Black mark on ‘Black Swan’?

Black Swan

Natalie Portman (or Sarah Lane?) in 'Black Swan'.

Quelle horreur! Natalie Portman didn’t do all of her own dancing on Black Swan? *dramatic gasp*

Oh wait, we knew that already. And even if we didn’t know it, we should have guessed. After all, the 32 fouettés that Odile (the “black” swan) performs in the coda are hardly something even your most talented amateur dancer would be able to perform.*

The issue at hand, however, is how much of the dancing Natalie did herself. Benjamin Millepied (Black Swan choreographer and Natalie’s fiance and the father of her baby) claimed that Natalie did 85 percent of the dancing. After reviewing all his footage, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky believes its closer to 90 percent.

But Sarah Lane reckons that’s all a load of rubbish. She claims that she did 90 percent of the dancing, and that only around 5 percent of the full-body shots were Natalie.

Now, if you had to ask who Sarah Lane was, you’re probably like everybody else on the planet not closely related to her. Sarah Lane is Natalie’s body double – who went largely unnoticed during the hoorah of awards season and *gasp* didn’t get a mention in Natalie’s Oscar acceptance speech. She was apparently only listed as an extra in the credits, too. And now she’s determined to make everybody aware that Natalie is no prima ballerina.

It smacks of attention-seeking behaviour… And Lane has admitted that yes, she was peeved by the lack of recognition. But what else did she expect? Her career to suddenly take off, offers to join other ballet companies to start piling up at her doorstep? Instead of being gracious about it, going “well done, Natalie” and moving on, she’s caused a massive spat.

But, she says, she’s only talking about because she feels so personally insulted that we think that Natalie could possibly be a real ballerina.

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Rest in peace, Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor in 'Cat On a Hot Tin Roof'.

When I was younger – possibly around 10 or 11, would be my best guess – I watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with my grandmother.  I don’t remember the film too clearly – but what I do remember, was Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the Cat. She was mesmerising – I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. Like many, many young and slightly awkward girls, I wanted to be her – she was beautiful, confident, wildly talented and breathtaking.

There will only ever be one Elizabeth Taylor.

In the news rush that followed the confirmation of her death yesterday aged 79, I found this gem of a quote from Franco Zeffirelli – who directed Taylor in The Taming of the Shrew. “People like Liz don’t exist any more,” he said. “Because fairy tales no longer exist.”

It’s very true. In the current crop of stars, I don’t think a single actress could even come close to Taylor’s level. Angelina Jolie and Catherine Zeta-Jones are probably closest – but even their stars have faded in recent years. There’s nobody else who has the glamour or the magnetism of old Hollywood… And we’re left with “new Hollywood”.

“New Hollywood” is obsessed with punting out a Good Product. One that will draw in massive ticket sales. A film no longer has to be a masterpiece to garner attention – it’s all about the Product. And the biggest products of all? The stars themselves. Stars are photoshopped into oblivion for movie posters, magazine covers and promotional items. Mainstream actors in particular behave a certain way, interview a certain way, perform a certain way in order to garner some celebrity… And it’s all down to the pioneer that was Elizabeth Taylor.

William Mann, who wrote How to be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood, said: “She created the whole business of fame, the way we know it today.”

“The template that she laid down in the 1950s and 1960s everyone continues to try to follow, with varying degrees of success. But she’s the one that invented it,” he told CNN.

As much as she was famed for her film roles and her tumultuous marriages, she was also a passionate humanitarian. She was a dedicated campaigner for the fight against HIV/Aids, helped to fund amfAR (American Foundation for Aids Research) and in her lifetime raised an estimated $200-million for Aids.

What a lady.

Should we get over Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna? Hell no.

Today’s shaping up to be a fairly frantic day – so just briefly, a mini-rant on the Chris Brown incident.

I was reading a user’s comments on my site today and felt my blood boil. This reader, however, is not the only person to have voiced this thought. The idea is wildly prevalent:  Everybody deserves a second chance. We all need to move past Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna, I mean – wow – it’s been a whole two years already. He’s done a bunch of community service. Let’s just get over it.

What.the.fuck?

In case you need a visual reminder, this is what Chris Brown did to Rihanna. A whole two years ago. More after the jump… (and picture)

Rihanna

Rihanna after Chris Brown's assault of her in 2009. <i>TMZ</i>

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‘The Hobbit’ finally on the roll…!

I’m currently man-down with a radical cold, and am therefore not up to much else other than a) My basic day’s work b) Drinking lots of tea and c) Playing as much Dragon Age 2 as is humanly possible before my fingers seize up. But – much excitement – production has finally started on The Hobbit! After years and years of delays, they’ve finally kicked off – and are still aiming for a December 2012 release date for part one, which is apparently subtitled There and Back Again.

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson poses on the set of 'The Hobbit'. © Warner Brothers

These cool promotional photos have been released by WB – and wow, is Peter Jackson looking a little trimmer than his Lord of the Rings days! Compare:

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson poses on the set of 'The Hobbit'. © Warner Brothers

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson in a promo image for 'The Lord of the Rings'.

 

I’ve had a bit of a Hobbit overdose today – working on a feature to accompany the news. And now, I want to reread the novel for the zillionth time. With more tea, and sympathy.

Celebrity Mug Shot Mania…

I love celebrity mugshots. They rock my whole world. There’s something deeply satisfying about them. Maybe it’s just the whole “Ha, I may not have millions in the bank, ten cars, a huge house or a wildly successful career – but I do not have a criminal record!” (*touches wood*)

My favourite thing? MULTIPLE mugshots. Courtesy of Robert Downey Jr., Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton… And Mel Gibson.

Look, enjoy. Love.

Reviewed: ‘Blue Valentine’

For a number of reasons, one of the most difficult reviews I’ve ever had to write. Originally published on iafrica.com.

Blue Valentine“What’s the point of it all? I’m going to die alone, anyway.”

Possibly not the feeling the average cinemagoer want to have when leaving the theatre – and so seeing Blue Valentine on a day where you’re feeling a little down is probably not a great idea.

But despite the fact that it’s a melancholic, ultimately exhausting viewing experience, Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is one of the most hauntingly beautiful films of recent years.

The film traces the disintegrating marriage of Dean and Cindy, a working-class couple with a small daughter. Cindy is a hard-working nurse at a local hospital, Dean is a housepainter who cracks open his first beer at 8am. Within the first few shots of the couple and the way they interact, you’re already wondering what happened. How did they end up together, when it’s obvious that they’re so badly suited?

The film tells their past and present through a series of flashbacks, from their first tender dates to the moment they realise their marriage is over. It’s a slow disintegration from the heady days of an early love – and a rushed marriage – to a bizarre tryst in a seedy sex motel. Ryan Gosling strums along to his “goofy” rendition of You Always Hurt The One You Love, and it’s a tragic reminder of the future you know is coming.

That’s the overwhelming sense of the film – that you know what’s coming, the bitterness, the tiredness – it ultimately feels futile. Yet there’s still a part of the viewer who begs for a happy ending, some sort of cathartic resolution for the pair and their once beautiful love. Continue reading

‘Baywatch’ is back, baby…

I seem to have lost my mojo.

I know exactly where it went, but in the meantime it’s made posting anything valuable very difficult. I am currently working on regaining said mojo, but you may have to be a little patient. It seems that everything I’ve tried to write this week (movie reviews, quirky articles, text messages, blog posts) have either been a spectacular failure or spectacularly average… and I haven’t decided which is worse.

Okay, personal bit over. I’m fully aware that nobody cares whether or not I’m having a bad week – y’all don’t come here to listen to me whine.

Baywatch

Ah, 'Baywatch'. Such a fundamental part of my childhood. (Seriously).

Something that did make me laugh was the news that they’re actually planning a big screen edition of Baywatch. Yep, the gloriousness that was the classic 1990s television series – who brought us Yasmine Bleeth and Pamela Anderson – is getting the movie treatment.

Am I the only one who finds this hysterically funny? Sure, the show was insanely popular and at one stage drew 1.1 billion viewers a week (With Pamela Anderson in a ridiculously tiny bathing suit, and what do you expect?), but now we look back on it in an “Ooh, I can’t believe I ever watched this!” fashion.

My prediction? Well, you know this is going to be shot in 3D. Expect ninety minutes of slow-motion running down the beach, with two hot-but-not-that-talented stars, what our lifestyle editor deemed a “plastic surgery convention” and hopefully, for the love of all things, much sexier bathing suits. Also, I foresee at the very least a David Hasselhoff cameo – I can’t see them sobering him up for long enough to shoot a full movie.

No Strings Attached director Ivan Reitman has decided that this is a “big opportunity” for filmmakers. A big opportunity for what, I’m not sure. But I’m not a Hollywood bigwig and such mysterious are beyond my ability to unravel. Unfortunately, the film does not have a script just yet – but let’s be honest, how much of a script would be required?

And now, in case you’ve forgotten what Baywatch is all about, here’s the opening sequence from the show. You can curse me later, when you’ve been singing the title track for a full six hours.