It's a special Do You Like Olga Kurylenko Movies? edition of DYLPM? this week, during which Wesley lies on a rug that does not tie any rooms together and he and Alex discuss Oblivion, To the Wonder, twists that aren't really twists, the beauty of a Sonic drive-in at dusk, and how hard it is to do a whole podcast in Terrence Malick Interior Monologue Voice. Spoiler alert: It's really hard.
After going the better part of a decade without making a film after the Best Picture Oscar nominee The Thin Red Line, Terrence Malick is on a tear, following up 2011’s Tree of Life with To the Wonder (available on demand the same day as its theatrical release), less than two years later.
While Malick's most recent films may seem daunting in their scale — set against the backdrop of World War II (in the case of Line), or trying to cover all of life on Earth through the lens of a single family (OK, I never saw Tree of Life, but I know I saw dinosaurs in the trailer) — To the Wonder features a story that actually seems like a topic that could be fully covered on film. Ben Affleck returns to acting in someone else's movie to play a man torn between his love for two different women: a beautiful European (Olga Kurylenko) who's moved to the U.S. to be with him, and an American (Canadian Rachel McAdams, stretching) he's known since they were kids. Also present — and forebodingly narrating the trailer — is Javier Bardem as a priest, and let's hope one who sticks closer to the Eat Pray Love end of the spectrum than, say, Skyfall.
Pretty much the one thing I remember from Quantum of Solace (which is, let’s be honest, by far the most forgettable Daniel Craig Bond film) is Ukrainian model/actress Olga Kurylenko striding across the desert in a designer ball gown. Seeing as roughly 80 percent of Bond girls are as interchangeable as men’s magazine covers, I consider that a noteworthy accomplishment. Since then Kurylenko has continued to battle Bond-ian fungibility with eclectic credits in films like hyperkinetic writer/director Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths and Mitch Glazer’s show about the good ol’ days of Cuban crony capitalism, Magic City. This summer, Kurylenko stars in two films that, if not for her, would never even be mentioned in the same breath: Terrence Malick’s latest art house/spiritual experience, To the Wonderwith Ben Affleck, and the sci-fi mega-movie Oblivion with Tom Cruise.
That’s not so much eclectic as paradoxical, but paradoxical sure can be fun. I chatted with her about twirling through Malick's latest film, Cruise’s incomparable running abilities, and the one thing that a big Hollywood blockbuster and a Malick movie have in common. Read on below!
When was the last time Terrence Malick said something controversial? If you answered, "I'm not sure — like, not in forever, though," you are correct! And that's because the man straight-up doesn't give interviews, and doesn't go near cameras. TMZ accidentally captured him palling around with Benicio Del Toro earlier this year, but he's mostly hanging around in the background of the footage, being all recluse-y. That means we're still working primarily with just this one photo here.
So by most available evidence, he's a very smiley guy. Very sweet guy. And completely uncontroversial. How about his better half, Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace? She's a bit chattier and is pictured above with her son not her famous husband. THR reports from the 2012 Toronto Film Festival
The difference, though, between us and Weisz? We were on the sidelines the whole time; we didn't shoot a role in the new Terrence Malick movie, only to have it cut out of the final product. Even though that final product is almost two hours long. And Weisz is famous. Is this awkward? This is maybe just a little bit awkward.
If I were feeling less generous and more cynical on this holiest of all Oscar-calendar mornings, I might say that to decipher this year’s Academy Awards contest, we need only look for inspiration to the GOP presidential race. The Artist is Mitt Romney — desperate to please, doesn’t stand for anything in particular, not especially popular with the general public, will eventually keep most of its money offshore, and, though dinged up and trash-talked, will probably cross the finish line first by default. The Descendants is Newt Gingrich (emotionally unsteady, hard on wives, doing better than expected, but probably can’t go all the way). Hugo is Rick Santorum (a little slow, doesn’t really like anything that changed in the culture in the last 80 years). And The Tree of Life is Jon Huntsman (believes in evolution, probably a little too classy for this field).
Two new projects from Terrence Malick now have confirmed titles and casts, but still no plot descriptions. First up will be Lawless, starring Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Rooney Mara; second is Knight of Cups, which brings back Bale and Blanchett, and adds Isabel Lucas. And that’s on top of his next film, which is still untitled and stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Rachel Weisz. One quick theory as to why Malick, who’d made five films since 1973, is now popping ‘em out: he’s finally bored with daytime TV makeover shows? Grade: A [Deadline]
There may be no Oscar category more maddening to try to handicap than writing. When it comes to editing or sound, at least we all know that we’re clueless — film editing, after all, is called “the invisible art” by the very people who do it, and if you’re aurally sophisticated enough to judge the difference between sound mixing and sound editing, you’re probably either a sound mixer or a sound editor. Good screenwriting, by contrast, is supposed to be self-evident. But everything that can make a screenplay praiseworthy — dialogue, character development, story structure, gracefulness of adaptation, or originality of concept — can play as shoddy or hackneyed when a filmmaker mishandles it. And if you think the blame is always fairly apportioned, consider how many reviews make the claim, “The talented cast and director do their best with a weak script,” and how few say, “A fine piece of writing has been undermined by haphazard directing and tepid performances.” Critics never go there, because they don’t have access to the material — the script itself — that would support that argument.
The truth is, it’s virtually impossible to separate your judgment of a screenplay from your judgment of a completed movie — even if you’re one of the screenwriters who does the nominating. During campaign season, many studios send voters printed copies or flash drives of screenplays they want considered. But those versions have been retrofitted to match the finished films; they don’t contain any scenes or constructions that you didn’t see on screen. Unless you’re a big fan of stage directions and character descriptions, they’re not exactly essential reading.
So let’s start from the premise that Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay should probably be called Movie That Suggests Most Strongly That It Was Based On A Really Good Piece Of Writing. What do we know about the predilections of the Academy’s writers’ branch?
Terrence Malick is planning on following up his next movie — not May's Tree of Life, which took him 30 years to make, but the Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams one that’s already in post-production — with another mysterious, untitled feature that’ll will pair him with Christian Bale (with whom he worked on The New World). Also in contention for the project, which is said to feature a small cast dominated by its two leads, are Rooney Mara, Haley Bennet, Clemence Poesy, and Mia Wasikowska. Serious question: is Malick on that drug from Limitless? Grade: A [Twitch]
Showtime has orders in for three pilots: Gurland on Gurland, a “first-person documentary” from writer/director Andrew Gurland (Cheaters, The Virginity Hit); Masters of Sex, about sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson; and Ray Donovan, a family dramedy about a "fixer" for L.A. power players with a troubled home life. Can’t wait for the crossover episodes! Grade: C+ [Variety]
What do auteurs Michael Bay and Terrence Malick have in common — other than that they’ve both made Megan Fox wash their cars in a bikini in lieu of auditioning for a role? (Fox got the part in Bay’s Transformers but her performance as "Celestial Dinosaur No. 3" was sadly cut from Malick's of Tree of Life.) They’ve both written letters to projectionists, advising them on how best to present their 2011 films! While the letters themselves strike differing tones (Malick terms his a "fraternal salute" to a "forgotten art" while Bay, unsurprisingly, uses capitalist logic – "your theaters invested a lot of money in this equipment" — in his plea for 3-D perfection), they are the latest missives in a trend that stretches at least as far back as noted control freak Stanley Kubrick, whose own letter re: Barry Lyndon also recently surfaced.
But this epistolary practice goes deeper than most cinephiles realize. Grantland gained access to some other recently-penned letters to projectionists from the directors of a few of summer 2011’s other prominent releases. We are proud to share excerpts of them with you now.