Great Scott! Eastwood’s son has arrived

The internet has been abuzz the past few days with coverage of the trailer for yet another adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel – this one is called The Longest Ride – the latest in a series of generically named romantic dramas and weepies, stretching back to the Kevin Costner/ Robin Wright starrer Message in a Bottle in 1999. There has been one almost every 2 years since then, with the biggest hits being The Notebook (2004) and Dear John (2010), which brought young hunks Ryan Gosling and Channing Tatum to the attention of female moviegoers worldwide. Now it looks like The Longest Ride will do the same for Clint Eastwood’s 28-year-old son, Scott when it releases in April next year.

Most of the articles about the trailer have headlines like “Scott Eastwood shows off his six-pack in…” and “Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood Go The Distance in…”; E! Online’s headline is the best of the lot – “Scott Eastwood’s Hotness in The Longest Ride Trailer Is Ridiculous—Watch the Hunk Get Sexy & Shirtless!”. You get the picture. And if you haven’t, but want to, here’s the trailer:

Scott Eastwood has been appearing in films for sometime, mainly bit parts in his father’s films Flags of our Fathers, Gran Torino, Invictus and Trouble with the Curve. Partly because of the small roles and partly because he used to go by the name Scott Reeves, he has been largely unknown to the general public until now. Now he is picking up larger film roles, with 4 releases in 2014 alone. One of these was Brad Pitt’s war drama Fury in which he has a small but noticeable role and benefited from wide global release and significant commercial success.

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Next year, he has 3 films coming out, of which two – Mercury Plains and Diablo – appear to be generic crime films with limited prospects. So Eastwood Jr. will be hoping The Longest Ride will give him and his six-packs the kind of widespread exposure he needs in order to move up to bigger projects.


2015 movie trailers: A Little Chaos and In The Heart of The Sea

This week I look forward to two very different period films which are due out in 2015.

A Little Chaos. Releases March 2015: Alan Rickman is probably best known for his bad guy roles – Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Snape in the Harry Potter series. My personal favourites have been his sympathetic performance as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and the alien science officer in Galaxy Quest. The 68 year old actor has also tried his hand at directing once, with The Winter Guest back in 1997; this little drama was well received, garnering a few nominations and awards at the time. Now Mr. Rickman is back with another directing effort, a period piece set in the court of King Louis XIV (played by Rickman himself). The trailers for all these period pieces are always attractive to look at, so naturally it caught my eye. But the film also has a who’s who of actors: Kate Winslett, who plays Sabine de Barra, the landscape designer who is hired by the king to design the garden at Versailles; Jennifer Ehle, the wonderful English actress who played Elizabeth Bennett opposite Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice on BBC TV in 1995; the ever-entertaining Stanley Tucci; up and coming Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays Winslett’s romantic interest (he acted in 2014 crime drama The Drop and in Bullhead, the Belgian film which was nominated for a foreign film Oscar in 2012). The film has already done the rounds of the festival circuit and early reviews have not been kind, but I’m a sucker for this sort of confection – a bit of romance, drama and comedy all served up in beautiful locales and fine costumes.

In The Heart of The Sea. Releases March 2015: I have been a big fan of Ron Howard’s films – especially his early lite-fantasy work like Splash, Cocoon and Willow, the amazing Oscar-nominated real-life story Apollo 13 and the competent thrillers like RansomThe Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Ironically, I have not watched the 2 films for which he received Best Director nominations – A Beautiful Mind and Frost/ Nixon. I thoroughly enjoyed his Formula 1 drama from last year, Rush, which chronicled the 1970’s rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Now Mr. Howard is back with an ambitious film which is another real-life survival drama much in the vein of Apollo 13. Last year, I read the non-fiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick on which this film is based. It tells the true story of a whaling ship The Essex which is rammed by a whale in the Pacific Ocean in 1820. What follows is an extraordinary (and barely believable) story of heroism, courage and resilience that made headlines in the US during the time and was talked about in the country for years afterwards. In fact, the incident was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Howard pulls out all the stops in this film and Chris Hemsworth seems perfectly cast as First Mate Owen Chase, who emerges as one of the real heroes of the story. This is guaranteed to be one of the biggest hits of the spring next year.

2015 movie trailers: Mad Max, Cake, The Walk and White God

Mad Max: Fury Road. Releases in May 2015: Next summer, thirty years after the last entry in the Mad Max trilogy, we will get to see Tom Hardy play ‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky, the cop turned vigilante in post-apocalyptic Australia. Mad Max (1979) and its sequel Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) launched Mel Gibson into international super-stardom. After several years of development hell, director-producer George Miller announced in 2006 that a 4th film in the series would finally be made, but with a younger actor in the lead role. The project went through more delays before filming finally began in 2012 and then went through a lengthy post-production period, including reshoots. Normally, when a film takes this long to get to the screen, people wonder if there are issues with the director or the script. Think about it…George Miller is 69 years old and has not made a regular live action film since Lorenzo’s Oil in 1992 (in the meantime, he has directed two Happy Feet animated movies and the sequel to the talking animal drama Babe). But looking at the teaser trailer which came out yesterday, all such concerns are put to rest. The trailer gets my vote for the best I’ve seen this year and feels solidly connected to the original trilogy; ballsy, operatically violet and visually stunning. Can’t wait!

Cake. Releases in Jan 2015: Every now and then, comic actors get a juicy dramatic role which can become a high watermark in their career. At the end of last year, Julia Louis-Dreyfus bagged just such a role in the little-seen relationship dramedy Enough Said. This year, it’s the turn of Friends alum Jennifer Aniston. In this intriguing trailer, we see Aniston’s character Claire Simmons start a relationship with a widower while bizarrely experiencing hallucinations of his dead wife Nina (played by rising star Anna Kendrick). It seems as weird a relationship triangle as the one in Enough Said, but this film is a dark drama, not a dramedy, so it’s likely to be tough going. Early reviews have been mixed, though.

The Walk. Releases in Oct 2015: I usually keep a close eye on what Robert Zemeckis is doing. The wunderkid director made the hit action-comedies Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit while still in his 30s, then went on to direct serious dramatic fare (Forrest Gump, Contact and Cast Away) before becoming one of the pioneers behind motion-capture animation (The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol). After a long hiatus, he returned to live-action filmmaking with the superb Flight in 2012. Still, I hadn’t realized that he was working on a new project until this teaser trailer was released a few days ago. The Walk tells the true story of French high-wire walker Phillipe Petit’s project to walk across the two towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974. The trailer is breathtaking.

White God. Releases in Mar 2015: This rather bizarre film won the Prize Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2014; this is the award given to recognize original and daring works by upcoming film makers. This first thing one thinks of when watching the trailer is…Rise of the Planet of the Apes! That’s not to say that this is a scifi film with serums injected into dogs to make them hyper-intelligent. But after all, it does feature a dog separated from its young owner, put into a holding facility with other dogs who then conspire to escape from the facility and run riot on the streets of the city. On the other hand, I can also describe this as the heartwarming story of a dog that wants to be reunited with his sweet 13-year-old owner. Should be an interesting experience; the film is directed by Hungarian actor-turned-director Kornél Mundruczó.

They’ve got the moves: best dance scenes from movies

I just finished watching the movie Le Week-end, directed by Roger Michell with screenplay by Hanif Kureishi; a British couple decide to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in Paris, hoping to rediscover their love for each other and perhaps also their own self-esteem. It’s a wonderful little film which falls into that same sub-genre of ‘bittersweet marriage drama’ and includes movies like Hope Springs (2012, *ing Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones) and of course, Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight (2013, *ing Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy). I was pleasantly surprised by the uplifting final scene in which the three main characters – played by Lindsay Duncan, Jim Broadbent and Jeff Goldblum – re-enact the ‘Madison dance’ from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 classic Bande à Part. It made me think of all the other occasions an unexpected dance sequence in the middle of a regular movie has gone on to become the signature scene in the film. Here are my favourites in no particular order:-

Bande à Part (1964): The film chronicles the planning and execution of a robbery by 3 friends – Odile, Franz and Arthur, but it’s just as much about their unstructured and impulsive lifestyles. In the ‘Madison Dance Scene’, the three characters perform an impromptu dance routine in a Paris café; the music cuts in and out and we also have the narrator adding some voice-over commentary.

Pulp Fiction (1994): Quentin Tarantino’s 2nd film features multiple interrelated storylines, an approach which suddenly became popular several years later in films like Amores Perros, Babel, Traffic and Crash. However, Pulp Fiction is probably just as well known for John Travolta and Uma Thurman doing the twist. There is a very brief scene at a party in Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, with two actors dancing the twist which looks exactly like this. Many film fans have commented on the similarity. Anyway, Pulp Fiction made Travolta an A-list star again after nearly two decades in movie wilderness.

Be Cool (2005): Audiences couldn’t forget the couple, so nine years later in the sequel to Get Shorty, the filmmakers contrived to get Travolta and Thurman on the dance floor once again; this sequence is less ‘for show’ and sexier. Thurman has the curves and the moves. The song they are dancing to is being performed live by the Black Eyed Peas.

Come September (1961): A dance scene which is somewhat similar in terms of setting, tone and actors’ chemistry is from one of my all-time favourite romantic comedies. Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida light up the screen with this night club sequence; could there ever be a more heart-stoppingly good looking on-screen couple? (Alain Delon and Monica Vitti in L’Eclisse perhaps, but they didn’t dance! Indian viewers will immediately see where Shammi Kapoor learned his patented dance moves.

Beetlejuice (1988): This film introduced me to the music of Harry Belafonte through this absolutely hilarious and oh-too-short dinner time possession sequence. The song of course, is Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), also performed memorably by Mr. Belafonte on The Muppet Show.

Enchanted (2007): This mild send-up by Disney of their own princess films is not really my kind of movie, but there’s no denying that this impromptu song sequence in a park – Hindi movie style – is both catchy and entertaining.

(500) Days of Summer (2009): Two years later, this quirky romantic comedy copied the same setting and got JGL and Zooey Deschanel to dance to the sounds of Hall & Oates’ Make My Dreams Come True. Would be nice to see Marc Webb would go back to directing these kinds of movies, now that he’s done with the Amazing Spider-Man movies.