After utterly transforming himself (and winning the Oscar for it) to play Dr. Stephen Hawking last year, Eddie Redmayne does it again to play pioneering transgender painter Lili Elbe in The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper’s latest. The drama world premieres, Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Venice Film Festival. But for now, here’s a tantalizing look at one of the most anticipated films of the fall season.
Tom Hiddleston certainly looks every inch the part in this still, the first Sony Pictures Classics has released from I Saw the Light, Marc Abraham’s Hank Williams biopic. Singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell plays Williams’ dad Elonzo. More importantly, Crowell is also the film’s executive music producer and the person charged with transforming the Brit actor into an American legend. They were in the process of that when Hiddleston joined Crowell on stage last September at the Wheatland Music Festival to sing “Move It on Over” in a performance that augers well for a film that ought to have a lot of people seeing the light.
Here’s a first peek of Bryan Cranston as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten, who served time in prison for contempt of Congress at the dawn of the Cold War after refusing to play ball with the House Un-American Activities Committee during its original fishing expedition seeking information about communist influence in Hollywood. After prison came the blacklist that kept him offically unemployable through the 1950s, although that didn’t stop Trumbo from writing the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the 1953 Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck romantic comedy Roman Holiday (for which credit was given to Trumbo’s “front,” Ian McLellan Hunter), or the Oscar-winning story for the 1956 drama about a young boy trying to saving his pet bull from slaughter, The Brave One (under the pseudonym Robert Rich).
Joining Cranston in Jay Roach’s drama are Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis C.K., Stephen Root, John Goodman, and in what is sure to be a highlight, Helen Mirren as one of the superstar (and vicious) gossip columnists of the era, Hedda Hopper. —Pam Grady
Producer Robert Chartoff passed away last Wednesday, June 10, and left quite a legacy, nearly 40 films, a list that includes They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, the Charles Bronson thriller The Mechanic, The Gambler (both 1974 and 2014 versions), Rocky, Raging Bull, and The Right Stuff. His first credit was on John Boorman’s classic revenge neo-noir Point Blank. It was the start of a lifelong friendship. The pair collaborated two more times on the director’s 1970 comedy drama Leo the Last and his 2004 drama In My Country.
Boorman also dedicated his last film, the recent Queen and Country, to his old pal. It wasn’t purely an act of sentiment, but an acknowledgement of Chartoff’s importance as a friend and collaborator, as well as a thank you. Without an act of kindness and generosity on Chartoff’s part, Queen and Country might not exist.
The subject came up during an interview with Boorman for a piece that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle. Why the dedication? Why now, nearly 50 years since their first collaboration?
“Bob’s been a dear friend for 40 years and more,” Boorman said. “We see each regularly. We talk on the phone at least once a week. I’m very devoted to him.
“When I was trying to make this film, some of the money fell out at the last moment, about a week before we were supposed to start shooting. Bob asked me how I was doing and I said, ‘Oh, I’m a bit depressed. The money’s fallen out.’ He said, ‘How much?’ And I told him. The next day he put that money in my account. He saved the film. I’m glad to say that he’s got it back from Fox picture. He just sent it. He didn’t ask for a contract or anything. The money just appeared in my account.”
Condolences to Mr. Boorman on the loss of his friend. –Pam Grady
One of the standouts from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Alfred P. Sloane Feature Film Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award is Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s The Stanford Prison Experiment, a riveting drama based on a real-life psychological experiment. Twenty-four young men are assigned to be either prisoners or guards in a pretend jail on the Stanford University campus where play-acting and reality quickly begin to blur. Billy Crudup is the ambitious professor who designed the experiment, starring alongside a kind of supergroup of up-and-coming talent that includes Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, James Frecheville, Thomas Mann, Moises Arias and Chris Sheffield.
The best part of the Despicable Me movies—by far—were the banana-colored, gibberish-spouting minions. So it was only a matter of time until they got their own movie. Will all minions, all the time be too much of a good thing? We’ll all find out when Minions opens on July 10. The trailer has cameos by Dracula, Queen Elizabeth II, and a corgi and it’s hilarious. So far, so good. —Pam Grady
Aardman Animations’ little sheep’s prank leads to a grand adventure in one of the most purely delightful films of the year from the folks behind Wallace & Gromit and The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The whole flock, the farmer, and his dog all end up in the Big City where animal control and fancy hair salons await. American distributor Lionsgate has set the US release date: August 7, wide. Mark your calendars. Bonus points if you use one of those cute little lamb stickers. –Pam Grady
The movie I am looking forward to most next year is I SAW THE LIGHT, Marc Abraham’s Hank Williams biopic starring Tom Hiddleston. Executive Music Producer (and one of the great singer/songwriters of our times) Rodney Crowell offers a report: