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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Documentary to tell story of world's loneliest whale

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:50 PM PDT

Subject has never been seen; identified only by its call.

52, a documentary on the whale known as the world's loneliest due to its highly unusual 52-hertz call, has found a production company and financial backing.

Joshua Zeman, the director of 52, had his work cut out for him when attempting to convince producers to get behind the project. The documentary certainly poses a challenge, as its subject is a whale that has never been seen and is identified only by its call. Even the species of the animal in question is unknown; it could be a fin whale, a blue whale, or a cross between two different species.

In Cannes, Worldview Entertainment recently came on board to finance and produce the feature, which will enter production this fall with a seven-week Pacific Ocean expedition in search of the mysterious beast.

Although the lonely whale has never been seen, the NOAA has followed its migrations since the Navy first identified its unique signal over two decades ago. At 52 hertz, the whale's call is much higher than those of any other known whale species, according to the site Futura-Sciences. As a result, the animal's calls go unanswered, making it unusually solitary.

The feature will be Worldview Entertainment's second documentary after The Square, which was nominated for an Oscar this year. The studio recently produced The Search, Michel Hazanavicius's latest film, which is currently in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival.

The species of the so-called "world's loneliest whale" has never been identified, although its migration patterns most resemble those of the blue whale or a fin whale. – AFP Relaxnews

The migration patterns of the unidentified 'world's loneliest whale' resembles those of blue whale pictured here. – AFP

Hugh Jackman enjoys playing Wolverine more than ever

Posted: 21 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

It's the seventh time the actor is wearing Wolverine's claws.

IT was 14 years ago when the relatively unknown Hugh Jackman got the part of Wolverine in the X-Men movie. This year, Jackman wears Wolverine's claws for the seventh time in X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

In an interview with the affable Australian actor – who is sporting a full beard for his next role as Blackbeard in the film Pan – he confessed with a twinkle in his eye that he is getting old and just can't fight the same.

"I haven't done stunts in 10 years. Come on!" the 45-year-old said in jest.

The truth is he pushes himself harder to get into Wolverine-shape, which he has documented on his Instagram (@thehughjackman).

"Physically, you get tired," he said when asked if it gets easier to play the role he is most famous for. "The physicality is not only on how he looks. I think it's important to show his ferocity and the animal side to him, be lean and veiny.

"So I put high standards I suppose each time. But to actually get into the character, that is getting easier. And yet, I sort of don't want it to be easy, I don't think anything about Wolverine is easy. Even if he appears to be easy on the outside, his interior shouldn't be at ease. That's just who he is – a warrior really, a very complex and tortured hero."

Although there is no word on how long Jackman would continue to play the role – it all depends on the scripts he gets – he said: "Right now I am enjoying him more than ever. I love playing the character and the movies are getting better. I got goosebumps at the end of this because all I could see are the possibilities not only for Wolverine but the entire X-Men universe."

But if there was a reboot, who does he think can play Wolverine? "Have you heard the joke of four stages of being an actor in Hollywood?

"There are four stages of being an actor – 'Who is Hugh Jackman? Get me Hugh Jackman. Get me the younger Hugh Jackman. And who is Hugh Jackman?' I am rapidly approaching 'Get me the younger Hugh Jackman.'

"I am not going to make it easier for them. At least I am going to make them work for it, alright. So I am not going to answer that question." – Mumtaj Begum

Related stories:

Impressive cast, time travel in X-Men: Days of Future Past

Peter Dinklage is inerested in characters with shades of grey

Fan Bingbing excited to be part of the X-Men movies

Showbiz shakedown

Nicole Kidman is one drama queen

Posted: 21 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The Aussie actress gets to the very soul of adventure.

It's too easy to start with the face or what she wears, how she sits. The colour of her earrings. The essence is in the vowels, the way she holds and releases them. The voice drops a register, as if in a conspiracy, and a morning conversation drifts across art, ambition, age and riding camels in the desert.

Many roles come to mind when Nicole Kidman speaks: inconsolable mother, suicidal writer, dangerous weather girl, nuclear scientist, gangster lover, top-hatted cabaret singer and Southern femme fatale with an unorthodox remedy for jellyfish stings. They are all there, unapologetic, in tones of tenacity and risk that have defined her career. One senses she is the kind who would either win big or lose it all at the track.

"I'm going to make choices. I'm going to live and die on them. I'll take the flak. I'll take the hits. I'll take the accolades," said Kidman, who won the Academy Award for lead actress for her rendering of Virginia Woolf in The Hours.

"I'll take whatever comes with it, but ultimately I'm on an exploration. I want to excite myself."

Her latest role – as the dutiful wife of a psychologically scarred former prisoner of war – is not adorned in eccentricities; it is more steady flame than fireworks. It does not flaunt the diamonds and intrigue in her upcoming portrayals of Princess Grace Kelly and Gertrude Bell, a spy and explorer who trekked the deserts of the Middle East.

Her depiction of Patti Lomax in The Railway Man is a quiet portrait of a woman fighting for her husband's sanity. "I'm usually larger than life and this is real life," said Kidman.

"I think Baz (Luhrmann) said once, 'You're never going to be cast as the girl next door,' and I'm, like, sometimes I'd love to be cast as the girl next door. I really see Patti as the girl next door."

The film is based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax, a Scot in the British army who was tortured by the Japanese during World War II. It is a tale of atrocity, memory and how two broken men – Lomax and his tormentor – are healed decades later in an unanticipated act of forgiveness. Kidman's part is small, poignant and distinctive.

Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, the film is one of a number in recent years, including the upcoming Unbroken, the story of American G.I. Louis Zamperini, to examine World War II and Japanese prison camps.

Kidman said many old veterans "are carrying around huge burdens" and young soldiers returning today from Iraq and Afghanistan are "deeply traumatised ... it's devastating."

Kidman is a busy actress and a prodigious researcher, sifting through the layers of characters, such as Martha Gellhorn, the war correspondent in the HBO movie Hemingway & Gellhorn, and Grace Kelly, movie star and royalty in Grace Of Monaco.

She is discriminating, and when she speaks of larger-than-life roles her Australian vowels flatten and harden with intensity. She equates Australians with Texans – independent, spirited, inured to harsh terrains and vast expanses.

"I try to be right in there, and that allows me the emotional well with an enormous amount of experience now," said Kidman, 46.

"I don't have to struggle to find things, which is a great place to be as an actress. It's just I then have to be careful what I choose, where I choose to place it and whose hands I put it in. At this stage, I don't want to waste my time because it's so precious. I want to work with people who want to delve deeply. I'm not interested in lightweight stuff."

Kidman sat recently in a small ballroom in a Beverly Hills hotel. She was happy to promote her film but professed a sharp distaste for marketing research: "C'mon," she said, "how are you going to break new ground or find new things if you're being ruled ... by opinions and surveys."

Studios, directors and producers who back her are promised: "I'll always be on time and I won't waste your money."

Such sentiment sent her to Morocco and along the Algeria border, where she recently camped and rode camels while filming Queen Of The Desert, Werner Herzog's biopic about Gertrude Bell, a British archaeologist and explorer instrumental in mapping modern-day Jordan and Iraq.

"It was thrilling to play a woman in 1915 heading off into the desert. She did what Lawrence of Arabia did, in a different way," said Kidman, who is expected to have at least four films out this year.

"To be in her skin has given me incredible desire and boldness right now ... and nobody knows about her, which infuriates me."

She leaned back. It appeared she needed another adventurous role – quickly – before the mystique of Gertrude Bell faded.

"Keep finding the stories and telling them," said Kidman, who lives in Nashville with her two daughters and husband Keith Urban. "I still don't think the great War And Peace (movie) has been made."

Footsteps echoed down a hall past a scent of cut flowers.

She spoke of Woolf's genius and the psychological interiors of her novels. They were insistent to find something new. Kidman said, "I love in the most dangerous way I can" and that life, as we go on, gets tougher; parents age, friends are lost, unforeseen accumulations reveal frailties. "All those things swirling around you." Hemingway – Gellhorn was his third wife – once said people grew stronger at the broken places.

"We discover our strengths then," she said. "When those things hit you, and they can hit you hard in whatever form they come, that's when you discover your fortitude. ... I'm the most openly emotional in my family. My mum calls me the changeling."

Her parents are academics –her father a biochemist, her mother a nursing teacher – and Kidman said they tease her that "the fairies left you in the yard and we don't quite know where you came from".

She was asked what was the grist of her creativity. She answered with a story about traveling with Urban through the Australian outback.

"We were driving in the car and (lying) on the side of the road was a kangaroo," she said.

"I said, 'Oh, my gosh we have to stop.' I wanted to look. And he's like, 'No, no we'll just keep driving.' I said, 'But it's so upsetting.' And he said, 'Just don't look.' I said, 'That is so interesting, there's a metaphor for our relationship, 'cause you're, like, just keep going ... and I've go to look at it.' I've got to look it right in the eye. I've got to see it. I've got to feel and understand it." – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


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