cream truck was brought to the location and McAdams herself served everyone ice cream. There were also traditional Cornish tea served.

"Richard's daughter had baked a couple of hundred scones the night before. Believe me, they really go the distance and make it very special. I felt very spoilt and very loved."

Even the English weather cooperated during the shoot – the sun shone constantly, even when the scene required rain, the sun was shining.

"It's funny because in the film you'll see that when we have the wedding (in England) it rains so hard it's like a monsoon. And we were expecting to have that volatile British weather with dark skies and rain at least one day a week while we were there. But there was nothing – not a drop of rain. I thought I was in Italy! It was just gorgeous – in fact it was so gorgeous it was hard for us all to actually go to work because we felt like we were in some kind of paradise.

"So when we shot the wedding scene – where it's meant to be pouring with rain – we had to put flags on the side of the buildings to cut out the light and make it darker and then we had rain machines and fire hoses that dumped water on everyone and everything. And actually, it was great because it was so hot and no one was bothered being drenched by the rain machines. It was so much fun and it worked out really well. It was just beautiful." 

*About Time opens in cinemas nationwide tomorrow.

Related story:

Margot Robbie's time has come


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