I love Christian Bale. Don't even get me started on how amazing his acting is, let alone how versatile of an actor he really is. He's been in so many different genres of films that it's hard to keep track. Little Women, Newsies, Batman Begins, Equilibrium, 3:10 To Yuma, American Hustle, etc....he's amazing in all of them. And I have no doubt that he will be amazing in Exodus: Gods and Kings.
But Christian's casting, along with Joel Edgerton (Ramses) and Aaron Paul's (Joshua) casting concerns me--with the state of Hollywood. This film is about Jewish and Egyptian people. And nothing screams Hollywood Caste System like hiring white (Australian, Welsh, and Caucasian-American) people to play the three main roles of a film taking place in Egypt.
And then looking at the supporting cast, everyone else (John Turturro, Indira Varma, Ben Kingsley, Hiam Abbass, Kevork Malikyan, and Golshifteh Farahani), with the exception of Sigourney Weaver is a minority i.e. not white.
There are so many talented Israeli and Egyptian actors out there. It's bad enough that minorities can barely get the best friend roles in commercial films, and that the majority of the positive and widespread attention that they do get for their work is because of race related roles or biopics, but now, apparently, as long as the character isn't black or African, then there's no need to even hire a minority actor. Perfect.
That should be Hollywood's motto--as long as there is no need for blackface, then there's no need to hire anyone else other than white people for major roles.
I'm more disappointed with Ridley Scott. He's not some young or unknown director who's trying to break into the movie business. He has pull. He chose to do this particular story for whatever reason--no one held a gun to his head. And he chose to do it this way. If he had really wanted to make a a great, epic film with Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, then he could've gone into a different direction.
A direction that does not include casting white actors in leads meant for non-white people. I'm sure that there are tons of scripts floating around in Hollywood with a similar story. Or he could've hired someone to write his own script, using a similar historic event--or could've even made the whole story up. Brother against brother in a war is not a new idea.
What I found even more disappointing was that no one really had the balls to ask Ridley Scott about his casting--as in no one flat out asked him "Why did you cast white actors in roles meant for non-white actors?", and instead asked him about his casting process. This is what he said--
"I guess being a director, in some ways, is like being the captain of a sports team, like a soccer team, and you have to make sure that you have every position covered really well because that will help you to win the game. So I always look on making a film as a partnership and that's what casting is all about, whether it's the star or the guy with one line. And by doing that you enable them to feel confident to try things out and feel free to suggest things. And over the years I've got the best results from actors who really are my partners in the process and it makes it all the more enjoyable. In this instance I'd met Christian four or five years ago when we had a cup of tea together and a rich tea biscuit in LA and he said, 'What are we going to do together?' And I said "well, I'll come up with something.' And it wasn't until five years later when I was thinking about the idea of Exodus and Moses being this kind of larger than life character who, at the same time, has to be played definitively as a very real person, that I thought of Christian and I knew he was the right actor for the role. It's not a fantasy. Ramses certainly wasn't a fantasy and somewhere Moses is very much written down and indicated and believed. So it's a real thing."
Yes, I get it--he wanted to work with Christian. But this is a symptom of a larger issue in Hollywood. And by his answer, he seems to be either willfully ignorant about the entire 'scandal' of the casting, or he just doesn't care. And I guess being a rich, white male in Hollywood affords you that apathy. Lovely.
Source: Huffington Post
Although this is from a few days ago, I'm posting this basically because I am mightily confused about this new phase in Jennifer's career. She's been trying, in the past few years to get away from her Rachel-like acting (and roles), starting with Horrible Bosses and We're the Millers, and then going into Life of Crime, She's Funny That Way, and Cake.
So far, I suppose you could say that she started out strong (with Horrible Bosses, We're The Millers were commercially successful), but she hasn't had a good couple of months. Life of Crime went straight to VOD, and only made a little over a quarter of million dollars, on a twelve million dollar budget. Not good. Not even middling.
She's Funny That Way had premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August 29th of this year. I hadn't even heard of it. Didn't even know it was coming out. A quick google tells me that there is no trailer. And no release date for the US.
Now it seems that Cake is going that same way. There was a lot of initial buzz, Oscar buzz for Jennifer. Which, let her have that. Tons of other movies, other performances have had Oscar buzz before the film hit theaters. I've read in a few recent articles about Cake that there are a few interested buyers for the film--but no one's bought the film yet. It doesn't have a trailer out yet--only one clip with Jennifer Aniston and Adrianna Barraza.
All in all, I'd say that Jennifer is lucky that she has Horrible Bosses II coming out, even though her role is (as I understand it) little more than a cameo. She's in three scenes, or so the rumor mill says. But what is she going to do next? Because this is bad. Seriously. I don't think Jennifer can act, but I never thought that her career would sink this low.
Yes, she's getting some good reviews--which is fairly typical when she steps out of her comfort zone and puts down the mascara for a scene or two. She's stepping out of her comfort zone. That's good. But it's not working. I don't think I've ever seen a celeb as recognizable as Jennifer Aniston have this much issue finding a distributor for her movie. And not with one, but two movies. Three, if no one buys She's Funny That Way.
It doesn't matter how good the reviews are--these films aren't even getting picked up by a studio.
As a sidenote, it was especially odd that she was the only one who was really promoting it (Life of Crime). Tim Robbins, Isla Fischer, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def, quit changing your name!), John Hawkes were nowhere to be seen during the recent promotions of the film (as in the red carpets). Did they think the movie was that bad? Did they not have time to go to the red carpet premiere of their movie? Whatever it was, it's not a good sign.
All I'm wondering is how fast is it going to take Jennifer to hightail it back to the romcoms/raunchy comedies that she's been doing? If you ask me, she needs to sink her money into producing and directing. Taking a quick look at her IMDb page, she's produced three of her own films (Management, The Switch, Cake). She needs to step it up.
Take some serious advice from someone who knows what they're talking about (in producing), because God knows Kristin Hahn doesn't do anything for her. As evidenced by the quotes she gave in Jennifer's Vanity Fair and Vogue interviews, Hahn and Jennifer must spend their producing time slot slurping margaritas and talking trash all day, instead of actually figuring out which film Jennifer wants to produce next, with her producing company.
Jennifer needs to set up a lunch date with Susan Downey. Call Shonda Rimes.
But do something.
Update: Just read on Deadline that Cake i.e. Jennifer Aniston is on Oscar watch. I'm just wondering what the qualifications are for the author's opinion. He liked the film. He liked Jennifer in the film. Great. But how in the world does a half way decent performance in a non-comedy/romcom translate into an Oscar nomination?
That's what I see, more and more. That every time Jennifer does something 'different' (for her) she is always praised to the high heavens. And, as I said before, it's the same with Life of Crime. I've been hearing that everyone enjoyed it. But it didn't even get picked up by a distributor AND it barely made any money. And that film had legitimate stars in it (besides Jennifer).
The author says that after the September 8th, 2014 premiere, there was a lot of interest in buying the film. It's the 22nd. Obviously these buyers aren't all that interested in the film. Because if they were, if the film really was a diamond in the rough just waiting to be plucked out from obscurity (for a rather low price, I'm assuming) and into the coming awards season, it would have already been done.
Let's face it. There's some interest. Not enough interest to buy it. Meaning it's a 'meh' movie with a 'meh' performance (I was rather suspicious of the quality of the film when I read that that plank, Sam Worthington was involved)--nothing more. Nothing like Paul Bettany's Shelter, which the author talked about right after that saying that if this film doesn't get picked it up, it would be because this is Jennifer Connelly's riskiest performance since Requiem For A Dream. THAT'S saying something.
Angelina Jolie's former nanny, Cis Rundle, has been talking to the press. About how she helped Marcheline Bertrand (Angelina Jolie's mom) take care of Angelina and James Haven when they were younger. About how she and Marcheline were friends.
My first thought was that if they were such good friends, why is she going to the press and talking about them now? I get the feeling that she wasn't all that close with Marcheline or Angelina and James, as time passed--otherwise she wouldn't be talking about them to the press. She'd be keeping her mouth shut (when tabloids called her), and continue on with whatever relationship that she has with Angelina and her family.
But what Ms. Rundle said was rather interesting. There's the typical 'Angelina was an anorexic cutter' stuff, which meh. We all know (well, those who read her interviews) that as a teenager, she self harmed quite a bit, and wasn't the happiest person. That is a standard Angelina Jolie story. But then it gets interesting.
Cis Rundle explains the infamous Oscar kiss between Angelina Jolie and James Haven, on the night that Angelina won Best Supporting Actress, for Girl, Interrupted. She says,
“The day she kissed Jamie at the Oscars, it was the first day Marcheline was treated for cancer. They left the hospital together and got ready together. Nobody in the world knew that they spent the day in the hospital. It was like, ‘Look where we’re at now. But the world saw something incestual. It was meant to be ‘Here we are.’ They only ever had each other. They had a very tight relationship with each other and their mother.”
So there it is, the kiss explained. Angelina and James were at an emotional high point that night. Not only was it one of the best nights of Angelina's career, and one of the lowest for her personally. Her mother had just started her treatments for the cancer that would ultimately kill her. Her father (as he would soon show), had a propensity for discussing her personal life to the media, and so they weren't very close. She and her brother only had each other. And their mother.
One of the thoughts passing through my head, as I read this was that it affirms just how much integrity Angelina really has. How easy would it have been for her to explain away the kiss with her brother, with an explanation of what was going on with her mother? Very easy. She could've said it in an interview, or dropped a line to a tabloid. But she didn't.
Wow. According to EW, Angelina Jolie has just signed on to direct a biopic, Africa, which tells the story of a (white) Kenyan Richard Leakey. He was a man who protested and fought against elephant poachers in the '80s and '90s. It is written by Eric Roth, and is backed by Skydance Productions.
I am loving this new phase in Angelina's career. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE her onscreen. She always stands out on screen for me. Even if the movie is horrible--Alexander--she is almost always the best person in the movie. But she's now a woman who is making a second career in directing and producing.
To be even more blunt, she's a woman who isn't relying on her looks or fame to keep her career going. She realizes that she needs to push her career further and further--that she can't just keep doing the same old, same old. She realizes that there is new talent coming, and that no, she won't always be the person who every director/producer in town is running to. No one is.
And the best part is that she's doing something that will open more and more doors for women to be taken seriously by producers and studios in Hollywood. We need more representation of female director and producers. Right now, it's Angelina, Megan Ellison, Susan Downey, and Kathryn Bigelow.
And I love that she's picking interesting projects with some kind of meaning to her. So I can't wait. I can't wait for Unbroken, or By The Sea.