Happy Birthday, Natalie Wood!

The actress would have been 76 years old today.

Happy Birthday to Natalie Wood!

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Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’ casts Mowgli

It appears that Disney have finally found their Mowgli for their upcoming version of The Jungle Book, in newcomer Neel Sethi.

The 10-year old actor, who has only previously appeared in the short film Diwali in 2013, is set to be the only live-action character in the animated film, which will have a 3D release.

In addition to Neel Sethi, the voice cast includes Idris Elba as the tiger Shere Khan and Ben Kingsley as the panther Bagheera.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Scarlett Johansson and Lupita Nyong’o are in talks to lend their voices to the film.

The Jungle Book will be directed by Jon Favreau, who directed 2003s Elf, and the first two Iron Man films. The script has been penned by Justin Marks.

Jon Favreau, on the casting of Neel Sethi has said; “Casting is the most important element of any film and finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative. Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I am confident he can handle it.”

The Jungle Book is a collection of stories, written by Rudyard Kipling, concerning an orphaned boy brought up by animals in the Indian jungle.

In 1967, Disney made a successful, animated version of The Jungle Book, which was the last film that Walt Disney produced himself, having died during post-production.

At the same time as Disney is making their version, Warner Bros. are also bringing The Jungle Book to the screen in a live-action version, set to be the directorial debut of actor Andy Serkis.

Disney’s The Jungle Book will be released on 16th October 2015 in the UK.

Read the article at focusfilm.co.uk

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First look at Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes

Ian McKellen has tweeted the first image of himself as Sherlock Holmes from the upcoming film Mr Holmes.

Along with the photo, McKellen tweeted; “Over 70 actors have previously played Sherlock Holmes. Now he’s 93 years old and it’s my turn. #MrHolmes.”

Mr Holmes, which is currently filming in London, stars Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes in 1947 at the age of 93, living with his housekeeper Mrs Munro and her son Roger in Sussex.

As Holmes mind is failing in his old age, he relies on his housekeeper and her son to help him with one final unsolved case, which forced him into retirement.

Mr Holmes is based on the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin, and has been adapted for the screen by Jeffrey Hatcher, who wrote the screenplay for 2008s The Duchess with Keira Knightley.

Mr Holmes will be directed by Bill Condon, whose previous directing credits include 2004s Kinsey with Liam Neeson and 2013s The Fifth Estate, staring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange.

Alongside Ian McKellen, the film also stars Laura Linney as the housekeeper Mrs Munro and Milo Parker as her son, Roger Munro.

The cast also includes a collection of British actors and actresses, including Frances de la Tour, Patrick Kennedy, Roger Allam and Phil Davies.

Mr Holmes marks the second collaboration between Condon and McKellen, who have previously worked together on 1998s Gods and Monsters, for which Condon won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and McKellen was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Mr Holmes is currently due for release in 2015.

Read the article at focusfilm.co.uk

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Live action ‘Dumbo’ in the works from Disney

Disney are currently working on a live action version of Dumbo, based on their animated 1941 film.

The animated classic tells the story of the young circus elephant Jumbo Jr, cruelly named Dumbo for his big ears, which allow him to fly. Aided by a mouse, Dumbo tries to realise his full potential, whilst he is separated from his mother.

The Hollywood Reporter, who were the first to report on this story, have also said that alongside the story of Dumbo, this live action version will include a family story which will parallel the story of Dumbo.

Dumbo will be written by screenwriter Ehren Kruger, who penned the screenplay for all but the first of the Transformers films.

Kruger is set to produce the film alongside Justin Springer, who has recently produced the Tom Cruise film Oblivion.

No news on a director or any cast members has been announced yet.

1941s Dumbo was the fourth animated film by Disney, after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940) and Fantasia (1940).

It is also the shortest Disney animation, running at just 64 minutes long.

Disney have been riding on a success of live action remakes of their classic films recently, including Maleficent from the story of Sleeping Beauty, and the sequel to Tim Burtons Alice in Wonderland, due for release in 2016.

Live action versions of Cinderella due out in 2015, The Jungle Book directed by Jon Favreau and Beauty and the Beast directed by Bill Condon are also on the way from Disney.

At the 14th Academy Awards in 1941, Dumbo won Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, and was nominated for Best Original Song for Baby Mine.

If the 1941 classic is anything to go by, this live action version is set to be another emotional offering from Disney.

No release date for Dumbo has been announced yet.

Read the article at focusfilm.co.uk

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Trailer: Nicole Kidman in ‘Before I Go To Sleep’

The first trailer for the latest collaboration between Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth has arrived online, courtesy of StudioCanal.

The trailer for Before I Go To Sleep, based on the book of the same name by S.J. Watson, tells the story of Christine Lucas, played by Nicole Kidman, who is suffering from amnesia.

Every morning, Christine wakes up and has no knowledge of who she is or what she has been doing. From a journal that she has been keeping, Christine tries to reconstruct her memory and uncover the truth about who she is and what happened to her.

In addition to Nicole Kidman as Christine, the cast includes Colin Firth as Christine’s husband Ben and Mark Strong as Dr. Nash, who is helping Christine to recover her memory.

This psychological thriller is the latest collaboration between Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, who have recently worked together in 2013s The Railway Man and are soon to star in Genius alongside Jude Law, who also starred with Nicole Kidman in Cold Mountain.

Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth were due to appear together in the upcoming film Paddington, based on the fictional character of Paddington Bear, but Colin Firth has recently dropped out of the film after his voice was seen as unsuitable for the lead role.

Before I Go To Sleep has been written and directed by Rowan Joffé, who previously wrote and directed 2011s Brighton Rock. The film will be produced by Ridley Scott.

Before I Go To Sleep will be released in the UK on 5th September 2014.

Read the article at focusfilm.co.uk

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Favourite Film Snobbery

aI always feel that there can be a slight snobbery around talk of someone’s favourite film. I am certainly not a person who has never been a film snob, and I did once openly laugh in someone’s face when they told me that their favourite film is Love Actually. However, Notting Hill is just incredible. Seriously, read the script, it is the best thing that Richard Curtis has ever written!

I do have a favourite film, which when I first saw I completely fell in love with. The cast, characters, script, director, cinematography, soundtrack – everything about this film just worked so well.

Although it is a clique to say, I haven’t seen a film since which has held me in the same awe as when I first saw this film. I am a very big film fan, and I will watch almost anything, but even years after seeing this film for the first time, I still have never felt the same about another film.

As this is seemingly a marmite film, I sometimes get ‘I really love/hate that film!’ (delete as applicable), but in general, the reaction I get is surprise. As a very big film buff, and someone who has seen a lot of films, people are very surprised to find out that this film is my overall favourite.b

cI cannot say that I am never a snob, certainly in terms of the Indie vs. Blockbuster debate. I would much rather see Richard Ayoade’s The Double (amazing film) over The Avengers (massively overrated) any day. Don’t even get me started on Avatar. There is only so much Marvel and CGI one can take before needing a good, characters based, indie film.

I do enjoy some of the bigger blockbusters. Titanic, which I find generally has a mixed reaction (in that females like it and males hate it) I do think is a very good film, if not slightly cheesy. The famous classics, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and 12 Angry Men will always be favourites, as is the Back to the Future trilogy. Although I have a variation of favourite films in my top twenty, this one particular film will always be my number one.

I guess I will have to live with the fact that my favourite film choice may always get a weird reaction and a bit of a laugh. But is there any point in saying my favourite film is Dr Zhivago, which I do love, over what actually is my favourite film? It probably always will be my number one film, and it will always be the film I make my friends watch and put on when I need a cheer up.

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The Enduring Appeal of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is a greatly admired figure (literally). Even 52 years after her death, her name is still widely known and her calendar is often a bestseller. But what is it about Marilyn Monroe that is still so appealing?

Everybody knows who Marilyn Monroe is – a classic beauty with her blonde hair and her sensual curves. But of course, Marilyn Monroe was more than just a beautiful woman.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson on 1st June 1926, she began modelling at the age of 19, whilst married to her first husband (she married him at the age of 16, and divorced him at the age of 20). At the same time as her divorce in 1946, Norma Jeane screen tested for 20th Century Fox, and so became Marilyn Monroe, the actress.

Marilyn went on to make a succession of highly regarded, now classic comedy films, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), The Seven Year Itch (1955), The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) and Some Like it Hot (1959). Marilyn’s last completed film was The Misfists in 1961, made the year before her death at the age of 36.

Although clearly a sex symbol, as Marilyn is widely known, she was also very intelligent. Her often witty replies to reporters and the intriguing replies to questions clearly show her intelligence.

“It takes a smart brunette to play a dumb blonde.”

“I’ve given pure sex appeal very little thought. If I had to think about it I’m sure it would frighten me.”

“I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it.”

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No.5 of course.”

Throughout her career, Marilyn wanted to be known as a serious actress, instead of the dumb blondes she always played. In 1955, when Marilyn Monroe announced to a press conference that she was to form a production company, which became Marilyn Monroe Productions, she also said that she wished to adapt The Brothers Karamazow by Dostoyevsky. One of the reporters shouted out; “Do you know how to spell Dostoevsky, Marilyn?” Marilyn quickly responded; “Have you read the book? There’s a wonderful part in it for me. A real seductress.” In the face of hostility, Marilyn could only respond by playing on her sex symbol image.

When Marilyn moved to New York to be trained by Lee Strasberg at The Actors Studio, Marilyn was ridiculed and laughed at, as no one expected her to become the serious actress that she wanted to be. When you hear stories of Marilyn being difficult to work with for not coming out of her dressing room, is it any wonder in the face of the hostility she regularly received?

When Marilyn was found dead on 5th August 1962 at the age of 36, several of the newspapers mentioned how Marilyn was found nude in bed. Even in death, Marilyn was still being described in a sexual way.

Marilyn Monroe will always be known as a sex symbol, and this image isn’t likely to change anytime soon. I guess all we can do is remember that behind her curves and her obvious sex symbol appeal, Marilyn Monroe was a very intelligent woman who also happened to be very beautiful.

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