New York is on war footing. The President of the USA is passing through and demonstrations are threating to drown Manhattan in chaos. Eric Packer, 28 years old millionaire, doesn’t care. No matter what happens, he will go get his haircut on the other side of town.
We’re not going to lie, whether we like David Cronenberg’s recent movies, we were seriously missing the filmmaker of Videodrome and Crash. Pop open the champagne because he’s back in every shot of Cosmopolis. Even though he’s adapting someone else’s work, the Canadian filmmaker recognized his young/offsprings in the novel of DeLillo. The absurd and persistant odyssey of a young wolf in finance who parades collegues, mistresses and doctors in his high-tech limo. When he reaches his destination, he might be left with nothing (the Japanese currency threatens his waller, his wife is more and distant, it’s getting unbearable.) but the answer of the question that haunts him, without being able to articulate it: Can the one who possesses everything still desire anything else?
Cronenberg made sure that all his obsessions punctuate his route, whether they are intellectual (the search for ‘another’ reality) or carnal/physical (another scene that will make people talk, Packer learns that his prostate asymmetrical). Enthroned in the back seat of his limousine Robert Pattinson reveals a deepness that gets more & more fascinating as his character gets closer to hittng rock bottom/gets closer to the abyss. The fear that surrenders his face in the last moments doesnt belong only to this anti-hero that arrived at the point of no return, but it’s also the fear of an actor who tests his limits with an unsupected bravery. With a feverish and decadent ride in Hell, Cosmopolis proves that he’s not done testing them.
It makes perfect sense that Rob Pattinson would continue his attempts to broaden his fan base as the “Twilight” franchise nears its end. Starring in a new film adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 novel “Bel Ami” certainly advances that project: Playing Georges Duroy, an unscrupulous ex-soldier who makes his way up the ladder of Parisian high society by seducing the wives of powerful men, adds a few strings to his bow. (Sony Worldwide Acquisitions Group is putting the film out through Magnolia.)
Duroy is unscrupulous, self-absorbed and nakedly ambitious, but has enough sexual magnetism to further his career by talking his way into some of the city’s most opulent bedrooms. Pattinson is thus involved in screen liaisons with actresses old enough to be mothers to “Twilight”’s core audience. It’s a leap of sorts, and not without its risks.
For all that, it’s hard not to wish “Bel Ami” was more engaging. Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod are making their debuts as feature film directors after long, stellar careers with the acclaimed theatre company Cheek by Jowl. Their stage background is sometimes apparent: “Bel Ami” (shot in Budapest, standing in for Paris) may well be a story that mostly takes place indoors, but on screen it often feels cramped and claustrophobic. Read more…
Big things happen in this penultimate Twilight Saga entry: Bella and Edward get married, she gets pregnant on their Brazilian honeymoon, almost perishes before giving birth and finally, after four films and about 490 minutes of elapsed screen time depicting simmering desire and superhuman restraint, wakes up with the red eyes of a vampire (Spoiler? Hardly.). But so little else occurs in between these momentous events in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1 that you can practically hear every second ticking by while awaiting the payoff. Not that this will matter to the faithful who have devoured every one of the 754 pages of Stephenie Meyer’s series-climaxing tome and want to see as many of them as possible recreated on the screen, nor to those who have paid more than $1.8 billion worldwide to see the previous three installments in theaters, nearly all of whom will rush to see this one as soon as possible. Part 2 won’t follow until Nov. 16, 2012.
When the decision was made to split Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two separate films to bring that blockbuster series to a close, there was some cynical talk regarding mercenary motives to milk as many dollars as possible out of the franchise. Once the films came out, however, this all stopped, so emphatically did the massive amount of narrative incident justify the extended length. On the basis of Breaking Dawn—Part 1 however, the same cannot be said of this series-ender, which feels both bloated and as anemic as Bella herself becomes while enduring her pregnancy. The film is like a crab cake with three or four bits of crab in it surrounded by loads of bland stuffing. But many people can’t tell the difference or don’t care, which will be largely true for the film’s captive audience. Read more…
Bella Swan kisses abstinence and mortality goodbye in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” in which the vampire-loving teen gets hitched, knocked up and almost destroyed from within by her little bundle of joy. All the more disappointing, then, that a story so pregnant with dramatic possibilities should wind up feeling like such an unconsummated opportunity. Drawn from Stephenie Meyer’s polarizing, weirdly compelling fourth novel, the film is rich in surface pleasures but lacks any palpable sense of darkness or danger, which is a roundabout way of saying that Summit has protected its investment well. Supernatural B.O. awaits.
The guardians of this enormously popular franchise ($1.8 billion in worldwide grosses) have in effect followed the “Harry Potter” playbook by splitting the final chapter into two parts, ensuring thorough plot retention and, more to the point, maximum B.O. penetration. In what will seem cruel and unusual punishment for fans, however, “Part 2,” with its promise of a full-scale vampire war in which Bella will play a crucial role, is slated to hit theaters Nov. 16, 2012, forcing auds to wait nearly a year after “Part 1″ to devour the second half of the Bill Condon-directed double feature. Read more…
Sara Gruen’s 2006 bestseller about forbidden love in the heated atmosphere of a Depression-era circus seemed a natural for the screen. And director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King) keep it carefully tended. So do its three stars. It’s good to see Robert Pattinson, Twilight’s pale vampire prince, with color in his cheeks in the role of Jacob Jankowski, a Cornell student in veterinary medicine about to take his final exams when his parents die in a car crash. Jacob hits the road in penniless desperation, hopping a train that belongs to the Benzini Bros. traveling circus and finding a life among the freaks, sideshows, trapeze artists and gorgeous animal flesh.
Peter Travers reviews Water for Elephants in his weekly video series, “At the Movies With Peter Travers”
Of course, there’s also a babe. She’s Marlena (Reese Witherspoon in bombshell mode), a spangled beauty atop the horses she strides in the ring. Hard luck for Jacob that Marlena is married to August Rosenbluth (another “Bingo!” for Christoph Waltz), a ringmaster with a sadistic streak when it comes to animals and people who won’t heel to his command. August is brutal on Rosie, the 9,000-pound elephant who becomes the show’s (and the film’s) star attraction, and Marlena when her eyes lock too hungrily on Jacob. Even nonreaders of the book can figure out what happens next. It’s all in the telling. Gruen provided grit and pungent detail. The movie settles for gloss. Pattinson and Witherspoon smolder under the golden gaze of Rodrigo Prieto’s camera. But the story cries out for harsh glare, sexual torment, the acrid smell of sawdust and sweat. That’s why the film’s most memorable presence is Rosie. She’s not faking it, not for a minute.
“Water for Elephants” gives off an air of self-satisfaction, and you can see why. What film wouldn’t be pleased with having a No. 1 bestseller as source material, an unapologetically picturesque world for its setting and major players such as Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and a superb Christoph Waltz as its stars. What’s not to like?
There is quite a bit to enjoy in a film that certainly qualifies as broad-based popular entertainment. But because the ingredients are so promising, there hangs over this serviceable project the wish that it had turned out better still. Director Francis Lawrence, who works in music videos as well as features, has an unmistakable gift for bravura spectacle, but the absence of convincing romantic chemistry means that the emotional connection that should be this film’s birthright is not really there.
That spectacle comes courtesy of the 1931 Benzini Bros. circus setting of Sara Gruen’s epic romance about a man, a woman and a 9,000-pound elephant. The Benzini troupe bills itself grandly, but the reality, as one of Gruen’s characters says, is that “it’s probably not even the fiftieth most spectacular show on earth.”
No matter. In the hands of veteran production designer Jack Fisk and his team, costume designer Jacqueline West and master cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, that tarnished, bawdy milieu, including the raising of a massive circus tent that could seat 800, is brought to impressive and detailed life. The romance of the carnival is strong in this film, and it’s not too much to say that it’s the element viewers will come away remembering most. Read more…
There’s something endearingly old-fashioned about a love story involving a beautiful bareback rider and a kid who runs off to join the circus. What makes “Water for Elephants” more intriguing is a third character, reminding us why Christoph Waltz deserved his supporting actor Oscar for “Inglourious Basterds” (2009). He plays the circus owner, who is married to the bareback rider and keeps her and everyone else in his iron grip.
The story, based on the best-seller by Sara Gruen, is told as a flashback by an old man named Jacob (Hal Holbrook), who lost his parents in 1931, dropped out of Cornell University’s veterinary school, hit the road and hopped a train that happened, wouldn’t you know, to be a circus train. Played by Robert Pattinson as a youth, he is naive and excited, and his eyes fill with wonder as he sees the beautiful Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) on her white show horse. The owner August (Waltz) is prepared to throw him off the train until he learns young Jacob knows something about veterinary medicine. Read more…
A 20th Century Fox release of a Fox 2000 Pictures presentation of a 3 Arts Entertainment/Gil Netter/Flashpoint Entertainment production in association with Dune Entertainment, Ingenious Media, Big Screen Prods. Produced by Netter, Erwin Stoff, Andrew R. Tennenbaum. Executive producer, Kevin Halloran. Directed by Francis Lawrence. Screenplay, Richard LaGravanese, based on the novel by Sara Gruen.
Marlena – Reese Witherspoon Jacob – Robert Pattinson August – Christoph Waltz Charlie – Paul Schneider Camel – Jim Norton Old Jacob – Hal Holbrook Kinko/Walter – Mark Povinelli
In an extravagant gamble worthy of the fictional Benzini Brothers Circus itself, Fox gives Sara Gruen’s grassroots bestseller “Water for Elephants” the glossy, big-budget treatment fans crave, counting on adult women — plus a younger female contingent keen on seeing “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson paired with sweet-as-pie Reese Witherspoon — to prop up a production with a cost apparently on par with a small tentpole. Unlike the story’s colorful gang of roustabouts, who dismiss ticket buyers as “rubes,” the filmmakers clearly value their public, crafting a splendid period swooner that delivers classic romance and an indelible insider’s view of 1930s circus life.
A present-day prologue finds nursing-home escapee Jacob Jankowski (played with endearing mock surliness by Hal Holbrook) reminiscing about his tenure under the big top. Taken in by a young circus worker (Paul Schneider) and then encouraged to share his story, Jacob proceeds to explain how a family tragedy on the eve of vet-school exams spared the would-be Cornell grad a predictable life, and led to his hitching a ride with the Benzini Brothers’ traveling show instead. Read more…
The Reese Witherspoon-Robert Pattinson film will please fans of Sara Gruen’s best seller, but it lacks the vital spark that would have made the drama truly compelling on the screen.
A decorous, respectable adaptation of Sara Gruen’s engaging best-seller, Water for Elephants would have come more excitingly alive with stronger doses of Depression-era grit and sexual spunk. The 1931 circus setting and a love triangle involving three exceedingly attractive people provides a constant wash of scenic pleasure and the film’s fidelity to its source will receive nodding approval from the book’s many fans, which should result in solid, if unspectacular commercial results for this Fox release. But the vital spark that would have made the drama truly compelling on the screen is missing.
Films about traveling circuses, and the often daring and dodgy people who worked in them, used to be relatively commonplace in American movies and it could be that the novelty of seeing such a troupe, traveling from one town to another on a train with dozens of performers, workers and lots of animals in tow, might be enough to captivate a fair share of people today, just as Gruen’s 2006 novel did. Read more…
Entertainment Weekly: Robert Pattinson looks like a man in the adaptation of Sara Gruen’s best-seller Water for Elephants, acting opposite Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon (the beautiful performer his character, a veterinary student in charge of caring for a traveling circus’ animals, falls for during the Depression) and Christoph Waltz (Witherspoon’s husband, the troupe’s animal trainer). Director Francis Lawrence seems to be channeling Tim Burton, and it works. The music lures you in, as does the always affecting Hal Holbrook, who plays Pattinson’s aged character recalling the story of “the most famous circus disaster of all time.” The finest compliment you can give a trailer for an adaptation is that it makes you want to read the book. This one does it for me.
People Magazine: Forget Bella! Robert Pattinson woos Reese Witherspoon in the new trailer for the film adaptation of Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel Water for Elephants, which is due in theaters in April 2011. Pattinson plays Jacob, a veterinary student who joins a traveling circus during the Great Depression. He falls for the show’s sultry star Marlena (played by Witherspoon), who’s involved with the Ringleader, played by Christoph Waltz. “You’re a beautiful woman, you deserve a beautiful life,” Jacob tells Marlena, but the Ringleader seems determined to keep them apart. Sounds like a love triangle of Twilight proportions! Read more…
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