SORRY FOR OUR RECENT ABSENCE.
ALMOST EVERYTHING IS STILL ACCESSIBLE WHILE WE ARE UNDERGOING RECONSTRUCTION.
Felicity Jones, who we all cherish from Rogue One (the finest Star Wars spin-off) is producing a “family drama series” called, simply, One. As in Formula 1, you see. The project puts her in production bed with two Hollywood heavyweights: Tony To, one of Spielberg’s Band of Brothers co-producers, and True Detective exec producer Dan Sackheim. Plus she has won a co-prod deal with Formula 1, itself: ”The high stakes world of F1 continually delivers edge-of-your-seat drama,” she comments, ”and to have the opportunity to create a show based in this world is a thrilling prospect.” Succession on Wheels? It could even end up with walk-ons from the latest guys in the Grand Prix pits, the new motor sport investors Ryan Reynolds and Michael B Jordan.
Felicity Rose Hadley Jones is always working. She has knocked off 42 screen roles in 27 years, working with George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes (twice) Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy (three times) Eddie Redmayne (twice, including her Oscar nod for The Theory of Everything). She was a dying mother in A Monster Calls, totally improvised her way through her amazing Like Crazy and shared a Last Letter from Your Lover with Joe Alwyn. Plus, of course, her superb work in On the Basis of Sex, the biopic (inherited from Natalie Portman) about US Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg... Jones spent the Spring shooting The Brutalist in Budapest and Tuscany (with Alwyn again). Well, few actors are content with just a single movie with Felicity. She is, after all, the finest British screen actress we have. Sorry about that, Olivia Colman.
(I’ve just done the impossible. Two paragraphs on Felicity without mention of, oh here you go, Emma Grundy and The Archers…!)
Now this is better… A Barbarella re-make is bejng promised. Yes, OK, based on a French comic book. (Although it was more oggled than read as it was based on Brigitte Bardot). Various new versions were announced since 1967 when Jane Fonda played the curvaceous outer space outlaw because Bardot and Virna Lisa fled, Sophia Loren was pregnant and Raquel Welch was Myra Breckenridge. Fonda’s husband (and Bardot’s ex) Roger Vadim directed. After the divorce, he attempted a cheekily named sequel, Barbarella Goes Down, with Drew Barrymore or Sherilyn Fenn. Later, Robert Rodriguez tried with Rose McGowan.
Now Sydney Sweeny (super savvy) has done (without realising it) what another actor-producer, Margot Robbie, was doing with Ms Pink – getting a major studio keen on a blonde heroine with box-office potential. For the moment, the rest is silence. First, Syd (the minx from the first White Lotus and Euphoria) is making two other Sony projects – Madame Webb and The Registration. If they fail, she’s toast. Which would be a great shame, although I must admit to seeing her as more of a new Candy than Barbarella.
What? Oh sure, this Barb has a Ken, too. A tall, blind angel called Pygar. With huge wings. As white as his hair. And his loin-cloth.
CINEMA ON STAGE
Jaws is in the theatre? Well, almost. Except in the Ian Shaw-Joseph Nixon play – born in Brighton in 2019 and finally hitting Broadway – The Shark Is Broken… But then the mechanical beast, famously nicknamed Bruce, was always busting its guts – and making the film’s three stars extremely tetchy, waiting for the damn thing to function again. As Deadline critic Greg Evans put it, the trio spent their downtime drinking (Robert Shaw), snorting (Richard Dreyfus) and coming quietly unglued (Roy Scheider). Ian Shaw plays his dad (and has done ever since 2019) and Colin Donnell is such an amazing Scheider clone you’d actually think his ghost was on-stage.
There’s a new Marilyn – in the Bungalow 21 play in Paris. It might become a movie, possibly directed by Roman Polanski – as his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, is playing Marilyn Monroe, opposite her sister, Mathilde, as Simone Signoret. In 1960, these fine ladies and their husbands (Arthur Miller and Yves Montand), lived in adjacent bungalows at the Beverly Hills Hotel while Monroe and Montand shot Let’s Make Love… and took the title way too literally. We never heard about this affair in the UK at the time but it remains the #1 love story in Paris showbiz history. Although love had very little to do with it.
REFUSED, LOST or TURNED DOWN
Keanu Reeves refused 40 films: Batman, Superman, Jack Reacher, etc. Preferring John Wick.
She lost Baby Doll, Can-Can, Freud, Harlow. So what! She was sublime in Some Like It Hot.
Halle Berry lost the Tina Turner biopic, but won Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. (And James Bond).
HONG KONG KING
Chinese director John Woo is back! </strong>Ever since he made a killing with The Killer, Hollywood has wanted to re-hash it. Richard Gere, John Travolta, Denzel Washington… they never happened. And Keanu Reeves a $7million pay day! All very odd as it is extremely cinematic, somewhat of a riff on Hollywood’s classic 1935 weepie, Magnificent Obsession, yet so bloody it was dedicated it to Martin Scorsese! Finally, John Woo decided to re-make himself. With Lupita Nyong’o as the cool assassin with a troubled conscience. That notion fell by the wayside, so he moved it to France. Perfect as The Killer is wholly inspired by Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai. The excellent Omar Sy is now the hit-man agreeing to one more job in order to buy surgery for a woman he unintentionally blinded in his previous shoot-out. (There’s your weepie bit.) Incidentally, John Woo’s thriller is not related to Michael Fassbinder’s <em>The Killer</em>. Sheer larceny using the classic’s title, though…
Time to welcome Dr Ncuti Gatwa, aka Doc14 (and one of the Kens). Like us, he knows all his Whovian predecessors. But he (and you) may not know that back in the day Docandidates included… Billy Connolly, Jason Connery, James Corden, Michael Crawford, Idris Elba, Richard E Grant, Rupert Grint, Tom Hanks, Eddie Izzard, the great Paterson Joseph, Ian McKellen, Kyle MacLachlan, Eddie Murphy, Sam Neil, Wesley Snipes, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart (also up for The Master). Russell Tovey, David Walliams (twice)…. Plus Sean Pertwee (son of Jon, Doc3), Sam Troughton (grandson of Patrick, Doc2); three Sherlocks: Jeremy Brett, Rupert Everett, Matt Frewer; four Oscar-winners: Jim Broadbent, Ben Kingsley, Olivja Colman, Peter Ustinov. Plus… Rowan Atkinson!
Film of the Hour is definitely Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. George Clooney, Brad Pitt were in the mix for what is another reunion of De Niro and Di Caprio. When they were making This Boy’s Life in 1992, Leo was only actor ever recommended by Bob to Marty. “The kid is really good. You must work with him sometime.” (Leo today is the same age, 50, as De Niro was back then). His career was launched by doing that film, says Leo. “Working with Bob, watching his professionalism and the way he created his character was one of the most influential experiences of my life and career. It got me to do all these [six] films with Marty and now, 30 years later…”
ENTER THE BBIOPIC
… And God Created… a series about Brigitte Bardot. Six episodes of the BB saga (now on Netflix), from ages 15 to 25, as she set the planet aflame as the most famous French movie star of all time. With a huge impact on sex, music, fashion and, for the last 37 years, animal care. At 23, Julia de Nunez was unknown when answering a social media search for “an actress between 18 and 22 years old, with a temperament.” She’s a staggering (if large) BB clone. “I’ve always resembled her.”
As usual in such bios, the famous names are on the wrong side of the cast list, as actors portray Roger Vadim, Christian Marquand, Jean-Louis Trintignant (the team from the 1965 BBreakthrough …And God Created Woman) and her early lovers, singers Gilbert Becaud, Sacha Distel, actors Jacques Charrier, Sami Frey.
Unfortunately, apart from BB, Vadim and her agent “Mama” Olga, no one resembles the other real people they are supposed to be. It’s like playing who’s who?
Brigitte retired 50 years ago at 39. She remains untouched in our memories. The essence of youth. Her youth; our youth. A hank of hair, lank of leg, a dream mouth, an androgynous figure of unbridled sensuality. Her 48 films alternated between lightweight comedies – stripteasing with a distinct pleasure of her own torso – and often turgid dramas, always as the sexual catalyst , offering her indolent, challenge to the double-standards of “morality”. She succeeded in both strata, as, clearly, herself.
Lost biopix >>> Greta Garbo: Madame Curie. Mel Gibson: Amadeus (!). Audrey Hepburn: Isadora (Duncan). Dustin Hoffman: Gandhi. Nicole Kidman: The Queen (Elizabeth II). Bill Murray: Hitchcock. Gary Oldman: James Dean. Jane Russell: singer Lilian Roth, I’ll Cry Tomorrow. Spencer Tracy: The Story of Will Rogers. Mamie Van Doren: Saint Joan (!!) <<<
All The President’s Men montage: Reg Oliver; Halle Berry: Eon-Danjaq-MGM, 2002; Julia de Nunez: Federation Entertainment-France Television-G Films, 2022; Marilyn Monroe: 20th Century Fox, 1962; Anita: SK Global Entertainment, 2022; Barbie: Warner Bros, 2022;James Dean, Warner Bros, 1955; Barbarella, Paramount, 1967; The Killing: Golden Princess Film Production, 1988; The Lost Weekend: A Love Story, Briarcliff Entertainment, 2023; Steve McQueen, Warner Bros/Seven Arts, 1968; Jack Nicholson: Paramount, 1973; Gloria Paul: Eon Productions, 1965; Taylor Sheridan: Festival de Cannes, 2024; Sydney Sweeney, Harper’s Bazaar, 2023. TC sketch: Graham Marsh, 1976; Plus enormous thanks to The Man: Daniel Bouteiller.