Jumaat, 8 November 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Charlie Young's wedding


Actress Charlie Young's celebrity friends and 'sisters' share in the joy of her marriage to Singapore beau.

IT was a glittery occasion when Taiwanese actress Charlie Young tied the knot with her longtime Singapore beau Khoo Shao Tze last Saturday night.

She was the charming star of the silver screen in the mid-1990s, with films such as The Lovers (1994), and the high-profile celebrity guest list at the wedding included bridesmaid and singer Valen Hsu, actress Anita Yuen and director Tsui Hark.

This meant that the regional media was out in force as well. Access to the ballroom area was controlled with W Singapore wrist-tags and the contingent of 40-plus media was allowed to stake out the area outside the ballroom.

On his way into the ballroom early in the evening, Khoo, a trained lawyer, joked: "I don't have to register, right?"

But were they actually married? According to Singapore's Lianhe Wanbao, a check with the Registry of Marriages revealed that the couple had not registered their union. The newspaper also said the bride was not wearing a wedding ring. Instead, she was pictured with a diamond band – possibly her engagement ring – on her right hand.

The couple had met in 1993 but split up for a period of time. They reportedly got back together in 2011.

The bride and groom obligingly stopped for photographs and to answer a few quick questions on their way in.

When asked what attracted him to her, Khoo said: "How much time do you have?" He added: "She has always been an angel to me."

Dressed in a white off-shoulder Romona Keveza gown and carrying a bouquet of purple flowers, Young, 39, looked radiant and elegant while Khoo looked debonair in a black suit.

Before dinner was served in the ballroom set for 34 tables, the couple gave an address, mostly in English.

Young said that after Khoo, 43, proposed six months ago, some thought she was pregnant. "I said, 'Of course, I'm not,'" she added.

"But that is our plan," Khoo said to loud cheers.

The emcees were singer-actress Gigi Leung, who spoke in English, and actress Lee Sinje, who spoke in Mandarin.

Leung was dressed in a green gown and was there with her husband, Spanish food executive Sergio Crespo Gutes, while Lee, in a lacy off-white one-shoulder dress, was also there with her husband, director Oxide Pang.

Together with Hsu, the three women sang Sandy Lam's tender ballad As Long As There Is You for the happy couple.

Young, Leung, Hsu and Lee are "very good sisters", Lee told the media, and they had all long ago planned to play key roles at each other's weddings.

Everyone had also tried to help Young keep the wedding a secret from the media. Asked when she knew about it, Yuen said with a smile: "I definitely knew about it before you guys, but as friends, we need to keep mum."

In addition to keeping her lips sealed, Yuen had given a gift of a vase.

Singer-actor Aaron Kwok was unable to attend but sent his well wishes via a video recording, said his manager Xiao Mei. He had also given Young a gift of diamond jewellery.

The two had worked together on a jewellery commercial in 1993 and it had attracted much attention for Young and set her on the path to stardom. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Loki's bad boy appeal


It is hard not to be moved by Tom Hiddleston who plays the baddie Loki in Thor: The Dark World as he scores the best quips and steals some of the scenes.

Tom Hiddleston is an unlikely pin-up.

His visage is pale as porcelain. Laugh lines cloak his too-young 32-year-old eyes. His ears are oddly unbalanced organic forms triangulating into a smooth chin on the quirkier side of slender.

His lips are too thin and his screen hair as the villain Loki in Thor: The Dark World - that back-combed, forehead-exposing cascade of Brylcreemed dark waves - has maximum badass effect on film.

Luckily for him, not all of the hair is real.

"This one was an extension… I had a lot of help," the British actor says, speaking in an one-on-one interview in London. "The only time it was my own hair was in the first Thor film, when it was grown out and dyed."

So how did this young antagonist turn the tables on the blond-haired, blue-eyed hunk of an Australian leading man Chris Hemsworth in not one but three movies, including Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012)?

As the latest instalment of Norse mythology-inspired adventure The Dark World, Hiddleston smiles benignly at having scored the best quips and scene-stealing moments as the not-your-usual-baddie.

"There's a vulnerability to Loki's deviousness, he's a cocktail of different things," Hiddleston explains.

"We go through two hours of hair and make-up. After I come out of the other side, the mask of Loki - the black hair, the costume - changes my features so severely I think my own playfulness is distorted.

"If I'm just playing mischievous, I look more wicked because of the shape I'm in. But also, he is the god of mischief. If you look up the dictionary, it says: an inclination to be playful, to tease. Or it says: destruction or damage, and it sums him up in lots of ways."

(From left) Hiddleston with co-stars Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth at the Berlin premiere of Thor: The Dark World.

(From left) Hiddleston with co-stars Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth at the Berlin premiere of Thor: The Dark World.

Up close and clean-cropped, you realise that Hiddleston, like Hemsworth, is actually also tall (1.87m), blond-haired and blue-eyed. He wears a white tailored shirt with rolled-up sleeves under a grey waistcoat cut ridiculously close to a lean frame.

"I certainly had to stay fit to play the part because of Loki's particularly prickly martial arrogance, and he can hold his own in a combat situation," he says.

"It's different from Thor but it's lethal. I do a lot of running and circuit training and suspension training. In a way, it's not that different from anything else I do. 

"Acting is such a physical endeavour in any capacity. It's so rare that you do something that doesn't demand a physical commitment and your body has to be able to have the stamina to bounce back again the next day."

Around the world, women wait for him at airports bearing placards of "Loki's Army", embracing his antihero's cult value over Australian co-star Hemsworth's good-guy appeal.

But Hiddleston, who had starred in the acclaimed British series Wallander before his 2011 Hollywood break with Thor, will have you know that the two actors are the best of buddies, having undergone the initiation ritual of forging lead roles together as relatively untested actors in the same major Hollywood deal.

Hiddleston as bad boy Loki in the movie.

"We had the same enthusiasm and fears over this huge thing we were about to embark on," he says in a group interview with Hemsworth.

"One of our first conversations started with the films we loved. We're from opposite ends of the planet but we obviously loved the same things."

Hemsworth reveals what these are: "Gladiator, Braveheart, The GooniesPrincess Bride."

Hiddleston agrees: "Yeah, Princess Bride. Superman. All that cool stuff."

It is Hemsworth who reveals more of Hiddleston, as you try to scratch below the perfect, polished sheen of the supervillain who is really an elusively polite and charming public schoolboy with an undisputed pedigree: Eton College, double first in Classics from Cambridge, training at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

The second of three children born to a scientist father and arts administrator mother, he speaks French but will not show it off in your face.

He knows his Shakespeare by heart, only subtly hinting at it in reference to Othello's Iago and King Lear's Edmund sharing the same psychological space as Loki. The bachelor gives away little of himself while at the same time sending out suave vibes of magnanimity and confidence.

You have to do your homework to find out that he spends his free time hanging out with fellow posh actor Benedict Cumberbatch in Hampstead's trendier cafes, vetting scripts and talking clever things while keeping an eye out for paparazzi and parking inspectors.

Or he would be gracing the best seats around Centre Court with mysterious blondes during the Wimbledon tennis season.

The man himself will regale you with all sorts of knowledge and ideas about other people and other things, all the while reinforcing his words with a trademark unflinching and quizzical stare.

"All acting is an act of imagination. You are simply conjuring up imaginary circumstances in your mind and responding truthfully to them," he begins, reeling off a string of effortless, lovely words.

"In films involving a lot of green screen work, you are staring into an expansive nothing, having to imagine what's to be a spaceship or an explosion or a particular vista.

"That's no different from being on stage. But of course, the difference is that on stage, you get to do the whole thing night after night of a run. On film, it's much more of a jigsaw puzzle - your moments of truthful imagination are broken up piece by piece. In your mind, you have to have the sense of the whole in order to keep yourself on the straight and narrow."

So this is why fans are all a-flutter when he turns on his thespian English charm: Indeed, talk has it that it was his sheer persuasiveness which convinced studio heads to rework a storyline in the latest Thor movie, resulting in a radical change in his character's intentions.

"I wanted to find something new to do. We all did. We'd seen Thor and Loki against each other in two films," he says. "Wouldn't it be amazing if, for some reason, they had to get together? Because that would be a dynamic, it would be interesting and complex and fun and offer lots of opportunities for both drama and comedy.

"When you're coming back to do a sequel, you have to keep it fresh for yourself and your audience. Nobody wants to see the same team again."

Hiddleston is a busy working actor the past couple of years. Woody Allen watchers will recognise his striking features as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight In Paris (2011), while Spielberg appreciators would have seen him as Captain Nicholls in War Horse (2011).

His turn as a vampire in cult indie director Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), opposite Tilda Swinton, has opened to rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival.

He says: "The vampire thing for Jim is a way of getting into questions of acceptance of love, because if you have two characters who live forever, what does love mean?

"It is a conceit, a conduit into an exploration on immortality and this question of if you had forever to live, how would you spend your time, how would you read, play music, how would you engage with the world?"

What is his personal answer to those questions?

True to form, he quotes somebody else — beautifully — again: "Tilda's character, Eve, says something quite magical: Life is about appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship.

"And plenty of dancing." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

  • Thor: The Dark World is currently playing in cinemas nationwide.

Basically, it stinks


Veteran screenwriter Joe Eszterhas on how the new kids on the studio block are going wrong, and his feud with Mel Gibson.

AT 68 years old, a survivor of throat cancer, and with only one produced screenplay to his name since 1997, Joe Eszterhas has done the unthinkable: he's become a scriptwriting teacher. Well, not exactly – he's on his way to London to deliver a headlining lecture at the London screenwriters' festival – but anyone who has even the smallest familiarity with his books will know the contempt in which he holds teach-yourself-screenplay-writing gurus such as Robert McKee.

"Wannabe screenwriters sorely lack getting the truth from these so-called scriptwriting teachers," says Eszterhas, his post-cancer voice gravellier than ever. "McKee is the perfect example: he's had one TV movie made, and yet he pontificates on how to write scripts."

He also has a beef with other big-name scriptwriters, accusing them of "falsities"; he doesn't think much of William Goldman's stock anecdote that he pretended to take script notes from Dustin Hoffman, or Ron Bass's stated mission to "serve the director's vision".

"None of this is very inspiring," Eszterhas grates. "I think it's so cynical. It winds up deflating and hurting. I've been writing scripts for 40 years; I've had 17 of them made. Basic Instinct wouldn't have been the movie it was if I hadn't taken Paul Verhoeven and Michael Douglas to the wall. My basic message is: believe in what you do, and put your heart and soul into it, and then be willing to fight for it."

In truth, if we're being as honest as Eszterhas would like us to be, for all his larger-than-life persona and souped-up truth-bearing, he is not what he once was in the industry. His last script to go before the cameras was Children Of Glory, in 2006, the Hungarian-language tale of the country's 1956 uprising against the Soviets and the symbolic water polo match the nations played out at the Olympics in the same year.

(An unlikely subject, perhaps, but Eszterhas has never been shy of reminding people he was born in a small Hungarian village, before his family emigrated to the United States when he was a child.)

Before that, you have to go back to 1997, and two small-scale indies: the largely-approved-of autobiographical Telling Lies In America, about a Hungarian-born teenager in Cleveland (the Ohio city where Eszterhas spent his adolescence) mixed up in a corruption racket with a local DJ; and Burn Hollywood Burn, a generally excoriated insider satire about a director's dismal experience on a big-budget action film.

Flashdance was part of the 1980s one-two punch (along with Jagged Edge) that propelled Eszterhas into the Hollywood stratosphere. - Filepic

Flashdance was part of the 1980s one-two punch (along with Jagged Edge) that propelled Eszterhas into the Hollywood stratosphere.  

Into the stratosphere

If we're being even more honest, it's fair to say the writer seemed a bit of a dinosaur even then, just a few years after Basic Instinct became a box-office smash; and a decade on from the early 1980s one-two of Flashdance and Jagged Edge, which propelled Eszterhas into the Hollywood stratosphere to begin with.

Still, the fact is that Eszterhas remains a name, a draw, and a force to be reckoned with – even if he resembles a Jake LaMotta on the nightclub circuit rather than a fighting-weight Sugar Ray Robinson. With many more books published than films made in the last decade, Eszterhas can still talk a good game. (For example, the "17 scripts" he says he got made include Basic Instinct 2, for which he got paid but didn't write.)

Famously aggressive throughout his star years, Eszterhas chose to take on even the mightiest, as shown in the legendary letter in which he accused the then-all-powerful CAA head Michael Ovitz of blackmail.

Inspiration is his stock-in-trade: he talks about the need to put your "heart and soul" into your work, to be willing to "fight for it, so you can look yourself in the mirror", so that "you know you fought the good fight". And deep down, he is a sensitive artist: "That's the nature of the beast: we are sensitive and we are frightened. Each time we go up on the high wire, you know you can fall off. Not only that, in Hollywood there are people who want to push you off. It all gets complicated."

Improbably, the man behind Sliver and Showgirls now comes off like the repository of decent, old-fashioned values, at least in writing terms. Eszterhas's hero remains Paddy Chayefsky, the combative writer of Marty and Network ("He essentially had the same attitude as me: didn't win 'em all but he fought for 'em all"), and he appears to still be burning with resentment towards the late Ken Russell, who he holds responsible for wrecking Chayefsky's career ("Russell broke his heart, what he did to Altered States").

Tentpoles and superheroes

Eszterhas's commitment to the written screenplay certainly means he's out of step with tentpole-oriented, superhero-obsessed Hollywood, and he acknowledges as such. "The people who run the studios are very different these days."

The showbiz type of studio executive, he says, "who trusted their judgment, read something and said, let's do it" died out in the mid-1990s – now, he says, the executives are younger. "I happen to think they're all petrified for their jobs."

Plus, "surrounded by accountants and businesspeople", studios "analyse everything. Scripts are analysed on the Internet before they're even sold." Truly, the age of the maverick is over.

Eszterhas himself puts his creative radio silence down to a "horrendous" divorce (his wife Naomi was married to a producer pal, Bill MacDonald, who dumped her for Sharon Stone, with whom Eszterhas rather tastelessly boasts repeatedly that he became very intimate some time earlier), assembling a new family, moving back to Cleveland, and getting over the cancer that rendered him unable to speak (and therefore unable to take meetings and script conferences) for two years.

"The Showgirls and Jade defeats were papier-mache compared to that brick wall."

Jade, for the uninitiated, was his last big Hollywood payday, a sleazy courtroom thriller that scored him a US$2.5mil (RM7.9mil) fee for the outline. Directed by William Friedkin, it was a commercial disaster, and largely finished Eszterhas off as a major studio player.

Partners ... or maybe not

But you can't keep someone as bullish as Eszterhas quiet for ever. He unexpectedly popped up in 2009 as Mel Gibson's writing partner on a script about the Maccabean revolt against the Romans in ancient Judea, a project initially seen as Gibson's attempt to rehabilitate himself after his 2006 antisemitic outburst at a traffic policeman.

However, their relationship imploded after Gibson rejected the script and Eszterhas went public with accusations of Gibson's undisguised "hatred of Jews". Eszterhas also released a tape of Gibson raging at him while a house guest.

Typically, he remains proud of the stance he took. "Had I not gone public with Mel, and not revealed any of this to the world, he would have just said, 'Oh, he wrote a terrible script.' And I didn't; I wrote a really good script, and I put my heart and soul into it."

There was an extra "personal" edge, says Eszterhas, as he had been appalled to discover in 1990 his father was a Nazi collaborator and was being investigated for war crimes (by coincidence, as it turned out, the plot of his 1989 film Music Box was similar).

"Mel would have just (expletive deleted) it over and that would have been the ball game. Because I loved the script ... and that he could simply bury me as he tried to do on the Leno show, it was my way of fighting for my writing and my story and my vision.

"Mel truly needs help," he continues. "Something is very wrong. Unless something is done, unless someone intervenes, terrible things are going to happen, either to Mel or the people around him. I felt I had to do something about it. But the upshot is the script is in his drawer. He's probably still abusing people."

You wouldn't want to feel sorry for Eszterhas, and he wouldn't want it anyway, but it's safe to say there would be a groundswell of support if he managed to wrest The Maccabees away from Gibson and stick it to him. It's not likely, though. "I'm still saddened about it, because I think it's one of the best things I ever wrote and there's no way to get it back." We can but hope. – Guardian News & Media

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