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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Prequel alert: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in New Zealand

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:35 PM PDT

Reports say that Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh will be reprising her role in the new film, tentatively titled The Green Destiny.

A prequel to the Oscar-winning Chinese martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will be shot in New Zealand this year, Film Auckland said.

The original movie, released in 2000, broke new ground in introducing Western audiences to Chinese cinema and Film Auckland's deputy chairman Alex Lee said securing the follow-up was a major coup for New Zealand.

"Over the last 18 months it's been very quiet and it's nice we're finally getting traction," he told Radio New Zealand. "It's a production that will require a vast number of resources, facilities, technicians and crew."

New Zealand is no stranger to big-budget movie shoots, providing stunning backdrops for both the The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

But Lee said subsidy changes allowing major productions to claim back up to 25% of their budget as rebates were a decisive factor in Auckland winning the Crouching Tiger prequel.

"It's quite clear that until the decision to increase the incentives for international films to come to New Zealand we were just not competitive," he said.

Crouching Tiger made US$213.5mil (RM683.2mil) globally, according to industry website Box Office Mojo, including US$128mil (RM409.6mil) in the United States – unprecedented at the time for a foreign language movie.

It also won four Oscars in 2001, including best foreign film, and launched the Hollywood career of director Ang Lee, who went on to win two best director Academy Awards for Brokeback Mountain and Life Of Pi.

Film industry bible Variety reported that Malaysia's Michelle Yeoh will reprise her role as a warrior in the prequel, to be titled The Green Destiny. It said Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's The Weinstein Company is co-producing the film with New Zealand's Iron Knight Productions.

Yuen Woo-ping, who co-ordinated the eye-popping action scenes in the original, will reportedly direct, using a script which has been approved by officials in Beijing. The green light from Beijing is important because it ensures access to the rapidly growing Chinese market, where box office takings soared 36% to an estimated US$1.8bil (RM5.76bil) over the first six months of 2013. The Chinese market is expected to overtake the US market by 2020, prompting keen interest from Hollywood. — AFP Relaxnews

Josh Hartnett regrets dating his co-stars, including Scarlett Johansson

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:15 PM PDT

The actor is well-known for going out with a string of Hollywood actresses.

Josh Hartnett has hinted he regrets dating Scarlett Johansson. The 35-year-old actor – who is currently in a relationship with British actress Tamsin Egerton – claims that romancing some of his former co-stars has had a negative impact on his career and made him "a lot of enemies" in Hollywood.

Asked about finding love on set, the Penny Dreadful star told Elle magazine: "I don't recommend it to young actors. You can make a lot of enemies in the business that way. But when you work with somebody every day, it's like trial dating. You develop a fantasy about them. It doesn't always work out, does it?"

Hartnett dated Johansson for almost two years until 2007 after meeting her on the set of Black Dahlia, and also dated Julia Stiles in 1999 after meeting her on the set of O. He split from Les Miserables actress Amanda Seyfried, 27, in June 2012 after six months of dating, and also briefly romanced Kirsten Dunst, Sienna Miller, Rihanna and Penelope Cruz.

The actor also suggested jealousy has been a problem for some of his famous ex-girlfriends. Discussing the secret to a happy relationship in Hollywood, he said: "Let them be on set whenever they want, with whichever co-star you're working with. Never say the scene is too sensitive. They get very suspicious."

But the actor – who began dating Tamsin "long after" he met her on the set of Singularity in 2012 – admitted that none of his friends are willing to listen to him complain about dating some of the world's most beautiful women.

He said: "They want to hear all about what you're doing, but they don't want to hear any complaints. Back when I dated a few very beautiful, very famous girls, I said something once – it wasn't really a complaint – and my buddy said, 'Oh my God, my diamond shoes are too tight.' He coined the phrase." — Bang Showbiz

America's most wanted: Jim Henson's Muppets are at it again

Posted: 19 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The gang is back in another cinematic feature and this time they've recruited the help of British comedian Ricky Gervais.

Cinema has plenty of classic couples – Hepburn and Tracy, Bogart and Bacall, Brad and Angie – but few are as ageless or as lovable as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

The charming amphibian and his porcine paramour are reunited on the big screen for the eighth time in Muppets Most Wanted. In this Disney caper, the Muppets fall into the clutches of the world's No. 1 criminal, Constantine, who, with the exception of a facial mole and a vaguely Eastern European accent, bears a striking resemblance to Kermit.

After a case of mistaken identity leads to Kermit's imprisonment in a Siberian gulag run by Tina Fey's warden Nadya, Constantine – disguised as the Muppets frontman – travels with the gang to major European capitals to pull a series of heists with the help of his second in command, Dominic Badguy (it's pronounced "Bad-gee"), played by Ricky Gervais, posing as an international tour manager.

Most Wanted arrives as a follow-up to 2011's The Muppets, which returned Jim Henson's foam-and-felt superstars to theatres for the first time in more than a decade and introduced a new Muppet, Walter.

Written by Nicholas Stoller and star Jason Segel and directed by James Bobin, that film grossed US$88mil (RM285mil) at the box office and won an Oscar for Bret McKenzie, the Flight Of The Conchords comedian who penned songs for the musical.

It also helped bring the Muppets to the attention of a new generation of viewers. "I have a whole new army of fans now at my disposal. I just say the word and they'll come running," said Miss Piggy.

"Whatever that word is, don't say it right now because we're in a small room," Kermit the Frog responded.

The film was shot primarily in England last spring, and Kermit the Frog described the experience as a creatively satisfying one.

"It was different," he said. "The first one we did with James was wonderful, but he was just getting his feet wet."

"This movie is 100 times better," Miss Piggy said.

Miss Piggy, Kermit The Frog and the Sesame Street gang are back.

Fun ahead: Miss Piggy, Kermit The Frog and the Muppets are back.

Such candor is a rare thing in Hollywood, but Kermit and Piggy aren't conventional stars. Neither is Gervais, the confrontational comedian best known for boundary-pushing TV comedies such as The Office and Extras, who joined the famed Muppets duo for a quick chat about the new movie recently at a Beverly Hills hotel.

Ricky, many comedians cite the Muppets as an inspiration. Were they a creative influence for you?

Ricky Gervais: I didn't realise until doing this movie the obvious profound effect they'd had on me. I think they're the same as I tried to do on Extras. They would take celebrities and make them these divas or egomaniacs, twisted versions of themselves, being brought down a peg or two by a crowd of normal people who didn't care that they were celebrities. That's what I did in Extras, but clearly, they did it first, 30 years before.

But the thing I love about the Muppets – and this is genuine – is that they're optimistic. As much as people think that I'm some sort of shock jock or a cynic, I'm really not. I love people who fail and get back up and brush themselves off and start again. I love that quality. I loved it from Laurel and Hardy. Everything I've done has had that – they failed, but they were trying their best.

That's these guys really – not (Miss Piggy) so much really, but this guy (points to Kermit the Frog), this man is the heart and soul of humanity.

Miss Piggy: I like to see people pick themselves back up. And I like to help them do that by cutting them down to start with.

Piggy, you've long been a role model for pigs and women. Is that something that you take very seriously?

MP: Absolutely, yes, of course. I have to always bring my A-game, so to speak, because people look up to moi. Everyone looks up to moi. All of Hollywood turns to me for inspiration. I'm sort of like every actor's Stanislavski in this day and age. They watch and learn from the master. It's a lot of pressure, but I am a professional. I just focus on the work.

RG: The strange thing is, she actually is a bit intimidating. I think it's because I do think of her as a woman as opposed to a pig.

Ricky, what was your reaction when you were approached to play Dominic?

RG: "Yes." I was worried that I couldn't do it because I was doing other things, but everyone said, "You're crazy. Of course you've got to do it." ... Then when I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago, a little chill went down my spine thinking I nearly didn't do it. I would never have forgiven myself.

I can't tell you how proud I am to be part of this. I've loved them for ages. I do watch The Muppet Christmas Carol at least twice a year. That's why I was jealous of Michael Caine, not all the other stuff he did. He was the lead human in a Muppet movie.

How do you prepare for the role? Did you go back and look at great Muppet villains of the past?

RG: I think I said, "I assume you want me to do the smarmy English git act?" And James went, "Exactly." That was it ... I loved turning up and saying the lines that I remembered and making the other ones up. Honestly, it was a breeze for me.

Kermit, you shared many scenes with Tina Fey. Did you enjoying working with her?

KTF: It was very nice. I was a prisoner, she was a guard, like two ships passing in the night, only in a cell. I was in a jail cell, but we did a lot of rehearsing together. We shot this film in England and every night we'd sort of go back to the hotel, just sit around and order in some coffee, rehearse our lines together.

MP: You and Tina?

Where was Piggy when that was happening?

KTF: Gee, I'm not sure.

MP: I was rehearsing with Constantine. That's what I was doing.

So ... looking ahead, I assume there are plans for another Muppets film? Any ideas what shape that might take?

MP: I'd like to do a disaster movie. A disaster movie that has a happy ending where we get married.

KTF: I'd like to do a movie that's not a disaster. That would be my goal.

The Muppets are beloved by so many people. Why do you suppose your work has such resonance?

KTF: I think it's because people see themselves in us. It's like Ricky said, we do get up again. We're kind of the underdogs.

RG: They're people. They may look like animals, but they're every aspect of humanity, the good bits, and they allow guest stars to come in and show the bad bits. That's what's great about it. I think with any sort of fiction, you create your own heroes and villains as role play for the soul. You want bad people to get their comeuppance and good people to win. That's what Muppets do. – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Muppets Most Wanted opens in cinemas nationwide on April 24.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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