What’s Out This Week? – May 3, 2013

What’s Out This Week? – May 3, 2013

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Fellow Filmmakers Call For Polanski Release

A group of filmmakers are calling for the release of Roman Polanski.  Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and David Lynch are among the directors who signed a petition asking for the release of director Roman Polanski.  Polanski was arrested this past weekend in Switzerland in connection with the 1977 rape charge that led to his fleeing the US.  Those signing the petition were also incensed that Polanski was arrested on his way to attend the Zurich Film Festival.

In other Polanski news, his most recent movie, “The Ghost,” starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor  has been put on hold.  The movie, based on the Robert Harris novel about an investigative reporter looking into the past of the British PM, was in post production with just the sound mix and scoring remaining to be done.  However, nothing will happen with the movie until Polanski’s legal situation is cleared up.

So, for the time being, the only thing we’ll see from this movie is a short, 15 second trailer.  Check it out below.

DVD Review: Mama Mia!

DVD Review: Mama Mia!


Islands in drama have always been mystical, mysterious places.  From the islands in Shakespeare’s “Tempest,” to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” every island seems to be rife with a lot of things that might not be found on the mainland.  Add to the list director Phyllida Lloyd’s film version of the hit stage musical, “Mama Mia!”

How is it mystical and mysterious?  Award-winning actors, not known for their singing voices break into song at every available opportunity.  The costumes are loud and bright, and seem diametrically opposed to the lush blue waters of the Greek isles.  And then there’s the choreography, which is clunky, obvious and overwrought.  “Mama Mia!” is an overabundance of things that are wrong, but, somehow, bizarrely enough, it all works.

Sophie, (Amanda Seyfried,) is a local Greek girl, working at the cozy inn run by her mother Donna, (Meryl Streep,) getting ready to marry the love of her life.  However, never knowing who her father is, and wanting him to give her away at the wedding, she stumbles across her mother’s diary and invites the three men who might fight the bill, (Stellan Skarsgard, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth).  Donna’s two friends, (Julie Walters and Christine Baranski,) are also on-hand and, as is usually the case in such scenarios and such films, high jinks result.

Combining the list of things I mentioned at the top of this review with the flimsy plot just described, it would seem like this is a complete disaster of a movie.  And, for the first thirty minutes it is.  The colors are rich and vibrant, but the difference between things shot on-location and on a sound stage are startling.  The acting is over the top to the point of being shrill from minute one.  The choreography is ridiculous, consisting, mainly, of literally acting out the lyrics.  The music is wonderful, but even it isn’t enough to save this sinking ship.

But then, around the forty-minute mark, in the middle of Meryl Streep’s first big song, ‘Mama Mia,’ it all sort-of starts to make sense.  Of course it’s supposed to have silly, bright costumes.  Of course it’s supposed to have terrible dancing.  Of course it’s supposed to look like it was shot on a sound stage.  And then there’s the singing.  No one, Pierce Brosnan’s wife and children included, enjoy hearing him sing.  It’s a deep rumble of a voice, wavering around the note, instead of hitting it solidly.  But it all works.  Wonders of wonders, it works.  After those first confusing, irritating, annoying and aggravating 40 minutes, it all falls into place.

I cannot try to explain it nor can I comprehend it; the movie works.  It’s creaky, it’s imperfect, it’s a drunken night out at the karaoke bar, but it works.  It’s the type of film that makes you question your cinematic likes and dislikes from childhood on.  It’s the type of film that makes you consider throwing it all away for a life on a Greek island.  It’s the type of film that makes you want to, dare I say it, sing and dance.

“Mama Mia!” is a wonderfully silly, amazingly clunky, shockingly terrible mess.  Somehow, for some reason, I recommend it.  -Sam

Cast Announced for Polanski’s ‘Ghost’

Roman Polanski has cast Nicholas Cage, Tilda Swinton, and Pierce Brosnan, for his next film “The Ghost,” an adaptation of a political thriller by Robert Harris.

The film is about a ghostwriter (Nicholas Cage) hired to finish the memoirs of a former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan), after the first writer turned up dead. The ghostwriter leads him to find skeleton’s in the prime ministers closet that put his life in danger (what political figure doesn’t have skeletons in the closet?)

The prime ministers wife (Tilda Swinton) falls for the ghostwriter.

The film will begin lensing in Europe this September.