Thursday, May 10, 2007

Best cast ever?

When I heard that Tom Cruise was going to star in the new Brian Singer World War II flick "Valkyrie," I just assumed he would be the only big name in the mix, the hero standing tall in a sea of nobodys. Well, I've been wrong before, and apparently it's happened again.

According to the great froggy film site, a slate of British actors (and one American) that would make Harry Potter jealous is set to join the project: Bill Nighy (huzzah!), Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Fry and Patrick Wilson (star of "Little Children" and "Hard Candy.") Now that's what I call an A list.

The movie will be about "Operation Valkyrie," a plot hatched to assassinate Adolf Hitler during World War II.

Even more reason to get psyched is this flick will be a reunion for Singer with screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, who penned a little flick called "The Usual Suspects." Will he and co-writer Nathan Alexander come up with another winner here?

Brendon over at the Filmick blog, who seems to get his hands on everything, has seen the script and says yes:

As a whole, Valkyrie is well constructed – each scene moves the plot hurtling forward to its inevitable conclusion. It does an excellent job of building tension, particularly in the scene where Stauffenberg (Cruise's character) constructs a briefcase bomb and slides it next to Hitler and as the coup begins to take shape towards the end.

Valkyrie is right up Singer’s street and it could very well be his best film since The Usual Suspects. The script clocks in at less than 120 pages, which is rare at this point in time. Many films seem to be bloated and go way over 2 hours when there isn’t a need to. The script tells a fascinating story and it does so with intelligence, style, edge-of-your-seat-suspense and a close eye on the history books.

Definitely stay tuned to this one.

Best cast ever, take two?

Even with Ron Howard attached to direct, "Frost/Nixon" is another upcoming movie that I'm jazzed about, and the news about it just keeps getting better.

The pedigree for this one is certainly solid. The stage play and movie script, based on the series of Richard Nixon interviews conducted by Brit David Frost, were written by Peter Morgan, who was rightly nominated for an Oscar for his whipsmart script for "The Queen."

And the previously announced main stars are just pitch-perfect. Michael Sheen, who made a properly needy Tony Blair in "The Queen," will play David Frost, and Frank Langella (huzzah!) will play Nixon. Langella is a damn fine actor who deserves more starring roles.

And even better, the just-announced supporting cast is also solid. Sam Rockwell will play James Reston Jr., the head researcher who helps Frost prep for the interviews. Toby Jones, a k a that other Truman Capote, will portray Hollywood dealmaker Swifty Lazar, who negotiates the deal with Frost on behalf of Nixon. And Matthew MacFadyen, who the ladies will surely remember as the 2005 version of Mr. Darcy (in what is still my favorite "Pride & Prejudice"), will play another journalist for a weekly British television show.

Definitely keep your eyes on this one too ...

New hope for Veronica Mars redux?

With "The Sopranos" obviously nearing its finish and "Gilmore Girls" set to end very soon (after an outstanding penultimate episode last week), "Veronica Mars" stands as my favorite TV show that's at least still hanging on by a thread. And now it seems that thread may be an actual lifeline.

TV Guide's Michael Ausiello, who almost always gets things right, says a new version of the show, with our hero Veronica moving on to the FBI Academy, got a very good reception from CW chief Dawn Ostroff.

If this reworking happens, of course, it will mean big changes for the show. Kristen Bell and show creator Rob Thomas will still be on board, of course, but the rest of the cast will most likely be jettisoned, along with the show's name. As for the "VM" supporting cast, I'll certainly be sad to see Mac, Weevil and Wallace go, but I think most of you will agree that the world could be a better place with a lot less Piz.

If that's what it takes to save this smart and funny show, I'm all for it. Any ideas for a new title? I'm drawing a blank, but I hope it's a lot more inspired than "FBI Girl." Given the CW, however, that one's probably not entirely out of the realm of possibility.


Vance said...

Damnit, I'm a sucker for those great big casts but those ones seem AWESOME!

On the TV side, VM BETTER HAD COME BACK NEXT YEAR. I'm warning you Dawn Ostroff...

Reel Fanatic said...

It really looks like it will, Vance ... Without it, they won't have any hourlong nonreality series at all, so I can't see them pulling the plug just yet

Divinity said...

My vote (which amounts to absolutely nothing really) is for Agent Mars.
Bill Nighy is an amazing phenomena. According to IMDB, he had only 8 big screen appearances before 1990 (his first as uncredited in 1979). Since then, he has been in over 25 motion pictures while maintaining his really impressive TV and stage appearances. What a trooper! While I don't look specifically for his name on the cast list when choosing a movie, it's always a pleasure to see (or hear) him.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with both of the selections. Another one that I'm keeping an eye on that opens fairly soon is "Evening" and it has an amazing cast of female leads including Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and added bonus of Patrick Wilson (who's popping up in everything!) and Hugh Dancy!

Reel Fanatic said...

I hadn't heard of "Evening," Marina, but I'll have to keep it on my radar .. when you put that many great actresses together at once, it'd be hard to go wrong

And "Agent Mars" would work for me, divinity .. I hope that whatever they come up with at least keeps the word "Mars" in there somewhere

kookie said...

I don't think Cruise will be able to hold his own with the likes of Nighy and Branaugh. Of course, I tend to think Cruise has trouble holding his own against shrubbery.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm usually with you, kookiejar ... He was pretty fun in the first Mission Impossible, but whenever he tries to take himself at all seriously he usually just fails

Divinity said...

I liked him in Collateral but didn't enjoy him nearly as much as an ensemble member of Magnolia.

Jonathan said...

As long as it stays good, I will follow Veronica Mars to hell and back. And considering how many crazy execs Rob Thomas has had to steer around to keep the show on the air, I'd say he should be commended for keeping the show as original and intriguing as he has been able to. As much as he has to work at it, I'm suprised he wasn't satisfied with three stellar seasons and ready to move on to something else. But thank god he doesn't give up that easy. And while I know what you mean by the CW being more geared towards reality televsion lately with "America's Next Top Model" being their number one hit, I thought I should also mention that "Supernatural" has proven to be one of the better horror themed shows since the heyday of "Buffy" and "Angel." While it will never compare to those two, it is still a really good show that will hopefully, like "Veronica," get picked up for another season.

Reel Fanatic said...

You're right that I slighted "Supernatural," Jonathan ... That and Smallville remain very good shows for the CW, so I hope they live on for quite a while

Elton said...

YAY VERONICA!!! I was so worried that it'd be gone for good! I haven't seen the new ones yet, but I probably will watch them tomorrow. While it was on hiatus, my favorite show became Heroes, and while THAT was on hiatus, it was Lost =P

Bob said...

Whatever it's called, as long as the character Veronica Mars survives (and is played by Kristen Bell) I am there!

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