Monday, 16 July 2012

SCRIPT EDITOR XVII: SISTERS

Writer-director Lynn Shelton’s ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ launched in UK cinemas last month - a serio-comedy about two sisters who tread on each other's toes when they become involved with the same, unsuspecting single man.     

Script Editor browses other examples of sibling love-rivalry in film:

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
In this Thanksgiving comedy-drama, written and directed by Woody Allen, Mia Farrow plays Hannah, whose husband, Elliot (Michael Caine), has an affair with her youngest sister, Lee (Barbara Hershey).

The Man in the Moon (1991)
This American drama, directed by Robert Mulligan, stars Reese Witherspoon in her first role as fourteen-year-old Dani. Dani falls for her neighbour, Court, who is older than she at seventeen. But when Court is introduced to Dani’s older sister, Maureen, the pair become an item.

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
Peter Morgan’s screenplay, adapted from the novel by Philippa Gregory, re-imagines the relationship between 16th-century sisters, Mary Boleyn, mistress of King Henry VIII, and Queen Anne, who would become his second wife.

The Broadway Melody (1929)
Hollywood’s first talkie musical, and one of the first to feature a Technicolor sequence, follows vaudeville sisters, Harriet and Queenie Mahoney, to their first big gig on Broadway. Friend, Eddie Kerns, who hires the girls to feature in a Francis Zanfield number, is in love with Harriet – until he meets Queenie.



Rang (1993)
A Bollywood blockbuster-musical directed by Talat Jani, Rang stars Divya Bharti in one of her last film roles before she died under mysterious circumstances. Student, Pooja, who lives alone with her father, Ajay, confides to him her love for fellow-student, Yogi Joshi. As Ajay sets about arranging their marriage, he discovers that Yogi loves his other daughter, Kajal, who lives with his estranged wife.

Green Dolphin Street (1947)
This historic drama from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer – starring Lana Turner, Van Heflin and Frank Morgan – was among the most popular films at the British box office in the late 1940s. When two sisters fall in love with the same man, he drunkenly proposes to the wrong girl.

27 Dresses (2008)
Perennial bridesmaid, Jane (Katherine Heigl) leaves it too late to ask her boss, George, on a date. When he meets her sister, Tess, they get engaged and plan to marry three weeks later. Maid of honour Jane has just so long to get over it, with wedding-reporter, Kevin (James Marsden) to help her on her way.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

SCRIPT EDITOR XVI: SHEFFIELD DOC/FEST


Over the last five days, documentary-makers from all over the world have wedged themselves into the 142 square-miles of Sheffield in the UK’s South Yorkshire region. The Sheffield Doc/Fest (13th-17th June) is a festival in the ordinary sense (screenings, panel-discussions, workshops) and a forum for documentary-making talent, in the extraordinary. Doc/Fest gives first-time filmmakers the opportunity to pitch to buyers, producers and distributors at its MeetMarket, and juries of experts honour the best films in the programme with prizes for the Greenest, the most Innovative and the most Appealing to a Young Audience. This year’s schedule included a marathon 15-hour screening of Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film: An Odyssey, and the 2012 Special Jury Award went to Marina Abramovic and The Artist is Present

Script Editor looks at the low budget and do-it-yourself in documentary film-making:

Billy the Kid (US, 2007)
Directed by Jennifer Venditti

Bombay Beach (US, 2011)

Amma Lo-Fi (Iceland/Denmark, 2011)
Directed by Kristín Kristjánsdóttir




Super Size Me (US, 2004)
Directed and written by Morgan Spurlock


Sound It Out (UK, 2011)
Directed by Jeanie Finlay


Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father (US, 2008)
Written and directed by Kurt Kuenne


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

SCRIPT EDITOR XV: LES MISERABLES & THE GREAT GATSBY


Script Editor holds tight for classic literary remakes...

Two films on everybody’s lips this week, following the release of theatrical trailers, are Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and Working Title’s Tom Hooper-directed Les Misérables.

The stage musical, based on the novel by Victor Hugo and originally directed by Trevor Nunn at the Barbican, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in London’s West End. This won’t be the first time the five volume novel has formed the basis of a film or TV adaptation, with over fifty already in existence dating back to 1907 and in multiple languages, including Korean, Egyptian, Hindi and Telugu.

British screenwriter, William Nicholson (Gladiator, Shadowlands, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) adapted this latest variant which stars Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as nemeses, Jean Valjean  and Javert,  with Sacha Baron Cohen as Thernadier and Anne Hathaway as Fantine. The trailer promises attractive photography by Danny Cohen (This is England, The King’s Speech) and some wonderful vocals by Anne Hathaway, who’s already proved her lung-mettle, duetting with Hugh Jackman at the 2009 Academy Awards.



From gutter to stars – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, has been given a ceiling-high budget, digital makeover by the Australian director. Firing, customarily, on all four cylinders, Lurhmann has thrown together a lavishly ornamental  art-deco set, 360-visuals and a Jack White cover of U2’s ‘Love is Blindness’ in this expensive-looking trailer that favours flavour over character. Let’s hope it’s a case of the good trailer, giving precious little away.

We can expect excellent things from Leonardo DiCaprio, who never puts a foot wrong. The talented Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom) looks capably threatening as Daisy’s philandering husband, Tom Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire fit to make something of the challenging, side-car narrator-role, Nick Carraway.

Both films are under a lot of pressure to meet the sensitive demands of fans worldwide. The Great Gatsby is due for release on Christmas Day and Les Misérables shortly after. December will tell. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

SCRIPT EDITOR XIV: SINGERS ON SCREEN


Leos Carax’s long-awaited Holy Motors premiered this week at Cannes and stars actress-singer, Kylie Minogue. The Australian isn’t known for her film appearances – famous for playing Neighbours’ Charlene on the small-screen – but the cameo delighted festival-goers and continues to receive positive reviews in the press. (This is more than can be said for Libertines front-man, Pete Doherty who, by all accounts, disappoints in the Palme D’Or-nominated, Confessions of a Child of the Century.) Carax was clearly very taken with Kylie who was preferred to him by Claire Denis, describing their collaboration as “the gentlest experience I’ve ever had on set”.

Script Editor considers eight critically-acclaimed performances by musicians in film:

Cher – Moonstruck (1987)
Starring with a lupine Nicholas Cage, Cher is aloof and darkly sensual as Loretta Castorini ,who falls in love with Ronny, an Italian-American baker’s-boy and kid-brother of her fiancé in absentia. It’s an assured performance in a role that makes the most of her melancholy neutral, while also showcasing her natural gift for comedy. The film is excellently well-scripted, and that rare thing: an Oscar-winning romantic comedy. It was awarded Best Screenplay and – in deserving acknowledgement of its believable and moving mother-daughter relationship – Best and Best Supporting Actress.

Nick Cave – Wings of Desire (1987)
Wim Wenders’ liebeslied to West Berlin won him Best Director at Cannes, and climaxes with a live set by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Trapeze artist, Marion, dances to ‘From Her to Eternity’ and is approached, at last, by admiring angel, Damiel.

Barbra Streisand – Funny Girl (1968)
Streisand is superlative as vaudeville comedienne Fanny Brice in William Wyler’s colour-bright biopic, having starred in the 1964 Broadway musical four years earlier. As rollerblading greenhorn, she’s sublimely goofy; and as the older Fanny, tired beneath a polished, glamorous exterior. The film follows the ups and downs of Brice's love affair - later marriage - with Nicky Arnstein (Omar Shaif). In the film's dramatic final scene, Streisand leaves her mirrored dressing room for the stag  in tears, and a tremulous opening verse of Billie Holiday’s My Man gives way to heartrending, pure-voiced defiance. Before singer, before actress, Streisand is a born professional, and as film critic Pauline Kael rightly observed, “She has the class to be herself... The audacity of her self-creation is something we've had time to adjust to; we already knew her mettle, and the dramatic urgency she can bring to roles.” Streisand shared the Academy Award for Best Actress with Katherine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter. 

Mick Jagger – Performance (1968)
Nicholas Roeg’s British crime drama – recently re-screened at the BFI – stars Mick Jagger in a worthy acting debut. He plays Turner, a layabout rock star, befriended by the central character, Chas, an East London gangster. In a surreal dream sequence, Jagger sings “Memo by Turner” to a room of fat cats, naked in Chesterton armchairs. In 2009, Film Comment voted Jagger's Turner the best performance by a musician in a film.

David Bowie – The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
Bowie is persuasively strange as alien, Thomas Jerome Newton, come down to earth to restore water to his ailing native planet. He’s good – though perhaps it came easy, with his Ziggy Stardust era lately behind him. It’s an unusual film: drily stylish and moony, but ensconcing - if you've the patience to sit with it. Thin as a cactus pin, and expressionless, Bowie works his brain over the New Mexico desert, and makes love the Earth-way to his bel-hop sweetheart, Mary-Lou. Bowie - who admits being heavily addicted to cocaine at the time of filming - said of his experience on set that he “was quite willing to stay up as long as anybody."
The cover of Bowie’s 1976 LP 'Station to Station', and of 'Low', released the following year, are both stills from the film.




Tom Waits – Short Cuts (1993)
In Robert Altman’s free adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short stories, Waits plays Earl, a bloated chauffer, whose drink habit is anathema to waitress-wife, Doreen (Lily Tomlin). The pair share a trailer, but spend a night apart after fighting. He’s excellent, pulling into Doreen’s roadside diner the next day, lorn and sorry, ordering coffee and an egg-sandwich - "with a broke yolk," she knows. Back in the trailer, wearing lei and picking over a coffee-table buffet she's prepared (“like a little show down there on the plate,.. with little sausage people”), it’s clear they’re devoted, and he - full of the usual promises - sings the latest: “I’m getting us out of Downey, baby, don’t worry about it.”

Bjork – Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Bjork plays Czech immigrant Selma in Lars Von Trier’s musical drama, the third film in his “Golden Heart Trilogy.” Premiering at Cannes, the film was greeted with standing ovations and went on to win the Palme D’Or and Best Actress for Bjork. Starring alongside veteran-vedette Catherine Denueve, the singer more than holds her own as a factory-worker who daydreams in musical numbers and must comes to terms with losing her sight. Bjork was responsible for the film’s evocative soundtrack, which includes the lovely “I’ve Seen It All” featuring Thom Yorke.

Charlotte Gainsbourg – Melancholia (2011)
Von Trier had less success at Cannes with “Melancholia” – banned from the festival, following some tricky wording and a bad bon mot about his German-Jewish ancestry at a press conference. The film boasts a fantastic turn by French singer-songwriter, Charlotte Gainsborough, who was under-praised and overshadowed by Kirsten Dunst’s bare-breasted lead. Von Trier draws equally excellent performances from both, with Gainsborough the more intensely realistic and sympathetic as Claire, irrational and unravelling in the face of the apocalypse.